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Piping on Bags and Cushions

Piping on bags and cushions

Written by Kerrie Padmore from Living In Loveliness this guide will teach you how to sew piping on bags and cushions. Kerrie runs sewing classes and sewing retreats from beginners to the more advanced sewers plus Crafternoon tea parties. She has recently launched her own range of sewing kits and patterns.

This article has been sponsored by Sewbox who supplied the Liberty fabrics – visit them for a large range of Liberty fabrics and sewing patterns.

From bags to cushions, I absolutely love adding piping to projects – it gives your project that beautiful professional finish. Although I love the effect of using the same fabric on the project, personally I prefer to add a contrasting fabric to pick out a particular colour that makes the project really pop.  

  In this step by step guide, I will show you how you can add piping on a cushion cover to give a more luxurious look. Use the same techniques for bags.

You will need…

Piping cord (we used 6mm)   

Zipper foot or a piping foot  – Kerrie used an adjustable zipper foot for her Janome J3-24 sewing machine

Instructions for making and sewing piping

  1. To determine the size of the binding needed, measure all four sides of your cushion front and then add 2” for the closure of the piping.  
Cut fabric strips for piping
  1. Cut your fabric for piping to 1.5”. You may need to join fabric to make one continuous strip. To do this, place the first strip right side facing you. Then lay the second strip right side facing the first strip at a 90 degree angle.  


Joining strips for piping

3. Using a heat erasable pen, draw a diagonal line from the top left to the bottom right of the two fabrics. Pin and sew across the diagonal line. 

Prepare fabric for piping

4. To reduce the bulk, trim the seam allowance ¼” away from the seam then press the seams open. 

Easy sewing skills

5. Place the raw edge of the piping cord onto the wrong side of the fabric in the centre of one of the shortest raw edges, ensuring you overhang the cord by approximately 1/4”. Pin the cord into place ¾” from the raw edge.  

Adding piping to a sewing project

6. Place under your sewing machine and sew across the cord to secure into place. This can be a little tricky so take your time. 

Encasing piping cord

7. Fold the fabric in half to encase the cord. Make sure the cord is in the centre then pin into place. 

Using a zipper foot

8. Use a zipper or a piping foot and increase your stitch length to a basting stitch (longest stitch). Making sure the foot is pushed snug against the piping cord, sew along the piping leaving 2” open at the end of your fabric.  

To achieve neat professional piping you are going to sew this in three stages:

Sewing with piping cord

 9. Starting in the middle of one of the straight edges, align the raw edge of your piping to the raw edge of your cushion or bag panel and pin into place. 

Sewing piping cord in place

10. When you reach a corner, overhang the piping and cut into the corner at a 45 degreeangle. Make at least two more incisions either side of the original cut line. When sewing through additional layers of foam or batting you may need to make more incisions as in the third image above.

Sewing a closure for piping

11. Continue to pin around your project until you reach the head of your piping.  

Finishing piping

12. Align the tail of your cord to the head of the piping and trim ensuring the cord is level. Wrap a little tape around both pieces to secure in place. 

Joining ends on piping

13. On the tail end of your piping fabric fold over a ½” and finger press a hem to the wrong side of the fabric. Place the head of the fabric neatly inside and pin into place. 

How do I sew piping?

14. Return your project back to the sewing machine ensuring the foot is pushed snug against the piping cord and sew around all sides. 

Sew with piping

15. With the fabric face up, place the envelope back fabric face down and pin together, sandwiching the piping in between the pieces. Pin together, aligning all raw edges.  

Cushion and bag sewing tips

16. Return back to the sewing machine and sew around all four sides, this time through all three layers, as close to the piping cord as you can. 

Sewing with piping

17. Clip the corners and turn your project right side out. Press to finish. 

Adding piping to sewing projects

Read Kerrie’s guide to using a Prym snap fastener tool next. It’s another way to give your bags a professional looking finish.