Category Archives: Free Tutorial

Tutorial :: How to Make Your Own Piping

Adding piping to a project can really set off what you are making. It’s great for defining the edges on cushions and bags and can add a nice touch when dressmaking.

You can of course using pre-made bias binding, but it’s so much nicer to make your own to either completely blend in, or even better to totally contrast the what you are making.

Make Your Own Piping Tutorial

You may also want to use a really fine or really chunky piping cord and the difference in circumference will have an impact on how much of the pre-bought bias binding is left for the seam allowance. It can be too much when using thin piping cord and not enough when using jumbo cord, either way it can be a bit of a pain when figuring out where to place the piping on your project.

So the best option is to make your own piping. I have written this step-by-step tutorial so that you can make your own!

Tools Required

Tool for making your own piping

You will need the following to make your own piping:

– chosen width of piping cord (pre-washed or steamed to pre-shrink)
– approx 1FQ of your chosen fabric
– scissors
– a marking tool
– pins
– a measuring tool
– zipper foot

Step 1 – Measure Piping Cord

Take a strip of your chosen fabric and wrap it around the piping cord. Secure with a pin as close to the cord as ‘comfortable’, don’t wrap it too tightly.

Wrap strip and pin

Step 2 – Mark the Seam Allowance

Take your measuring tool and mark the strip with your desired seam allowance. In this instance I am using a 5/8″ seam allowance as this piping was being used on a cushion where I was inserting a lapped zip and I like to use a larger than ‘standard’ seam allowance. You may only want to use a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Mark the Seam Allowance

Step 3 – Trim to Size

Snip off the excess fabric along the line.

Trim Strip

Step 4 – Measure the Fabric Strip

Remove the pin and lay the fabric strip flat and measure. This will give you the width you need for cutting your fabric strips.

Measure the Fabric Strip

Step 5 – Cut the Bias Strips

Work out how much piping you will need and cut out enough strips on the bias to make up this length, plus approximately 10″. This will allow you plenty extra for joining the strips. Cutting on the bias makes it possible to get around curves and corners.

Step 6 – Join the Bias Strips

Overlap two strips with right sides together, leaving 1/4″ extending on each short edge. Mark a 45 degree line between the points where the strips meet. Sew and trim the seam allowance to 1/4″. Press seam open.

Make Bias Strips

Step 7 – Wrap the bias strips around the piping cord so that the raw edges meet and secure with pins.

Wrap bias around piping cord

Step 8 – Put your zipper foot on your sewing machine and baste in place along the length of the piping as close to the cord as possible, without pulling the fabric too tight. Don’t pull or stretch the piping cord as you sew as it will only spring back and twist once you are done basting.

Baste bias around cord

So there you have it, beautiful, self-made piping, perfect for using on all sorts of projects. I’ve used the jumbo piping in this tutorial on the cushion below.

Cushion with jumbo piping

Piping also looks great on clothing. I used it on this fox dress that I designed for Crafty magazine a few years back.

Fox Pocket on Orange Dress

Piping also looks great to define shapes on bags like on my Oval Wash Bag (pdf pattern coming soon!)

Oval Wash Bag Piping Detail

So, give it a go, make some piping and transform your next project. Let me know how you get on…

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Free Tutorial :: Inset Lapped Zip for Cushions and Pillows

A lapped zip is a nice and neat way to insert a zip into the back of a cushion or pillow* cover. It gives a really professional and clean finish. Your friends and family will be amazed at your sewing skillz!
Many people are nervous when it comes to inserting zips, but actually if you take your time and follow some great step-by-step instructions (see below!) then confronting the fear will be well worth it. You’ll be so pleased with your results you’ll be updating every room in the house.

For this tutorial I have used a fabric with an obvious right side and wrong side and I have used a contrasting thread colour so that you can see where to stitch. When you use a zip and thread to match your project you’ll be pleased with the results.

So, are you ready? Here we go….Insert Lapped Zipper Tutorial

Work Out Your Measurements

Measure your cushion insert and cut your fabrics, adding a seam allowance to all of the edges. Make sure that the seam allowance along the opening for the zip is 5/8″.

I like to place my zip about 1/4 of the way down the back of the cover, but it’s up to you where you would like to place yours.

Inset Lapped Zip Pattern Cutting

Choose an all purpose/standard zipper that is a few inches shorter than the width of your finished cushion.

Place your fabrics right sides together and position the zip in the middle. Mark on the fabric each end of the zip and place a pin perpendicular to the edge.

Zip positioning

Sew up to the first pin and do a couple of back stitches, sew between the pins with a long basting stitch. At the second pin start sewing and do a couple of back stitches then sew to the end of the seam.

Sewing the seam

Press the seam flat and then press the seam allowances open.

Sew the First Half of the Lapped Zip

With the right side of your fabric facing down, flip the main fabric above the seam allowance down out of the way so that it is facing the other main fabric and you are left with just one seam allowance sitting above the seam line.

Open the zipper and place face down, aligning the coils against the basted seam that you have just sewn. Make sure that the start and end of the zip sit between the marks that you made in the first step.

Pin along the length of the zipper tape. Baste along the zipper tape along the outside edge. Remember you should be sewing through the zipper tape and seam allowance only!

Position side one of zip

With the main fabric still out of the way fold the seam allowance that you’ve just sewn the zipper tape to, back on itself to create a small fold (about 1/8″) just below the zipper tape.

Pin along this fold and sew in place along the length of the zipper, making sure you don’t sew across the seam line and facing seam allowance. Backstitch at both ends.

I like to start sewing with the zipper closed, sew about half way down, then with the needle down, open the zipper. This keeps the zip pull out of the way and avoids wonky stitching as you try to work around it.

Edgestitch zipper

Here’s a closer look at that edge stitching….

Edgestitch detail

Sew the Second Half of the Lapped Zip

Flip your work over so that it lays flat. Close the zip and turn everything back over so that the right sides are facing up

Pin the zip in place from the right side….

Pin from right side

….checking as you go that the pins are catching the zipper tape on the back….

Check your pins from the wrong side

Get out your seam ripper and remove the basting stitches. Make sure you don’t take out the pins though.

Stitch where you have pinned from the right side. You are essentially stitching three sides of a long thin rectangle to secure the second zipper tape in place, whilst hiding the zip pull.

Sew half a rectangle

Start at the centre seam and sew perpendicular to the centre seam out around 3/4″ (make sure you do a few back stitches at the start), pivot and sew parallel to the seam line, about  1/2″ out. When you get to the other end of the zip (just past the stopper), pivot and sew towards the centre seam, ending with a few back stitches.

et voila a completed lapped zip

And there you go, one inset lapped zip. Congratulations!

Fancy giving it a go? Let me know how you get on!

* UK cushion = USA pillow. Either way my husband doesn’t see the point of them and thinks there are too many in the house! For the purposes of this tutorial I shall be using the term cushion…

Come and join the facebook group Little Black Duck: In the Sewing Room
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