Tag 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 Pattern :: Reindeer Decoration

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the Free Reindeer Cushion Pattern that I launched not long ago also had a second set of pattern pieces on the download. As a little bonus I have downsized the pattern so that you can make a felt decoration to hang on your tree!

Reindeer Decoration FREE Tutorial


Finished size 3.5″ high x 2.75″ wide

Materials Required

:: Felt in the following colours:
– Light Brown
– Dark Brown
– Red
– White
:: Coordinating embroidery thread
:: 5″ length of 1/4″ wide ribbon
:: Freezer Paper
:: Toy stuffing (optional)

Tools Required

:: Hand sewing needle
:: Small pair of sharp scissors

Download the Pattern

Download your Reindeer Cushion Tiled Pattern Pieces. When you print out your pattern pieces make sure that you print them actual size and don’t scale or fit to page (unless you’re not totally bothered if the decoration is a touch larger or smaller than it’s designed to be). There is a test square on page 1 if you are not sure and want to check before printing the second page. The pattern pages are designed to be printed out on either A4 or US letter. The pattern pieces for the Reindeer Decoration are spread over the two pages.

Cut and Prepare Felt

:: Trace all of the pattern pieces onto the matt side of the freezer paper and roughly cut out.

:: Apply* freezer paper to the felt as follows
– Backing – Light Brown x2
– Head – Dark Brown x 1
– Nose – Red x 1
– Eyes – White x 2

:: Cut out all shapes along the design lines

*For further tips on cutting out freezer paper from felt check out this blog post

Sew the Facial Features

illustrations show stitching in contrast colours as guidance only

:: Using 2 strands of embroidery thread sew the Nose onto the Face, using a running stitch. Sew the Eyes onto the Face using a few short stitches around the edges.

Reindeer Decoration Sew Nose and Eyes

:: Place the Face on one of the Backing pieces and stitch in place with a running stitch around the outside edges of the Face.

Reindeer Decoration Sew Face to Backing

:: Position the completed front over the remaining Backing piece. Sew the layers together around the outside edges with a running stitch, catching a ribbon hanging loop at the top. If you want you could stuff the decoration a little to make him a bit fat and squidgy.

Reindeer Decoration sew front to back


Happy Sewing!

Felt Reindeer Decoration

If you’ve made a decoration and are uploading pictures onto social media use #reindeerdecoration. You’re also more than welcome to join in at Little Black Duck: In the Sewing Room on facebook, we love to see your makes!


Free Pattern :: Royal Cape

Did you see the Royal Cape pattern that I designed for issue 19 of Love Sewing Magazine? Well, I am pleased to say that my Royal Cape is now available as a free download.

Royal Cape FREE downloadable pdf

This Royal Cape can be made from relatively inexpensive velour or velvet and can be made up quite quickly. Your free pattern features two different lengths depending on the look you are going for or the age of child that you are making for. In the picture below the shorter length is being worn by Emily at age 4 and the longer length is being worn by Charlotte at age 6.

These capes are great for World Book Day, Halloween, Prince and Princess dress-up parties or just a great addition to your dressing up box.

Royal Cape FREE downloadable pdf


Materials Required:

:: Velvet or velour 140cm wide for cape
Short :        100cm
Long :        130cm
:: 25cm Velvet or velour 130cm wide for collar
:: Iron-on interfacing
:: Trim 3m for Short Cape, 5m for Long Cape (ric-rac or braid is perfect)
:: Clasp

Tools Required:

:: Paper scissors and tape or glue (to assemble your paper pattern)
:: Sewing scissors
:: Walking/Teflon/roller foot for your sewing machine. Not essential, but the pile on velour and velvet can have a tendency to make the fabric move about
:: Point turner or bone folder
:: Iron and pressing cloth

Download and Assemble the Royal Cape Pattern

Download your Royal Cape Free Pattern. The pattern download features layers so that if you like, you can print out just the size you need. Make sure that you also check the Pattern Information box too as this layer includes the collar and interfacing pattern pieces.

When you print out your pattern pieces make sure that you print them actual size and don’t scale or fit to page. There is a test square on page 1 if you are not sure and want to check before printing all of the pages. The pattern pages are designed to be printed out on either A4 or US letter.

Assemble that pattern pages so that they resemble the diagram below

Royal Cape Tiled Pattern Pieces Layout

Cut Fabric

:: Cut cape from 4 layers of fabric. Fold cut edge of fabric to cut edge and then selvedge to selvedge. Position pattern piece so straight edges are along folded edges of fabric see pic below.

Cutting Plan for Royal Cape

:: Cut 2 collars and apply interfacing to one collar

Making Up

:: Apply the circle of interfacing to the wrong side of the neck opening, see pic below. This will help to stop the neck edge from getting out of shape. during construction and wear.

Apply Interfacing to Neck Opening

:: Cut a straight line from the outside edge to the neck opening/hole in the
centre. Trim the paper pattern along the dotted line and use as a guide to cut the curved lower edges of the cape opening, see pic below

Cut front opening of cape

:: Neaten all cut edges of the cape with an overlocker or using a zig-zag/overcast stitch on your sewing machine.

Sew the Collar

:: Apply interfacing to one collar piece, then with RST sew the two collar pieces together around the outside edge. Clip seam allowances, see pic below. Turn collar through to the right side, press, then baste the raw edges (which are at the neckline) together.

Sew collar and snip seam allowances

:: Position collar on the right side of the cape, matching the CB of the cape to the CB of the collar, see pic below. Sew with a 1/2” seam allowance. Snip seam allowances and press to the wrong side of the cape. Understitch seam allowances to cape.

Attach collar

:: Turn under a 5/8” hem around all edges of cape, including the remainder of the neck edge. Top-stitch in place.

:: Apply trim to the outside edges.

:: Attach clasp at neck edge.

Happy Sewing!

Royal Cape - Shorter length

I have started a facebook group: Little Black Duck :: In The Sewing Room. If you have any questions drop in for advice, or post pictures of your makes. It will be great to hear from you!

Royal Cape

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FREE :: Tutorial for Little Pillows

Emily came rushing downstairs the other day….’Mum, let’s do some fun stuff!’

Apparently fun stuff was making some little cushions for her toys….who would have thought it!

So, here we go, a quick free tutorial for making some little pillows, you know, just in case you need to do some ‘fun stuff’

Mini Pillows Free Tutorial

Materials Required

:: Small pieces of fabric. Quilting cotton is great
:: Ric-rac
:: Co-ordinating thread

Equipment Needed

:: Rotary cutter, mat and ruler OR marking pen and scissors
:: Pins
:: Sewing machine
:: Hand sewing needle

Sewing Method

:: Cut 2 rectangles. I cut two 4″ x 8″ and two 4″ x 4″ as Emily wanted two pillows and I didn’t have enough ric-rac in the stash to make them any bigger!

Mini Pillows - cut fabric

:: Take one pillow piece, place right side up and pin ric-rac around the circumference, lining up the tops of the ric-rac wiggles with the raw edge of the fabric. Don’t turn the ric-rac too tightly around the corners or it will not sit nicely when you turn it through. Overlap the ric-rac where it meets and ensure raw edges of ric-rac are extending past the raw edge of the pillow.

Mini Pillow - pin ric-rac in place

:: Baste ric-rac in place about 1/8″ from the edge. I know, basting can be a pain and feel like an extra step, but you (and the ric-rac) will be all over the place if you don’t!

:: Place the second pillow piece right side up and position first pillow piece (the one with the ric-rac basted onto it) on top. Pin in place and sew around the outside edges, leaving a 1″- 2″ gap for turning through (gap depends on the size of your pillow and how much you like hand sewing!). Use the basting stitches as a guide and sew just inside this line.

Mini Pillow - sew circumference

:: Turn through to the right side, push out the corners and stuff to your preferred firmness.

Mini Pillow - turn it and stuff it

:: Hand stitch the opening closed with a ladder stitch.

Mini Pillows all done

Job done! One happy 4 year old and a comfy clan of soft toys!

Mini Pillows


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FREE :: Mini Bunting for Doorway Puppet Theatre

Did you see the Portable Doorway Theatre that I designed for Issue 11 of Love Sewing magazine? I think it’s one of my most favourite things I’ve ever made and the girls certainly love it too!

I have written a tutorial for making a little row of bunting to hang from the top of your Doorway Puppet Theatre, you know, just in case it’s a jolly kind of performance!

Mini Bunting Tutorial

Materials & Equipment Required
:: Several pieces of cotton in a variety of colours (or all one colour if you are feeling lazy prefer)
:: 1m cord
:: Marking pen/chalk
:: Scissors
:: Sewing Machine
:: Thread to match fabrics selected
:: Pinking shears

How to Make

:: Download the Flag Template, print off and cut out.

:: Trace Flag Template onto fabric(s) and cut out. I’ve made 5 flags, but you could make more if you prefer. There’s room for 8 flags if you place them right next to each other.

:: Fold each flag in half with wrong sides together and sew with 1/4″ seam allowance on the two long edges and 3/8″ from the folded edge, as per the diagram below.

Bunting Seam Allowance Guide

Flags Seam Allowances

:: Trim the two long edges with pinking shears.

Pinked Edges of Bunting Flags

:: Thread the flags onto the cord.

:: Make a loop at either end of the cord. If your cord frays dab a bit of fabric glue on the ends or melt them (but only if you can be trusted to be sensible with a match!).

Loops for Doorway Puppet Theatre Buntin

:: You are now ready to hang your bunting onto the tension pole of your Doorway Puppet Theatre.

Bunting for Doorway Puppet Theatre

As usual, let me know if you’ve made a Doorway Puppet Theatre and some Bunting. I love to see your makes…it really does make my day!


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FREE :: Tutorial for a Play Pet Lead

When you sew you get all sorts of requests to sew this or repair that, but my favourite requests are …..‘mum, can you sew me….?’. Now these are requests that I really don’t mind. They tend to be requests for totally daft things and more often than not it’s much more fun than taking up a pair of my husband’s trousers!

This time around it was ‘mum, can you make me a lead for my puppies?’ Emily loves playing with all of her toy puppies and has even decided that when she is older she would like to be a vet (or a hula girl!), so how could I resist making her something special to go with her pets!

So, without further a do, here is my Free tutorial for a PLAY PET LEAD*

Play Pet Lead Tutorial

Materials Required

:: Approx 4″ strip, full width of the fabric (selvedge to selvedge)
:: Lobster claw clasp with D-ring attachment
:: Co-ordinating thread

Equipment Needed

:: Rotary Cutter, mat and ruler (optional, but makes life a lot, lot easier)
:: Sewing Machine
:: Edge stitch foot (again, optional but will make life easier)

Sewing Method

:: Measure the inside of the D-ring section of your lobster claw, mine in the picture below was 3/4″.

Lobster claw clasp

:: Using your rotary cutter (or scissors) cut a strip of fabric, straight across the whole width (selvedge to selvedge) 4 times the measurement you took in the first step. Fold and press in half along it’s length.

Press in half

:: Taking each side in turn, press the raw edges into the middle of the strip. You should end up with something that looks like twice folded bias binding.

fold in half twice folded strip

:: Open out each short end and turn in a 1/4″ seam and press. Fold the strip back to how it was before and press again.

fold in the ends

:: Edge stitch all the way down each side of the strip, back stitching at the start and end of each row of stitching.

edge stitch

:: thread one end of the strip through the d-ring section of the lobster claw clasp and pin in place about 1″ from the fold. Stitch in place.

attach lobster claw IMAG0239

:: At the other end of the strip, make a 6″ loop, stitching in place at the base of the loop

make the loop IMAG0241

There you have it, one Play Pet Lead*!

play pet lead

If you make one* let me know, I’d love to hear how you got on!

*please, please, please only make this for or give to an older child. Use your discretion when gifting this Play Pet Lead x


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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…

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Tutorial: Housewife and Oxford Pillow/Cushion Cover

Not so long ago I wrote a couple of posts about how to make a simple Housewife or Oxford pillow case/cushion cover. I’ve now pulled all of the information together, taken a few new pictures and have saved them into a free pdf tutorial for you. Everything you need to get you on your way to pillow heaven!

Simple Envelope Style Pillow Cover

You can get your free copy of the tutorial following a link on my Patterns and Tutorials tab at the top of the page

Happy Sewing

Simple Envelope Pillow Case: Tutorial

I have a little pillow in my daughter’s cot and it had a plain old pillow case on it that I whipped up in a hurry many moons ago. It was a more than bland (it may have even been calico) so I thought I’d make a new one for her. I’ve not got a lot of time on my hands at the moment so I decided to go for a simple envelope style pillow case.

Completed simple envelope style pillow case

Here are my making notes if you would like to make a simple envelope style pillow case yourself! This tutorial only requires four straight lines of stitching and no zipper to insert. You only need basic sewing skills so why not give it a try. All you need is some fabric, a sewing machine and an iron.

Simple Envelope Pillow Case Tutorial


Take the measurements of your pillow insert:

Simple Envelope Style Pillow Case Measurements

I have used the measurements of my pillow for illustration purposes

The fabric calculation is as follows:  (A x 2) + 6″ by B + 1/2″

In this case (14×2)+6″ = 34″ by 10 1/2″


At each short end create a hem by turning  under 1/2″ and then tun under another 1/2″

Turn under a half inch hem

From the right side of the fabric top stitch the hem in place about 3/4″ from the edge and then press over your line of stitching.

Hem from right side and wrong side

Lay the fabric with the right side facing upwards. Fold over one side of the fabric so that the edge of the hem is approximately 3/4 of the way across the main part of the pillow. In this case I have placed it 9 inches across.

turn in left hand side of pillow cover

Next overlap the other side of the fabric. Ensure that the width of your pillow case cover matches your pillow insert measurement. In this case 10″

Simple Envelope Pillow Case Finished Width

Next sew along the raw edges of the pillow case 1/4″ from the edge

Sew the raw edges

Finally give the pillow case a press, before turning through to the right side and pressing again

reverse of envelope pillow case

Happy sewing!

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