Tag Archives: 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 Applique Cushion

Thanks for stopping by! In this post I bring you a FREE pattern and tutorial for a Reindeer Cushion, perfect for decorating your home at Christmas.Reindeer Cushion free pattern

How far do you go with decorating your home for Christmas? Are you a tree and that’s it kind of person or do you go the whole hog and essentially light up the neighbourhood with all of the lights adorning your home? Me, I’m somewhere comfortably in the middle. We have two trees (unusual house layout means that we have two living rooms), but I also have lots of other bits and pieces around the house. I even decorate the spare room for any festive visitors.

I also like to add a few home furnishings when I’m decorating the house. This is where the inspiration for this cushion came from.Reindeer Cushion

This Reindeer Applique cushion is bound to become a favourite year after year, just check out that nose!

I have made this version from wool and acrylic felt, but you could just as easily make it from quilting cottons in solids or with a small subtle print, the choice as ever is yours!

Reindeer Cushion on a sofa



This pattern has been designed to fit a 16″ square cushion/pillow insert.

Materials Required:
:: Felt in the following colours
– 0.5m of at least 90cm/35″ wide Green for cushion/pillow cover
– 11″ x 13″ Brown for Reindeer Head
– 5″ x 4″ Red for Reindeer Nose
– 2″ x 2″ White for Reindeer Eyes
:: Double sided interfacing such as Bondaweb or Steam-a-Seam
:: 12″ co-ordinating zip
:: Co-ordinating sewing machine thread

Tools Required:
:: Paper scissors and tape or glue (to assemble your paper pattern)
:: Sewing Scissors
:: Pressing Cloth
:: Open/clear/embroidery foot for your sewing machine
:: Zipper foot for your sewing machine

Download and Assemble 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. 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 will look a little like this once you have stuck them together….

Reindeer Cushion Tiles Pattern Pieces

Cut and Prepare Felt

:: Cut out the Cushion Pieces as follows from the Green Felt
17″ x 17″ – Cushion Front
6 1/8″ x 17″ – Cushion Upper Back
12 1/8″ x 17″ – Cushion Lower Back

:: Trace the Reindeer Head, Nose and Eye pieces onto double sided interfacing and apply to the brown, red and white felt and cut out.

Appliqué Front of Cushion

:: Remove the backing paper and position the Reindeer Head, Nose and Eye pieces on the cushion front. Fix in place following manufacturer instructions for the double sided interfacing, using a pressing cloth if required.

Arranging the Reindeer Head

:: Sew around all of the raw edges of the Reindeer Head, Nose and Eyes. You could use a zig-zag, satin, blanket or blind hem stitch.

Applique Reindeer Head in place

Insert Zip

Right Side Wrong Side




:: Take the Cushion Upper and Lower Back pieces and place right sides together. Position the zip in the middle. Mark on the fabric each end of the zip and insert a pin at each end.

Mark position of zip

:: Using a 5/8” seam allowance, sew from the outside edge to the first pin and make a couple of back stitches. Sew between the pins with a long basting stitch. At the second pin start sewing on a normal length stitch and make a couple of back stitches then sew to the end of the seam.

Baste zip opening:: Turn back the seam allowance of the (smaller) Upper Back section. Open the zip and place the zip face down on the seam allowance of the (larger) Lower Back section between the two pins that you inserted in the previous step. Baste in place along the outer edge of the zipper tape through the Lower Back seam allowance.

Baste half of zip

:: Turn the Upper Back seam allowance back on itself to create a little fold under the zipper teeth (this will flip the zipper back to the right side uppermost). Sew along the little fold, backstitching at each end.

Turn back upper seam allowance

:: Remove positioning pins and turn Back of Cushion Cover over so the right side is uppermost.

:: Pin the second half of the zipper tape in place from the right side, checking that your pins are catching the zipper tape on the reverse.

pin the second half of the zip

:: Top stitch the second zipper tape in place, effectively three sides of a rectangle, checking that you have caught the zipper tape with your stitching.

Top stitch zip from right side

:: Remove basting stitches that you made in step one to expose the zipper puller

remove basting stitches

Construct Cushion

:: Open the zip and place the Cushion Front and Backs with right sides together

:: Sew together around the outside edges with a 1/2” seam allowance

Construct the Cushion

:: Turn Cushion Cover through to right side pushing out the corners

:: Insert your cushion/pillow pad and you’re done!

Happy Sewing!

If you’ve made a cushion and are uploading pictures onto social media use #reindeercushion. 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.

By the way, this project originally appeared in issue 8 of Love Sewing. If you would like to buy a copy have a look on the More Mags website or download a digital copy from their app. Here are some of the other great projects from issue 8.

Love Sewing Issue 8 Whats Inside

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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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Fabulous Felt Flower Brooch :: FREE tutorial

Laura Howard of Bugs and Fishes is running a Flower themed link party, so today, in preparation I have for you a free tutorial for this rather fabulous Felt Flower Brooch!

Felt Flower Brooch Tutorial

You can make your flower all in one colour of felt, or as I have done here made it in a range of tonal colours. You can construct the flower with just some fabric glue or if you prefer you can sew it together with a needle and thread.

You Will Need

Cutting Out

Cut out all of your flower petals and one brooch fastener. I have cut out two petals in each colour/size, however, you could go crazy and cut out three of each to make an even more fabulous flower!

Arrange the petals on top of one another in an arrangement that you are happy with….you will want to rotate some of the petals around to create a lovely shape.


Add some seed beads to the centre of one of the Small Petals. You can either glue them in place or sew them in place with a needle and thread.

Small Petal with Beads

Constructing the Flower

Starting with the Extra Large Petals secure the centre of the petals on top of one another with a smidge of glue. You could of course just sew through all of the layers with a few stitches if you prefer.

Layer the petals

Attaching the Brooch Fastening

Finish off by attaching the brooch fastening to the back of the completed flower by glueing the oval brooch fastener in place.

 Back of Flower

Once the glue has dried, you’re all done!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this free tutorial. If you make a flower I would love to see a photo…just post a link in the comments below and I’ll pop over to have a look!

Laura at Bugs and Fishes will have lots of other flower themed tuorials on her blog, so make sure you pop on over and have a look.


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Simple Oxford Envelope Pillow Case: Tutorial

Not so long ago I posted a quick tutorial about how to make a simple envelope style pillow case. I have since been on a pillow and cushion making mission as I update seemingly every room in the house.

For a few of the pillows I have adapted the simple envelope style pillow case pattern to create an Oxford pillow case/cushion cover.

Simple Housewife Pillow Case Tutorial

If you want to make a simple (non-frilled) Oxford pillow case follow the free tutorial for the simple envelope style pillow case…..however your measurements will change as follows:

(A x 2) + 8″ + 6″ by B+4 1/2″

Using my original pillow as an example, which was 14″x10″ my calculations are:

(14×2) + 8″ + 6″ = 42″ by 14 1/2″

Once you have reached the final step in the simple envelope style pillow case tutorial finish with the following step:

Housewife Pillow Case Sewing Guide

With a soluble fabric marker pen or chalk, mark a rectangle (or square) 2″ in from each edge. You may want to pin through both layers of fabric in a few places to stop it moving around. Top stitch along this line. Press and you’re done!

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