Sewing Piping: Techniques

Have you ever tried to sew with piping? Did you follow any techniques from online resources or sewing literature? I was winging it when I made my Butterick forties style shirtdress. It turned out just fine, but I would have had more success if I had done some research first.

My most recent issue of Threads magazine had a great little article on this topic. The basic gist of it is that you don’t want your layers of stitching to be right on top of each other. You end up with three rows of stitching in all – the row that makes the piping, the row to baste the piping to the seam, then the row that makes the seam. Each of these rows of stitching should be 1/16″ apart. You also want to leave enough room on the closest row that the cording can move inside the its fabric cover.
piping collar
Heather Lou from Closet Case files also has a great little tutorial on piping for her Carolyn Pajamas. I didn’t think through the piping around the sleeve band and it didn’t turn out so well. But it’s not in a really visible spot, so I just left it.piping sleeve
Piping can also be sewn flat without any cording. This is the technique that I used for Little D’s blessing outfit. I turned the hem toward the outside of the sleeve and placed the piping into the fold of the hem and stitched it down. This technique will work on any type of fabric (linen in this case) that is the same on either side. It wouldn’t work on the fabric that I used for the dress because the wrong side it different from the right side.

Printed Patterns, my new trick

Have you started using downloaded sewing patterns that you print at home? Many new indie pattern designers are using this platform for distributing their patterns. When I have a choice I generally go the old-fashioned way and get the pattern already printed in a pretty little envelope. But there are times when I want the pattern now and there are times when a really great pattern only comes as a download.

I am working on the Grainline Archer. For $10.50 it’s a steal. And I’m sure I’ll love it once I tape together the pages and get a usable pattern together.

I came up with this little trick while I was cutting the pages.


Before I figured out this trick I decided the best way to put it together is to cut the edges off one long and one short edge of each page then overlap the pages. I tried using my paper cutter, but that wasn’t working because the edges weren’t always quite straight. I was getting tired of using the scissors on each edge, so I came up with this compromise.
In step 2 you can see that I’ve cut off three corners which surround the 2 edges I need to trim.
In step 3 you see that I’ve lined up the line on the edge of the pattern with the line on the paper cutter.
Step 4 shows what the edge looks like after it’s trimmed.
Step 5 shows the trimmed page ready to be taped into the giant conglomerate of pattern pages.

Just repeat these steps about 64 times and you’ve got a pattern ready to be traced.

I’m not sure this is genius, but it’s the best I’ve got.