Monday, February 24, 2014

Tutorial: Using Piping as a Facing

Did you know that you can use piping in place of a facing? This is a technique I learned from inspecting a vintage dress. It's especially well suited to anything sheer, like eyelet or lace, because it provides clean, minimalist finish. Here's the inside of a piping facing:

It looks like a bias tape finish from the inside, and provides a decorative touch on the outside. It's a good choice for unlined dresses (as almost all vintage dresses from the 40s and 50s are). Because piping is made with bias tape, this finish works beautifully on curved areas of a garment.

You can use pre-made, packaged piping or make your own. I'm using regular old packaged piping here.

Here are some pictures of this technique used on a kimono sleeve. First, you pin the piping to the seam you want to finish. The corded part of the piping should sit just to the garment side of the seamline. In the picture below, there's a 5/8" seam allowance, and the piping cord is just above that 5/8" mark. Measure your seam allowance as you pin the piping in place.

As you can see, I overlapped the piping at the underarm seam. You only have to worry about this if you're finishing something that's sewn into a tube, like a sleeve.

Next, stitch the piping in place with a zipper foot, getting as close as possible to the cord.


Trim down the garment seam allowance to about 1/4".

Turn the piping to the inside of the garment. You have two options for holding it in place: topstitching or hand stitching.

To topstitch, use a zipper foot to stitch close to the piping cord on the outside of the garment.

To hand sew, use an invisible catch stitch or slip stitch to secure the piping on the inside of the garment. I used contrast thread here so you can see my stitches.



Voila! An easy finish that's both clean and decorative.


48 comments:

  1. Wow -- would have never thought of using the zipper foot to get close. Love the piping finish -- did you make your own piping?

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    1. I agree, what sort of fabulous genius is using the zipper foot?! I love it that after 35 years of sewing I am still learning something new. Every. Single Day. :)

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  2. I love this idea. I really hate measuring hems and this looks like a great way to get a nice even hem without having to do my least favourite part :)

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    1. I'm a huge fan of bias binding for doing hems. It makes hemming soooo much easier.

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  3. That's a really nice clean finish, ideal for summer dresses; thank you!

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  4. Ooh I never thought of using piping. I am a huge fan of using bias tape as facings because I HATE it when they flip out or a pain to deal with when wearing the garment. I am going to adopt this.

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  5. Love this! Thanks! I'm frequently making sleeved dress patterns sleeveless. This is a big help.

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  6. Gertie, your dress and technique is awesome! Try to get your hands on Dennis Bernard Smart Solutions Dual Action shampoo and conditioner...this stuff is awesome and guaranteed to prevent color fade..I'm a retired hairdresser and found out about it by chance and it does keep my brunette haircolor from fading..you will have to call around a few shops to get it since it is professional..lots of products say they are for colored hair but still fade it. Oh, I have no financial interest in the product! I just saw you can order on Brightonbeautysupply.com.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Since you mentioned it... I am also a hairdresser, and I recently came across a line of shampoos and conditioners that have no chemicals - that's NO synthetic ingredients and by god, they work so well! I'm sure we've all tried those hippie bar shampoos etc but these products are liquid, the shampoo foams up beautifully (you do have to use a little more as there is no chemical added to make it foamy but it's well worth it) the conditioner Detangles anything, and all if their products are made in my hometown of north Vancouver. I actually had to email them to tell them how impressed I was and I got a nice email back from the president the next day (they are a small company :) the company is Carina organics, you can get their stuff online at carinaorganics.com. they have a rating of 0-1 on the ewg skin deep site which is amazing and without all the sls and other garbage it DOES NOT FADE COLOR. I read ingredient lists and this is by far the cleanest abd they work. Just remember if you have colored hair not to use the peppermint stuff as peppermint is astringent enough to fade color. I tell all my clients about it and have only had good feedback from them and I have no affiliation with Carina organics.

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    3. The zipper foot is great for getting close, I use it for sewing hook and loop

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  7. This is a great treatment! I especially love the hand catch stitching treatment.

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  8. OMG, the pixilated rose print fabric-- where did you find that?

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    1. Isn't it the most awesome!? I think it's an Ascher print - I made up a vogue repro vintage pattern in it last year, think I got the last 4 yards in the UK... Love the piping finish for a lightweight garment, definitely going to give it a try, so many contrast options :)

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  9. Love this treatment! One question: Should I be concerned about the edges of the piping fraying with wear/wash?

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    1. One of the beautiful things about bias cut edges is that they don't fray like the straight grain does. So it should be totally fine.

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    2. If you choose to make your own piping, you can do a double fold and have a finished edge to the piping itself - a mid-19th century technique that works equally well with modern projects.

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  10. I also like bias tape as a facing - less flip-flop. Thank you for this tutorial - it has given me some new ideas. I never thought about piping instead of a facing/bias tape, but I'm more of a beginner/intermediate beginner. I also absolutely love that rose fabric. Very pretty.

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  11. This is a useful post - thanks very much!

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  12. Great idea! Thanks for posting about this. Have to try this soon!!

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  13. I also love using piping at a hem because it adds a little body - not as much as horsehair braid, but it's nice!

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  14. I'd never considered this, might have to give this a try.

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  15. wow! that is absolute gold and very clear demo too. Thanks so much :o)

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  16. Pretty dress, but I don't care for the finish on the piping. I would insert it instead between a facing or lined bodice. Also, you can give your piping a cleaner finish if you cut the cord to meet up exactly but leave the bias strip of fabric longer -- enough to fold over about 1/4 inch and cover the raw edge.

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  17. Wow, what a great idea. I made my own piping once for a pillow by cutting a strip on the bias, folding it over regular acrylic yarn, and sewing close with a zipper foot. It looks good and has washed well. If you are a purist, you would buy cotton cording, of course!

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  18. Thank you, I hate facings so will often use bias binding, but I'm going to have a go at this as I really like the finish.

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  19. Thanks! This really makes a lovely finish!

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  20. Thank you! I cannot wait to try this.

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  21. Because piping is made with bias tape, this finish works beautifully on curved areas of a garment. Free SAP Tutorials

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  22. There is a book called "Piping Hot Binding" and there is a tool with it to make your binding. It's quilting related but can certainly be used to make your own piping.

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  23. BRILLIANT! Thanks for sharing this :D

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  24. ACK! I love this. Don't know why I never thought of this instead of bias tape...that's why I love this amazing blog. Always learning something! Thank you, Gertie. Have your slip pattern too, and am excited for the sewalong!

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  25. What a great tutorial!!! Thank you so much for sharing :)

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  26. when i was doing upholstery I would pin the piping to see where it would meet, unpick about 1/4 an inch on one side and cut the piping cord. the other side would be 1/4 inch to long and I'd take off the fabric. put the exposed piping cord inside the other and voila' no obvious end. I do that when I'm adding piping to my clothes I'm sewing. it works great.

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  27. Beautiful finish!
    Could the edges be trimmed to 1/4 inch with a serger instead of just trimming or is that overkill?

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  28. I love this idea. Now I need a project to try out this idea. Thanks for posting.

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  29. I use piping a lot in my garments - it's such an elegant finish. I'd second the recommendations for snipping the excess cording out of the seam where the piping overlaps though. Open the piping stitching as far as you like by snipping or using a seam ripper, fold the excess fabric back to reveal the cord, snip off excess cord, and unfold the fabric. You can overlap the piping seam allowance as Gertie demonstrated in photos, fold under one edge and overlap the second for a tidy-but-forgiving finish (my favorite) or fold under both meeting edges, then carefully sew the tiny finished edges together. I think I'd like to try Travel Goddess' method too. I'd recommend leaving quite a bit of unfilled tube - say 3/4" - to allow enough room to fold under and still catch in your stitching. It's easier to trim it later than to deal with it too short.

    Did you know the grooves in the bottom of your invisible zipper or cording foot (the metal kind of foot, not the plastic kind) are ideal for making your own piping? Cut strips on the bias, pin around a skinny cord, feed under your zipper/cording foot, and the excess bulk slides beautifully underneath. Your needle position may need a slight adjustment, being careful to watch where it lines up with the hole in the foot. This works great for applying the piping too. (Try hard not to stretch it while stitching or your finished edge will shrink when the fabric goes back to original dimensions.) Have fun!

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  30. It looks very clean. I will use your tip on my next projects. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  31. Very nice! Thank you for the tutorial Ill add the info to my cool notes folder.

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  32. I've totally done this on my hems, too!

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  33. What a great idea - so cute on a cotton summer dress!

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  34. thanks for this tip Gertie!

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  35. looks great. Do you edge the dress with some kind of stabilizer before sewing on the bias tape. As this is not stable how do you ensure that the neckline does not increase??

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  36. Men like piping too. It think that the piping with top stitching looks fantastic. I love piping.Thanks for the article.

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  37. Omigosh! What a handy technique. I'm glad you can do this on a machine, since I cannot hand-sew. It reminds me a lot of using bias tape in place of facings. Thank you.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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