How to sew piping: The piped pincushion

How to sew piping with Make this easy pincushion for practice!


Let’s continue with our piping palooza!

Today we’ll learn how to sew piping by practicing on a very basic pincushion.

If you’ve just landed here and missed the previous post on how to sew continuous bias for piping, you’ll need to read that first. (Unless you already know all about how to sew  bias binding).

Got that down? Let’s get started.

What you’ll need

* 1/8in thick (or about that size) cording

* 22in (56cm) of continuous bias, made from a 1 1/4in (32mm) strip of woven cotton. Learn how to sew continuous bias here.

* Two 5 x 5in (13cm) squares of woven cotton fabric. My piping and squares are from Riley Blake Designs.

* A little bit of stuffing of some kind

* Regular sewing supplies

* A sewing machine with a zipper foot

How to sew piping

I inherited my mother-in-law’s Bernina 1260 a couple of years ago, and I thought she had purchased every foot imaginable for that machine. So I assumed I had a piping foot!

I assumed wrong.

But…if you’re like me, without a piping foot, pull out your regular zipper foot (first photo below). That will work just fine!

Now cut your cording to 23in (58cm) and have the 22in (56cm) bias handy.

Place the cording inside the bias, right in the fold on the wrong side of the fabric, with a little cord sticking out. Stitch it down, just at the beginning, so you won’t have to worry about pulling it out while you’re sewing.


how to sew piping with sewmccool collage 1


Pop on your zipper foot, and make sure to change your needle position to the left…or whatever you need to do on your machine to make sure it doesn’t strike the zipper foot. Sew your cording into the channel by abutting it to the fabric fold and stitching very close to the cording. You won’t want to pin the bias closed – just use your fingers.

…it’s not difficult, but it helps to drive slowly!

how to sew piping with sewmccool collage 2


When you’re finished, pin the unfinished side of the bias to the right side of one of your squares, along the edge. Start in the middle of the square and not at a corner. Also, don’t start pinning (or sewing) right at the beginning of the strip – leave about an inch free.

When you get to the corner, clip the a little triangle into the  edge of your bias (but not into your stitching or the cording!). Keep pinning until about an inch from the starting point.

Now, stitch it the piping to the square, by (again) sewing very close to the cording. Stop about an inch from where you started – shown in the lower right photo below.

how to sew piping with sewmccool collage 3


There are a couple of different ways to finish piping. The first way is to simply overlap the edges, leaving the raw edges in the seam allowance and trimming  after stitching them down (left photo on top, below).

But I prefer folding about 1/4in (6mm) of the starting bias inside itself, and trimming the cord just below that point. Then trim the other end to the exact length that will match the first side, and tuck it inside.

Then you can sew it closed, and have a nice, even edge (right photo on bottom, shown before stitching).

how to sew piping with sewmccool collage 4

Easy, huh?

Now take the second square and place it right side down, sandwiching the piping underneath. Stitch around almost all of the square, next to the piping again – just go slowly so you can feel the piping! Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end, and leave about 2in (5cm) open for turning the pincushion right side out…

…or you’ll have a sad time picking out stitches, right?

Trim the seam allowances in half, and clip the corners close to the stitching, so they’re smooth after you’ve turned them.

how to sew piping with sewmccool collage 5


Stuff the inside of the pincushion, fold the open seam allowance to the inside, and stitch it closed!

Here’s your adorable little pincushion! Or doll pillow. Or…whatever. :) But it’s beautifully piped, isn’t it?

Learn how to sew piping and make this simple pincushion on!

Now you can add piping to pillows and cushions, bodices of dresses, shirts, the sides of slacks, purses and bags….pretty much anything with a seam! Different sizes of cording can create different effects, but match the cording (and the resulting piping!) to your project for the most beautiful result.

Have a piping palooza! What type of project will you add piping to first?


To make sure you don’t miss a fun tutorial, please follow SewMcCool by e-mail (the link is at the top of the right-hand column) or join me on BlogLovin’ – the button is just below the e-mail feed box! :)


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  1. Mary Ann says

    Thank you so much for all your tutorials – I have sewn for years but your tutorials make many things more clear and easier to do! Thank you again.

    • Deanna McCool says

      If you have a piping foot you can use it, but as explained in the post, you can use a regular zipper foot too! Thanks for your question.


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