I love piping, I've used it a couple of times recently, once in a dress I made for myself that I have yet to blog (but will do shortly) and in a dress I made as a commission.
As you can see from the photos of both the dresses, you can achieve very different looks with piping, and it can be used either on edges (necklines, sleeve hems, etc) or between two panels or parts of a garment.
You will need to same equipment for both single and double piping:
Bias strips of fabric - or ready made bias tape pressed flat.
Piping cord - for this tutorial I have used 2mm cord.
A piping foot or zip foot for your sewing machine.
The fabric or pieces of the garment you want to pipe.
For ease of demonstration I've chosen to pipe a straight seam, but you can also pipe curved seams such as necklines, or princess seams in dresses.
For single piping using 2mm cord and a seam allowance of 5/8", cut a bias strip of fabric 1 and a half inches wide. Lay your piping cord down the centre (I normally cut the cord a little bit longer than my bias strip).
Pin in place, close to the cord with the two long edges of the bias strip together.
Put your piping foot (or zip foot) on your machine. Here's a close up of my piping foot, you should just about be able to see the little grove (to the left of the red line) that sits over the piping cord. You can get piping feet in different sizes, for different sized cords.
Sew down your strip of fabric, as close to the cord as you can. The piping foot should allow you to get very close.
You will then have something that looks a bit like this:
Pin your strip of piping to the main fabric, making sure the edge of the piping strip matches up with the edge of the fabric.
Lay the second piece of fabric over the top and move the pins so that they secure all the layers together. The edges of all layers of fabric should match.
Sew down the seam. You can just about see the little bump of the cord between the layers of fabric.
Press the seam open.
From the front of the piece, you will now have piping between the two panels of fabric.
Or for a piped neckline or hem, press the facing piece to the wrong side:
And there you have a single piped seam.
For a double piped seam cut two bias strips, one 1 and a half inches wide, and the other 1 and a quarter inches wide. The narrower strip will sit on top of the wider one. You can either make them the same colour or contrasting colours. Make two pieces of piping in the same way as shown above.
Pin them together with the narrower strip sitting on top of the wider one.
If you are using double piping in a curved seam, you may find it easier to pin the wider piece in place first, then pin the narrower one afterwards. This may make it easier to ease them neatly and evenly around the curve.
As before, pin them between the two pieces of fabric where you want the piping to be, and sew as close to the edge of the piping as possible. You may need to use a zip foot this time, unless you have a piping foot wide enough to sit over the full width of both cords.
Press the seam open.
Note that you will need to take extra care to insert double piping the right way round so that the narrower strip is on top once you've pressed your seam open. Single piping looks the same from both sides, but double piping doesn't. If you were piping something like the pale pink dress I've shown above with double piping you would need to make sure that the piping was mirrored on each side of the dress, so that the same colour was nearest the centre on both sides.
You could also use double piping around a neckline, or on the edge of an item.
From the back you can only see the strip that sits underneath.
How do you feel about piping? Is it a technique that you love, or one that you stay away from?
I'll hopefully be doing a monthly post on my favourite sewing techniques, please let me know if there's anything you would like me to cover.