Oh how I do love piping!
If you’ve read much of my blog before you’ll know that I’m a very big fan of cord wrapped in cloth. No, I haven’t yet ventured into making my own, but I’ve used pre-made piping on a baby blanket, party dress and even around some spiffy flannel pyjamas. I really love the way it provides a little barrier between heavily patterned fabrics, giving it a professional finish, and can also add a real pop of colour. When I used it on my baby blanket I tied the colours in with the cotton fabric and the fluffy plush, so you really can get an idea of how versatile it is.
Piping of course, comes in a variety of sizes, colours and fabrics. You can find it cheaply on eBay, where it’s also called flanged or insertion cord, or you could try looking for bias piping trim. I’ve used a 3mm trim on my baby blanket here, and it’s a lovely bright orange satin colour.
For my pyjamas I opted for the same size, I think 3mm is just about right for children’s clothes. If you’re making something for a very little child or baby, you can also use folded-over bias trim to edge your designs, or provide a contrast – you get all of the colour but none of the bulk!
I used a cotton-covered piping in a loose knit fabric, which stil gave it a bit of stretch around the corners, but didn’t feel stiff like satin, and looked better against the white flannel background.
I used a slightly bigger piping on the stripy Christmas dress, it’s a 5mm cord which is more suitable to things like cushions and blankets, but it gives a nice chunky feel.
I actually think on this one it works because the buttons are so chunky, and it’s got so much gathering attached to it, it doesn’t matter that it kicks out slightly.
Anyway, I’ve got some of this awesome zigzag stripy fabric at home, part of the stash that my Mum bought me when I went back to visit her a few months ago, and I STILL hadn’t got round to using it. I was thinking of something for Mini, but you know, she has everything she needs right now, and as my Mum can’t stop sending things up to me, she has more clothes than she could ever want or need.
I recently moved into a new flat, so I’ve got the perennial problem – plain walls and a boring sofa (I don’t have a lot of decorative stuff, just a lot of crap), so I really needed a bit of a boost. It was really a toss-up between this one and the green one in the picture, but I have other ideas for that…
I always figured the stripes on it went horizontally, but on closer inspection, it goes this way round:
I am so glad I bought two metres of it (instead of my regulation stingy one metre), because the pattern repeat is quite big, and it allowed me to cut out the front and back of the cushions continuously, which gives a better chance of pattern matching on both sides.
These cushions are a simple envelope closure, where the back is formed from two overlapping panels, and the cushion pad is inserted inside. Another (and probably better) way of closing a cushion cover is with a zip to the very edge, or situated close to the edge if you’re using an edging cord or piping. But hey, I didn’t have any zips and no more excuses were being accepted!
So here’s the little instruction sheet that I wrote to myself to figure out how to cut the three pieces needed for each cushion:
I’m using a pretty old 20″ cushion pad where all the stuffing has gathered in the middle, so to compensate for this I am making my covers a few inches smaller, 16″ all around. It’s always nice to make a cover around 2″ smaller than your actual pad, it makes them look lovely and puffy, but that’s up to your personal taste. I worked with a 0.5″ seam allowance on each edge, which brought the squares up to 17″, and the back panels were 13″ and 11″, so they’d overlap but the underneath panel would come up higher to stop it from showing. I also folded over and finished both edges of the overlapping panel to give it a nice neat finish.
I’m using the same 5mm piping that I used on the Christmas dress. It’s really nice quality, bright white piping, it comes from Frumble, and it’s sold in 5m chunks for only £3.50 apiece. They have such a great selection of colour too:
So there’s really no need to make your own, haha.
I’m gonna do a fuller tutorial about how to use piping in a few weeks’ time when I eventually get round to making a blanket for mini, but here I’ll show you the basics. I’m adding the bias facing inwards to the 17″ square which is going to be the front of my cushion.
The flat part (‘flange’, hur hur hur) of the bias is roughly the same as my 0.5″ seam allowance, and certainly it will be when I sew right up into the cord, so I decided for simplicity to match up the edge with the edge of my fabric. I’ve made small cuts in the cord (up to the securing stitching), to help me go round the corner, and pinned it in the direction I’m going to be sewing. To get really tight into the cord, I recommend using a zipper foot, and if you sew a little bit inside/over the cord, you’ll get a really tight fit, which looks as if the cord is part of the design, rather than added on top.
Here’s the finished cushion!
You can see the corners aren’t too full, but I’m putting that down to it being a crappy cushion insert rather than the sewing, but I know there’s a way of sewing a the straight sides slightly bowed to accomodate for the corners, so if I find that little tutorial I will post it for you.
Ooh, and I tracked down where to buy this fabric from – it’s from a cool little warehouse near my Mum’s called Favourite Fabrics, and they have an eBay store. I bought it for £6.99 a metre I think.
It comes in a few different colourways, I remember being torn between this one and the pastel one, but I think I made the right decision in the end.
And as a little bonus, check out the pattern matching across the seams! Pretty good huh?