Piping ~ How to Add Piping to a Pillow

on February 16 | in Sewing Essentials, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 109 Comments

Autum from Creative Little Daisy and our board is back, following up her great Pillow Zippers tutorial with today’s tips for adding piping to your pillows. Enjoy!


In my last tutorial, I showed you how easy it is to finish a pillow with a zipper, today I hope you will see that piping isn’t so scary either and, by making your own your design, possibilities are endless.

I will show you how to create piping by covering cording with fabric and then I’ll show you how to include it in your pillow construction. This tutorial assumes you already know basic pillow construction techniques.

Here we go!

You will need:

  • Fabric- To determine how much, measure around all four sides of your completed pillow top and add four inches. This will be the length of your strips. For 1/2 inch cording, cut the strips 2 inches wide. The formula I’ve read says double the width of your cording + double your seam allowances to determine the width to cut your strips. My cording is 1/2 inch, seam allowance also 1/2 inch. So, (1/2 x 2) + (1/2 x 2) = 2 inches.
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and self healing mat
  • Thread to match piping fabric
  • Cording, also called welt cording. Can be cotton or synthetic and is sold by the yard at fabric stores. Comes in various widths. Today I am using 1/2 inch synthetic cording.
  • Sewing machine with zipper foot or cording foot attachment.

So you’ve measured your pillow top and know how much fabric your will need. Now you have to decide weather to cut your strips on the bias or straight.

Fabric cut on the bias (diagonal to the straight weave of the fabric) has stretch or give to it, allowing it to lay smoothly when sewn around curves or corners.

When you cut striped fabric on the bias, it gives you a neat candy cane stripe.

You can go here for instructions on how to cut a continuous bias strip.

I used straight cut strips in this tutorial to demonstrate how straight fabric behaves around curves.

You will likely need more than one strip to make up the length you need to go around you pillow. Once you have all the strips cut, sew them together, but not end to end.

Lay your strips perpendicular to each other and sew along a 45 degree angle, as shown in purple above. These diagonal seams will be less bulky for sewing and will be less detectable to the eye in your completed project.

Trim the seam to 1/4″ and press open.

On one short end, turn under and press about an inch. Fold the coding inside the fabric, the end of the cording about an inch away from the folded end. Continue to fold the fabric around the cording, placing pins every couple of inches. You don’t have to go crazy with pins, but having the cording secured in the fabric will make the sewing part go much faster.

Begin stitching a couple inches from the folded end. With the zipper foot attached, cozy right up next to the cording and stitch away.

Before you know it, you’ll have your lovely piping!

Now lets get it on that pillow top.

Again with that folded end! You’ll see in a minute why we keep neglecting that end. Begin pinning the piping to your pillow top (say that three times fast), leaving the folded end free. Pin all the way around.

At the corners, clip the seam allowance of the piping. See those wrinkles? That’s what happens when you cut the fabric straight with the grain. Bias cut fabric would have stretched right around that curve. Most of these will work out when it is sewn on, so it isn’t all lost, but bias strips would have been better.

Begin stitching where you started pinning, leaving the folded end free and stitch as close as you can to that cording.

When you are a few inches away from the beginning, line up the end with the beginning and clip the end even with the cording. Place the end inside the end you left free and finish stitching it down.

See, nicely lined up.

Pin the pillow top to the pillow back. If you are finishing with a hidden flap zipper or envelop back, stitch all the way around (don’t forget to open that zipper a bit).

Stitch along the previous stitching line. If you will be hand finishing the back, don’t forget to leave a section open for turning, otherwise stitch around all four sides.

Turn right side out, insert your pillow form and if you want, go ahead and do a little happy dance. You deserve it!

The pillow I used for today’s tutorial looked like this last week:

Not bad, a basic pillow dressed up some machine embroidery (purchased at Meringue Designs), but it needed something more.

Better? I think so!

Here’s another look at a couple of pillows. One Plain Jane, one sassy piped number.

What are you waiting for? Go pipe some pillows.

Note: The embroidery designs were purchased at Meringue Designs

Enter our Pillow Contest! Create a pillow this month and enter to win some fabulous prizes.

You can also comment on any post this week for your chance to win one of these great prizes below, courtesy of Robert Kaufman Fabrics:

1 fat quarter pack of Betty Dear, 5 Kona Cotton color cards, 1 fat quarter pack of Night & Day in the Summer Colorstory, 10 sets of 5 Kona charm packs

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109 Responses to Piping ~ How to Add Piping to a Pillow

  1. Jane says:

    wow – can’t wait to try this for my planned cushions for my new house!

  2. WandaFish says:

    What a lovely tute – just what I need for my floor cushion!

  3. Rosa in the Antipodes says:

    She makes it looks so easy! I have to have a go! Thanks a lot

  4. Joy says:

    I love piping on pillows!

  5. MamaBee says:

    Thanks for this tutorial!

  6. Gail C says:

    I have never been game to give piping a go – might give it a shot now following your gr8 tut. TY


  7. erica says:

    I have always been nervous to try piping, now I will have to give it a try

  8. Diane S. says:

    I really needed this tutorial on piping! Thanks

  9. Cynthia says:

    autumn, this is so great and i am sure it will help newbies! this is EXACTLY how i do my piping as well. thanks for the shout out to my webiste as well!!!

  10. Melody says:

    Fantastic! Piping makes a pillow look complete – such a neat detail. Thanks for the tips!

  11. Lisa says:

    this is a great reminder about cording, and I looked back at the continuous bias–many thanks.

  12. stacey says:

    makes it seem so easy! i can’t wait to try it!

  13. Jennifer Lewis says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I couldn’t figure out how to sew the piping so close. I’ve never used my zipper foot before. I guess I better get it out and start practicing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I’ve never seen a tutorial on this! Thanks so much!

  15. Rachel Locke says:

    Great tutorial!! Thanks for the inspiration. Can’t wait to make a sassy little pillow of my own!!

  16. Christine says:

    The piping makes such a difference. Love it.

  17. Morgan says:

    Piping is magical. I love how it pops everything into place when you turn it right side out.

  18. Nan says:

    THis is a very helpful tutorial. I have always been afraid to tackle piping. This tutorial couldn’t have come at a better time. A friend has asked me to help her make a pillow and this is perfect. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Rebecca says:

    Piping adds such a professional touch!

  20. Crystal says:

    Thanks for showing how to make your own piping – now it’s affordable! And your pillows look so elegant with the piping – beautiful!

  21. Crystal says:

    Thanks for showing how to make your own piping – now it’s affordable! And your pillows look so elegant with the piping – beautiful!

  22. Cat says:

    thanks, very useful ! and piping looks so professional…

  23. Tiffany says:

    Love the piping look!

  24. Monica says:

    I agree – piping is really a “pillow accessory”, makes it look much more finished and professional. And, I’m glad that you talked about having both piping and a zipper at the same time.

  25. Mary Anne Fl. says:

    Great tutorial!

  26. Jessica says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial — so helpful!

  27. Stacy says:

    Oh, wow! Thar really does make the pillows look nicer and way more professional! I now know what I am going to do for our new couch pillows. Thanks for the tutorial!

  28. Julia says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  29. Dee says:

    don’t you just LOVE piping????

  30. Jen says:

    These are SO gorgeous and the instructions look easy-to-follow. Just gotta get my pillow-makin’ on and up to snuff… but when I get there, I bet piping will be in my future!

  31. Sylvia says:

    Piping is such a great finishing touch, thanks for the tutorial.

  32. Barb in MI says:

    Wow, what a difference the piping makes!

  33. Dacia says:

    Love the tutorial! Thank you! I love me some piping….especially on pillows. Adorable.

  34. Karen says:

    What a great tutorial! I can’t wait to try it.

  35. priti says:

    bookmarking & definitely trying:)
    thank you:)

  36. Nettie says:

    I loved your zipper tutorial and I love this one too. I’ve never worked with piping but now I have the confidence to try it.

  37. Suzie says:

    Good tutorial – piping makes for a professional looking pillow. Thanks.

  38. Vicki says:

    Fantastic Tutorial! Thanks!

  39. Lina says:

    Nice pillow, thank you for tutorial!

  40. Tiffany says:

    I’ve always wanted to try piping on a pillow, it does add that little bit of sumthin sumthin that some pillows need, but I’ve always been a little scared to try. Now I think I will.

  41. This is so great – just a couple of days ago a friend asked if I could help her with piping a pillow and I couldn’t remember how to organize where the two ends meet – thank you so much!!!

  42. annie says:

    What a great tutorial…thanks so much.

  43. Beth T says:

    Your tutorials have the most encouraging “voice”. I always feel as if I can tackle whatever project you’re teaching. Thanks!

  44. Joanne says:

    Love this pillow!!! Thanks for the tutorial, it will come in handy I’m sure.

  45. Maureen says:

    Piping ‘classes’ the pillows!

  46. EllenB says:

    Great tut and the pics really help. I’m going to give it a try!

  47. alisha says:

    I’ve always loved the look of piping, but thought it was too difficult. But you make it seem easy. Maybe I’ll give it a try!

  48. I can’t believe how much a contrasting piping classes up a pillow!!

  49. Cass says:

    Great tutorial! Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. Mandy K Court says:

    what a great way to add some POP

  51. SewLindaAnn says:

    I’ve never tried piping, this is a really comprehensive tutorial. I loved the designs on the black pillow, there was no connection for the embroidery designs. I will try again though.

  52. Andi says:

    I learned how to make piping a few months ago and couldn’t believe how easy and fun it was! My next pillow is definitely going to need some piping. Thanks for a great tutorial!

  53. Margaret says:

    Definitely bookmarking this tutorial. Thanks!

  54. Ms. Fine says:

    Yea. I love these types of tutorials–adding the finishing touches that take your item from homemade to fantastic.

  55. Ramona says:

    Love the piping. Thanks for showing us how. I will definitely try that.

  56. Stephanie S says:

    Great tutorial!!

  57. Maya says:

    Nice piping! I think the pillows look fancier with the piping.

  58. Kelly Sas says:

    Thanks for a great tutorial on piping – especially how to end it!

  59. Michelle Balletti says:

    Fabulous tutorial!! I was always afraid of piping but this makes it so easy!!

  60. Lynda says:

    The flowers are so simple and great!

  61. Rebmara says:

    Thanks for the tut

  62. Brenda De says:

    thanks Autum! As always your tutorials are so easy to follow.

  63. Heidi Anderson says:

    Thanks for the tutorial, I have always wanted to try my hand at piping. Still not sure if I can do it but now I have a great guide. Thanks!

  64. Kelly P says:

    Fantastic! THanks for the useful tutorial!

  65. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the info- I have hand-me down piping that I’ve still never used, and now I know how!

  66. Chris says:

    I’d never thought of clipping the curves on the piping! Brilliant.

  67. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the piping tutorial! I’ve always been afraid to make my own, but now I’ll try it ๐Ÿ™‚

  68. jm says:

    Autum is awesome!

  69. Jennifer says:

    Great tutorial! Piping really makes a pillow stand out.

  70. Laura Reich says:

    Oh, thank you so much. I thought it would be so much harder than that. You’ve inspired me to try it. Also, thank you for explaining why people cut on the bias. I knew you were supposed to, but I had no idea why.

  71. thanks! piping makes the pillow so classy!

  72. Tonya says:

    Awesome! Thanks.

  73. Lori says:

    GREAT tutorial! I’ve always been intimidated by piping.

  74. Kate says:

    I’m so glad you guys posting this — just in time, too. I started my contest pillow last night, and I wanted to add piping. But I have never done it! But this makes it so easy. Wish me luck. ๐Ÿ™‚

  75. Kathleen P says:

    So useful, thanks!

  76. Jacqueline says:

    It really does dress up those pillows just perfectly.

  77. Jessica says:

    Thank you for the tutorial!

  78. Ammie says:

    Ooh! Great tutorial. Thanks so much! The pillows look lovely, too.

  79. Amy S says:

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  80. Gill says:

    Thank you! You make it seam a whole lot less scary!! I’m going to have a go!

  81. Rebecca says:

    Piping is wonderful for making a home sewing project look more professional. I hope others find this tutorial helpful.

  82. Thanks for the great instructions. I can’t wait to make my pillows and I am going to totally use this. I wanted to let you know too that I let my readers on my blog know about this too and sent them over her for the instructions. Have a great Thursday! Thanks again:)

  83. Barb says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial…the piping really adds to the pillows.

  84. Wendy D. P. says:

    Thank you!

  85. Sara says:

    I will put piping in something someday. I think I can, I think I can. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!

  86. Jacque says:

    Thanks so much for a great tutorial! I love the look that you get by adding the piping. Now I’m ready to try it – thanks for the great instructions!

  87. Basteta says:

    So many pillows, so little time. I hope all my fabric and my sewing machine arrive in time to make one pillow and enter it.

  88. Susan C. says:

    Thank you for this! I saw a pattern the other day that I really liked, with the instruction “Add piping for a finished look.” But I had no idea how to do it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  89. Becky t says:


  90. Tong says:

    great tutorial, i’ve been wanting to give piping a try!

  91. Tammy says:

    Fun! I need some new pillows for my living room, I keep putting it off. I have been getting a lot of ideas this month for new pillows.

    Thanks for the great piping tute!

  92. Sarah says:

    How cute! I never thought about making my own piping.

  93. Jen says:

    Oh, I love this! Thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  94. Linda says:

    This is a great tutorial, I’ve been wanting a tutorial on this very thing and this is so complete. Everything about this Pillow Month has been delightful and I’ll be sorry to see it end!

  95. Robyn says:

    great tutorial, thanks! i would love to see the machine embroidery designs but there was no link. will you please post the link? thanks!

  96. Marcia W. says:

    This black and white combo pillow set with the piping is elegant.

  97. Paulina says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. When I first saw the pillow with piping I thought you should have some tricky, magic knowledge how to do it :). But now I start to believe I may be able to sew such pillows.

  98. Anya says:

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  99. Hannah says:

    I’ve got a couple “plain Jane” pillows on my sofa right now, and I’ve thought repeatedly they they’d look better with piping, but I’ve never gotten beyond the thinking and actually figured out how to go do it. Thanks for this tutorial – I’ve got no excuses now!

  100. L says:

    Thanks for the details and great pictures–I’ve been struggling with making piping, and the detailed pictures of the sewing machine foot and needle really help!

  101. ste says:

    I didn’t expect to see piping made as well as added. Neat!

  102. Erin d. says:

    A great tutorial! I love adding piping to things like pillow, baby bedding, etc. It really makes it pop!

  103. Tara says:

    I’ve never tried piping – that steps into the “scary zone” for me – thanks for sharing this great tutorial.

  104. Kate F. says:

    I’ve actually always thought that pillows with piping were a little old-fashioned, but these are totally sleek and modern!

  105. Aniza says:

    excellent tutorial!

  106. CJ says:

    Thanks for this tutorial – I WILL be using it!

  107. i really love the blk pillow, it should fit great with my couch!
    Thanks for the tutoral, i still think it is very difficult to make for me!

  108. Rebecca says:

    great tutorial.

  109. Vanessa says:

    I wanted to finish a pillow with piping, and now I know how, thanks!

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