If you’ve read my posts on this blog before, you may already be aware that I often use them as an excuse to indulge and fixate upon my sewing-related obsessions. On that note, enter today’s topic: piping! Very little seems to have been written (on the internet anyway) about piping aside from fairly basic explanations. Piping is an edge treatment made from stripes of bias fabric, usually containing a cord, which is used as a decorative technique for home decor and clothing. It can be made from either self-fabric or a contrast.
Piping can be used anywhere on a garment where two pieces of fabric are joined. Traditionally, it is used along the edges of yokes, collars, button stands, sleeve bands, shoulder straps, pocket openings or along princess seams. You just have to look at some of the Rooibos dress to see how much of a punch piping can add to an otherwise deceptively simple garment.
I have no idea when piping for garments first came into effect or became popular, of if it was initially used for children’s wear, or what have you, but there is certainly evidence of its use to be found on women’s vintage dress patterns from the 1940’s onwards. However, as some of these garments show, it can also be deployed to create an added punch to unusual and directional pieces.
Adding a plain coloured piping detail can be a great way to break up a busy print. It can also be used to highlight interesting or unusual seam or style lines, like the blouse pictured above. Piping containing a cord is a little stiffer, and this property can be utilised to give added structure to a seam or edge, the ruffle collared blouse pictured below is an example of this.
As stated above, it can be formed with or without a cord running through the centre. If you chose without, the bias strip is folded in half lengthways and inserted between the two layers being stitched together when forming a seam. If going for the corded version, you have two options. The first is to buy ready-made piping and the second is to make your own. Obviously, the former option is something of a time saver. However, making your own is necessary if you want to use self-fabric or if you desire an alternative fabric or cord size to the options available at your local haberdasher. Want some good news? There are approximately three squillion how-to’s and tutorials available on the internet showing how to make and insert piping, including Burdastyle’s make-your-own piping and sew-in-piping techniques.
Personally, I’ve long been a fan, but have never attempted to use piping in a sewing project. I’ve bought a very basic top pattern which I feel could really benefit from sliver of contrast piping around the collar. I’ve picked up some of the ready-made kind, having figured out what to ask for (ribetes in Spanish, FYI!), have studied the how-to’s and am about set to go. If it works out well, I feel my sewing life may be revolutionised! Wish me luck….
Have you tried piping? Were you happy with the result? Did you apply it in some way other than the ones I listed above? Do tell!