16 Feb 2015 • • by Heather Lou

Tutorial: How to Sew Piping

How to Insert Piping // Closet Core Patterns

Alrighty then. On Friday I showed you a method for making bias tape and piping. Today we're going to look at how to actually sew it in. I had never worked with piping before I started working on this pattern and I was nervous about it at first, but I've learned a few tricks that will hopefully make it a little easier for you.


You can pin the piping into place before you get started, but if the actual tape is narrower than your seam allowance (like with store bought piping, for example) it can be tricky to get it lined up properly. I much prefer to just pin the start of the piping and then sew slowly and carefully, guiding the piping into place while I'm sewing.

If you're using a piping foot, for the first round leave your needle in center position and look at the seam allowance guide on your machine while you sew. Keep the edge of the fabric lined up with the 5/8" mark, and guide the piping along through the rounded profile of the foot. This is the easiest way. You can zip along pretty quickly since you're not fussing too much with the location of the piping. It's being held in place by the foot.

sewing piping using piping foot

If you're using a zipper foot, you have to put your needle position all the way to the left. This will change your seam allowance. Sew a sample row with the needle in that position and measure the line. Your seam allowance is more than 5/8" so you'll have to keep that in mind when you're sewing. Line up your fabric edge with a different mark on your plate so you're actually sewing 5/8". Hope that makes sense!


It's fairly simple to sew piping in flat, for example along the pocket. You just sew the piping in, trim the edges and Bob's your uncle. However, for the pants and shirt cuffs you need to sew piping "in the round". This means the piping will overlap at the seam. Here is the best way to do that so the piping stays nice and slim and you don't have any bulky butted edges.

Pin your piping into place so that it starts about an inch before your seam. Start sewing near the seam line.

sewing and inserting piping

Sew all the way around. Stop sewing about an inch before the piping starts.

joining piping

Trim your piping. You want it to extend past the seam line so you have room to fold it under. Seam rip the stitching on the piping so you can access the cord within. Trim that cord so it butts against the start of the piping.

joining piping

Fold the piping bias tape under so that it lines up with the seam of the sleeve or pant.

joining pipingjoining piping

I just use my fingers to hold it in place when I finish sewing this seam to secure.

Inserting piping in the round


The trickiest part of sewing the Carolyn Pajamas is probably attaching the piping to the notched collar and lapel. These are some pretty tight corners and it takes a little fancy fingerwork to do it well. Here is where the storebought piping is your friend.... since it's narrower it stretches around the corner better than wider piping.

Sewing piping on corners

I pin it into place just to get started and then start sewing at the machine. It really helps to have a piping foot here to help anchor the piping in place.

How to insert piping along curves

Use a short stitch length, especially around corners. Sew slowly and carefully, keeping your seam allowance lined up on your plate, letting the piping be guided through the foot. At tight curves, to make sure the piping is turning properly, keep your needle down and raise the pressure foot so you can turn your work with your fingers. You may need to nudge the piping into place a little.

If your piping tape is too wide and getting in the way, you can notch it or trim it down a little.

How to insert piping along curves-3

Continue sewing, leaving the needle down and raising your pressure foot to adjust as much as you need to. It's not a race. I use my left hand hand to guide the piping in place.

How to insert piping along curves-2

When you're done, the piping will be curling at the edges. Just notch it so it lays flat.

Sewing piping on corners-2Sewing piping on corners-3


This is where having a piping foot is helpful. If you can shift your needle over even 1/16", you can be sure that your first line of stitching will not be visible when you turn everything right side out. Moving your needle over a little also means your piping will be as a narrow as possible. It's helpful to have the first stitched line facing you so you can make sure you're sewing next to it.

sewing and inserting pipingHow to insert piping flat and round by Closet Core Patterns-16 copy

With a zipper foot, you just have to try and sew directly on the original line of stitching. Chances are your piping will be a little bit wider than when using a piping foot, as you can see below.  It's a subtle difference, but the example on the left was sewn with a piping foot while the example on the right was sewn with a zipper foot.

sewing and inserting piping

And that's it for today! I was going to cover sewing knit piping as well but this post is too long as is. I'll be back Wednesday to cover piping with knits.

About Closet Core Patterns

Closet Core Patterns is here to help you create the clothes of your dreams. Explore our elevated sewing patterns and rich content library of hundreds of sewing tutorials, free patterns + more.

Sew This month's pattern: The Travertine Knit Set

Jenna Button Up Shirt + Dress Pattern in Sizes XXS-4X // Closet Core Patterns
Our Latest Pattern

The Jenna Shirt + Shirdress

How to Sew Button-Down Shirts_Shirtmaking Sewing Class-11

Learn to Sew Button-Up Shirts!

Crew-Wordpress-Banner-Image-01-Feb 2024

Fresh, inspiring patterns delivered each and every month!

Leave a Comment