This is the easiest way I know of how to sew piping to a flap or a collar. You can use this technique to make an iconic Chanel-inspired jacket, a sophisticated set of silk pajamas, or even cushions.
When I was in design school, the thought of adding piping to a collar or to a pocket filled me with horror and I would often result in many sleepless nights trying to finish a garment. That was until I found this much better way to do it and this is what I am going to share with you here today.
I've created a little practice tutorial below if you want to get comfortable with the technique. Of course, if you're going to use the technique on a sewing project, you will need the corresponding materials. The shortlist below is only if you want to try out the method and practice.
- 1 yard of satin
- 1/4 yard of quilting cotton or calico
- a rectangle of fusible interfacing the size of the flaps
- satin bias tape piping 3/8″ or 1/2″
- piping foot or zipper foot
Making the flap and adding piping
Cut two sides for your flap. Fuse the interfacing to one of the flap sides. These particular measurements apply for bias tape piping at 3/8″ or 1/2″. If you are making your own piping, to make your life easier, just draft the pattern for the flap with the seam allowance the same size as your piping.
Because we are adding piping, there is no need to make one side smaller than the other. However, if your fabric has a pattern, large print, or stripes, match the stripes to the center of the pocket. That is where the eye is drawn to. It is important to strengthen the pocket so the lines, corners, or curves retain a crisp and smooth look. This can be attained by using fusible or non-fusible interfacing. If you are using a thin fabric like silk charmeuse, satin silk or similar, fusible interfacing is not advisable because it could change the appearance of the fabric. Use an interfacing lighter that you normally would use for lapels and collars.
Trace a 5/8″ seam allowance to guide you to where you need to place the piping. Pin the piping to the right side of the flap and the cord side towards the center and the raw edge of the piping to the seam allowance. Attach the piping foot to the sewing machine. Slide the piping under the smaller groove which is the one on the right and sew the piping. With this foot, there is very little margin for error so make sure the tape does not move.
If you don't have a piping foot, you can use the zipper foot. Just make sure the edge of the foot touches the piping.
Take the flap out and lay the other side of the flap right side down on top of the flap. You have a sandwich now, with the piping in the middle of the flat and the fabric right sides are facing each other.
Pin the flap all around and sew again. This time follow the stitching line you have created.
Trim the seam allowance to the edge of the bias tape piping. If you are using a stiff fabric you might have to notch around the curve every 3/8 to 1/2″.
Turn the flap inside out and iron it. You should have flawless piping around your flap.
Adding Piping to Lapels
Use the same method to add piping around the collar and lapels. Here are some samples on where to use this technique.
So there you have it. This technique allowed me to get some sleep when I was in design school and it also helped me make some darn nice-looking garments. I hope you're able to use this method of adding piping to your projects.
It would be great if you could share some of your experiences below.