Sometime ago I thought it would be helpful to some of you to see my method of inserting piping into my creations. I LOVE piping, as if you couldn't tell. I have no stamina for ruffles or tiers, but for a bit of piping, I'll do whatever I can to put it here and there. So again, I'm not a sewing expert, but this is how I put piping on just about everything.
First things first. If you have decided to use piping more often, or if you find cutting the seam allowance a real drag, this ruler is a must. It is the DARR Piping Magic Ruler and it has made my life SO much easier. It is a little clear ruler with grooves on the underside. If you need a 5/8" allowance, you just put your piping in that groove, and with a rotary blade, go right down the edge, and it'll give you a perfect seam allowance.
My seam allowance happens to be 1/4", so I put my finished piping in that groove, and took off the excess edge. Perfect. On to my next trick of the trade.
Some of you may know WonderTape from other applications like zippers. I swear by the stuff for piping. WonderTape is a wash-away double sided sticky tape that doesn't gum up your needle. I apply it to one side of my piping seam allowance and voila, no more pinning. Not only that, but it keeps your piping right where you want it when you stitch it down. With pins, the piping still wants to wiggle around a bit. With the tape, that problem is solved.
Apply it to one side of your piping. It's best to avoid the stitching, so try to get it right onto the seam allowance only. Make sure to leave the paper on for now, and run your fingers along the length of piping and tape, just to make sure you have it on well enough. You'll be pulling the paper backing off next.
So now you have your collar and the collar lining. Set aside the lining for now. Start pulling off a little of the paper backing. You have now revealed the other side of the tape.
Start on the outside edge of the collar (not the neck edge), and apply a bit of piping. If your collar is rounded like mine, you'll want to clip a little (just to the stitching near the cord, not through it) to ease the piping around the corner. You can clip right through the seam allowance and tape together. Press the piping down onto the edge of the collar, with seam allowances matching.
Continue pressing and clipping until you have made it all the way around the outside edge. You can leave a little bit of the piping out at the edge.
Now it's time to stitch the piping to your lining. You might ask why this is necessary as it is already pressed down to the fabric. The reason you still have to stitch it is because the stitch line will provide you a guide for where to stitch when you put it together with the collar lining. Your piping won't be as neat if you skip this step.
You want to first stitch the piping right on top of the stitching of the actual piping itself. In my gingham piping, I'll be stitching directly on top of the white thread.
So, now that the piping has been sewn down, go ahead and pin your lining fabric with right sides together. In my case, I used the same fabric, but you could use a solid, or coordinating fabric, etc.
Here comes the tricky part. And it's not really that tricky, you just have to stitch carefully. You are going to be doing something called "squeezing the piping." You want to sew a straight stitch just to the left of your original stitch line. This will ensure that none of the thread from the actual piping will show through on the right side of the collar.
Hopefully you can see from the picture what this looks like.
If you sew too close to the original row of stitching, you will see the thread. If you sew too far away, you will have squeezed too much, and not enough of the piping will show from the right side. If this happens, just get out your seam ripper, and try, try, again!
In this picture, my finger is pointing to an area where I didn't sew far enough away from my original stitch line, and I'll have to go back and stitch a little closer to the cord in the piping. The key to making piping look neat is to make sure that none of those stitches show.
I then go back and make one more pass into the seam allowance in lieu of clipping the whole thing. Clipping the seam allowance allows for the curves to lay flat, but I've found it somewhat easier to just run another line of stitching and cut all the excess seam allowance away.
Then, just turn your collar, and carefully press.
You're done! See, that wasn't so hard...
Now, on the dress I am making, I wanted some piping on the seam between the bodice and skirt too. On this particular seam, there is a 1/2" seam allowance. So, I put the piping 1/2" up, using the wondertape method.
I want to reduce the bulk of the seam by cutting away a little of the cord. Gently open up the piping, grasp the cord, and pull a little out. Clip the cord back to where you think the seam will be, and straighten the piping back out.
This will make a nicer seam where the two side seams meet. If at all possible, sew the side seams first, then add the piping. It's easier, and looks nicer too.
Happy sewing..., oh and I thought you might want to see the finished product!