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Making Mini-Piping to Give a Couture Touch to any Garment

Making mini piping

I love mini-piping and use it often in my sewing. In smocked garments it is often inserted between the smocked fabric and the garment piece (usually the yoke) that is going to support the smocking.

However, it is a simple and inexpensive way to give your garment a couture touch! Update: Since putting this post together, I have made a video showing how to make mini piping. It can be found in here.

Mini-piping can be inserted in just about any seam to add a pop of color, or emphasize a curve.

Piping used to emphasize a curve

You can use it to give a clean and tailored finish to an edge such as a neckline or armhole.

Close up of armhole finished with mini-piping

Best of all, you can make it for pennies! This is really a technique that you should turn to often! Now, I am not talking about the pre-made piping you can buy in the notions department at your local sewing shop. That is just too big. Mini-piping is made with mini-piping cord that is 1/16 size. It adds a delicate touch and doesn't overwhelm the garment. Done correctly, you notice the effect without really noticing it!

To make mini-piping, cut 1 and 1/2 inch strips of fabric on the true bias (45 degrees). Knit fabric should be cut on the cross-grain - no need to cut on the bias.

Cut bias strips on the 45 degree angle

Strips may be seamed together to make additional yardage. Lay the mini-piping cord down the middle of the strip.

Cord down the middle of the strip

To sew the piping, I am using a 5 grove pintuck foot.

5 groove pintuck foot

The mini-piping cord glides through one of the groves on the bottom of the foot. If you don't have a pintuck foot, try a zipper foot. You can also try a traditional piping foot but you may find that the area for the piping is too large and doesn't give you the needed control. With long sides together and the cording up against the fold, stitch right along the cording. I use a straight stitch with my stitch length set at 2.

Getting ready to stitch the piping

Don't stitch too close to the piping - the cord should have a little wiggle room. I stitch the piping by holding two nails up against the cording.

Finger Nails against cording

Once the piping is finished, trim the long edge to the width of the seam allowance you are using to construct the garment.

trimming to width of seam allowance

Trim the length of the piping to fit your chosen seam or edge, then using a tweezers, grab just the cording, and pull out the amount that would be in the seam allowance and cut it. Pull on the edge of the fabric so the cording gets pulled back into the piping and the seam allowance is now cording free. (This is why you don't want to stitch too close to the cording - you won't be able to pull some out).

Remove the cording from the seam allowance

My piping is pinned in place and ready to be stitched into the garment. These binding clips are super helpful for this. (Amazon link - I will receive a small payment if purchase is made through link)

Mini-piping clipped to bodice

I hope you try adding mini-piping to your next garment!

Dress with piped collar, cuff and yoke


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