Add Piping to a Pillow

I recently showed y’all how to make an envelope pillow {with a mustache}.  That tutorial was more about mustache-decor and less about pillow-making.  This tutorial is more about pillow-making and will not include the word mustache again.

This tutorial is going to teach you how to create piping by simply covering inexpensive cording with fabric.  Then, I’m going to show you how to add the piping to an envelope pillow.


    • 1 yard Fabric {for 2 pillow fronts and bias strips}
    •  1/2 yard Fabric {for 2 pillow backs}
    • 4 yards of 1/2” (9/32”) cording or welt cord {cotton or synthetic; sold by the yard in fabric and craft stores}
    • Scissors
    • Rotary Cutter and Cutting Mat
    • Thread
    • Water soluble marker
    • Sewing Machine and a Zipper Foot


Step 1:  Cut Out Pillow Front:

Cut a piece of fabric for the Pillow Front that is 1″ greater in length and 1″ greater in width than the size of your pillow form.

I am covering a 12” x 16” pillow form so I am going to cut out a piece of fabric that is 13” x 17”. If you want your pillow form to fit more snugly, then decrease each measurement by 1/2”.

Set Pillow Front aside.


Step 2:  Cut Out Pillow Back:

Since this is an Envelope Pillow, you are going to need a piece that is a little bit wider for your Pillow Back.

To make the envelope part, follow this simple formula: Take your pillow form dimensions and add 1″ to the length and 5″ to the width.

For our pillow, that means cutting out a piece of fabric that is 13″ x 21″ {because my pillow form is 12″ x 16″ and 16 + 5 = 21}. If you want your pillow form to fit more snugly, then decrease each measurement by 1/2”.

The fabric I am using for my Pillow Back is a polyester blend in a burlap weave. That means it frays and has a hard time staying on the grain.

In order to reduce this effect, I am backing my fabric with iron-on woven interfacing {available at Joann’s} before cutting it out.

I also serged the outer edges to keep them from unraveling.  No serger – try zigzagging the edges or skip this entirely.
Once you have your Pillow Back cut out, find the center 10.5″ from the side and draw a cutting line with a pencil.

Next, cut the Pillow Back in half on the cutting line. This will leave you with two pieces that are 13” x 10.5” {my edges are serged}.

Step 3: Finishing Edges of Pillow Back

You will now need to finish the edges that form the ‘envelope’ for your Pillow Back before attaching the Pillow Front and Pillow Back.
Fold the long edge (the side that is 13″) under 1/4″ and press.

Fold under a second time and press.

Stitch down the folded edge using a 2.5mm stitch length.

Repeat on the other Pillow Back piece.
Set Pillow Back pieces aside.

Step 4:  Determine Amount of Bias Strip Needed

The first thing you will need to find is the width of the bias strips.  To determine this, begin with the size of your cording {mine is 1/2”}.  The formula for finding this is (2 times the cording width) plus (2 times the seam allowance).
This is what my formula looks like:  
(2 x .5) + (2 x .5) = 2” wide bias strips.

Next, find the total length of bias strips you will need for this project.  Double the pillow’s width and length, then add an additional 4”.
I am making piping for a 12” x 16” pillow.  This is what my formula looks like:

(2 x 12) + (2 x 16) + 4 = 60” of bias strips.  

I will need 60” of 2” wide bias strips.

Step 5:  Cutting Bias Strips

Using the above formulas I now know that I will be cutting at least 60” of 2” wide bias strips.  Out of my one yard of fabric I have already cut out two Pillow Tops (13” x 17”) and this is the leftover piece that has been pressed.

Fold the bottom left corner towards the top edge.  When it matches the top edge, you will have your bias.  Give this edge a press and then mark it with a water soluble marker.


Using the original bias marking above, make a second line 2” over, continuing in this manner until you have at least 60” of bias strips drawn onto the fabric.
Note:  There are several other ways to cut yards of continuous bias strips, but for small projects like a pillow this is really fast.  There is also a handy tool called the Binding Buddy that makes this process even faster.


Cut out the strips using the cutting lines as your guide.  This will create enough bias tape to make piping for two pillows. That’s how little it takes!

After cutting your strips there will be a diagonal cut on each end.  You will need to square off the ends before attaching.


Step 6:  Attaching the Bias Strips Together

You will want to attach all of your squared off bias strips to make one long bias tape to enclose the cording.

With rights sides together, lay your bias strips perpendicular to each other and pin in place.  With a water soluble marker, draw a 45-degree angle.


Stitch across this line and press open. Trim away excess, leaving a 1/4” seam allowance. Repeat this process on all of the bias strips.


You now have yards and yards of beautiful bias tape that can be used to encase the cording.


Step 7:  Making the Piping

Prepare your sewing machine by putting on a zipper foot and adjusting the needle position to the left.


Fold under one of the bias tape short ends 1” and press.  Insert the cording about 1” away from the folded end.  Pin the cording inside the bias tape.

Begin stitching approximately 2” from the folded edge, leaving the folded end open.  This will allow you to insert the other end once you attach the piping to the Pillow Front.


Get the zipper foot really close to the piping.  If you are able to adjust the needle position, this will make it easier to get even closer.
Stitch as close as possible to the cording until all of it is encased.


You now have several yards a lovely piping ready to attach to your Pillow Front.


Step 8:  Attaching the Piping to Pillow Front

Match raw edges and start pinning the piping to the Pillow Front where the stitching starts.  Leave the 2” unsewn part unpinned.

Continue pinning around the pillow.

When you get to the corner, make three clips into the seam allowance.  This will help the piping lay flat when going around each of the four corners.
Continue pinning in this manner until you are close to where you started.  Leave the remaining piping unpinned.

Using the zipper foot, begin stitching at the first pin, getting as close to the cording as possible.  Slow down at the corners.

Stitch around the pillow top until you get close to the starting point.


As you get near the starting point, line up the beginning and the end of cording.  Slip the end of the piping into the folded opening at the beginning.

Line up raw edges, pin to hold and stitch down.  The edges will overlap and the place where the piping meets will be almost invisible.

Step 9:  Attaching Pillow Front and Pillow Back

On a flat surface, lay out the Pillow Front with the right side facing up.  With right sides together, lay the left Pillow Back piece on top of Pillow Front, matching the left corners.  Pin close to the piping.


Next, with right sides together, place the right side of Pillow Back on top of Pillow Front.  This piece will overlap the left side of Pillow Back.

Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, stitch around the entire pillow, backstitching at the openings.
Turn pillow right side out and press gently.



Slip the pillow form into the envelope opening in the back.  Simple and chic!


Once you master this technique, adding piping to an envelope pillow is simple and has endless possibilities.


See here and here for a bit of inspiration.

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  1. Nicely done! Very pretty fabrics.

  2. What a great tutorial! I have been wanting to learn to sew, and I’m saving this to my pin board for sewing projects. Love the pillows. Megan

  3. Wow! What a really great tutorial!! Thank you for sharing and your pillows look fabulous!!

    ~Stephanie @loveolympiajune

  4. Beautiful Pillows! I have two that have been waiting almost a year for me to add piping, and now I think I’m motivated! Thanks!

    kate @ ramblingsfromutopia

  5. Super great tutorial….and your pillows are beautiful. Thanks for sharing! :D

  6. visiting from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff. Love your tutorial. I’ve worked with piping before and you’ve done a great job on “how to’.

  7. Wow this is an amazingly great tutorial. Thank you so much. Would it be okay if I add a link to it on my tutorials I love page on my blog?
    Kind regards

  8. Oh I definitely need this! I’m a new follower and I’d love for you to share this on Tuesday’s Tidbits @ Naptime Delights: so much!

  9. nice tutorial….

  10. Fantastic tutorial and I appreciated the many detailed photos. I have made pillows with piping before but now have a better set of directions to follow. My next project will be prettier because of you– thanks!

  11. i’ve been looking for a good tutorial on how to do this!!! thanks!!

  12. this a great tutorial, very thorough!!

    i’d love for you to link up with Get Your Craft On at the Gilded Hare:

  13. Love this! I think the pillow turned out great. Thanks for sharing at our Handmade Tuesdays party.

  14. this is great! i have been wanting to attempt this but have been too chicken!! thanks for sharing!

  15. That’s a great tutorial! thanks for the detailed steps.

  16. I also sew my own piping, too! It makes a world of difference!

  17. I say this often but I need to learn to sew. These are very nice. Please come share on my linky party.
    While your there enter to win the $25 Olive Garden gift card. Hope to see you!
    Marcie @

  18. I just did this for a pillow. I was so proud of myself.:)

  19. Wow, i wish I can make this. I’m a newbie sewer so i can only make envelope style pillows for now. I just recently blogged about it. I hope you can check it out:


  20. Great tutorial! And, beautiful pillows. Visiting from A Creative Princess. Would love it if you would share this post at my Make it Pretty Party link party at The Dedicated House. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  21. pinning! Thanks for this great tutorial!

  22. This is really cute and a great tutorial. I was wondering if you would link it in my Wednesdays Adorned From Above Blog Hop. Here is the link:

    I would love to have anything that you would like to link.
    Debi Bolocofsky
    Adorned From Above

  23. Great tutorial! I will be trying this out soon!

  24. Great tutorial! I just got finished writing one on making envelope pillows (great minds think alike, huh?), but didn’t think about piping…makes it look so much more professional! Can’t wait to try it!
    Shara @ Palmettos and Pigtails

  25. Beautifully done tutorial! Clean, straigh forward and easy to follow. Thank you so much! Found you through Fireflies & Jellybeans Link Party. xoxo

  26. Thank you so much for sharing your tutorial! I have been wanting to learn how to do this. I’m pinning it for next time I want to make a pillow.

  27. I love it, thanks so much for sharing this tutorial! And how cool is it to be able to make piping that matches any fabric you want?! Or you could do the piping in a contrasting fabric, that would be fun too :-) I’d be thrilled if you would link this up at my current link party so everyone can see the tutorial!

  28. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial! I just made my first envelope pillow cover and am VERY new to sewing and appreciate all the help I can get! I will definitely be saving this tutorial for when I do another pillow. I’d love to try adding the piping!

  29. That is very clever and I really love the fabric you chose. I’m going to Google + this post right now.

    Thanks for linking up to Say G’day Saturday. This week’s post is now live so I hope that you can join in again this weekend!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  30. Great directions and pictures. I will bookmark this post, and return to it time and time again. I’ve made many pillows, but never my own bias tape. Thanks fr sharing! Happy Saturday. ~CJ

  31. What a great post. So easy to follow and wonderful photos. I will be bookmarking this for sure. Thanks for sharing this week on BeColorful.

  32. Love this post! Thanks for linking up, I am pinning this idea right now!

  33. These pillows are beautiful!

  34. What a fabulous tutorial! Oh, and love the fabulous end product too.

    But you are so professional and thorough … I’m pinning!



  35. What a wonderfully detailed tutorial! Love the pillows too of course!

  36. Thanks for linking this tutorial up on Naptime Delights! I’m going to feature it today :D


  37. Thanks so much for linking up this is fantastic. I just wanted to let you know that I’m featuring this today feel free to stop by and grab a button.


  38. Thanks for the tutorial, I always have trouble with the corners! Going to follow this tutorial next time!


  39. Thanks for showing us how to do this! I love the fabric you used. I’m a new follower and would love if you followed me at

  40. I have been scared to death of piping! I have pillow & upholstery projects that I have been avoiding making eye contact with because of this fear!

    Then. I came across your tutorial! How wonderful that you so carefully went step-by-step (in detail) (with pictures) for someone who’s slow to grasp!

    Thank you! I can now walk past these projects and smile knowing that their facelifts are soon to come!

    You can call me
    Patty, the Pied Piper!

  41. I made the piping using your tutorial this week–yay! Thank you for posting the detailed instructions. :)

    I have harvested 4 mini-pumpkins so far. 3 more are still on the vine!

  42. Wow! These are beautiful. I would’ve thought you bought them at Home Goods! Thanks for the awesome, step-by-step tutorial. I’ve always wanted to know how to make these pillows. I’m your newest FB follower. :)

    Visiting from Skip to My Lou.

    ~Emily @ Texas Life Blog

    • Thanks, Emily. These are so easy to make. I’m planning to make some new ones to update colors in my living room. It’s that easy!

  43. I recently made some pillows and really wanted to put matching piping on them but I got scared at the last minute and just used a cord (it was a birthday present and I didn’t want to mess it up). This tutorial makes it look much less intimidating. Thanks!

  44. Oh my goodness….this tut is so simple and easy to follow! Thanks for making it easy to understand. Piping has always scared me….well actually my machine SCARES me!! :)

    • Adding piping is one more simple step that is very easy ~ don’t be afraid of your machine, it can be your best friend.

  45. Hi there! I’m just getting into sewing, so I’m soooo glad I found your blog! I love this tutorial, I’ll be referring back often!! Thanks!

  46. Love the project! Could you please explain why the piping works better if cut on the bias? It seems like one could use less fabric if you could just use the leftover strips that weren’t cut at an angle across a larger piece of fabric.

    • Very good question ~ I’m glad you asked. Bias cut fabric will stretch and give a little and this is very important when going around a curve or corner (like on a pillow). However, if you are piping something that is completely straight, then bias isn’t necessary. Keep in mind, you can get several yards of bias tape from a half yard of fabric.

  47. Very nice tutorial, thanks! I found you through Sew Many Ways Linky Party :)

  48. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I just made three pillows using your step-by-step directions as my first sewing project ever. All three look great and I look forward to making more.

  49. fantastic tutorial..Have always waiting to find a way how to do it finally I got one very well explained. Thankyou

  50. Great tutorial – I love searching around in your blog. I just discovered this one and intend on using it in my sewing lessons with my granddaughter.

  51. Hi Leslie, thank you so much for a great tutorial. I found it easy to follow and best of all, my pillows turned out great! Here’s the link to my blog post about it if you want to see it:

    I added a link to your tutorial to let people know how I made my pillows. Thanks again. Sharon

  52. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial! I made a couple for birthday gifts. They turned out so beautiful!!

  53. I just wanted to say, thanks again for this tutorial. I just referred to it again tonight while sewing my homemade piping onto my homemade bag!

  54. This tutorial is fabulous!! Love all the pictures, makes it much easier!!

  55. I did it again! Used your tute to make another piped envelope pillow! http://vacuumingthelawn(dot)blogspot(dot)com/2014/01/the-ginkgo-pillow-sham-elna-pressified.html

  56. Thank you so much for the tutorial! I just finished my first pillow with piping. I wanted to make
    Sure I got the hang of it so I made the 12×16 even though I dont even have a pillow form for it. It was so much fun.


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