Sewing | Simple Projects

How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows

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Inside: How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows

Piping is a beautiful way to accent a pillow, and it is easier than you think to make.

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.

Making piping is so easy. Adding piping to a pillow is simple, too. All you need to do is learn a few basic steps and you will be a master. This popular pin has all the details.

How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows

Supplies:

  • 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

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.


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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.


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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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}.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

Fold under a second time and press.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

Repeat on the other Pillow Back piece.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.
Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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 (affiliate)  that makes this process even faster. 

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

Step 7:  Making the Piping

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

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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” un-sewn part unpinned.

Continue pinning around the pillow.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.
Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

Step 9:  Attaching Pillow Front and Pillow Back

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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. 

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, stitch around the entire pillow, backstitching at the openings.

Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.
 
Turn pillow right side out and press gently.
Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.
Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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


Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.
Learn How to Add Piping to Throw Pillows. Simple and detailed tutorial explaining how to add piping to an envelope pillow. All you need is a sewing machine and the ability to sew a straight stitch.

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

P.S. If you love this post, please share it on Facebook and Pinterest. It would mean the world to me.


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68 Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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!

    THANKS!
    You can call me
    Patty, the Pied Piper!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

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

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

    1. 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.

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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.

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

  16. 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!

  17. 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.
    Shannon

  18. I did it! I made piping, and edged a pillow cover!
    I’m 54 years old, and just started sewing. Like last week. He!

  19. Love your site and all of the amazing projects and helpful hints. Cannot wait to get started on some summer fun!

  20. I am very impressed with your instructions and photos. For someone like me who just got a sewing machine for the first time in my life (i am 62 yrs old) it was very easy for me to follow and understand. I have a question. I am attempting to make chair pads for my wooden dining room chairs that have spindles on the back and a wooden seat that is wider in front than back. I made a pattern of the seat using wrapping paper and bought a 2″ foam cushion which I cut using the same pattern. I am planning on cutting a front and back piece of fabric and cutting some bias strips to cover the cording. When using a 2″ deep foam cushion, do I sew both the top and bottom pieces together with the cording in the middle? Can’t picture in my mind (i am very visual) where the piping will end up. Any suggestions and advice will be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

    1. Usually, a 2″ cushion would use a boxed design for a seat cover. This would have piping on the top and the bottom. For your project, you might want to attach the piping to the bottom piece, first.

  21. I have wanted to do piping on pillows forever and have yet to attempt it. However your tutoiral is so well done I will try it. Come summer. Thanks for a job well done.

  22. I used this tutorial to make my first pillow with piping. I used an Elizabeth Bradley 6 inch needlepoint for the center. It turned out really well. Your directions are clear and photos great. Thank you so much.

    1. I am a neophyte, and most of my projects are out of leather. I generally try making pillows, computer cases and handbags. I have always wanted to add piping, but was intimidated, as it looked so hard to do without looking like a disaster. Your tutorial was very professionally done and extremely easy to follow and confidence-building. Having read it, I will add piping to my next project. Thank you so much for your answer to a much-needed way to bring my projects to next level.

  23. I have not been able to find a source for the cord for piping. I live in a large city, and not a single fabric or crafts store near me even knows what I’m asking for. Where do you buy cord for pillow piping?

  24. Thank you so much for creating this tutorial! I made my first pillow ever and with great ease. I didn’t even have to get out the seam ripper…and I learned how to use a zipper foot! I had a blast making this pillow and plan to make more. I wish I could attach a picture so you could see how cute my pillow turned out.
    Kathy G.

  25. Great tutorial ! I have finally learned how to make my own bias strips. Your instructions & photos are so clear & perfect. Thanks again for sharing this tutorial!!! Love it!

  26. Your directions were the first I’ve seen that were clear and precise and VERY easy to follow. Thank you!

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