Tag Archives: quality control

steps to perfect piping

5 Steps to Perfect Piping

Have you tried pipping an edge of your garment? Say a neckline or the hem of a short sleeve? Apart from looking super special it’s a great way to help ease in a gaping neckline or adding an extra pop of colour.

Step 1

I like to use knitting yarn inside my piping for clothing as it’s soft enough to sew over and is a lot cheaper than cord. Alternatively, cotton cord is sold by the meter and comes in a variety of thicknesses.  It’s what I prefer for soft furnishings.

Firstly we need to cut the strips. For clothing, piping should be cut on the bias because it will give us the stretch we need if we want to ease in an edge (on a neckline for example.) Soft furnishings and accessories piping can be cut on the straight grain and will use less fabric.

Cut bias strips 4cm wide and join if necessary.

Step 2

  1. Fold the bias strip over the end of your yarn and position under the half foot of your sewing machine
  2. begin sewing and use the yarn “bump” as a guide for the foot to run along
  3. sew all the way to the end
  4. trim so the seam allowance on the piping is between 6mm and 1cm (this is especially important when using darker piping in a pale coloured item as you won’t want the seam allowance to show through.)

piping collage 1

Step 3

Next we sew the piping onto our project.

  1. position the piping along the required edge leaving a tail hanging off the end. Sew on top of the first row of stitching
  2. with your lining facing the right side of your work, and the piped fabric on top, sew just to the left of your previous row (as indicated by the yellow line in the photo)
  3. and if all goes well you’ll have something like this.

piping collage 2Step 4

Now what if you have to insert a zip? You can make your piping sit back away from the edge which will give you space to add a zip.

  1. instead of leaving a tail hanging off the back, fold the piping at an angle
  2. sew on the lining or facing as instructed above
  3. see how the piping is now set neatly back from the edge
  4. leaving you seam allowance to insert a zip.

piping collage 3

Step 5

Or what about joining your piping when it meets?

  1. when you begin sewing, fold the piping at an angle
  2. then when you come around to where it meets, turn the piping at a slighter angle and run it off the edge. This is where you’ll be glad you used yarn instead of cording as you’ll be able to sew over the top with no problems.

piping collage 4


I’ll be doing a second post soon about further methods for joining the ends, how to sew a zip along a piped edge (like you would in a cushion cover) and how to sew piping on curves and corners.

In the meantime, practice and let me know how you go. I’d love to see your work on Instagram too so use the hash tag #stitchingrules.


More Sewing Mistakes

Another 5 Common Sewing Mistakes

Following on from this post I’ve gone ahead and described five more ways you can improve your sewing. Many of these tips were originally basic sewing rules that have been forgotten over time.

Incorrect button attachment – Unless you’re attaching buttons as a decorative feature, the stitching in four-hole buttons always sits like a number 11, not a x. When using a two or four hole button you also need to allow the button to sit a bit above the fabric. Do this by winding the thread around the stitches to form a shank. Shank buttons already allow for the thickness of the fabric so this winding is not necessary.

button shank

Mismatching thread – It might not seem important and it’s certainly tempting to use what you have when you’re in a rush, but taking the time to match the thread to the fabric will make a big difference to the final look of your item. When you’re in the haberdashery section, unravel the thread from the spool to hold it against your fabric.

Overlocking thread is not as important to have matching perfectly, but investing in some larger spools of the basic colours is a good idea.

matching thread

Incorrect interfacing – There are many types of interfacing available and they all have their purposes. Iron on or sew in, woven, non woven or knitted and light, medium or heavy weight are all varieties of interfacing. Follow the pattern instructions and learn which one is best for your project. Bottom line – if your pattern calls for interfacing – use it!

Incorrect hem allowance – Hems can vary, but are generally between 2cm and 5cm. Sometimes a hem can be larger because it’s a design feature. Always aim to stitch along the center of the overlocking, or close to the edge if it’s a double neatened hem such as on jeans, shorts or children’s clothing. Curved hems will always sit better with a narrow hem. Once again, follow the pattern instructions as the designer has decided the hem for you.

hem sizeNot enough pressing – Best practice is to press seams as you go. Sometimes you can get away without it, but generally if you’re spending the time making something, pressing as you go can help keep the item neat.  It’s also an opportunity to double check a step before continuing with the next.  Pinstitching can help keep seams flat by holding seam allowance to one side.

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Reasons to Pinstitch

Top 3 Reasons to Pin Stitch

Today we’re going to talk about pin stitching – what is it and why should you bother doing it.
Pin stitching, or sometimes known as under stitching, is the tiny row of stitching that holds a seam flat to one side of the seam. See the row of white stitching in the photo below?  That’s pin stitching and as you can see it isn’t visible from the outside of the garment.


1. Easing

Sometimes you may need to make an edge sit tighter than how it first sits. A neckline or armhole may be gaping or might be at risk of stretching out, but pin stitching can prevent this.  As you do the pin stitching row, gently push the fabric in towards the presser foot. Just be careful not to create any tucks.

2. Save ironing time

Pretty good reason huh? Pin stitching and top stitching both help the garment sit properly before you even get it to an iron.  An armhole edge such as this would be much more tricky to press if the pin stitching wasn’t there. And think about how your customer is going to care for the item – having the pin stitching will make it much easier for them to make the item look good after laundering.

3. Prevent facings popping out

Pin stitching can help prevent the facing from rolling out and being seen when the garment is on the body. This typically happens at armholes, deep necklines and waistbands and can make the item appear unfinished.

I do encourage you to give pin stitching a go and see if you can create a habit. By using pin stitching in your work you’ll be pleasing your customers and producing a better quality product.

Top 5 Sewing Mistakes

Top 5 Sewing Mistakes

loose threads

Looking to improve your basic sewing techniques? Follow these top five sewing fixes and your work will improve instantly.

Loose threads – depending on how you prefer to work, threads can either be snipped off as you go or at the end. Whichever way you choose, take a moment to check over your work and ensure there are no stray threads hanging off your item. I do this as I’m doing the final press.

bunchy threadsThread bunches and incorrect back-tacking – nothing says homemade more than bunches of thread in your work. Practice back-tacking until you get it looking neat. Three stitches forward, back and forward once more is usually enough for an average seam ending or beginning.

stitch sizeWrong size stitches – stitching too small makes unpicking a nightmare and take longer to sew. Too large and the seam may pull apart, especially in open weave fabrics. A good setting would be between the mid size and largest size stitch length. The row of stitching on the left is too small and will be tricky and time consuming to unpick. The row on the right is too long and could lead to a weaker seam. The row in the center is just right.


uneven topstitching


Uneven topstitching – use your presser foot as the main guide for topstitching and go a bit slower if you need to. Practice, practice, practice is the only way to perfect your topstitching. If your topstitching is in a contrast colour, make sure your bobbin matches in case it shows through to the front of your work.

wonky buttonholes


Wonky/too large buttonholes – I know this may seem obvious, but nothing ruins the look of an item like a wonky buttonhole. Practice (see a pattern here?) to make sure the button is a snug fit – pin both ends to mark it or use a tailors chalk if you need to. And always trim off stray threads once you’ve cut the hole.

With practice these five tips will improve your sewing experience and give you a more professional look.