How to Sew Piping into Upholstery Fabric

What You'll Need
Sewing machine

Upholstery piping improves the look and durability of your furniture by contrasting the fabric used for its body and strengthening the edges of seats and cushions that are subject to heavy wear. Attaching your own upholstery piping will help save time and money while giving a more customized look to your finished project. Sewing in upholstery piping is a moderately difficult sewing project and you should have some past experience or practice with upholstery projects before completing this one.

Step 1 – Match the Fabrics

The relationship between piping and upholstery fabric is one based entirely upon complement and contrast—the final result of the pairing can make or break the appearance of a piece of furniture. Select a fabric for your piping that works well with the material that will be used for the main upholstery cushion. Make sure the piping either matches the cushion or contrasts it in an attractive way. If your project involves tufting, make sure that the tufting buttons and piping are visually compatible. Limit the number of textures and patterns that are used; simpler is better, and draws the eye to the few selected details and the overall shape of the furniture itself.

When restoring antique furniture, it's best to research the colors and fabrics that were used when the piece of furniture was created, in order to achieve a more authentic result. Look at your local thrift store for vintage material in the way of curtains or drapes which may be heavy enough for your upholstery project, but which will definitely be much cheaper than the cost of purchasing the same material and the same quantity from a fabric retailer.

Step 2 – Create the Piping

Take bias strips of the material, long enough for the length of piping you require, and wide enough for the circumference of the cording and a few inches of seam. Place the cording centered in the middle of the bias strip, against the back side, and fold the strip so that the raw edges meet. Sew the fabric using the zipper foot on your sewing machine, as close to the cording as possible.

Step 3 – Line Up the Seams

The piping will attach to the upholstery fabric through the original seam. Lay both pieces of upholstery fabric so that the right face is inwards, creating a pocket. Line up the seam of the piping by sandwiching it between the 2 upholstery fabric seams, with the cording itself in the middle of the sandwich. Pin the seam to keep all 4 raw edges lined up for a professional look.

Step 4 – Sew the Piping

Sew the piping seam into the seam you've created with the upholstery fabric. Once it's sewn in, if you flip the fabric right side out, the piping should be properly in place, creating a tight, clean line. Repeat on any other items you are upholstering, and enjoy the finished look that results.