How to upholster with piping

Written by wendy hughes
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to upholster with piping
(Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Upholstering with piping adds refinement and polish to your interior decor. Piping not only strengthens corners and seams, but also accents the lines of an upholstered piece and influences the ambience of a room. Sleek furniture piped with the same colour or pattern as the upholstered piece conveys sophistication and a formal quality. Bright, contrasting piping suggests a more buoyant, playful mood. Leather piping adds a sporty or rustic touch. Upholster with piping to provide the perfect finishing touch to your upholstery projects.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pattern
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Piping cord
  • Fabric or material for piping
  • Scissors
  • Long straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Heavy-duty thread
  • Regular sewing machine foot
  • Cording sewing machine foot
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Canvas pliers
  • Tack strips
  • Rubber mallet

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Lay out your pattern and weight or pin it in place. Check that the nap of the fabric runs the same direction and the pattern matches at seams.

  2. 2

    Cut out pieces, leaving a 2-inch allowance on the edges that will be stapled and 5/8 to 1 inch at seams. Label each piece (e.g. “lower front”) by pinning a note to the right side or writing on low-tack painter's tape. Place labels so they parallel the top edge so you will know which way the pieces fit. Set aside.

  3. 3

    Measure each edge where piping will be attached with a flexible measuring tape. Add 6 inches to this measurement and note the total measurement. Add all the measurements for section of piping to determine the total length required.

  4. 4

    Cut strips of fabric on the diagonal, wide enough to cover the piping and leave a 1 to 2 inch seam allowance. You will trim it down to 5/8 inch before applying it to the upholstery.

  5. 5

    Seam the piping strips, end to end, holding the ends at right angles with right sides together. Use the regular foot to on your sewing machine to sew the seams together. Press seams flat. Repeat until you have a continuous strip the required length.

  6. 6

    Fold the strip in half lengthwise and lightly steam. Do not crease. Insert the piping cording into the strip next to the centre of the fabric. Fold the edges over and pin in place. Baste the edges closed using the cording foot of the sewing machine.

  7. 7

    Place the round piping edge facing in toward the centre of a section of upholstery where you want to highlight an edge. Place it on the right side of the fabric. Baste in place. Pin to the adjoining piece right sides together and just inside the basting stitch holding the piping in place. Stitch the seams and turn the upholstery right side out and position on the chair or couch. Working top to bottom and inside to outside of each piece, stretch the bottom edges around the frame using the canvas pliers and staple in place.

  8. 8

    Apply tack strips to hold the fabric in place on raw edges where seams cannot be sewn. Use flat, rigid cardboard strips for straight lines and flexible metal jaw tooth strips for curves. Hold the fabric vertically taut and push the wrong side of the fabric onto the tacks, about 1 inch from the edge of the material. Turn the strip over, creating a finished edge. If piping is used here, be sure it shows above the tack strip before hammering the tacks into the frame with a rubber mallet.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are reupholstering, remove the old fabric and use it for a pattern. Study the way it was put on the piece to learn how to reupholster it.
  • Use the regular foot on your sewing machine for seams.
  • Take care that piping is stitched or stapled into place straight, with no wavy lines. Do not to pull it out of alignment when stapling the fabric onto the chair or sofa frame.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.