Sew piping or decorative trim into a seam

My quick and easy sewing tips for this technique can be used in all sorts of soft furnishings and clothing items; adding something decorative into a seam. This technique works for any sort of piping or trim that has a flat plain edge that can be trapped in the seam, leaving the more attractive edge peeping out on the correct side of the finished seam.

Pictured below from left to right are: PJ shorts I made from an old second hand dress and added a trim to add a pop of contract colour, some examples of pompom trims, a pair of trousers I added a gold twisted piping to for a child’s fancy dress costume, a pin cushion made using fabric and piping scraps.

This technique is pretty straight forward, even with silky/shiny fabric; however if this is the first time you’re trying this I would recommend using a a medium weight cotton/cotton mix until you feel more confident
— Emma - Stitch Me Happy

Watch my free video tutorial below

Steps to sewing decorative trim or piping into a seam

  1. Put your zipper foot on your sewing machine and colour matching thread to your project.

  2. Decide which unsewn seam you’ll be adding the trim to (make this decision before you’ve sewn the seam together!)

  3. Position the trim on the RIGHT side (the side with the pattern on that is the ‘correct’ side of the fabric that you’ll want to see on the finished project) of one of the pieced of fabric you’ll be joining together to create the seam. The RIGHT (decorative) side of the trim should be facing away from the raw edge of the fabric and the flat area of the trim should be close to lining up with the raw edge.

  4. Either pin or hold in place, then sew in place, keeping it in line with the raw edge. Don’t sew too close to the decorative part of the trim, about a half way point on the flat/plain area is usually a good place.

  5. Place your second piece of fabric on top and sandwich the trim in the middle, with RIGHT sides of your two pieces of fabric touching.

  6. Pin or hold in position and then sew in place, ensuring that you sew to the left of your first line of stitches, slightly closer to the decorative part of the trim (to make this easier you can sew on the side where your initial row of stitches is). You need to sew as close as possible to where the flat area of the trim finishes and the decorative part begins, so just the attractive part is visible on the RIGHT side of the seam (unless you want to be able to see part of the flat/plain area)

Got scraps of trim?

I try to think of ways to use up all my small scraps of leftovers, whether it’s thread, fabric, interfacing or wadding, and whilst I was creating this tutorial I was thinking of ways to use up small bits of trim and piping, rather than them being destined for the bin (or a box of bits and pieces you never end up using!)

If you are making something new these ideas will work really well, but if you’re adding to something that is already complete then in most cases you can simply unpick the area of the seam you want to add the trim to using a seam ripper and then position and sew the trim in place. So here are my thoughts:

  • Pick out pocket openings on garments like skirts, trousers and shorts

  • Liven up flat pockets on shirts and tops

  • Add interest to pin cushions and fabric weights

  • Use to make dolls clothing or accessories

  • Brighten up headbands

  • Add pops of texture to bunting flags

  • Sew multiple off-cuts together and use as a gift wrapping garland

  • (I know it’s a bit early but…) use for Christmas decorations, cards and gift tags

I hope you enjoy my little tutorial and have fun experimenting with adding trims!

Emma x

Emma CruickshankComment