Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Apply Piping to a Neckline

The Material Market
by Jules Trayer, France 1824-1908

Adding piping to the neckline of a cotton dress will make the garment last a lot longer. The seam of the neckline is less likely to fade or wear thin. I hope I can demonstrate adequately how to apply piping, but if you need more help, try searching some free sewing videos online, or find some "sewing piping" tutorials on sewing sites.

Although it is not necessary to have a facing, when sewing piping on a neckline of a dress or blouse, I find a facing helps keep the edges of the trim concealed and the stitching hidden, as well as making it lie flat. Before applying this trim, join the front and back shoulder seams of the garment, press them open, and then, with right side facing you, lay the piping trim down on the neckline, with the rounded edge toward the body of the dress, and the raw, unfinished edge of the piping toward the neck, as shown, above.

Put the top raw edge of the piping trim right on top of the raw edge of the dress neckline, on the outside of the fabric (not the inside).  Stitch along the same stitching that is already on the piping, all around the dress neckline.

Piping is hard to cut and join in a smooth way, so this is how I finish it: curve the end pieces downward off the fabric and stitch them. The white stitching is my own machine stitch, so you can see where I sewed. The other side of that stitching will be your guide for sewing the facing.

Prepare your facing by joining the shoulder seams, pressing the seams open. Iron a one-fourth inch hem on the facing and stitch it all the way around.  

The piping will be between the facing and the dress bodice. Put the dress part, with the under side showing, up, for the machine stitching. This is where you will see the previous stitching of the piping showing through.

Lay the facing on the inside of the dress and then, on the outside of the dress, stitch along the previous stitching line--the one that holds the piping.  That way, the facing and the piping are on the exact same stitching line.

With scissors, trim the excess fabric to about a fourth inch and then make a close zig-zag or some kind of edging stitch on the cut edge.  Turn the facing to the inside of the dress and press with a hot iron. Hand-stitch the facing to the inside of the dress, all along the lower edge of the facing piece.

Here is the finished dress. I had to piece it in several places, because there was so little of the fabric.That means that instead of putting a pattern piece on a whole length of fabric, I sewed small pieces together and then laid the pattern for the sleeves, and part of the hem. 

I have used this pattern and added sleeves that I liked better, from another pattern. This style is so easy, having only a front and back and facings and sleeves. I have done many different things with it, including adding a bias ruffle at the hem, different trims at the neckline, and a variety of sleeves. The neckline needs to be raised, but not a lot. If you want to make a dress in a day, this is the perfect pattern, or if you need to sew for someone else, this one has very little stress involved.

Here's a sewing tip you might like: If you have a pattern that you would like to use again, or one that has become a favorite, take the dress you just cut out, and lay that fabric on top of some new fabric, and cut around it. It is a lot easier to do that, than to get the tissue or paper pattern out and anchor it down and cut around it. The fabric "pattern" from the previous dress pieces clings more easily to the fabric, and does not move when you cut around it.

A couple of weeks ago I showed my experiment making a shirred blanket on the machine. Here is a much easier way to make an interesting, dimensional type blanket or spread. This is a fabric called Minky, which looks like the old fashioned ball fringe and chenille bedspreads. I quite like it, even though I prefer natural wovens, and it looks good as a bed spread. It does not need to be hemmed, but some matching ball fringe would look nice around the edges.

This is what it looks like on the bed. It is a very soft fabric and very pleasant to the touch. You can wash it and hang it out to dry and it will not get stiff or scratchy.

I am going to experiment again, and make a little jacket to match a dress, with the green color Minky.

See also, How to Make Your Own Piping from string and bias cut fabric


Raggedy Cottage Garden said...

Wonderful. I have a dress that I believe if I make again I will adjust the neckline higher.

Anonymous said...

When I open your RSS feed it puts up a whole lot of strange characters, is the deal on my end?

Gayle said...


Lydia said...

There is a big possibility it has something to do with a setting on my blog that I have not fixed. I will try to get some help from someone more technically advantaged

Anonymous said...

I love seeing your sewing blogs. Just yesterday, I was looking for an old one, in which you showed a little sketch book of sewing notes, ideas, and plans, that you encourage us to keep.

Also, I have been using your daughter's idea of re-making the necklines and sleeves of already-made shirts, so that they are more to our liking. I have really been enjoying doing this. I have been taking lots of big collars off of shirts, and finishing them off into a "jewel" shape instead, just like you are showing in your post!

Thank you for all the ideas. Sometimes I don't use them until years later, but they are in my mind percolating until I can get to them later!

Barbara Neubeck said...

Hi LadyLidya,
Thanks for the clear instructions on piping.
I don't sew very much these days...but I still like thinking about it.
Have a good week
Barb from Australia

Anonymous said...

Hi dear Lydia,

I was doing real well with your pipping instructions till I got to: "Lay the facing on the INSIDE of the dress ...." Now should it not be layed on the outside? and then sewn? Right sides together?
Lynn M

Lydia said...

Lynn, They ARE laid on the outside of the garment, but I have to turn the dress side of the garment up, and stitch on that side.

Lydia said...

I'm finishing this dress, hopefully, today and will add pictures.

Anonymous said...

your instructions are clear to understand and delightful. Thank you for sharing.

Must confess I've never tried piping before, must try it on something. It always makes a garment look so finished.

Have seen the Minky fabric in the stores, but haven't given much thought to using it. I think maybe I'll try making something for the new grand babies for Christmas.

Mrs. J.

Lynn said...

I now understand about the dress and the facing. Thank you Lydia!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia, I love the dress design and the wonderful, bright colors. What pattern did you use? Another question: will you sometime post a sample menu plan that you follow? And your exercise guide? You seem to be trim and fit! Thank you! Sharon

Cathy and Steve said...

Hi, Lydia,

I am very new to your blog - I just found it and joined within the past week or so, but I am loving it so far! In fact, after a stressful day, I've had a relaxing evening wandering through your archived posts.

This post caught my eye because I have a bolt of fabric that is very similar to the fabric you used for this dress. I still don't know what I ultimately want to do with it but I am always looking for ideas. My piece is a heavier weight - kind of like a pique - so it wouldn't drape well for a dress. I see a very unusual but colorful summer coat or a curtain in my future LOL.

I agree with you about the value of piping and I use it liberally, especially when I am making things like pillows, clutches, totes, etc.

Like you, I was bedeviled by having to join the piping until my mom taught me a neat trick. When you start sewing, leave an un-sewn length of piping a couple of inches long, sort of like a tail.

When you get close to the end, 1- 2 inches before the place where they will join, snip the threads and remove the garment from the machine. Trim the length of piping so that both pieces will overlap by about a half inch or slightly more.

This is going to be hard to explain, but trust me, it is so easy to do. Line up the pieces - the tails - of piping so that they overlap. If you are using the kind of piping that is corded, open up a short amount the seam of the piece that is going to overlap with a tiny pair of scissors or a seam ripper -- just the length of the overlap. Cut out the piece of cord that will overlap.

Trim the remaining fabric of the piping so that yo can fold the raw edge of the cut end under by an eighth to 3/16 of an inch and then lap that piece of cording fabric over the other piece of the piping. You can pin it all in place or hand baste it (That is what I usually do), and then finish it off with the machine.

I hope that makes sense. It is really easy and gives a nice even finish. You can also use that technique to join two pieces for a really large project, like a large cushion for a bench.

And now I am off to browse through many more of your wonderful posts!

Cathy from MA

Lydia said...

Cathy, it would be very helpful if you could one day do a picture step-by-step demonstration of this technique on one of your blogs. If you do, I'll put the link inside this post.