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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How to Add Piping to Sleeves and Hems

If you have tried out any of our patterns that use piping, you know how amazing it can look as a trim! I'm personally a big fan.  But what about when you want to add piping to a project that doesn't have it included in the original instructions?  

Well, no problem!  First of all, you can use our general piping tutorial here to learn about piping.  And then, if you want to go a little deeper and add it to the hems of your sleeves, shirts, skirts, etc, then you have come to the right place to learn! 

Doesn't that piping look fantastic?! 

This sleeve piece for the pattern above wasn't intended to use with piping, but it turned out awesome without having to adjust the pattern piece at all! Let's take a look at how it's done:

First of all, make sure you add the piping to the sleeve before you sew it onto the shirt or hem it.  This needs to be the very first step of the sleeve as you construct your shirt.

Next, zigzag or serge the bottom raw edge of the sleeve. 

Then fold the bottom sleeve edge 3/4" to the wrong side of the fabric, as shown above. 

Sew the fold in place by stitching close to the edge all across. 

Turn the sleeve piece over so the right side of the fabric is facing up, as shown above.  You should be able to see the stitching line but not the fold.  

Take the bottom fold of the sleeve and fold it up 1/2" toward the right side of the sleeve.  As you do so, slide the piping into the fold so its cording rests just at the top of the 1/2" fold.  Pin in place all across the sleeve, being sure to secure the fold and the piping.  The more pins you use, the easier it will be to sew! 

Using a cording foot or a zipper foot, sew the fold/piping in place by sewing as close to the piping/fold as possible.  In the photo above you can see that the zipper foot allows the stitch to sew right next to the piping, but still on the fold.  Do this all across the sleeve. 

When you're done, the piping should be enclosed in the hem, and only right sides of the fabric should be showing on the front of the sleeve. 

Here's a closeup of what that looks like. 

The photo above is what the back of the hem should look like.  You will see the serged/zigzagged edge and then only above 1/4" of the edge on the back. The rest of the hem is on the front of the sleeve. 

(Note:  You may have noticed by now that this method does shorten the sleeve by about 1/4" of what it would be with a regularly hemmed 1/4"-3/4" hem.  If your pattern calls for a larger or smaller hem, you can adapt as you want.) 

Now repeat all of these steps on the second sleeve if you have not already done so. 

Now you are ready to construct the rest of the outfit as instructed in the pattern! 

 When you get to the point where your sleeves are all complete, there is one last little step you may want to do: On the end of each sleeve, find the seam on the inside and fold it toward the back of the sleeve.  Stitch it in place through the seam allowance, just to keep that flap out of the way.  See photo above.  Repeat on the other sleeve. 

And there you have it!  Your sleeve will look awesome with piping on it, and you didn't even need a special pattern for it!  

You can follow this exact same method to add piping to the bottom hems of dresses, skirts, tops, and anything that uses a regular hem.  If it's a narrow hem, you may need to add length first, but for the most part you can get away with just the folding!  

I hope you found this helpful.  Go on out and add piping to all sorts of awesome projects now!  

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 


  1. These instructions are an answer to a long standing mystery to me!!! Thank you so much! Can hardly wait to use this technique!!!

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