See how crisp? How simply sophisticated? How subtly structured?
So Lily Pulitzer. So Mad Men. So Jackie O.
Many of the instructions I came across for this embellishment were a little vague. And I encountered a lot of frustration with sloppy, floppy piping protruding ungracefully from the seams of my garments on my early attempts.
I was beginning to wonder if every seam would need to be hand slipstitched into place, making cording a time intensive, possibly not worthwhile, fashion option.
So after much research and trial and error I will show you the easiest way I found to make a piped/corded seam that really fits, with items and tools you may already have around the house.
The Corded or Piped Seam Tutorial
You can buy corded bias trim piping (called Maxi Piping in these parts) or you can make your own.
Today I made my own blue piping by inserting some #16 (a little bit thin to be ideal) cotton twine into pre-made bias tape. I think a worsted weight or rug weight cotton yarn would also work well, however you'd want to do a quick color fastness check if it isn't a light neutral, or the same color as you bias tape.
I also cut and mitered bias strips of 1.25 inches in width and made patterned cording which could match or contrast with your main pattern pieces... Look, Flowers... Pretty!!
The trick for a nice tight corded seam is all in the needle settings:
Place the twine into the center crease of the bias tape and use zipper foot to baste it closed. Close it, but don't get too close to the cording. You will want this seam hidden when you insert the corded piping in your seam. I used a contrasting thread for demonstration but a thread that matches your bias tape is also a prudent idea.
The next step is to baste the corded piping to the right side of your project along the seam line you'd like piped. Corded edge facing the inside of the seam.
Now that you're all basted pin the other piece of your project together, right sides facing.. or if you are lazy like me you can employ the pinch and pray method. This is what your layers should look like:
Now with all layers in place use your fingers (Carefully! Please!) to guide the cording in the zipper foot notch. (photo shows an example that is previously been stitched to better illustrate the line you'll want to be following)
Mine is a smart little linen and lavender sachet! No Lavender? How 'bout a pincushion?
This skill can virtually transform your dressmaking!
One last little tid bit about what to do at the ends of the cording from Talbot's Guide to Sewing:
and I'm off to finish the dress in the first picture.