What is the difference between piping and cording?

Except you are very new to the sewing profession, cording and piping are two terms you must have come across on several occasions in your line of business. Many times, these terms are used interchangeably simply because both of them are used to serve similar purposes, whereas they are two different terms.

While piping is the general term used for describing a technique of styling the outline of a fabric, cording is the use of cotton rope as finished piping. Not elaborate enough? I bet it is! Well, why don’t you jump straight into the main body of this article because contained herein is a detailed “what is the difference between piping and cording.” Keep reading for details!

Piping vs cording

Piping is like a type of trim embellishment with a strip of folded fabric used in forming pipes that will be inserted into the seam that outlines the edges of a garment. While on the other hand, cording is like a type of rope that is used as decorations in sewing. They are used majorly in sewing to create piping for fabrics. There are varieties of this rope, and its uses extend beyond the fashion industry. It is also a useful tool in upholstery making.

What is piping cord used for?

Piping cord is majorly used as a contrasting or coordinating hem along the seams of pillows, slipcovers cushions, or fabric in general, depending on how you want it styled.

What is the meaning of cording?

Cording is a technique in sewing that involves the use of twisted fibers to create a cord. This cord can be attached to the hem as a decoration or an embellishment in sewing.

Ready-made piping for sewing

Piping can either be homemade or they can be bought from a fabric store. The ones sold at the fabric stores are the ones usually referred to as ready-made piping. This kind of piping comes in a variety of colors you can experiment with to create a contrasting or coordinating outline for your chosen design.

What size cord to use for piping?

The sizes of cords vary based on the material used in making the cord. For instance, cotton or polyester cords are sold in different sizes ranging from 1 millimeter to 1.5 millimeters. Similarly, you can also find leather-look cords of 1mm, and 1.5 to 1mm macrame cords.

What is the flanged piping cord?

A Flanged pipping cord is a type of cord that has a tiny piece of fabric attached to it. This type of cord usually has a flange for edging into seams of tie-backs, cushions, and every other finishing purpose. Fledge piping cord is usually about 5 to 6mm wide and has about 13 to 15 mm wide flange.

How to make piping

  1. Determine the length of the cord you are using for your piping

It doesn’t matter where you are getting your cord or rope piping from; what matters is that the diameter must be specified. If the length or diameter is not clearly stated, then you can do the measurement by yourself using a ruler. While you are at it, have it in mind that, at a minimum, the length of the cord or rope must be equivalent to the specified piping length for the project you are working on.

  1. Determine the width of the bias-cut

Piping fabric contains two parts — the part that is sewn into the seam of clothes and the part that is wrapped around the cord. To calculate the circumference of the cord using a measuring tape or you can determine the circumference with this formula C = π D, where D stands for diameter and π is equivalent to 3.14

  1. Determine the fabric Area

To get your fabric area, all you have to do is multiply the length and width of the fabric together.

  1. Make a continuous bias strip

After getting the area, cut a square of fabric and mark the selvage edges. Make sure the square is cut along the bias. If you do this, you will get a triangular shape and sew it into a parallelogram. Check all lines that are parallel to the bias edges and mark cut them. Space them based on the breadth of the bias strip. Assign numbers to these bias strips and see their ends together, leaving only one. Then cut along the cut lines. 

  1. Sew bias strip around rope/cord

Place the cord along the center of the biased strip, then pin the fabrics so that the edges can meet. Using either of zipper foot, cording foot, or narrow zipper foot, sew the bias strip along its full length, making sure your stitches are close enough to the cord or rope.

Tips for using piping

  1. Before you start sewing the seam, ensure the piping is basted along one edge of the seam.
  2. Before sewing piping to corners, make sure I snip the piping tails.
  3. Also, when sewing curves, cut off the tails of the piping before you start to sew.
  4. If you are sewing seams across piping, cut the rope at the seam to eliminate excesses.

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