Yes, it’s tedious. Yes, it adds more time to making your gown. And it’s something you have to remember to do each time. But what a difference it makes!
I’ve never been taught how to do this but I’ve read some instructions and looked at pictures. I’m still not sure if I do it the *right* way but I figured out a way *I* can do it. And it looks good.
My first attempt was sadly quite bad. I have no photos to show just how bad. Then I tried my cheater method and I thought Hey! This is not bad at all and it wasn’t much work. This was my first attempt on an 1850s gown. It’s between the bodice and sleeve. Looks just like piping, right? It’s not. Just before I sewed the sleeve on I pulled a tuck back on the bodice seam allowance and stitched it, then sewed the sleeve on. This fabric was silk taffeta with a heavy cotton flatling so it had a little bulk. I imagine on lighter weight fabrics that might not work. So I was going to have to learn how to do it the proper way.
I’m better at seeing something done on a video rather than reading about it so I dug around and found this video. http://www.ehow.com/videos-on_4525_sewing-piping.html Each photo has a link to that segment’s video.
These are the two cords I’m using. The Sugar ‘n Cream yarn, purchased at Michael’s, was what I used for doing my corded petticoat and comes highly recommended. I felt that it was a little narrow and soft for my bodice cording and instead bought the cotton cording next to it in the upholstery section of JoAnn’s Fabrics. Neither are very expensive.
Earlier I showed a few photos of how I was doing my piping on Cranberry but not how I sewed it on. So here is a step by step on how I came up with doing it. This one was just sewn in a folded over edge of a piece of fabric & afterwards I trimmed it down. Later I just cut strips of fabric 2” wide and stuck the cord in the middle. My fabrics were leftovers cut along the selvedge edge. Someone might recommend using bias cut but this seemed to work just as well and I can use leftovers.
I pinned along the cord, then I sewed as closely and tightly to it as I could using my zipper foot.
This is from my black fabric but I trimmed the fabric down so it was half an inch from the stitch line of the cord.
I always have a bit of green tape on my machine showing the 1/2 inch I should be at.
And voila! Piping!
I’m able to easily use this to finish the edge of my neckline without even having to do a facing by trimming a bit of the seam allowance and folding the edge of the piping over and turning the edge about 1/4 inch under and slip-stitiching it down.
Here are some of my finished edges. Yes, I did decide to add some lace to the neckline of Cranberry. I found some in my stash that didn’t need tea dying.
It was normal for this time period of 1830s to also have piping down the center front seam but since I was doing some big adjustments on it I didn’t see a way I could do that at the time.
Now back to work.
ETA: If you'd like to see how another expert does this, check out Andrea Schewe's blog, especially for doing curved areas.