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Regency spencer sleeve, c. 1815.

Regency spencer sleeve, c. 1815. The bands that are tucked inside the sleeve head appear to have been piped.

Finding ways to reproduce elements of historic clothing can be difficult, particularly when it is unusual or when viewing or handling the garment is impractical or not allowed. Sometimes historic handsewing has produced more tricky or fiddly aspects on a garment, which can be harder with a sewing machine. And sometimes it is all about learning something that you haven’t tried before!

This weekend I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to do multiple strips of piping together to form a band. I have been keen to use this on a garment I am making but working out how it might have been done (and then figuring out how I might be able to reproduce it) was quite difficult. I have detailed my efforts below.

Step One

Cut a wide bias strip in the fabric you want to have piped. Cut another strip of fabric on the grain for lining. Position your cording along the inside of the bias strip in the same way that you would for normal piping. Pin your lining strip underneath, right sides together, and sew using a zipper foot.

The material to be piped is on top, with the cording pinned in place. The lining sits underneath to be caught in this first line of stitching.

The material to be piped is on top, with the cording pinned in place. The lining sits underneath to be caught in this first line of stitching.

Step Two

The lining strip is then turned under to form the “underlayer” of the band. The raw edge of the lining should be trimmed and turned inside to meet the other raw edges.

The remaining raw edge of the lining is folded to the inside of the band.

The remaining raw edge of the lining is folded to the inside of the band.

This raw edge will be caught in the next line of stitching.

Step Three

Pin the next line of cording inbetween the lining and the outer fabric and sew, making sure that the fabric and cord is pushed close to the first line of piping to form a ridge.

The next row of cording is pinned in position ready to sew.

The next row of cording is pinned in position ready to sew.

The underneath should look like this:

Under the piped band

Under the piped band before sewing the second row of piping.

Continue on in the same way, sewing the desired number of rows of piping until you have reached the last one.

Push the cord close to the previous row of piping to get that characteristic bulge in the material.

Push the cord close to the previous row of piping to get that characteristic bulge in the material.

Step Four

Once you have reached the last row of piping you will need to trim your material. Lay your cord against the material to give yourself a guide of how much may need to be trimmed. Once the excess is cut off, fold the material over the cord, tuck the raw edge into the edge of the lining, and handsew it in place.

Handsewing the last row of cording in place

Handsewing the last row of cording in place

The band of piping is now finished!

The finished band should look something like this.

The finished band should look something like this.

Piped bands make an interesting addition to a hat.

Piped bands make an interesting addition to a hat.

I really like how it turned out, especially because it looks different to the normal things for sale in dressmaking and craft shops. This decorative band can be used as a thicker alternative to ribbon or as a trim on hats or costumes. I will be using this band on the new Regency spencer I am currently working on. I also plan to use something similar on this late Regency bonnet.

Related Posts

How to use Ribbon to make Decorative Trims

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: from Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

How to make and attach your own piping

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