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SEWING Double bias piping creates a striking edge treatment



Published: Sun, February 16, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Use piping to create one-of-a-kind garments.

By SUSAN KHALJE

SCRIPPS HOWARD

A friend of mine creates beautiful one-of-a-kind garments, and the other day I noticed a striking edge treatment that she likes to use. It's called double bias piping.

It's certainly not a new technique, but it creates a beautiful edge finish, either along the outside of a garment or within the body of it, joining sections together, for example.

It looks like two rows of bias piping that have been placed next to each other, though it is not quite as simple as preparing two strips of piping and laying them next to one another. If that were done, the stitching on the outermost would be visible.

There's a better way: after the first strip is prepared (the filling material is enclosed, and wide seam allowances are left), a second strip of bias tape is centered and sewn over the first strip's stitching line. The filler of the second bias strip is put into place, and then enclosed, stitching through all four layers. It's a very striking treatment, especially with contrasting colors, fabrics or textures. And I've even seen a treatment where one of the layers of piping was gathered.

Sewers prefer different fillers, of course -- I like to use rattail, the smooth satin cord which is available in most fabric stores. You'll probably want to get the wider type; there is a narrower form which is called mousetail. It's very, very thin and a little too narrow for all but the most subtle of treatment.

Dry clean only

Remember, though, that neither rattail nor mousetail likes to be machine washed, so limit their use to garments that will be dry cleaned. One old standby is cable cord. It's inexpensive and available in an enormous variety of widths. If you are going to use it, just be sure that the cables themselves aren't visible through the bias fabric.

I once used it years ago on the piping for a handkerchief linen wedding dress -- and, unfortunately, the cables were detectable through the sheer linen. Knitting yarn is popular and inexpensive filler, available in a variety of widths, and the acrylic yarns can go through the washing machine without any problems.

And be sure to cut the fabric for the piping at exactly 45 degrees -- otherwise, your piping will form ripples that are impossible to remove. Also, enclose the cord somewhat loosely when you first form the piping. Remember, you'll be sewing it a second time, whether to form the double piping, or to sew it to the garment. If you sew it tight the first time, the second time is bound to be tighter (to cover the original stitches, if for no other reason) and you'll find that your piping is stiff and inflexible.

Easy to find

Today's sewing machines have an almost infinite variety of needle placements, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find exactly the placement you need; a little bit of experimentation guide to exactly the right needle position.

And there's no reason to stop at two rows of piping -- the double-bias piping technique could easily work for three rows. Just make sure that the seam allowances on the first and second pieces of piping are adequately wide.




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