Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to Make a Contrast Piping--the Super Duper Easy Way!

So I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks-- for shame! I went out of town, then because I went out of town I had SO much to catch up on, and then everything broke at the same time and I had to deal with all the repairs. To be fair, my wireless router was one of the things that broke, so that prevented me from blogging, too. 

I remember before I went AWOL I told you I was taking a Bernina sewing machine Mastery class and I promised you tidbits, and I will deliver! I learned so much from Leo, my boss.  First of all he held up a great big huge 2-foot needle and showed us all the tiny parts you can't see on an actual-size one.  For instance, on an embroidery needle the area above the eye is highly polished so that it can accommodate all the ins and outs the needle is doing. 

Then we learned about all the cool features you can buy on a Bernina. Needle up/down, knee levers, fingertip stop/start with complete speed control, and so much more to love!

THEN we started sewing! I learned how to use a ruffler and a cording foot.  The cording foot I got to try myself and it was SEW easy! I went out and got a cording foot for my machine because I saw a project (via my sister, Margo) on Martha Stewart's website that didn't use it, but I could add to it for a cute effect!  The project was making handkerchief pillows for a baby's nursery using vintage hankies.  (More about that later on this post...)

Since I got the cording foot, I am going to teach YOU how to make your own piping for a pillow or cushion, or upholstery, or clothing, or to whatever you desire to add contrast. You can make it any size, from thin as a wisp to downright chunky. I'm going to use some cording on the thicker side because I bought it to use on the hankie pillows. 

Here is what you will need: a cording foot for your sewing machine (or maybe you can do it with a general foot), cording in the length for your project, fabric for the main body of your pattern with a generous seam allowance, and contrast fabric about two inches wide by the length of your cording.  Imagine that the purple fabric you see in the photo above is two squares of fabric for the front and back of a pillow, and the green fabric in the middle is the contrast for the piping. 

A word about the cording foot: in the sewing class I took, the Bernina cording foot was grooved on the bottom for the cording to go underneath it.  The generic cording foot I bought for my Singer Curvy at Joann had some sort of clip on top of the foot for the cording, which promptly broke off as soon as I tried to put the cording under it.  I don't know how that clip was supposed to work, but the foot had a groove under it too, so I used it and it worked fine. 

So, take your length of cording and your two inch wide fabric and wrap it around the cording lengthwise and right side OUT, so that the long sides are aligned. 
Insert the wrapped cording under the foot of your machine, making sure that the needle is positioned so that it will come down to the RIGHT of the cording. 

Sew a straight stitch all the way down the length of your fabric, and don't forget to tack it down at the beginning and end! It doesn't have to be too perfectly tight, but make sure it's not too terribly loose either. 

Then, take both sides of the body fabric and layer them on either side of your cording you have just made, right sides TOGETHER, aligning the raw edges of the body fabric with the raw edges of your cording. 

Now you have a sandwich that you will again line up under the cording foot with the needle to the right of the cording.  Sew this seam a little tighter, yes, it has to be perfectly tight.  (That way the first seam won't show when you are done! Slick!) Don't forget to tack it down at beginning and end. 

See? My photography isn't the greatest, but you can just see the red thread of the first seam peeking out from under the purple. 

As far as corners go, and hiding the beginning and end, I've found some YouTube videos that explain it much better than I can here.  Here's a cute-sounding British person explaining corners (although he uses a different piping technique than I showed you here) and here is a funky chick explaining how to connect the beginning and end of the piping in a very polished way.  Thanks and good luck!

In other news, my job is going GREAT. Having a job and somewhere to go is helping me SO much. As I mentioned before, my sister Margo texted me the link to a DIY on Martha Stewart's website for making pillows out of vintage handkerchiefs. So I decided I would find some vintage hankies that I could sew up into pillows and offer to those new moms who aren't of a DIY nature, but would like some handmade touches in their baby's nursery. 

I am sooo proud of myself because I went all alone, in a city with which I have only limited familiarity. I looked up estate sales online in advance and wrote down some addresses in zip codes where I thought there would be, ahem, big houses. (I was right on two zip codes, waaaay wrong on one other.) I did have a GPS to help, so that made it even easier to not be anxious about it. Even at the house that I was wrong about, I found an old sewing machine (didn't buy) and a bunch of old patterns that I think either Margo or I could use. (So one good turn deserves another, and I did buy all of them.) A year ago? Don't even THINK that I would have done all this by myself.

One hard lesson, though--antique stores.  You will probably find better stuff, or be more likely to find it, but it will cost more too.  I went a little nuts in the one antique store I went to and spent too much money, as I am apt to do if I don't watch myself carefully.  But I told my manager at work about all this, and as HE has two adult daughters, one of which is like me, he said to go out and get a secured credit card with a low limit.  A credit card?  That was the LAST thing I thought I should have. 

But the key was the low limit.  I didn't get a secured one, as my credit is pretty good right now, and it will just turn into an unsecured one eventually anyway. I was approved for a sky-high limit, which I will call and have lowered to an affordable amount as soon as I receive the card. But from now on, all indie-biz and "fun" purchases will go to the card, and when it doesn't work anymore, I'm done for the month.  AND I will pay the balance in full every month.  I really think it will be a good system!

I hope all of YOU are doing as well as I am right now.  I always have to say, "right now" when I talk about how I'm doing.  Stability is often short-lived with me, but I have hope that each time I achieve it, it lasts a little longer.  Thanks for reading!

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