How to sew a pillow cover with piping, the easy way

Inside: The easiest explanation of how to sew a pillow cover with piping! Even a beginner can do this!

If there is one way I’ve added a ton of color, character, and pattern to my home and saved some cash it’s by taking on the challenge of teaching myself to sew well enough to make my own home decor.

And since pillows are pretty much my favorite thing next to mixing fabric patterns, I thought it was high time I show you the easiest way to sew a pillow cover with piping.

I promise if you can sew a straight line, you can do this. It is that easy.

I’m excited to be partnering with my go to home decor fabric source,, to bring this easy-to-do sewing project to the blog!How to sew a pillow cover with piping the easy way

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure.

Adding piping around the edge of a pillow is a really fun way to either bring out one of the colors in your fabric pattern or add a really fun pop of contrasting color.

I used to create my piping piece in a completely separate step until I got smart and realized that there’s a much easier (and faster) way to add piping. Not to mention doing it the way I’m about to show you makes it so you will never again have that extra stitch line showing on your finish pillow cover. So frustrating, I know. You’re welcome.

Here’s what you’ll need to make a pillow cover with piping:

  • Fabric cut to the size of your pillow form. (For example if your pillow form is 18 inches square, you’ll need a front piece of fabric cut 18 inches square. The back piece will also be 18 inches square if you are making a zippered pillow cover, but if you are doing an envelope pillow cover your back piece will actually be 2 pieces.
  • Cording the thickness of your choice and enough to go around your pillow
  • Bias tape in the color you want your piping to be. Your bias tape needs to be wide enough to wrap around your cording and still have about a 1/2 inch seam.
  • Thread in a matching color.
  • Pillow insert in the size of your choice
  • (Optional) zipper
RELATED: Instructions for a zippered pillow cover or an envelope pillow cover.

(You can find this really fun flamingo fabric that my little lady LOVES right here.)

Supplies for how to sew a pillow cover with piping

How to sew a pillow cover with piping:

Step 1: Fold your bias tape around your cording. Remember you want your bias tape to cover the cording and leave about a 1/2 inch extra when the edges of the bias tape are lined up.

How to place the cording in the bias tape

Step 2: Grab the front piece of your pillow cover and place it in front of you, good side up.

Step 3: Starting in the middle on the bottom edge, place the raw edge of your bias tape along the raw edge of your fabric. You want all 3 raw edges to match perfectly.

(Hint: investing in a rotary cutter and cutting mat to make perfectly measured and straight, clean lines when cutting your fabric was the best thing I ever did.)

Step 4: Pin it in place about 2 inches from the end.

How to wrap the bias tape around the cording

On to the machine! You got this!

You will want to use your zipper foot for this so that you can get as close as possible to the cording.

Step 5: Place your piece on your machine and lower your zipper foot right after your pin. (You want to leave about a 2-3 inch portion of your piping unsewn for now.

Step 6: Start sewing with a straight stitch right along the edge of the cording. You can see the lump that your cording creates inside the bias tape. Sew right along that line.

How to sew a pillow cover with piping the easy way

Step 7: When you get about an inch or two from the corner, stop with your needle in your fabric and using your scissors, make about 3-5 snips into the edge of your bias tape. This will allow you to turn the corner without screwing up the cording.

Step 8: Go slow and continue and when you are about 1/2 inch from the end of that side, stop with your needle down into your fabric, lift your foot, turn your fabric and line up the piping on the next side.

Then lower your foot, and continue down the next side.

(You’ll repeat these steps for each corner.)

How to sew a pillow cover with piping the easy way

Step 9:  On the final side, stop sewing about 2-3 inches before you get back to where you started.

Step 10: Line up the ends of your cording and cut them so that they butt up to each other end to end. (You’ll want to peel back the bias tape for this part.)

How to cut a pillow cover cording so it meets end to end

Step 11: Fold the bias tape on the side you were just sewing around the cording as if you were going to continue on.

How to fold bias tape around pillow cording

Step 12: Take the beginning end of the bias tape and fold over the raw edge, just a little. Then fold it over the piece with the cording already inside. (You can see the beginnings of your super pro looking seam.)

Pin it so it stays just like that.

How to fold bias tape around pillow cording

Step 13: Take it back to your machine and start your stitch a little before where you left off and go all the way to where you started!

How to sew a pillow cover with piping the easy way

You now have piping all the way around the font piece of your pillow cover! Woo-hoo!

shop pillow forms

Okay. Now you need to make a decision. Are you going to go for it and make a zippered pillow cover? Or are you going to make an envelope pillow cover?

Either way I have you covered. You have the piping on your front piece so now it is just a matter of following the steps in either my zippered pillow cover tutorial (that is so easy even beginners can do it!) or my easy envelope pillow cover tutorial.

But a few tips before you head over to those steps…

Regardless of which type of pillow cover you are making, make sure that when you are sewing the back piece on, the little pieces of bias tape that were created when you made your snips at the corner need to be laying flat. If they aren’t, they will be poking through the front of your finished project, and your corners will be no bueno.

How to sew a pillow cover with piping the easy way

If you are going for it and adding a zipper, be sure that when you are sewing the zipper on, you aren’t going through the piping too. To make sure, lower the foot and then lift the fabric and peek under to make sure the piping isn’t pressed down under the foot. In fact, stop and check every little bit.

Also, after you’ve attached your zipper and it is time to use your stitch ripper to undo the temporary zig-zag seam, make sure you are only ripping the zig-zag seam and not the seam holding your piping onto your front piece. (Yes I learned this the hard way 🙁  )How to add a zipper to a pillow cover with piping the easy way

And once you are all done, it’s time to turn that baby right side out, add your pillow insert, and admire your handiwork!How to sew a pillow cover with piping the easy way

My little lady was really excited to come home to her newly refreshed bed after her first day of school!

How to sew a pillow cover with piping the easy way

shop pillow forms

A big THANK YOU to for sponsoring this post! As a long time customer it is a true honor!

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About Corey

Corey is the creative behind Hey There, Home where she shares easy-to-follow and beautiful home decor and entertaining ideas. Her mission? To make home decor accessible to everyone, even if you don't consider yourself crafty, and to empower people to decorate their homes in a way that they can actually be lived in, not just looked at.

45 thoughts on “How to sew a pillow cover with piping, the easy way

  1. Kay Adams says:

    I will be adding a thick braided cording to my needlepoint pillow and the cording has no seam allowance just the cord. I probably will have to hand sew it to the pillow. Any suggestions.

    Thanks, Kay

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Unfortunately I can’t speak to this specifically, Kay, because I’ve never done it. Perhaps a google search might help you. Best wishes!

  2. Kristen says:

    What if you want to close up the entire pillow. No zippers or pockets. How would you recommend doing that? Do you leave one side open and hand stitch closed?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Yes. In that case you set it up to attach the piping in the same way, then leave about 8 inches open in the middle of one edge (depending on how big your insert is) and after you’ve added your insert you can hand stitch it closed. Hope this helps, Kristen!

  3. Teresa S says:

    Ready for my first attempt at piping. I appreciate your easy to understand instructions and photos. Can’t wait to see how it goes. Wish me luck!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      You go, girl! I’d love to see a pic when you’re finished 🙂 You can email it to [email protected]

  4. Aileen Prather says:

    Thank you so much for your tutorial! It has been very helpful. I am wondering if when you see the back sides of the pillow cover to the front side (doing an envelope style) do you still use the zipper foot? Thank you

    1. Corey Willis says:

      You’re so welcome! Sometimes I forget to change out the foot so yes Aileen. Technically you aren’t supposed to use a zipper foot when you aren’t sewing a zipper, but I often do.

  5. Kathy says:

    2 questions………

    1. I your photo w/ the pink and white chevron pillow……did u use fabric for the piping and if so, where are the instructions for using your own fabric vs using bias tape? Sorry if I missed it…………

    2. So if u use your zipper version pillow pattern w/ the zipper being on the side…….where does the piping go on the side w/ the zipper?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Kathy, I did use fabric on the chevron pillow for the piping. I just cut strips of fabric and put it around the cording the way you would with bias tape. I’m not sure this is the official way to do it, but it worked.

      There’s a section toward the bottom of the post that talks about adding a zipper. Basically you want to make sure that when you sew your zipper you’re grabbing the edge of the bias tape/ fabric but not sewing through the cording part. The piping will be on one side of the zipper in the end product. Hope this helps!

  6. Diane says:

    Hi Corey- thank you for the clear directions and pictures! I made a pillow and then decided it needed something additional on it to make it pop. The only piping I could find that was the matching color I wanted, is a solid round twisted rope piping without any additional fabric wrapped around it.. What is the best way to hand sew this on the pillow?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Diane! You’re so welcome. Unfortunately, you can’t add piping of any kind once the pillow is sewn together. It has to be done when the two sides are apart. Maybe next time!

  7. Mim says:


    So it could be my brain’s just not working today but in step 2 you say

    “Grab the front piece of your pillow cover and place it in front of you good side up.”

    In my head it would be placing the front side wrong side up and the cord and bias tape facing inwards not outwards. Maybe it’s just that I can’t pursue it. What happens with the 3 edges after the cord is sewn on? Do you have a photo of the finished front piece? Very grateful for any help you can offer!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Mim, It’s good side up. See the 4th image down.

      The reason is that when you add your second piece the piping gets sandwiched between the two pieces for when you turn it right side out and add a pillow. Hope this helps!

    2. Mim says:

      Hey Corey, Thanks! I think my brain went on holiday that day. I’ve since completed the cushion cover successfully and am quite pleased with it. Thanks for the tutorial!

    3. Corey Willis says:

      Woo-hoo! Yay you, Mim! Glad it helped you get a successful finish!

  8. Vicki says:

    Love this blog.
    Has anyone successfully used upholstery thread,,if so what sort of machine was it.
    TiP. I live in Australia and go to an professional upholstery shop to buy piping for 10-20 cents a meter. Once you professional piping you won’t bother with the flimsy cotton as this one holds its shape.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Vicki, I haven’t. I typically just use a thicker thread with my machine and it’s worked just fine. Let’s see if any readers comment who have used it.

  9. Suzanne says:

    Hi Corey! Do you ever install the fold or flap zipper, rather than the straight down the middle zipper? With this type of installation, the teeth of the zipper don’t show. Also, do you ever install the zipper, rather than in the bottom seam, a quarter of the way down the back side of the pillow? Would this be the best way if I am using a trim on my pillows?

    Thanks for making sewing less scary!


    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Suzanne! I use an invisible zipper so the way I do it you really can’t see the zipper in the end.

      I’ve never sewed it in the middle of the back side of the pillow because if you want to lay on it you’d only be able to lay on one side. You can still do trim on your pillows and do a zipper, like I did in the piping post. Hope this helps!

  10. Kate says:

    Hi Corey,

    I’m about to start to make my first pillow thanks to your tutorial! One question though: what size cording did use for this pillow?


    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Kate! I don’t remember. It really is all about the look you want, so choose the size that best suits your style 🙂 Be sure to email me a photo of your finished pillow!

  11. Kathleen says:

    Hi Corey,
    Thank you for this DIY tutorial. I am eager to begin making my red nautical throw pillow with purchased navy blue cording and…a zipper!
    Here’s my question: If the pillow form is 18″ x 18″, would I need to cut the two pieces of fabric a bit larger than 18 inches to account for a 5/8″ seam allowance when sewing the two sides of fabric together after I apply the cording? (I am not using bias tape to cover cotton cording as my purchased cording already has a 1/2″ flat margin for the purpose of enclosing it in the seam allowance.)
    Am I missing something in your instructions? Thanks for any help you can give me.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Kathleen, great question! I’ve found it’s always best to cut your pieces the exact dimensions of your pillow form even when using cording. I’d love to see how your nautical pillows turns out!

    2. Mary says:

      Seems like the fabric would need to be cut just a little larger than the form???

    3. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Mary, thanks for the input. One would think that would be so, but I’ve found that cutting the fabric the same size as the pillow, not adding any seam allowance gives me super plump pillows with no “dog ears”! I might add in a little extra if the forms were stiff, but if they’re nice and “squishy”, a same size cut is the way to go!

  12. Love it! Thanks for the very clear step-by-step. It came at an appropriate time as I have a quick cushion cover to make in the morning and really wanted to try piping this time. Pinning this now!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      You’re so welcome Nik; glad you found it helpful!

  13. Esther says:

    Hi Corey – Thanks so much for your DIY help. I’ve a question about using decorative trim cording on my pillow covers. I purchased a heavy, thick decorative cording at Hobby Lobby to cover my pillows, however, I am not sure whether I should wash the cording prior to applying it? The cording is really stiff and is going to be a challenge to apply it. Any suggestions?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Esther, great question! I don’t usually wash the cording before using it, but in this case if you think it will make it softer and easier to use, then I definitely would. There is a chance it could fray in the wash, so you may want to hot glue the ends before washing or clip the ends with either a rubber band or something to hold it together while you wash it. Can’t wait to see how they turn out!

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  15. Ann says:

    Thank you for the tutorial. My first grader loved her new pillows and she thinks the piping makes them look like the came from the store.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      I’m so thrilled that your pillow turned out awesome! Thanks, Ann!

  16. Teresa says:

    Great tutorial! Is there anything you need to do to the ends of the cording to stop it from fraying?? I followed your tutorial and after washing it I noticed the ends of the cording frayed inside and went flat!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hmmmm… I’ve never noticed this happening, Teresa. But a quick solution would be to use hot glue on the ends before sewing the piping in. That should keep it from fraying. Another idea would be to sew the ends of the piping to the bias tape, although that would leave a small noticeable seam, which would be fine I think. Hope this helps keep your pillows happy! Thanks for stopping by.

  17. Maggie says:

    Beautiful. I can not wait to try. Could you share the name of the flamingo fabric please. I love it.

    1. Hey Maggie. The flamingo fabric was linked in the post, but in case you missed it it is right here.

  18. I have used piping in many sewing projects over the years. The new zipper foots on most machines makes it so difficult to get close to the cording so that there is not a gap. Any tips on a newer sewing machine with a zipper foot like the ones on the older machines….what a help that would be! My ancient old machine died and ever since getting a modern machine I get upset every time I use the zipper foot.

    1. Kerstin says:

      Deb, are you able to adjust the position of your needle? If so, move it to the left as far as it will go. Then you can get right next to the piping!

    2. Rebecca says:

      Deb – I feel your pain – a zipper foot simply does not work well with thick cording. The good news is that for around $5 you can buy a specialty sewing foot for cording. The foot rests on top of the fabric and has a groove for the cording to run underneath the foot. The fabric flows under the foot as if it is riding on a tiny rail track, giving you a straight line and a close stitch.

    3. Corey Willis says:

      A big thank you to both Rebecca and Kerstin for your helpful suggestions!

  19. Peggy Meyering says:

    I love colorful pillows on my beige couch also! And I change them with the seasons too. If you use double sided quarter inch (comes on a roll) Fusible tape, you can more easily add a zipper. I cut it into a eighth of an inch, as long as the zipper on both sides of it. No pins! You can glue it too.

    1. Thanks for the top Peggy!

  20. Pretty pillows! You did a great job showing us how to do the piping. Thanks for sharing and thank you for your time in taking the photos ,posting and sharing your expertise.

    1. You are very welcome Liz! Thanks for taking the time to let me know it was helpful. Made my day 🙂

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