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Cording – cord wrapped in fabric that’s been cut on the bias – is an ancient embellishment that packs as much punch today as it did in the 1730’s or the 1940’s. Whether you use it to make appliqued motifs, corded pin tucks, frogs, spaghetti straps or piping, cording is one of the most versatile weapons in your sewing arsenal. Still not sure how to use it? Well, as with everything sewing, there is a lil’ trick to it. I’ll show you how!

First, you need to decide whether you are making piping or true cording. For piping and corded pin tucks, you’ll want cotton cording on the inside for fluffiness factor. For true cording, I recommend rattail. It has a funny name, but this shiny 100% rayon cord has a better glide to it than cotton cording, a major factor when you are turning the bias covering right side out.

Let’s talk about piping first. Piping is super easy to make. Cut bias strips wide enough to accommodate your seam allowance (times two) and your cording. Install a zipper foot (or piping foot if you have one). Fold the bias strip over the cording with raw edges matching, force the cording into the fold and stitch as close to the cording as you can.

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True cording is a tiny bit trickier because the seam allowance needs to be hidden inside along with the interior cording. You could just fold the seam allowance back and hand sew it on there right side out with tiny stitches but – my gosh – who has the patience these days? Here’s another way: cut a length of rattail two times the size of your desired finished length of cording. Find the center. At the center, tack one end of your rattail to the right side of the fabric. Now, fold the bias strip in half over one side of the rattail, right sides facing with raw edges matching. (This side will not fill your finished cording – it’s just acting as a turning “handle.”) Sew along the strip as close to the cording as you can with a zipper foot or cording foot. When you’re done, pull the encased (“handle”) half of the cord out of the casing as you push the casing down over the un-encased half of the cord. Keep doing this until the whole casing is right side out. Cut the un-encased “handle” side off.

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Voila – cording! Now you’re ready to applique that sucker down. Just use tiny stitches hidden underneath the cording and a matching thread and you’re good to go!

22 Comments

  • Missing

    Sep 28, 2012, 12.32 PMby rickystoner

    I am totally impressed by your creativity and great way of presenting article here. Cording on clothes is renewed and redefined by your work good work and vintage design is once again brought to trend. Thanks.cheap self storage and storage units prices

  • Missing

    Aug 8, 2011, 08.14 AMby Min Sun

    This is just the information I am finding everywhere.Me and my friend were arguing about an issue similar to this! Now I know that I was right.Thanks for the information you post. I just subscribe your blog. This is a nice blog.oil expeller manufacturer

  • Poe_large

    Jan 9, 2011, 07.52 PMby ladykatza

    Oh my, I’m doing a vintage sew-a-long. A 60 year old pattern to create a spring look from 2010! I need piping for the finishing details.

    1 Reply
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      Jan 10, 2011, 04.12 PMby eringilday

      Sounds cute! Don’t forget to show me when you’re done! =)

  • 2ec794ad0aab31308b80ae690170adc92f1f5e0e_large

    Jan 8, 2011, 05.01 PMby marmota-b

    My favourite cording is yet different… the cording on regency stays/corsets, which was both a softer substitute for boning and a decorative element. Like on this corset made by koshka-the-cat: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76452380@N00/5127591744/in/set-72157625269892856/ – based on a corset in the Metropolitan Museum.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Jan 8, 2011, 06.07 PMby eringilday

      Great minds think alike – I almost included a picture of a corded corset in this post but couldn’t find a clear one with enough contrast to communicate the details! Thanks for the link! =)

  • Image_large

    Jan 7, 2011, 06.32 AMby luxihere

    Oh i love corded piping, i dont’ have access to rattail cording, but i am more than happy with normal cotton cording. i even used elastic piping sometimes!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Jan 7, 2011, 06.29 PMby eringilday

      Wow, craziness! I would love to hear more about your elastic piping.

  • Gold_large

    Jan 6, 2011, 06.20 PMby hstorm799

    I have yet to try cording because I am afraid it will look like a chair cushion! Thanks for all of the inspiring photos. I am itching to go and try this out now!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 06.40 PMby eringilday

      LOL, that is a risk you’ll have to accept. =)

  • Mzl_ljixuoxi_320x480-75_large

    Jan 6, 2011, 03.18 PMby FabricUiPhoneApp

    I love this cording…for someone who’s extremely challenged in the shaping department…you could use KK2000, sulky wash-away stabilizer to get the loops just right. With the Sulky, be sure to make a fabric sandwich, that is put the cording between the stabilizer sheets…sew the bejeezus covering every cord. Then wash away the stabilizer.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 04.47 PMby eringilday

      Oooo, nice idea! that would kind of have an arty look to it, too, right? (Assuming I’m your suggestion visualizing right…)

  • Blogkusinekjolegr_nactionportr_tt_large

    Jan 6, 2011, 11.41 AMby groovymama

    I love piping and use it very often…. I think it adds that little extra ‘je ne sais quoi’ to my creations.

    Thanks so much for your tutorials.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 04.48 PMby eringilday

      You’re welcome! Piping does add a little something-something, Thanks for reading!

  • Orp_1769_large

    Jan 6, 2011, 08.31 AMby loyl8

    thank you soo much again for this. :)

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 04.48 PMby eringilday

      You’re welcome, Loyl! Enjoy!

  • 1f8a3dee2bbca4b7d72ef33ed51dc4595fabec80_large

    Jan 5, 2011, 07.11 PMby mariejessie

    In college I purchased a vintage dress with detailing similar to that of the orange dress above. Wow, did that ever look good on me! I’d love to find/develop a pattern like that! Inspiration, inspiration!!!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 04.49 PMby eringilday

      I’ll bet that looked good! It looks to me like it would turn an average woman into a statue, if you get my meaning…

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    Jan 5, 2011, 05.11 PMby thugsoftheheart

    what are the details on that first pierre cardin pattern? it’s fabulous!

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 04.49 PMby eringilday

      I’ll have to dig that up – all I remember now is the corded neckline.

  • Amelia_large

    Jan 5, 2011, 04.55 PMby kimberleejean

    There is also a short but concise tutorial on how to do frog ties in the latest issue of “Quick Stuff to Sew.”

    That petticoat/skirt has me SWOONING. What a beauty.

    1 Reply
    • 35323_1550195117626_1317563306_1450393_3860676_n_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 04.51 PMby eringilday

      Yeah, more specifics on frog ties would be good. Some of them seem like I could just figure it out by looking at it but some of them are crazy intricate. Glad you liked the petticoat/skirt thing! I think cording is a really interesting way to add body to a garment…one that we don’t think of much these days.

    • This is a question
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