Piping Cord - everything you wanted to know - Sew Vintagely

Piping Cord – everything you wanted to know

Here is the answer to the often-asked question: where do I find cord for baby/mini piping?

First, a note for beginners: the Wrights pre-made piping sold at big box fabric stores is too big for heirloom sewing. The cord inside is two thick and the fabric is to too stiff. You’ll want to make your own piping with a smaller cord and the same fabric as your garment in the same or contrasting color. Keep an eye out for my upcoming tutorial about how to make it. This article covers the first step: finding the right cord.

As with a lot of things in the classic sewing world, everyone’s favorite cotton cord Speed-Cro-Sheen isn’t made anymore. Now I know some of you have a stash of it that will last you until the end of time. But if you don’t, then this article is for you!

Speed-Cro-Sheen is a cotton crochet thread that was introduced in 1953 by Coats and Clark. I found a quick-read and interesting history here. The modern substitute for Speed-Cro-Sheen is size 3 cotton crochet thread. Sadly, size 3 crochet thread is softer and floppier than Speed-Cro-Sheen. But it is an option. I’ve heard that pre-shrinking is recommended if you use crochet thread. I can see that being necessary because the twist of the strands is looser than Speed-Cro-Sheen and it makes sense that if it was washed and dried it would shrink inside the bias fabric.

Yes you can find sellers on Ebay and Etsy with vintage supply Speed Cro-Sheen.  But it’s not as readily available as Knit-Cro-Sheen, which is a smaller size. I found one seller on Etsy who had a ball of Speed Cro-Sheen in bright pink.

In addition to size 3 crochet thread, another popular alternative is 100% polyester mini piping cording available in 100-yard spools or by the yard at some heirloom shops, or its twin: polyester drapery cording available at big box fabric and craft stores.

Of course if you want cotton, you’ll have to keep looking.

I like to use a firm cotton cord because it stays put between the two layers of fabric when I’m sewing the piping. It also holds a nice shape in the finished piping. Although, because polyester is slippery, polyester cord will easily slide out of the ends of the piping when I want to trim it to remove bulk where the piping is inside a seam. So each has it’s good points.

One challenge in looking for the right size cotton cord is that is should be white if you’re ever going to use it with a white batiste or a pretty white dotted Swiss. I thought a natural/ecru color would work just fine until I used it to make mini piping with 100% cotton pima batiste and I could see the cord through the fabric. Natural/ecru macrame cord in the right size is readily available.

It was a little challenging finding the right size because I wanted the same size as the polyester cord (1/16″), but all the cotton cord measurements were in millimeters.

I figured out that 1 mm and 1.5 mm were the best sizes and finally found a white cotton cord in the right size: polished cotton cord used for jewelry making and leathercraft, also called “leather look.” The only one I found that comes in 1.5 mm and is also white is Blue Bird brand polished braided cotton cord, distributed by Maine Thread Company. I also found one from a wholesale supplier that comes in 1 mm, which more closely matches size 3 cotton crochet thread.

And there you have it! Everything you wanted to know about finding cord for baby/mini piping. Here are some options for baby/mini piping cording. Try them out and pick your favorite.

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