Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to Make Matching Bias Cording Part 1

I know so many of you out there know how to re-cover chair seats.  The ones I'm referring to are the ones held in place with screws underneath.  It's such a great way to change up a vintage chair.
 What I'd like to do is to convince you to go one step further and add some matching, or even contrasting bias cording.  I think it adds that professional look to your project.
Here are some chairs that I re-covered.  Notice the bias cording around the edge of the chair seat.
It really gives your work a custom look.

I don't have images of the before of the chairs, but I would like to share an example of what it looks like underneath on another chair seat.  It's not the same fabric, but you can see that I've added the cording and am holding it in place with a cardboard upholstery tack strip.  Once I show you how to make the cording I'll share how to use the tack strip and where to purchase it.

In my next post I'll begin to show you how to make the cording.  I decided that readers don't like really long posts so I'm going to break it up.
You'll see that making cording is a bit tedious and time consuming, but so worth the effort.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

How to Make Matching Bias Cording Part 2

If you haven't seen Part 1 of the tutorial, please go there first.
Currently I'm working on styling our new screened porch.  It involves making some covered seat cushions that require bias cording.  I decided that while I'm making it, I'd share instructions on making cording.

Let's begin.  You should have at least 1/2 yard of the fabric you want to use.  I need a large amount of cording so you'll see that I'm using about 1 yard of fabric.  This is the first time that I've ever used 100% linen fabric.  I want to assure you that I did iron this fabric even though it looks questionable.

Step 1:  Make sure you cut your fabric on the straight of the grain. (If you don't know how to make sure your fabric is straight, I did an earlier post about that here.)  Next, fold it diagonally to find the true bias.  If you don't make the cording on the bias of the fabric it will not contour smoothly around curves.  My cutting board has the true bias marked on it.  You don't need this though. To create the bias fold, match the upper left corner with the lower right corner or the upper right corner with the lower left.  You'll have some excess.

This can be very confusing so I thought I'd use a small cloth napkin to illustrate this step on a smaller scale.  Also, I think that the fringed edge of the napkin helps you visualize finding the true bias.
  Notice the excess on the side.  You'll always have this no matter what size you use.

Step 2.  Pin the fabric in place and press the fold flat.

Step 3.  Next you must the select the cotton filler cord.  The filler cord comes in many diameters.  I used the 6/32" for this type of project.  I bought this in a bag, but you can buy it by the yard at any fabric store.  You will be creating a tube with your bias strips and this filler cord will fit inside the tube and offer support for the cording.  You'll understand when you see the photo demo.  Here's what it looks like.

Here's another photo of the cotton filler cord that's a little larger.  I bought this by the yard at a fabric store.

Step 3.  Back to the original fabric.  I find with the size of filler cotton cord I chose, my metal measuring square is just the right width.  If you use wider cotton filler cord you'll have to adjust the width of your parallel lines.  Any straight edge will work.
I just used a piece of chalk to draw the lines.

The lines have to be parallel but not perfectly straight.  Here are the completed lines.

Step 4.  Cut the diagonal parallel lines into strips.

This is what it will look like when you've cut along all the lines.

Don't forget to cut along the crease you created when you pressed  the first folded piece.

This post is getting too long again.  Come back for the next post and I'll show you how to join the strips and add the cotton filler cord.


Part 3

This is Part 3.  Please make sure you read Parts 1 and 2 so you'll be able to follow along.
Now that we have the bias strips, I'll show you how to join them.
Here's the photo of the strips again.

Step 5.  Before joining the strips you can square off the ends like this.  I have joined them before without squaring them off and it works fine.   But, I have a geometry/spatial relationship impairment and it's hard for me to visualize and join the seams in the correct direction on the first try.

Then cut along the lines.  You must do this with all the strips.

Step 6.  Join the ends.  IMPORTANT:   When you're doing this make sure that all the seams face the same way and that the longer strips don't become twisted.  I've made both these mistakes before and it's very annoying.

Continue until you've joined all the strips together.

Step 7.  Now sew them all together to make one long strip.

Step 8.  Press all the seams open.

  Lay the cord in the middle of the strip and fold it over so the edges meet and the cord is inside against the fold.

Sew as close as possible against the cotton filler cord.  This is what it looks like when you're done.

The next post will be the last.  I'll show you how to attach the cording on the underside of the covered chair seat.


How to Make Matching Bias Cording Part 4

Yea!  You (we) made it. (Links to parts 1,2,and 3 above if you missed them.)  It's the last set of instructions.  I may have given you way too much detail, and if that's so, sorry.  I just know that I read so many different instructions from so many sources before I actually got it.  There actually is a way to make the cording in one continuous strip instead of sewing together the individual strips.  I've yet to be able to visualize that one and continue to make the cording the long way.  If anyone out there can explain it to me, I'd love to hear from you.

Let's finish this up.  I'm assuming that you all know how to cover a chair seat.  Here is an image of the top side of the covered seat.

Step 10.  Next you need to attach the bias cording  to the underside of the chair seat  with a staple gun, preferably an electric one, and a cardboard upholstery tack strip.  You can buy the tack strip by the yard at fabric stores, or order this monster roll like I did on line here.  Mine is the $3.99 one and looks like this.  The tack strip is important because it keeps the cording straight and you don’t use as many staples.

Step 11.  You will be following the perimeter of the chair seat with the cording and tack strip.  Start the end in an inconspicuous spot.  Do not start/finish in the center front or back of the chair seat.  I started on the side, very near the back.  Align the cording with the outside edge of the chair then lay the tack strip on top of the cording and staple in place. Hint:   Leave a little extra cording without the tack strip on the end as I did in the photo below.  You'll see why this is important later.

Hint:  When you turn the corner you''ll love how smoothly the cording follows the contour.  When turning the corner with the cardboard tack strip bend it over to make an angle.  Photo of this below.

Step 12.  Continue around the perimeter until both ends meet.  Make sure that you leave  one end longer when you cut the cording and tack strip.  You'll need this "extra" to to finish the ends.  See below.

Step 13.  Take the longest end and pull back the cording to expose the cotton filler cord.

Step 14.  Cut off the exposed cotton filler cord.

Step 15.  Now you have a hollow tube on one side.  Smooth out the cording and fold down the edges to create a finished edge.

Step 16.  Tuck the cording with the filler into the empty area you just created.

Step 17.  Lay the tack strip over both ends and staple in place.

This method creates a nice clean seam where the ends meet.

Go ahead, admit that it was worth the extra effort to get a look like this.

I did this in a solid fabric, but I've also used contrasting fabric for the cording.  That is another way to add a custom look.  You can use this same idea when making pillow covers with cording, or slipcovers too.

Please share your projects.


Linda said...
Thanks for showing how to do the cording! I don't sew but have recovered chairs and this was very helpful. Can you tell me what fabric you used for this project?

Post a Comment


  1. Awesome Kathy! I can't wait to see how to do this. I could probably do that too!

  2. Yes! I very much want to know how to do this. Thank you.

  3. Not sure that I am commenting on the right post here... to make bias in one continuous strip..
    - take your square just as you did
    - fold on bias
    - cut along bias
    - lay back out in sqaure
    - imagine top as A, right side as B, bottom as C, left side as D
    - take C & lay on A, right sides together & stitch
    -iron seam
    -lay out flat & mark...(whichever width you choose) all the way down
    - now fold & match markings, right sides together... ONLY moving up one mark.
    -sew that seam
    -iron seam... should be a little odd shaped, out of whack... : )
    -cut along lines... One long continuous strip
    I do this all the time... I may do a tutorial on my blog soon...
    Very easy once you get the hang of it & will make a lot of welting out of a little fabric...

  4. Thanks for the great tutorial. That's a great way of not using up so much fabric. You have a great blog. I am your latest follower. I would love for you to come and check out my blog and follow me back at Thanks so much.