Simple Sew: Double Welt Cord

December 22, 2010

Last Sunday I went in search of double welt cord.  I’m in the middle of reupholstering a chair, and I was seeking this specialty trim to hide some staples.  I read somewhere that you need double welt cord to make double welt cord trim, but I have since learned this is not necessarily the case.  My day started like this:

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As I browsed the local fabric store, I realized they had no such thing as double welt cord in stock.  Wrenching my hands, wondering what to do, nervously pacing back and forth, I paused next to the upholstery supplies.  It was then I heard from behind me, “Whatcha looking for Hun?”  I thought at first this was some bored sales clerk, but then I realized by the way she said ‘Hun’ she was, in fact, a well intentioned stranger.  A stranger I shall dub ‘Saint Seamstress’ for reasons which will be revealed.  

I’m prone to striking up conversations with strangers, so I related my dilemma, wholly expecting her to shrug her shoulders, say “I dunno” and walk away.   When I explained I was in the middle of reupholstering a chair, and I needed to trim the edges to hide the staples, she immediately said, “Have you thought of using gimp?”   Gimp?  Gimp!  I knew I had encountered someone who speaks upholstery language! 

So I tackled her to the ground and made her answer all my questions under extreme duress.  

I kid.  No, I explained I didn’t want to use gimp this time, like with this bench, rather I wanted that polished double welt cord look you see on high end upholstered chairs.  I started rattling off questions and then I hit the jackpot. 

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This lovely woman stood there unshaken at my brazen unending questions.  “Am I insane to reupholster with velvet? Velvet is so fussy and temperamental, always prone to puckering.  Is velvet really the diva of fabrics?”  “How do I round this corner with my piping (pointing to the old smoke scented foam seat)?”  Where can I find inexpensive quality foam in this town?”   And the ultimate question: “How do you make double welt cord trim?”

She shared all her secrets, tips and tricks with a smile on her face.  Don’t you love when experienced professionals share their knowledge with the world for freeeeeeee?  Why didn’t I get her name?  Why didn’t I give her my name?  Why didn’t I snap a photo of us with my phone for me to remember this blessed soul for all eternity (and then of course add to this post)?  Why God whyyyyyyy????

Sewing Your Own Double Welt Cord

Start by cutting your fabric on the bias, then sewing it together to form one long strip.  Make sure you have about 2” width of fabric to form your cord casing.  ‘On the bias’ simply means cutting ‘on the diagonal’ so that your threads criss-cross and therefore bend around the turns better.  At least, that’s my amateur definition.  Someone much smarter than me with more experience figured that out a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. 

bias long strip

With your zipper foot, sew your first layer of piping by stitching your cord into your casing. 

piping step 1


Switch your machine foot back to standard, and insert a second layer of cord.  Flip over and pin your fabric to hold your second cord in place.  

piping steps

Sew slowly right over the top.

sew over top

Trim your excess fabric when done. 

Just be careful and sew reaaaaallly slow or you’ll end up with one of these:

broken needle

Like I did. 

Anyway, long story short, I made my own double welt cord trim. 

double welt top bottom arrow


Saint Seamstress, wherever you are, I love you.  I want to adopt you into my family and make my stroganoff meatballs just for you.  I love you because you didn’t look at me cross-eyed when I wanted to reupholster my chair in velvet.  Because you taught me where to buy cheaper quality foam in my town, and how to DIY me some double welt cord trim.  And most importantly, you reminded me of the kindness of strangers.  All is right in my universe.

If you’re still scratching your head, wondering what the heck I’m talking about or why would I torture myself in this double welt endeavor, it’s because I’m trying to finish this cane chair.

double welt on chair

And as all upholsterers know, double welt cord is the major forgiver of sins. Otherwise known as the trick used to cover up all those unsightly staples and tacks so you can make your chair pretty once more. 

If I lost you at piping, or if this entire post about double welt cord just scares the hell out of you, do what Linda did and pay someone else to do it for you.  That works too.

Questions to ponder:

Is velvet really the diva of fabrics?  How would you attach the double welt to this chair, with fabric glue or hot glue?  Is Christmas really three days away?   Help please.   



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