How to Finish a Braided Rope Trim on an Upholstered Cushion


Braided rope trim is an elegant way to finish an upholstered pillow or cushion. It is easy to baste the trim onto the edge of one side of the pillow and sew the pillow together. The difficult part is making the ends of the trim look finished; this requires working with care and precision.

Things You'll Need

  • Pillow fabric
  • Upholstery trim with lip
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Zipper or piping foot
  • Pins
  • Mark the spot where you will place the ends of the trim on the cushion. It should be on the least noticeable side. For example, you would place it on the back edge of the upholstered top of an ottoman and on the bottom edge of an accent pillow. You cannot join trim in a corner. It should not be in a place you will leave open for stuffing.

  • Pin the braid onto right side of the largest piece of fabric. Place the braid on one edge of the fabric with the beginning end of the braid extending 1/2 inch over one end of the fabric edge. Pin the braid around the edges with the braid toward the inside and the edge of the lip aligned with the edge of the fabric. Overlap the ends of the braid about an inch and extend the end of the braid 1/2 inch over the edge of the fabric.

  • Machine-baste, stitching on the lip of the trim as close to the braid as possible, using the machine's zipper or piping foot. Sew through the braid part of the trim on both sides of the overlap. Remove the pins as you sew.

  • Pin on the next piece of fabric sandwiching the lip of the trim between the fabric and aligning all edges. Sew the seam as close to the outside edge of the braid as possible, using a zipper or piping foot. It helps to press the fabric with your fingers so you can feel the bump of the braid underneath.

  • Finish the cushion as usual. When the pillow is turned right-side out, the ends of the trim will be inside and the trim will overlap on the outside. This gives the cushion a finished look.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be careful not to sew over the braid part of the trim except for on the ends.
  • Use a small stitch length when sewing over the ends of the braid to prevent unraveling.
  • Sew as close to the braid part of the trim as possible for a professional result.
  • This technique can be used for small piping, but large piping looks better if it is taken apart and one side is encased in the other.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions when operating a sewing machine.

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  • Photo Credit ottoman image by Ritu Jethani from
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