Tic-tac-toe shirt + piping how-to

I love piping. It makes everything better. Truly.



When Elliot saw this “stitched” fabric (designed by Aneela Hoey) he said, “It looks like tic-tac-toe!” so that’s what we call this shirt now. The “tic-tac-toe” shirt. Sidenote: playing tic-tac-toe with a kindergartener is hilarious. I can beat the pants off of him every time, so most of the time I just let him win, though he’s slowly figuring out the tricks. It’s just funny to imagine a time when tic-tac-toe was still novel.


In addition to the pockets and cuffs shown above, I added piping to the collar, yoke, and front edges of the shirt to give it a fun retro look.




Just in case you’ve never made your own piping, let me briefly show you how I make mine:


First, cut 1.25″ strips on the bias (45 degrees diagonally) using a rotary cutter and ruler (1). Then trim the ends square, overlap them so they are perpendicular, and stitch them together as shown (2). Trim and press the ends apart (3), and repeat steps 2 and 3 until your bias tape is long enough (4). Then take piping cord — usually a white narrow cord which you can buy by the yard or pre-packaged — and place it in the center of the bias tape (5). Fold the bias tape around the cord, and hold it in place with your fingers. Machine-baste the piping shut using a long stitch-length and stitching right next to, but not into, the cord (6). You’ll have to go slowly and readjust the bias tape by hand as you sew. Once you’ve sewn the entire length of bias tape, you’re ready to add piping to all kinds of things! Just cut it to the length you need and baste it in place.

By the way, there are plenty of great piping tutorials out there, with many different ways to make it. This is definitely not the only (or the best) way to make piping, but it works great for me. You should definitely take some time to check out Anna’s awesome no-sew piping tutorial if you haven’t already (BRILLIANT!), and Dana has an entire post series on bias tape that is also worth a read if you’re new to the bias-tape scene.


I love the finished result. No pictures of the shirt in action yet, as I just barely finished it yesterday afternoon, but he did try it on briefly yesterday, and it fits!

OK, now you really must head over to MADE to see the piping shorts and awesome outfit that Dana made for her post today: Stripes, Checks, and Piping, oh my! You will love it!

Celebrate the BOY 2013

This post is part of Celebrate the BOY, a series of boy sewing posts hosted by me and Dana of MADE. Check out my Celebrate the BOY archives for more boy sewing posts.  Here’s what we’ve done so far:

DAY 1: Rae: Saffron Pants and Color Roundup / Dana: 5 Steps to the Basic Tee
DAY 2: Rae: Little Bit of Color Hoodie / Dana: Pants Roundup
DAY 3: Rae: Hoodie Tutorial / Dana: Kids Shorts/Pants with Back Pocket Tutorial
DAY 4: Rae: Show your Stripes Turtleneck / Dana: 13 DIY Fabrics
DAY 5: Rae: Stripes Roundup and Celebration Garland / Dana: Favorite Tee Shirt Buddy Toys
DAY 6: Rae: Fox Tee / Dana: Big Stick Jammies
DAY 7: Rae: Bold Prints Roundup / Dana: Beach Robe to House Robe Remix
DAY 8: Rae: City Pants / Dana: we be jammin PJ roundup
DAY 9: Rae: Mustache Roundup / Dana: Stripes, Checks, and Piping, oh my

26 thoughts on “Tic-tac-toe shirt + piping how-to

    • no I didn’t use a particular pattern — just traced a basic button-up he already owns and then tweaked it a bunch to have the pieces and fit I wanted.

      You could definitely do something similar with any of the “dress shirt” patterns that are out there though??

  1. Love the shirt! Got any tips on where to procure good piping cord? I’ve had A LOT of trouble finding stuff that works well.

  2. Fantastic! The yellow piping really finishes it well. I’ll have to find a pattern so I can make my guy one soon. Nicely done!

  3. The shirt is awesome! I love the fabric! A tip for making piping – throw the zipper foot on your machine and you will be able to stitch really close without actually stitching the cord!

  4. Thanks for the tutorial! I have 2 projects in mind that would look great with piping and I needed something clear like this. Is it possible to make piping without a piping foot for the machine? what presser foot did you use?The usual standard open toe one?
    thanks again!

  5. I LOVE piping, although I have yet to get that far in my sewing. I agree that it always adds…it’s one of those magical embellishments that somehow adds to the simplicity of a garment. Love all those examples from the flickr pool!

  6. Thanks for the tutorial on piping! I’ve actually wanted to try it, and had a decent idea of how to make it, but I didn’t think about needing to cut on the bias for it. So glad I saw this- it actually looks pretty easy!

  7. Thanks for inspiring me to try some piping! I added it to Patrick’s Easter shirt and I LURVE it! It looks so sharp.

    Can you tell me how you added the piping to the front along the buttons? I see how you lined it up but I guess I don’t quite get how you would then fold the shirt under. Did you serge that edge and then fold it under and add the button holes?

    • hrrrm…so you have to have a facing for the buttonhole area to be able to add the piping — it doesn’t fold back from the front of the shirt like some boy’s shirts do there; there’s a separate piece of fabric behind the button placket that I attach the piping to before attaching it to the shirt…does that make any sense?

  8. Love this!! Any chance you could write up the pattern to sell in your shop? I know you mentioned you can use any basic shirt pattern, but the ones that I find are too dressy …I love the hipster vibe on this! Such a great shirt and blog!

    • we can definitely put it on the list as a possible pattern to produce. Will depend on overall interest, to be sure. But we’ll keep it in mind!!

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