I’ve been sewing for the past 18 years, and I would love to share with you some tips and tricks I’ve found that help me with my projects.
Today’s tips and tricks: Turning out tubes!
Sewing and “turning out” tubes (turning the fabric so that the seam is on the inside of the tube and the nice, finished edge is on the outside of the tube) is one of the most annoying steps in completing a great sewing project. However, there are so many projects that require it:
- spaghetti straps (for shirts and dresses),
- skirt ties,
- and so much more…
I bet it’s the part of your project that you save for last, isn’t it? I know I do!
While there are many ways to turn a tube right side out, some are more suitable to certain projects than others. Here are a few easy methods I’ve aquired over my years of sewing that will help you overcome this pesky step:
The good old “safety pin” method:
Most sewers will know this one. Seam up your tube, attach a safety pin to the end, and carefully run it through the inside of your tube, turning the fabric as you go.
The only limit is the size of your safety pin, so it’s great for making very thin tubes!
Keep a watch out for pins that come un-done in the middle of the tube, though. I’ve made my finger a pincushion from that before.
The “magic trick” method:
This involves using bias tape to turn the fabric. Fold your fabric with the bias tape inside. Seam the tape at the end of the tube, and then seam your tube while being careful not to catch the bias tape in the tube’s seam.
When you’ve finished your seam, hold the bias tape in one hand, and slide the tube down the bias tape. When you’re done, you’ll have a tube that’s been turned right side out, with one end sewn to the bias tape. Cut that end off and you’ll have your tube!
This can also be done with rat-tail cords, but be careful if you decide to use ribbon, because it may tear halfway through (I have to admit, I’ve done this quite a few times and had to start over with a safety pin).
A loop turner:
This is a long metal rod with a hook design at the end, which resembles a long crochet needle. The hook goes through the tube and pierces the end of the fabric. You then feed the end of the fabric through the tube.
As long as the rod is thin enough, you can do incredibly thin tubes with only the hook’s width as a limitation.
“Quick Turn” fabric tube turners:
This is a product that includes a short tube (like a short bit of plastic pipe) and a wooden or metal dowel. It’s one of the easiest methods to turn a fabric tube, and comes in many sizes and widths to allow for larger or smaller tubes.
Insert the hollow pipe completely in the tube of fabric. Next, insert the dowel into the pipe, pushing one end of the fabric into the pipe as well.
Keep pushing the dowel through until the fabric appears on the other side, right side out! Then just pull the fabric through and your tube will be completely turned.
Because of it’s extreme versatility, this is my personal favorite method of turning fabric.
Using bodkins allows you to turn large or small pieces of fabric, and even things that aren’t tubes, like when you’re working with lining garments. It’s a small, metal object that looks like a pair of tweezers with a metal strap around it.
Use the bodkin to grab onto one end of the fabric and shift the metal strap down, so it keeps the “tweezer” end closed on the cloth. Then slide it through the fabric tube to the opposite end.
You have just turned a tube in seconds!
My first bodkin was like a revelation! I was finally able to turn fabric without fighting with the safety pin and I found it was great for other things as well:
- guiding ribbons through lace,
- stringing ties through corset grommets,
- threading elastic through seams
It’s not a one-job tool, and that’s why I prefer it most.
Let us know what method you prefer to use when turning your fabric tubes in the comments below!