Learn how to turn fabric tubes for making straps, belts, sashes and more.
This is one of those sewing tools that once you discover, you wonder what you did without it. When you’re sewing, there are many instances in which you’ll need to sew a fabric tube. Tubes of fabric are most commonly needed for making straps and belts; they are also used when making softies, dolls and stuffed animals (when making the legs and arms). But once you’ve sewn your fabric tube, how do you turn it right-side out? That’s where the Dritz® quick turn tool comes into play – you’ll use it to quickly and easily “turn” those tubes.
The Dritz® quick turn comes with a set of three tools: 3/16″, 3/8″ and 1/2″. Each size tool has two parts: a plastic cylinder and a wood or metal rod that fits inside of the plastic cylinder. You’ll use a 3/16″ tool to make 3/8″ to 5/8″ stitched tubes, the 3/8″ tool to make 3/4″ to 1″ stitched tubes, and the 1/2″ tool to make 1″ and wider stitched tubes.
How to use a Dritz® quick turn tool:
1) Stitch your fabric tube. Be sure to backstitch beginning and ending stitches. The ends of the tube can be stitched closed or left open. Just be sure there is an opening somewhere on the tube for turning.
2) Select the correct cylinder for turning. Use the biggest tube possible for easiest turning. This tube measures 1″ so we chose the 1/2″ cylinder.
3) For closed end tubes, slide the cylinder into fabric tube until it is at the stitched end.
4) Using the rounded end of the rod, push the end of the fabric tube into the cylinder while sliding the remaining fabric down the cylinder.
5) Keep sliding the fabric over the cylinder and pushing the fabric tube with the rod until the turned tube of fabric emerges from the opposite end of the cylinder. Pull turned fabric tube until all of the tube is out of the cylinder.
Option: for open tubes, stop about 1/2″ to 1″ from the end of the tube and fold fabric tube end over cylinder end. Push and slide fabric as noted above for making closed end tubes.
6) Use the pointed end of wood rod to push out the corners of your tube.
Voilà! You’ve got some perfectly turned fabric tubes. Nice, huh? And so much easier to make when you’ve got a handy turner to help you out! Here are some ideas for using the tubes …
Use the quick turn to make a belt.
Tip: open the seam allowance while turning the tube. This will help to “press” the seam open.
Use the quick turn to make lacing or spaghetti straps.
It’s easy – just follow the basic instructions above. If you’re making lacing that you’re using in combination with eyelets (like our top above), knot the ends of the lacing so it doesn’t slide through the eyelets.
Tip: for narrow tubes, trim seam allowances to 1/8″.
Use the quick turn to make extra-long tubes, like these bag handles.
Start pushing the fabric tube with the rod into cylinder as far as you can. Now carefully push the remainder of the fabric tube over the cylinder and rod. Keep pulling the unturned fabric over the fabric tube until everything is turned. Pull cylinder off tube. You do not need to push the entire fabric tube through the cylinder.
This technique works great on long, narrow tubes and thick fabrics.
Use the quick turn tool to make scarves, sashes and ties with center openings for turning.
If you’re turning a scarf, sash or tie that will be finished on each side (as opposed to sewn into a seam), you can leave the opening in the middle of the fabric tube and use the quick turn on each end.
Here’s how: insert the cylinder into the opening and turn each end separately.
Here are a few quick tips we use frequently in our sewing lab:
Quick tip: when making multiples of the same width tube (example: belt loops), cut a long fabric strip that equals the total length of the needed tubes. Turn the fabric tube and press, then cut into desired lengths. It’s easier and neater to turn one longer fabric tube than several shorter ones.
Quick tip: use the quick turn tool to turn the arms and legs of dolls and softies.
Quick tip: use a shorter stitch length for extra security on narrow tubes and delicate or loose weave fabrics.
Quick tip: reinforce delicate or sheer fabrics before turning.
Cut fabric about 2” longer than needed and stitch across one end several times for extra security. This is especially helpful on delicate and sheer fabrics. To help prevent rod from pushing through fabric weave, fuse a piece of interfacing to the end of the fabric strip before stitching. Cut off excess fabric and interfacing after turning.
Quick tip: use Fray Check® on the ends of fabric tubes before turning them to prevent raveling. It’s a liquid seam sealant that stops fabric from fraying and secures thread ends.