Easy way to turn a tube of fabric right side out

turn a tube of fabric right side out

I was working on a bag design and wanted to create a particular type of handle.  Not the usual bag handle where you simply fold the fabric into 4 and top stitch.  I wanted a ‘nicer' handle, one with two different fabrics so it would be reversible and feature both of the fabrics from my bag.

What was stopping me?

Turning the darned thing the right side out again once I had stitched the tube!  It's bad enough on a tube of regular fabric, but both of these pieces were interfaced making them thick and stiff too.  It just all bunches up and gets too thick to turn.

I don't mind telling you I flung it across the room and cursed loudly.  My cat hid under the bed! Until I tried the straw and chopstick trick.  Or rather, in this case, the plastic hose and wooden dowel trick.  At last!  Success.

Here's how it works.

How to turn a tube of fabric right side out

You will need:

1 – a hollow cylindrical object, which is fairly stiff and will slide inside your tube of fabric. Β For a small tube, use a sturdy straw. For a bag handle, I used a piece of plastic tubing intended for aquariums I think.

2 – a pokey thing.  Something rigid and not hollow, that just fits inside the hollow tube from point 1.  For a small tube, a chopstick or similar.  In my case, a thin piece of wooden dowel we had hanging around for reasons unknown.

turn a tube of fabric right side out

Step 1

Sew across one end of your tube to close it.  This may be temporary and unpicked or snipped off later or can be a finished end on your tube.

turn a tube of fabric right side out

Step 2

Slide your hollow tube down inside the fabric tube all the way to the closed off end.  It doesn't really matter if your fabric is longer than the tube.

turn a tube of fabric right side out

Step 3

Stick the end of your pokey tool into the hollow end of the tube inside your fabric.

turn a tube of fabric right side out

Step 4

Now slide the fabric off the tube and onto the pokey stick.  Somehow it now seems to slide easily without all bunching up, and you can transfer the fabric off the tube and onto the stick.

turn a tube of fabric right side out

Step 5

Once you get it started, it goes quickly and you can then simply pull the end through. Eventually, your fabric gets turned all the way down and the plastic tube becomes free.

Your right side will start to show on the end of your pokey stick.

turn a tube of fabric right side out

Step 6

Keep pushing the fabric down the stick until the whole tube is turned the right side out.

turn a tube of fabric right side out

Step 7

You can then use the tube or the pokey stick to press your tube of fabric if you don't want to press it flat.

turn a tube of fabric right side out

Step 8

Store your stick and tube together.  You'll be wanting to use them again next time for sure.

turn a tube of fabric right side out

Give your tube a press and admire your new strap/belt/whatever it is you are making.

Here's the handle I was working on.  I love the faux piped look I can get from using the two different fabrics.

turn a tube of fabric right side out

turn a tube of fabric right side out

More coming soon about this handle and the bag it's going on.

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turn a tube of fabric right side out

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88 Responses to Easy way to turn a tube of fabric right side out

  1. kathy says:

    What a brilliant and yet so simple idea! I love it!

  2. inge says:

    great idea.
    but don,t go to hardware store and buy dowell, go to have a nice lunch/ dinner at a chinese or japanese restaurant and keep the chopsticks…

  3. mccandlessquilts says:

    This is a great hint/tip/idea! Just gave it a try! So much smoother than a metal turner.
    Tip: buy the tubing from a big box hardware store, pennies compared to pet stores. It also comes in several different sizes. (My husband uses/buys)
    Tip: a foot should be enough for even the longest straps.
    Tip: make sure the stiff wood piece is longer than the tubing. It will be challenging otherwise. Just found that one out! I used a bamboo chop stick, big end for wider strap, thin for thin strap.
    Tip: make sure the plastic has a clean, smooth cut at the end.
    Hope this helps.

  4. Cindy Weeks says:

    Well, just Wow! I have been sewing for years and years and tried many different ways to turn tubes, always frustrating. Thank you, Thank you!

  5. Linda says:

    I am not the greatest sewer but have been sewing for years and like a lot of other people hate to turn straps inside out. Thanks for the tip, can’t wait until the next time to try this out.

  6. Judy says:

    Great idea! Following along in the same theme, When serging a strap, I start by serging a long narrow thread tail (longer than my strap), turn the tail around and lay it inside my strap. Be careful not to sew over the top of it. When done sewing, pull the long tail through and the right side of the strap follows right along.

  7. Thank you so much for this clever method, turning tubes is my pet-hate of sewing. Aquaria stores here I come.

  8. Marci says:

    I’m not a very good sewer. It would be nice to see this tutorial on your YouTube channel

  9. Wonderful idea, saved my day!

  10. Sally Butcher says:

    errmagurd you’re a genius, thank you!

  11. Phyl says:

    Life saver! Thank you so much!

  12. Sarah says:

    Woohoo! Thank you!!!

  13. The says:

    Wonderful idea. The best sewing tip I have come across

  14. KaSchu says:

    Brilliant! That has to be one of the best sewing hints ever!!! Thank you.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Thanks Kathy. Really appreciate the good feedback. Stay tuned for more sewing tips and tricks on the site. Take care, Mayra

  15. NancyG says:

    Genius! Much better than all those gadgets…I’m also thinking the tubing would be a good insert for the handles…

  16. Mary G. says:

    Deby – a dumb question – do you need to file the edges of the tube to get them smooth so the fabric will slide through? Love the idea, this has just been sticking in my brain and I haven’t been to a store that sells tubing to get some to try it. πŸ™‚

    Mary (Marysewfun)

  17. Nichole says:

    Oh my god – this is INCREDIBLE! I am turning the ties for an apron and it was taking forever. This just took me literally 10 seconds. I used a milkshake straw and a long paintbrush. And i will never do it another way again. Hooray!!!!

  18. Sarah says:

    OH MY WORD! This is brilliant! I’ve been sewing for eons (since I was 8 – I’m now in my 40s) and my method has always been the curse and swear and throw things across the room one. LOL It takes longer to turn a tube than to sew the entire project usually. LOVE this trick – I’m definitely going to use it in the future!!!!

  19. Charlotte says:

    Hi there, could you tell me where you got the hardware for the bag straps you are working on ? Lovely stuff!

  20. Primrose Bohne says:

    Really brilliant. Wish I had seen this earlier, when I was turning the handles on my bag (with vinyl on top). Now to look for some tubing and a wooden pokey thingy πŸ™‚ to keep handy.

  21. notimefordiy says:

    This is brilliant! Pinning immediately. Thank you!

  22. Ashley says:

    They sell these at hancocks. It comes with different sizes. I love them.

  23. barb says:

    debi—thanks so much! In return I’d like to share with you how I put a pillowcase on my pillows.
    1. turn pillowcase inside out
    2 put both hands into it to the far two corners and grab two corners of the pillow with your encased hands.
    3. flip the entire package and pull the sides up to the far corners of the pillows
    The case is now right side out and your pillow is inside. Easy Peasy.

  24. Lesley Gilbert says:

    Just pinned your great idea – thanks – I saw a tutorial recently were a guy used a long metal ruler (I’ve got one of those from my diy days) but it wouldn’t fit into a smaller space so this tut is just right – of course I do have some tubing and dowelling as well as I never get rid of anything haha πŸ™‚

  25. Claudia says:

    Thanks y million! I have tried several gadgets but they are no good to me. Your idea seems brilliant – now all I have to do is find a tube to fit!

  26. misha says:

    Another way to turn a tube of fabric is to sew a length of twill tape or ribbon that is longer than the fabric tube into the seam at the end of the tube on the inside (right side together bit). Then all you have to do is pull on the tape and the tube turns right side out. Its hard to explain what I mean without pics

  27. sounds a brilliant idea will definitely try this next time I make straps or belts x

  28. Oh, thank you! I’ve got a couple of different gadgets and also tried sewing yarn at the end and pulling it through .. but nothing works for me! I will certainly try this next time!

  29. Mrs. Patricia Strawson says:

    Hello and a big ‘THANK YOU DEBY’ Today I attempted to turn a couple of thinnish straps for a blouse that I am making, like you I threw it across the room in frustration, I fully intended to make another attempt at a later date, when I reached the stage of construction where I would really need those straps asap, well you saved me a lot of grief so a huge vote of thanks from me,a simple idea that works brilliantly, I have now added it to my sewing kit. Kindest regards, Patricia.

    • So glad to hear that Patricia. Hopefully you can find just the right sized tube and pokey stick to suit your project.

      • Mrs. Patricia Strawson says:

        Hello Deby, I finally made the blouse ties, I used a straw and a very thin watercolour paint brush with a fine handle, it worked perfectly, next stop is going to be my local DIY shop, I want to make a selection of different size tubey things, so I think I will use your idea of tubing (aquarium clear tubing in various diameters and wooden dowling for the pokey thing) I cannot better on your idea, it is cheap to make and incredibly useful, once again, many thanks. Patricia.

  30. Nancy Dyer says:

    I am so ready to do this. Thank you so much for this tip.

  31. Thanks Deby brilliant idea

  32. Heather says:

    I’m looking forward to what the straps are for!

  33. LInda says:


  34. Fabulous tip Deby! I dread turning those tubes of fabric too.

  35. Jessica says:

    Wohow….Deby you are sooo smart. I definitely try this out. I always hated that part of bag making.
    Thank you so much for sharing this.


  36. Ann says:

    Clever, Deby. Thank you!

  37. Shian Horan says:

    My s-i-l told me about a set of tubes in USA. She kindly sent me a set. In the meantime my husband sorted me out some plastic pipe and wooden dowelling. Perfect. Made a set for friends and also for my French sewing group. As they make lots of bags and aprons it has become invaluable to them,.

  38. Will be trying this next time I have a narrow tube to turn, Deby.

What do you think?