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Quick Tip: Tiny Tube Turning With A Hemostat

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I used to watch the TV show, ER and think, "I could do that." Not be an actual, real-life doctor. But I could wear a white coat and stethoscope and yell, "Get me a C-Spine, Chem 7, and a V-Fib!" I have no idea what any of those terms mean. They're just fun to say. Well, now I've discovered one of the medical devices I saw Dr. Greene use every week can be a big help in my sewing room. It's called a hemostat, and it's basically a locking clamp shaped like a long pair of scissors. (Probably what Dr. Greene wanted when he yelled, "Clamp!") A hemostat is extremely useful when you need to turn long, narrow tubes right side out.

 

We need to give a shout-out to one of our Sew4Home visitors who brought this idea to our attention when she was making all the tiny ties on our

Don't read this if medical descriptions make you queasy

A hemostat (also called a hemostatic clamp) is a surgical instrument you clamp onto a blood vessel to stop bleeding. It's made to reach into small spaces and easily lock in a closed position. They come in various lengths, from 6" up to 12" or more and you can buy them relatively inexpensively. The idea is to get the longest, skinniest, locking pair you can afford. The longer and skinnier it is, the longer the tube you can fit the hemostat down into and turn right side out.

I got mine through Amazon.com for about $7. I'm guessing this is not the price your local medical center is paying for these... and I bet theirs are surgically sterile.

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Turning a tie (or other long tube) right side out

If you sew your own ties, they're wrong side-out when you finish the stitch. Now you have to figure out how to get them right side out. With a bit of careful work and a safety pin, pencil or a chopstick, you can probably get one done. But if your project has dozens of ties and they're over 18" long, you're in for quite a chore.

For my example, I'm making a basic tie that will be 21" long x 1" wide when finished.

  1. Cut out the fabric for your tie. Be sure to leave room for your seam allowance. I'm using a ¼" seam allowance so I've cut out a strip of fabric 21¼" long x 2½" wide.
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  2. Fold it right sides together and iron. Now it's 21¼" long x 1¼" wide.
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  3. Using my ¼" seam allowance, I stitched along one end the along the entire long side, leaving the opposite end open. Clip the corners at the sewn end, making sure not to cut your seam.
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  4. Slide the tube over the hemostat. You'll need to bunch it up below the hinge and allow the tips to open just a little bit.
  5. Keep bunching until the tips of the hemostat pincers reach the end of the tube. Use your fingernail to push a little fabric between the tips then lock them shut. They only need a tiny bit of fabric to clamp on to.  
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  6. Gently pull until tube is right side out. You can use this technique even with really long tubes; you just keep bunching the fabric as far down as the hemostat will go, then pulling and repeating the action until the thing is right side out.
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Cardboard trick for ironing the sewn tube flat

Now you need to iron your tie flat. But it doesn't to lie flat and be ironed. It wants to twist and turn. To stop this, insert a piece of cardboard before you iron. Since my tube is 1" wide, I made my cardboard strip just a little narrower than that. I inserted it and can now iron the tube flat without a problem.

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Why don't you just use a loop turner?

Good question. A loop turner is the traditional sewing tool for turning sewn tubes. It's basically a wire with a tiny hook at one end and a loop at the other to hang onto.

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You push the hook to the end of the tube, hook it onto your fabric and pull it right side out. I have one of those and it's given me two problems that I didn't have with the hemostat.

Sometimes it's hard to get the loop turner hook to hook into the fabric. The hemostat isn't piercing your fabric just grabbing it... much easier on all types of fabric.

The loop turner hook has a little protector that's supposed to keep it from hooking your fabric as you pull it out. But this doesn't always work, and I've torn my fabric during the turning process. There's nothing on the hemostat to catch your fabric.

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Comments (22)

Anne in Colo said:
Anne in Colo's picture

The army surplus stores near me have these as they get them in the surplus first aid kits. Looking forward to picking one up next time I'm there!

strlmp said:
strlmp's picture

Thank you so much! This was a great tip. It saved me a ton of time and frustration. I first "pressed" the tube on the edge of a table, then used a clean ceramic hair straightener to iron the tube flat, worked really well. 

robyn lee said:
robyn lee's picture

wow! great tip...I too have purchase numerous turning tools that do not work! I have just ordered one from the UK. LOVE THIS SITE!

PeggyT said:
PeggyT's picture
Hemostats are also great for removing threads from those mistakes I make!! I also use them to pull needles through difficult sewing projects. I love mine!
Wonov said:
Wonov's picture
Just bagged a pair at eBay! Thanks for the tip - spent £2.30 plus £1 postage. Can't wait to put this tip into practise. Thanks again.
MelissaJM said:
MelissaJM's picture
I just bought some on ebay. I was so incredibly excited to read this article! I have been looking for a better way of doing this and didn't find anything through my google searches. Thank you SO SO much! This will save me hours and tender fingers.
gettem8 said:
gettem8's picture
I find that using a strip of fabric tape a little longer that the tube works well. Sew the strip with the closed end and then use it to pull the fabric right side out
smiledi said:
smiledi's picture
Brilliant! My dad had some of these in his toolbox; I had no idea their original use was medical. I'll have to keep my eye out for some. Gracias!
Leila said:
Leila's picture
As an RN, I'm well acquainted with hemostats, and my Mother found them quite valuable while hand quilting a batik quilt on which she broke 13 needles, but the tip to use a hemostat for turning a tie (or other long tube) is priceless!!! It would have never entered my mind!!!! But oh so handy an idea!

Just a small tip - sorry I can't help it, it's the RN in me - if you happen to pick up hemostats or surgical scissors, that are not packaged and from a surgical supply etc, even if you are using them in your sewing room, give them atleast a good 30 minute soak in some straight bleach when you get them home before you use them. It's just good practice. smilies/smiley.gif
Barb C said:
Barb C's picture

I'm also in health care. and that is a great tip about disinfecting the hemostats - you never know the source of these versatile tools!  BUT- don't use straight bleach! First, it can damage the hemostats. Second, a 10% bleach solution is far more effective than straight bleach. Place 9 TBSP water in a flat container, and add 1TBSP bleach to the water. Double the volumes if necessary, but make it 10% bleach (1 part in a total of 10 parts, meaning add 9 parts of water) Let soak 10 minutes and rinse thoroughly. Dry. Sew!

seaside45 said:
seaside45's picture
Great idea. I've made apron ties that took way too long with a loop turner. It took me as long to turn the ties as it did to make the rest of the apron!
SugarMtnMercantile said:
SugarMtnMercantile's picture
I've used my hemostat for turning those little buggers for a while now...but the cardboard in the tube is a priceless tip! Thanks for sharing smilies/smiley.gif
gale said:
gale's picture
This is one of my most valuable tools. I got mine cheap, probably a dollar or two, at a flea market. At one of those booths where they have bin after bin of tools, nuts and bolts, etc. Same place I got my reverse tweezers, which are some of my other most valuable tools.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Yay! We always love to pass on great tips. So happy to know this one is a fave. smilies/cheesy.gif Thanks again to alert Sew4Home fan, Carolyn! As they say, "It takes a village to make a pillow."
drsewnsew said:
drsewnsew's picture
Excellent idea to share. I am an ER physician and for the sake of “green recycling” I have always detested throwing away the extra hemostats and scissors that sometimes went unused from my surgical tray. So 4 years ago I began using these items in my sewing room for turning straps, holding small tiny items for hot glueing, picking up items, etc. They are invaluable around the house also. Thanks for such a great site!
patty/modkid said:
patty/modkid's picture
I love this idea, gals! I just followed your link to Amazon and bought one for myself. I've been turning tubes with the loop turner and cursing at the little holes it creates. YAY! Can't wait for it to get here!!! Thanks.
PamKittyMorning said:
PamKittyMorning's picture
Even better than the cardboard are metal bias bars. They're thing metal and will press those tubes up so well. They come in packs including different sizes. I prefer the all metal but they also coming plastic coated.
Jenny C-P said:
Jenny C-P's picture
Thank you thank you thank you! 2 awesome tricks. I have about 6 hemostats here and have hung on to them for years. Now I can use at least one. LOL And the cardboard trick is truly genious. (Why didn't I think of that?) Thanks and keep these types of tricks coming!!!
jneuman88 said:
jneuman88's picture
I love my hemostats ... I kept the ones used to clamp my 2 girls' umbilical cords, and they have a prominent place near my sewing machine LOL!
christi S said:
christi S's picture
this is a great idea. thanks for sharing! and esp the cardboard trick. that's always a challenge. once you get the dang thing turned it takes forever smoothing it out!!
Brendasaw said:
Brendasaw's picture
Now if only I could find a hemostat here. Maybe I'll ask my brother-in-law, he's a vetsmilies/wink.gif

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