Today's tip was an instant hit when it posted last summer because it gets a gold star in every important category: 1) makes a tedious task easier, 2) makes a tedious task faster, and 3) does #1 and #2 economically! A simple, inexpensive pair of hemostats (a locking clamp you probably recognize form the TV show, ER) is extremely useful when you need to turn long, narrow tubes right side out. And as an extra bonus, we throw in a companion tip: an easy, fast, cheap way to improve how you iron all those long, narrow tubes.
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 Stylish Baby Nursery: Crib Bumpers in Two Cool Fabs. A big thanks to tipster, Carolyn Martin. "Yay, Carolyn!"
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.
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.
- 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.
- Fold it right sides together and iron. Now it's 21¼" long x 1¼" wide.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.