Turning long tubes of fabric right-side out the easy way

Sometimes you have a cosplay or a project that involves long thin straps. You don’t want your raw edges showing on the final work, and pushing the fabric out through the opening is incredibly tedious and time-consuming. I definitely drove myself crazy just at the thought of turning 45″ long straps inside out by shoving fabric into a 1½” opening. I needed a better way.

This cosplay drove me to find a better way to turn straps

So after consideration of different methods, I turned to cheating once again. I do this a lot in cosplay, just cheat the usual methods and make something super simple that works. I had heard of similar methods before, but it always seems to involve wild tools or a suspiciously long crochet hook. I didn’t have any of those. What I did have was kitchen twine from when I last cooked Thanksgiving turkey and a box of large safety pins.

That’s all you need to turn long skinny straps and tubes of fabric right-side out.

This works best when working with medium-weight fabrics like cotton, polycotton, or polyester. This does not work with delicate fabrics, as the process involves yanking and you can rip your delicate fabrics fiber from fiber.

Skill level: beginner

Cost: budget-friendly!

Supplies

  • Straps to turn inside out
  • Two large safety pins
  • Kitchen twine, thick string, or something similarly large and non-slippery. Thread will not be sufficient with this.
  • Scissors for twine
  • Iron and ironing board for finishing (optional, depends on your project)

What straps work?

Before you can turn a strap inside out, you need a strap! Straps are generally strips of fabric with a front and a back, sewn together on both sides longways. The short opening isn’t sewn shut, as we need this open to turn the strap right-side out.

This works with a wide variety of widths. Straps smaller than 1″ wide (seam allowance excluded) might give you some grief, but as long as you can fit the fabric inside the tube of the strap, you can turn the strap right-side out with this method.

As mentioned above, this method is best for middle-weight fabrics and doesn’t work for lightweight or delicate fabrics due to how much yanking is needed. Stiff and heavyweight fabrics often don’t have the flexibility to bend and feed through the stitched tube, so you might need a different method for that.

If you have yourself some straps made of middle-weight fabric, let’s get started!

Turning the straps

Take a cut of twine or string just a few inches longer than your strap. Tie each end to a large safety pin and close the safety pin. A double knot will do to make sure this twine is nice and secure.

Twine with their ends tied to safety pins

Pin one of the safety pins to the top of the strap, threading the pin through the fabric several times and only on one side. Don’t pin the two sides together. Make sure to pin it on the wrong side of the fabric, which is currently on the outside of the strap. This threading will ensure the yanking won’t rip a hole in your fabric.

Feed one the unpinned safety pin through the opening of the strap. It probably won’t go all the way down and out the other opening, especially for long straps, but we can inch it along.

One of the safety pins pinned to the strap, the pin threaded through the fabric several times before closed.
Pin threaded into the opening

Now to feed the other pin through the fabric. You can pretty easily feel the safety pin through the fabric. This is why we want a big safety pin as the little ones are hard to feel in the fabric.

Grab the bottom of the safety pin and push the surrounding fabric down around it then pull the safety pin upward by pinching the top of the pin and pushing the surrounding fabric down. it’s kind of like an inchworm!

Scrunching the strap up around the safety pin like an inch worm.
Bunched up fabric, ready to be pulled towards the pinned safety pin at the top. Scrunch it like an inchworm.

Once the loose safety pin is out the other opening, you can’t just yank it yet. it’s going to wiggle the top around and get you bunched up and nowhere. Instead, you’ll need to start the turning process by hand first.

Take the pinned side of the tube and start turning the edges towards the inside of the tube then shove them inside along with the safety pin. This tucks the safety pin inside and gives us something to yank on.

Shoving the edges of the fabric inside the tube shape of the strap. This tucks the safety pin inside.
Tuck the pinned safety pin inside

Pinch the top of the strap near the safety pin little ways in from the opening with one hand while taking the loose pin attached to the twine in the other. While pinching, pull the pin to pull the fabric into the tube.

how to pinch and hold with one hand while pulling the twine with the other
Pinch and pull

When you first start, you’ll only be able to pinch and pull a short way, but after the process is started, you can punch and pull greater distances in one go.

Eventually, after a bit of pinching and pulling, the twine and the pinned pin will pop out on the opposite side of the tube. The pinned section will look a bit scrunched, but ironing will straighten that out.

How to turn the rest of the strap right-side out after the pinned pin pops out the opening.

Hold the pinned side of the fabric and push the rest of the fabric down with your other hand. This will finish the turning process and give you a fully turned-out strap.

Ironing the strap flat

While you could leave the strap as is, it looks more like a noodle than a strap. It needs to be flattened first. Normally when you want to flatten a seam, you’d use a point turner or something similar, but these are long noodles. You can’t really get a tool up inside them to push the seam to make it easier to press, but you still have options.

pulling the seams outward to make it easier to iron flat

The goal is to get the stitched part of the seam as close to the outside edge as possible. This turning method scrunches the fabric up and makes the seam want to curl in on itself.

The easiest method is to take your fingernails and pinch the fabric as close to those stitches as possible and pull outward, pressing down on the fabric with your fingers after doing so. Finger pressing, as it’s called, can temporarily crease the fabric and hold it in place before you iron it down. You can only do this for short sections at a time before the finger creasing wears off and the seam attempts to curl in on itself.

Another method is to rub the edge back and forth until the seam works its way to the outer edge. I have used this a few times, but I find it more difficult to use when two seams are sitting next to each other.

Either way, once you’ve moved the seams to the edge, quickly press it down with a hot steam iron. Press the fabric down towards the ironing board and iron towards your hand until you reach near the point where you haven’t pulled the seams outward.

Ironing the strap and pressing it flat

If you aren’t comfortable with having an iron that close to your hand, you can get ironing rubber fingers or heat guards to protect your hand. You can get pretty close to your hand before running the risk of hurting yourself, but if you aren’t sure or are sensitive to heat, protect those hands!

Continue this process until you’ve ironed your entire strap! Now you have a flat strap instead of a big noodle.

A pile of straps with stitched details

I hope you find this method helpful! It’s honestly less stressful on my hands (and on me in general), and I don’t think I will ever turn a strap any other way ever again.

Once you’ve turned your straps, decorate them with contrast stitches, attach them to cosplay, make a belt out of them! Whatever you need your strap for, you now have an easy method to make as many as you need.

Let me know what you use your straps for. @ me on social media so I can admire your work. Go forth and create!

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