Saturday, 1 December 2007

My very inelegant, kind of weird, but totally effective way to turn a handle

This is how I turn an inside-out tube of fabric in the right way. It is one of those tutorials that you may not understand until you try it. Master this and you can turn a handle in 30 seconds flat!

Prepare your bag handle tube. Mine has been prepared using my favourite method detailed in a previous post.

The crucial equipment required for this method is (wait for it!) a piece of poly pipe usually used for garden irrigation and a length of wooden dowel. My pipe is 13mm in diameter, the dowel is smaller at 10mm diameter. Both are approximately 50cm long. It is helpful if the dowel is at least 10mm longer than the pipe.

Using a large stitch length, sew across one end of your handle, using 1/8" seam allowance. This is a temporary basting stitch and will be removed later.

Slide the irrigation pipe into the handle until it butts firmly against the end of the handle you have just stitched closed.

Now this next bit is tricky to explain. Working from the closed end of the handle, use the dowel to push against the irrigation pipe. The handle fabric should begin to roll back down over the dowel.

Work the fabric down over the dowel until the handle is the 'right side out'. This process honestly takes less than 30 seconds.

You should end up with your handle right side out with the dowel inside it. Remove the dowel. Either unpick the temporary stitching on the end of the handle, or simply cut the temporary stitching away.

To press the handle, I again use the irrigation pipe! Insert the pipe into the handle. Carefully press the handle with the pipe in it. The pipe helps to open the seam nicely for pressing. 

This technique works perfectly for the handles I posted about earlier (approximately 1.25" wide, finished). If your handles are wider, you may need to use larger diameter pipe and dowel. The crucial thing is that the dowel has a smaller diameter than the pipe. The dowel should actually fit inside the pipe. Please don't hesitate to ask me questions if all this makes no sense to you!


  1. Brilliant explantion, I understand it perfectly. How clever, I usually use a safety pin and spend several minutes trying to wiggle it through the tube. I'll try this next time and also your method of making the 'piped' handles, which look so professional. Thanks for the tips.

  2. I second Sandra's remark. I can put away the safety pins and frustration.... I also can't wait to make a handle using your self-piped instructions.

  3. Another great tutorial Ros,
    I've got a little tool but I find its still too hard when you have your wadding attached. This may be the way to go......
    Another link to put on to my Blessings Sunday. Maybe I should just have a BLOOM Sunday. You have such great little ideas.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Now .... that is a pretty nifty trick! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for sharing your tip. No more screaming at the ceiling for me when I make my next bag!

  6. I just found your blog and i love the beautiful projects you have made and the photographs of your flowers are lovely!
    Happy Stitching!

  7. I thought I might just add - and for smaller bits including dolly legs that need turning a thick strong straw (the ones from McDonalds are perfect) are fantastic too!!!

  8. What a great idea!! I have such problems with this step, especially with jean. Thanks for sharing!!

  9. How very clever! Great idea.

  10. Brilliant and clever!! Thanks for sharing!!

  11. how wonderful !!!! thanks a lot !

  12. Love this idea. It is always so painful turning them back the right way. just have to make sure the dowel is thinner then the tubing.
    Thanks for this tip.

  13. Fantastic tip! I wouldn't say it's inelegant at all!


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