I hate turning tubes so much that I almost used potty mouth in the title of this post. It's those long skinny tubes (less than 1") that are a real pain in the arse, like when making suspenders or the neck strap of a bow tie which I have been doing a lot of lately. I bought one of those tools with a latch hook on the end which is useless and pokes holes in your fabric. I've tried the safety pin thing, and the trick where you sew some string to one end inside the tube and pull it to turn the tube... nothing has really worked for me. I really want to get that tool that looks like a giant pair of scissors, do you know what I'm talking about? Anyway I've found a decent way that has been working for me with a minimal cursing. All you need is a couple of pencils!
It is easier to turn a tube that is closed on one end, but it's still do-able if its open on both ends. If you're having a hard time with it, just baste one end closed and rip it out afterwards.
Put one of the pencils in the open end.
Scrunch the fabric til the pencil reaches the other end.
With the pencil inside pushing against the end of the tube, put the other pencil on the end of the tube from the outside, so one pencil is in and one is out, and the pencils are butted up against each other with the end of the tube between them. You might need to fold the seam allowance so it's kinda flat, and if it's open (no seam) you will need to tuck the raw edges towards the middle.
You are going to try and slide the fabric onto the outside pencil, and it's tricky to get started. In this next photo, I am holding the outside (red) pencil with one hand, pushing it against the pencil inside the tube which is pressed against your work surface (or stomach, in my case) - with the other hand try to roll the fabric over the end/seam and onto the outside pencil. If it's stubborn, use your fingers to pick and pull at the side seam to get it started.
Once you get it started and part of the outside pencil is pushed into the end of the tube, hold the fabric in place so you don't lose it and turn the pencil around so you can pull the fabric down instead of up.
At this point you don't need to worry about the pencil in the tube. Just keep sliding the fabric down the outside pencil.
Soon you will push the inside pencil out the other end.
And soon the end of the outside pencil (which is now inside the tube) will come out the other end.
Then you can just forget the pencil altogether, grab the right-side-out end of the tube that has just emerged, and the rest of the fabric should easily (unroll?) leaving you with your tube.
Was that horribly confusing or somewhat helpful? Of course you can use all kinds of long narrow objects, but I like the flat ends of an unsharpened pencil. Like I said, I still want to get the scissor tool thingy, but this works for now. I would LOVE to hear more tips and tricks for turning tubes, so please, by all means, leave me a comment!