Tool Time — Fasturn

17 07 2011

Some tools become such standbys that one forgets not everyone is familiar with them.  I was reminded of that fact while on our little quilt retreat a week and a half ago.  Andrea was making an apron and was using a safety pin to turn the tubes that would become the ties.  There’s nothing wrong with using a safety pin or a bodkin, but there is an easier way.

I purchased my Fasturn set while living in Virginia before my boys were born.  Which means I’ve had it at least 18 years.  The funny thing is I’d never seen them before that time, but they are manufactured less than a mile from where I went to elementary school in Oregon.  I don’t believe the tools come in a box like this any longer, and the handles have changed.

The set is composed of brass tubes of various sizes and wires that are inserted into those tubes.  How do they work?  Let me show you.  To start, sew a tube whatever dimensions your pattern instructs.  The tube can be sewn shut on the end(s) (if both ends are sewn shut leave a hole elsewhere for turning), or can be open on both ends.  Clip corners as needed. Next choose the Fasturn tube that best fits the fabric tube and a wire the appropriate length  to go with it.

Insert the brass tube into the fabric tube all the way to the sewn end.  If the end is not sewn, leave a little fabric to overlap the end of the Fast Turn tube.

The wire portion of the Fasturn system has a pig tail at the end, and the tip is sharp.

Insert the wire through the brass tube.

Twist the wire clockwise (to the right) so it pierces the fabric.  It will look like this.  If the end of your tube is not sewn shut, hold a portion of the end of the stitched tube taut over the brass tube and twist the wire in exactly the same manner.

Now start pulling the wire along with the fabric tube through the Fasturn tube.  You can ease the fabric off the end of the brass tube.  Here’s how it looks as it just starts to turn.

Keep pulling, once the wire emerges from the end of the tube you can just pull on the fabric if you like.  You can turn very long tubes — as long as you can scrunch the fabric onto the metal tube, you can turn it.  Here’s a picture when the tube is almost completely turned.

And voila a completely turned tube ready to be pressed.

Jesse timed me, and when I wasn’t stopping to take pictures, it took under 9 seconds from start to turned!  Try to do that with a safety pin.  Also if you look at the set there are some very small tubes.  It would be almost impossible to turn that size tube with a safety pin.

I use the Fasturn most often for turning tubes, but it can also be used to turn and fill a tube with cording (or batting) all in one step.  I’m going to show you pictures of the process, but this is a case of do as I say, not as I did.    I had stitched Quilter’s Dream Supreme cotton batting to the wrong side of the tubes.  Not only is it difficult to cut two layers at once, but I almost broke my wire while turning the tube.  If you want batting to pad a tube in addiction to cording, I would recommend a thinner loft!  The manufacturer recommends cutting the fabric tubes on the bias when filling them with cording.  Also when filling a fabric tube, the fabric tube should fit fairly snug onto the Fasturn tube.  There are cutting recommendations for various tube sizes in the instructions that come with the tools.

To start, stitch a tube as described in the last part.  As I mentioned, my tube includes a layer of batting.  Insert the Fast Turn tube into the fabric tube, and insert the wire as described above for turning a tube.

Start to turn the tube, pulling about 1/2″ inch of the fabric tube into the metal tube.  Then insert the end of the cording into the fabric tube and the Fasturn tube.

Now simply continue to pull the wire.  The fabric tube will turn and cover the cording as it goes.  Here’s a picture when the tube is almost completely turned.

And finally the filled tube.

If you cannot find the Fasturn system locally, it is available through Nancy’s Notions.

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One response

17 07 2011
Vicki W

I’ve had mine about the same amount of time. I don’t use it often but I’d never get rid of it. When I need it, it’s a fabulous tool and worth every penny!




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