How To Sew Rouleau Ties Without Special Tools

I know the back of the Bladvass Dress will be open.  The dress needs something to hold up the front of the bodice, this time I’m opting for a rouleau treatment.  Like this, but… well… not like this:

I like this method because it’s simple and I don’t need any special tools- just my sewing machine.  Rouleau ties are useful for drawstrings, ties, belt loops, embellishments, it’s up to your imagination.  Colette featured a Rouleau Pocket Tutorial recently- maybe I’ll try that, too.

Cut or tear fabric into 1″ strips, or to desired width.  For light-medium cottons, I find 1″ is a good minimum width.  This method is not suitable for heavy fabrics.  Ties may be either on the straight of grain (for strength) or bias (for smooth curves).  Mine are straight.

The edges of the strip curled when I tore it, so I pressed it flat.

Fold in half, right sides together and press a crease.  If you’re working with a long strip, chop it down to pieces as long as your arm- it’s much easier to handle.

Pull your machine threads waaaaay out, longer than the strip.

Lay the threads along the middle crease, on the right side of the strip.  Just look after the first few inches, you can adjust the thread position as you sew.

Fold the fabric, right sides together and sew with a 1/4″ seam.  Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end, it’s important.

This is the part that’s hard to understand with your brain, easier to understand with your fingertips.  My right hand is not very important here.  It’s an anchor, holding the threads.  I am not pulling with my right hand.  Good.  The left fingers slowly roll the tube of fabric back and forth, gently pulling away from my body.

The pads of my fingertips grip the outer layer of fabric, which allows the tiny tube to turn on itself.  If I use a death grip, the tie won’t turn.  Once you get it started, it usually comes along well.  Avoid bunching the fabric at one end.  If that happens, smooth it out and start again.  If I can’t get it to turn, I use long tweezers or a bodkin or a knitting needle to poke it through the first inch.

All wrapped up and tidy.

Pinned to my mini-corkboard, so I know where to find them.


13 comments

  1. I’ve done this by stitching a cord or piece of yarn inside, but never with just the machine’s own thread. Nifty! (and perhaps easier to start turning than with the cord bulking up the end.) Interesting—I will have to give it a try.

    I feel like the bias strips work better for really narrow straps, as you can sort of stretch them out after turning and they get skinnier that way.

    • Yes, definitely. I want mine to stay at 1/4″… There’s so many ways to do this technique and so many applications…. Boggles the mind. :)

  2. Lovely idea, and seeing you sitting in that full on sun is a reminder of why dressng for cool is so important over there!
    I have a turning hook thing, it’s one of the very few gadgets I own and I use it for a million other jobs too. However it is only as long as it is, which limits its usefulness.
    Love this idea and yup it must be a lot easier to start off wiwthout a string knotted in the end!

  3. I started reading about rouleau ties, but by the end all I could think was that I *had* to have a blueberry parfait.

  4. If my mother had known how to do it this way when she was in charge of all the ballet costumes I suspect there would have been a lot less swearing near her sewing machine.


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