Notions: Fabulous Rouleau Loops


I have been obsessing about Rouleau Loops ever since they were challenged with them on The Great British Sewing Bee! I’ve never used a Loop Turner however; preferring to use needle & thread. This is simply because this is how I was taught to make the small, narrow & neat fabric loops, & not for any other reason.

Always up for purchasing a fancy new sewing gadget, my Loop Turner arrived this morning so I thought I’d post a quick tutorial!

Rouleau Loops can be used for more than just straps. Most commonly they are used for alternative Button Holes however; they can also be used for decoration. As Button Holes they are trapped between the outer fabric & facing as a loop, as decoration the loop is kept as a continuous line then invisibly hand stitched onto the fabric in any choice of pattern. But more on this later!

Needed are a Pattern Master or set square with a 45o Angle & straight edge, a Loop Turner, fabric freshly ironed, Tailors Chalk, pins & scissors.

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Line up the edge of the Pattern Masters 45o Angle with the Selvedge edge of the fabric then, with the Tailors Chalk, draw a clear, neat line on the fabric. This line is now on the Bias of the fabric, which is important so the Rouleau Loop will bend & curve around the button, body or design. 4cm away from the first line, draw another & continue until you have enough strips to form the length needed. Once all the lines have been drawn, cut along them to form a series of strips.

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To sew the strips of fabric in to a continuous line pin, right sides together, as illustrated above. The edge of the bottom strip should poke out 1cm from the edge of the top strip as illustrated in the first picture. Once pinned, sew with a 1cm Seam Allowance (see the second picture). When all strips have been pinned & sewn lie flat & iron as in the last picture.


Fold what is probably by now quite a long & narrow strip of fabric!, in half along its longest edge, & pin.


Sew along the folded edge as illustrated. I chose to make my seam just under half a centimetre (2/8 of an inch!) wide, from the fold to the line of stitching however; Rouleau Loops can be up to 1cm in width & it is easier to start a little wider on the first attempt. Wider than 1cm & the Loops can look a little clunky.

It will have become obvious at this point that the fabric has been cut much, much wider than is needed. This is simply to be kind to the sewing machine! Any narrower & the fabric becomes too narrow for the machine to feed properly & all sorts of problems are encountered. I have discovered that cutting the fabric strips a centimetre or so wider than necessary solves all of them.


Trim off all of the excess fabric, leaving just the seam next to the fold intact. Trim as close as possible because the fabric left will need to fit inside of the Loop when turned out! As illustrated I cut mine down to a couple if millimetres  or approx. 1/8 of an inch. This step is easier when sewing Rouleau Loops from Cotton or a more stable fabric, & can quickly turn into a nightmare when using Crepe or Habotai Silks!


Now is the turn of the Loop Turner! Mine cost £1.79, & I purchased it from Ebay.


Push the narrow end of the Loop Turner in to the tube of fabric which has just been stitched.


Push until the end of the Loop Turner pops out of the other end. The fabric tube which will become a beautiful Rouleau Loop (I promise!) has to be scrunched up to fit on to the Loop Turner, & can become quite creased!


As illustrated the tip of the Loop Turner has two parts, & one section hinges down. A little of the fabric needs to be pushed up in to the loop, & the hinged section clipped ‘up’ to grab the end of the fabric.

Once this has been achieved, pull on the enormous loop at the end of the Loop Turner, & gently help the fabric feed through the inside of the tube until it has completely turned out the right way. 

To finish there are two options. Ironing will flatten the Rouleau Loop, which is fine if it is to be used as straps however; steaming &  rolling gently with the palms of your hands will produce a rolled Rouleau Loop which is much preferable for Button Loops or decoration.


Now, I shall be completely honest & own up to being a complete show off here however; I am pretty impressed with the narrowness & neatness of my finished Rouleau! 3mm is pretty darn spectacular!

I think I shall cover the different uses of Rouleau Loops in a future post (click here to see), & simply bask in my own glory for now! I shall leave you with this glorious example of Rouleau Loop decoration however… something for us all to aspire to?


As ever click the pictures for enlargements or links.

Happy stitching!


5 thoughts on “Notions: Fabulous Rouleau Loops

  1. I am seriously impressed! 3mm! Though hugely inspired by the rouleau collar… I might just leave that up to someone else with a little more patience! 😉

    • A version of that collar is happening!! I think if you just draw the pattern out, lay the Rouleau on top and hand sew, what could really go wrong! I’m slightly obsessed by adding it on to a T-Shirt for some reason… watch this space lol! 🙂

  2. Laura, I have also been a bit obsessed with the rouleau since watching the GBSB! Thanks for your tutorial. You mentioned using them for alternatives to buttonholes and that you would post on that later, would love to see it.

  3. Pingback: Sew-a-Long News and The Sewing Bee excitement! | Laura After Midnight

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