How to Make Tab-Top Curtains

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Tab-top curtains are a quick and simple way to bring custom style to your home. They glide easily across a curtain rod, require few supplies, and are one of the easiest styles of curtains to make yourself. With just a few yards of fabric and a few hours, you can add a dramatic touch to your windows.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Tape measure
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
Tab-top curtains.
Tab-top curtains. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 1

Both sheer and heavy fabrics work great for tab-top curtains. Determine how many yards you will need by measuring the length and width of your windows. For a nice full drape, multiply your width by two. For example, if your window is 30 inches wide, make one panel 60 inches wide or two panels 30 inches wide. Add approximately one yard for tabs and a facing.

Supplies.
Supplies. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 2

Measure the desired length of the tabs by wrapping a tape measure around the installed curtain rod. They should stop a couple inches above the top of the window, ensuring that the window frame will not be seen. A 3 inch or 4 inch drop is generally a good length to allow the curtains to glide smoothly. Determine the width of your tabs by preference, usually 1 inch or 2 inches wide. Make your tab pattern piece by multiplying both the length and width by 2 for fold-over, and add 2 inch seam allowance to the top and bottom, and 1/2 inch to both sides. For example, a 2 inch wide tab with a 4 inch drop would be cut out into pieces 5 inches by 12 inches. Cut 5-10 tabs per panel, depending on the width of the panel.

Cut the curtain panel to the desired length. Add 1 inch seam allowance to all sides and 2 inches for the hem. Cut a facing for each panel 4 inches tall and the same width of your panel.

Measure for your curtains.
Measure for your curtains. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 3

Finish the two sides of the panel by folding the fabric under 1/2 inch and press. Fold under 1/2 inch again, press, and sew along the edge. Wait to hem the bottom of the curtains.

Hem the edges.
Hem the edges. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 4

Prepare the tabs by folding the fabric in half, right sides together. Sew 1/2 inch from the edge. Press open the seam allowance and turn the tab right side out. Press flat, then fold tab in half and press.

Sew tabs.
Sew tabs. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 5

Pin the folded tabs to the top of the curtain panel. The fold of the tab should be facing down toward the length of the curtain and 1 inch of the seam allowance should overlap the top edge. Start with one tab aligned with the side edge of the panel. Pin the remaining tabs approximately 3 to 5 inches apart, depending on the width of the tab.

Attach tabs to curtains.
Attach tabs to curtains. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 6

Place the facing on top of the tabs and curtain panel, right side facing down. Align the facing with the top of the curtain and allow the 1 inch seam allowance to overlap on each side and . Pin and sew 1 inch from the top edge.

Sew facing.
Sew facing. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 7

Fold the facing over and press. Fold under the 1 inch seam allowance on the bottom and sides and press.

Finish curtain facing.
Finish curtain facing. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 8

Topstitch around all sides of the facing.

Topstitch facing.
Topstitch facing. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

Step 9

Hang your curtains and mark the hem by folding up the fabric along the floor (or window edge). Remove from the curtain rod, fold the raw edge of the fabric under, press and stitch along edge to finish the hem.

Hem curtains.
Hem curtains. (Image: Sarah Hamilton)

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Tips & Warnings

  • The 2 inch seam allowance on the tabs allows for them to be reinforced twice in the 2 inch facing. For lightweight fabrics, this is not necessary, and a 1/2 inch seam allowance can be used on the tabs and facing.
  • If your fabric has a print and you need a panel wider than the width of your fabric, take note of the pattern repeat and buy extra panel lengths accordingly.
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