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How to Make Tab-Top Drapes

Tab-top drapes are easy to make and can add a contemporary flair to any room

Tab-top drapes are the perfect addition to contemporary decor. You can use just about any type of material; they are easy to make if you have a sewing machine.

You can make tab-top drapes for any size window. Just create additional panels for wider windows, preferably in even numbers. You will be able to split them in the middle - 1 or 2 per side - and create tie-backs to open them up easily. For narrow windows, create a single panel and tie it back to one side.

Before calculating the material requirements, here are a few tab-top basics:

-The sum width of the tabs should be no more than the actual width of the window plus 3 inches on each side.
-The space between tabs should be no more than 8 inches but can be as little as 3 inches.
-The sum width of the drapery panels should be about 1.5 times the width of the window and include three inches on each side for privacy.
-The top of the panel - not including the tabs - should be positioned about 1 inch above the actual window.
-The bottom of the drape should fall about 1 ½ inches from the floor.
-Tab-tops are not easy to slide across a rod; consider using a tie-back for quick opening.

For the purpose of this article, we are going to make a single-panel, unlined tab-top for a finished panel size of 43 inches by 84 inches. We will also add a 3-inch backing for the top edge to cover the tab seams.

Add 4 inches to the finished size for side seams.
Add 5 inches to the finished length for a 1-inch foldover at the top and a 3-inch hem with 1-inch foldover at the bottom.

Six 3-inch tabs are required. They will be spaced 5 inches apart on the panel after the side seams are completed. The unfinished tab pattern will be 7 inches wide by 7 inches long. The length is dependent upon the size of your drapery rod. Final sewn size will be 3 inches wide by 5 inches for the total sewn-in tab.

The top backing will be the length of the unfinished panel, plus a small hem on the bottom edge, the same side hem size as the panel, and a one-inch allowance for sewing across the top.

The final tie-back size will be 3 inches wide by 18 inches long. Pre-cut size is 7 inches wide by 20 inches long.

Sew the side seams first. Mark your material on the outside for pressing and pinning: turn in one-inch and press; turn in another inch and press. Stitch the side seams at least ¾-inch from the edge.

Next, make the tabs. Fold the tab in half and stitch 1/2-inch in from the edges. You want the seam line to be in the center and inside of the finished tab. Press the seam flat, turn right side out and press again to create the crease. Fold in half and press again so the tab will lie flat for easier stitching.

Position the tabs across the top of the panel at 5-inch intervals, starting at the outside edges on the right side of the material. The rod portion of the fold will point downward - toward the hem.

For the backing, turn in the bottom edge ½-inch and again at ½ inch. Sew to create a hem. Turn in the sides to match the exact length of the panel and create side hems.

Lay the backing across the tabs with the raw edge toward the top and the right side of the material facing in. The seam will sandwich the tabs in between the backing and the front panel. Make the seam and turn right side out.

Hand-stitch the backing down at 6-inch intervals to hold it in place. Hand-stitch the side seams to close the backing. This will create a finished, professional look for your unlined drapes.

You should now mount the curtain rod and hang the drapes as a cross-check for the correct length. You can still make adjustments to the size of the bottom hem to fix any measurement errors.

The bottom hem should be turned in one inch, pressed, and then an additional three inches. Press down and pin. Sew the hem closed.

For a tie-back, you will repeat the process used to make the tabs, except you do not have to center the seam. Turn right side out, press down. Turn in the ends one inch and hand-stitch closed. Sew vertical buttonholes on each end; they will be ready to slide onto a hook for easy opening.

Your tab-top panel is finished.

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