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Sewing Tabbed Drapes/Curtains with Lining – Part 1:Planning

April 16, 2012

I tackled a job that has been on my list for a year – really tackled, totally finished! I have been wanting to sew some curtains for our dining room window because when the sun shines in right at dinner time, it can be blinding.

You can see why I didn't want to cover up all that space.

This window has a western exposure and such a nice wide sill that I use it for plants to winter in and to start a few of my garden plants indoors. The large middle section of the window has blinds that do a great job of letting in just the right amount of light, but the smaller windows to each side didn’t have any coverings.

I wanted a window covering that would fit into the casement of the window, look nice in the formal dining room, give me the ability to shut out the blinding sunlight at dinner time, and give me the full use of that wide window sill.

These are pole sockets.

I decided that a tab curtain hanging from a closet pole placed near the window would be a great solution. I bought a closet rod  (1 5/8″ diameter) and closet pole sockets from the home supply store. I looked all around and tried to describe to the clerk what closet pole sockets were….. so just remember the name – it will be much easier. 🙂 I painted the pole and sockets with some leftover paint to match my dining room.

Okay, first things first…. Measure your window. Since I wanted to fit my drapes to the area inside the casement, that was what I measured.  Measure carefully and accurately but don’t stress about eighths of an inch. Let Scarlet O’Hara do that when she turns your drapes into a ball gown…… (Please tell me I am not the only one that has seen Gone With the Wind?)

Multiply the width measurement by 1.3 to 1.5  depending on how flat or gathered you want your curtain to hang. (I used 1.4 for these curtains.) Divide the number by two to give you the finished width of each of your panels. It will take at two to three  inches additional fabric for each panel to finish the edges.

Measure the length that you want each curtain.  Add four inches for the hem for a decorator fabric and 1  1/2 to 2″ to finish the top edge of a tabbed curtain. You can make narrower hems for lighter-weight fabrics, but you want your hem to have some weight to it and it will add body/stiffness to your curtains.

Remember that decorator fabric comes 54″ wide. I really wanted to find something 60″. That would have been perfect for my window. Since I didn’t have that option, I skimmed on the hem allowances.

TABS:

  • Decide how wide you want your tabs. I chose two inches for a finished width. I like them and it seems to carry the weight of the fabric and lining well. You could probably go as high as four inches wide. Double the finished width and add an inch to find out how wide you need to cut the strips to make the tabs. Use this width times the number of strips needed to give you enough tabs when estimating your fabric needs.
  • Now you will have to figure out how many tabs per panel and their spacing. Here is the complicated mathematical formula. Multiply by 4 the width of one tab. (For mine 2 x 4=8)
  • Subtract the width of one tab from the finished width of the curtain panel. (70-2=68)
  • Then divide your second number by the first on and you will find the proper spacing for your tabs. (68/8=8.5) I was lucky that it came out with an easy fraction to deal with. 🙂
  • Now on some paper sketch out your drapery panel. Include the finished size and with the allowances for finishing written down too. Use tick marks with inch references to mark the places where the tabs will be attached.  When marking those places, remember that you are spacing them “on center.”  That means the center of each tab is x inches from the center of the next one. Measuring on center will make this so much easier – trust me! 🙂
  • In your drawing, your first tick mark will be 1/2 the width of your tab from the finished edge.  From that first mark each subsequent mark will be the result of your division equation for spacing. (For my panel: First mark at 1″ – since my tabs were 2″ wide – next marks at 9.5″, 18″, 26.5″, 35″, 43.5″, 52″, 60.5″, and last one at 69″ – which is perfect for my 70″ panel since I am marking the center of a 2′ tab.)
  • I used a less scientific method to determine the length of each tab. I put my tape measure over the closet pole and decided that about 8″ would be great. But to economize fabric I changed it to 7 1/2 inches because my fabric was only 54″ wide – and that way I could get eight tabs per fabric strip. I slipped my tape measure around the closet pole one more time to make sure 7 1/2″ would slide on the pole. Remember that you will 1/2″ of each end will be taken up in seam allowance.

Depending on the length of your curtain you may have to seam fabric together to to create a wider piece for your panel. If you need to seam add that extra 1/2″ seam allowance per side. A seam running vertically is appropriate, but a horizontal one is not.

Using the measurements and a sketch again estimate your fabric needs. You will need enough for each panel and for the tabs.

Lining a drape is important. It will protect the fabric from fading and also add insulation and better light blockage. You will not need lining material for the tabs, but be sure to purchase enough for the panels. I chose a light-blocking lining material.

 Sewing : tomorrow! Now the fun begins. 🙂

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