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These tab curtains were so easy to make that even a beginner like me made them in just a couple of hours.
We’ve been in our house about 9-years now and some of our curtains have that “not so new” look to them. A few months ago I started searching around for replacements. Somehow I thought this would be easy, I mean I found these curtains, right? Nope, not that easy, I combed through the stores and online only to find that most of the curtains out there were plain (some just plain ugly) and ones I did like were very expensive or not the right size.
So I did what any frugal mama would do and dragged out the new sewing machine I got for Christmas (sadly still in the box and it’s July folks). Actually I put it on the kitchen table where it sat until my mom came to visit. I haven’t sewn since home ec class in jr high, so I felt I needed the expert on this one.
It did take a bit of time to figure out the new sewing machine but when I finally got up and running (with the help of mom) the curtains came together in a snap. Thankfully, sewing is just like riding a bike.
Since my mom gave me the blue fabric, I only needed to buy a yard and a half of the white patterned fabric bringing the total price of this project to $9.99. I chose to use two fabrics but you could just use one if you find a pattern you love. Another idea would be to use a third fabric for the tabs or sew buttons onto the tabs for decoration. That’s the beauty of making them yourself! I love how these came out and my 6-year old gave them a thumbs up because they are so easy to pull closed at night.
To get started, measure your window and determine the right length and width. I measured a set of curtains from another room, but if you’re starting from scratch, here are a few things to consider…
Panel Width – Bolts of fabric come in standard sizes ranging from 36” to 100” wide. Our fabric was 44” wide which allowed the 4” extra to hem. Our window size is approximately 40”. A good rule of thumb is to make each panel about the width of your window. So, in this example, a 40” window would have two 40” curtain panels. Don’t worry if your panels are not as wide as your windows, you just need enough fabric for a full/gathered look.
Panel Length – Since there are so many different window sizes, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. You’ll need to figure out how long you want your curtains. Will they touch the floor? Fall just below the window?… or somewhere in-between. Then you’ll need to allow extra to hem. Below are diagrams with instructions to make your own custom-sized tab curtains with dimensions so you can buy the right amount of fabric. Also, you may notice the extra 8” of fabric recommended for the bottom hem. This seemed like a lot to me but my mom explained that it’s this extra that gives the curtain weight so they hang nicely 🙂
How to make the Tabs – The tabs are about 2” x 4” (finished size when the curtains are up) and should be evenly spaced about 5” to 6” apart at the top of each panel. Just as a point of reference, I used 6 tabs per each 40” finished curtain panel. The tabs were pretty easy to make (see diagram/instructions below) and don’t worry if they’re not perfectly spaced. I have to admit, we did a visual placement and I followed up with a ruler to see that they were somewhat evenly spaced. When the curtains are hanging you’ll never notice that one tab is a half-inch further than another!
Diagram and Instructions
It may be helpful to print the instructions and diagrams out so click here for a printable PDF.
What you’ll need – Fabric, sewing machine, matching or neutral thread, bobbin, scissors, iron and ironing board, fabric marking pencil (I just used a regular pencil), ruler, measuring tape, pins/pin cushion
STEP 1: Choose your fabric. I chose a white patterned fabric for the top portion and tabs to complement the blue fabric on the bottom.
STEP 2: Determine how long you want your curtains. Remember to add the length of the tabs.
STEP 3: Use the diagrams on this page to determine how many yards of fabric you will need.
Note: Remember to double everything, the diagrams represent only one curtain panel and you will need two.
STEP 4: Measure and cut your fabric according to the diagrams on this page.
STEP 5: Sew your top and bottom fabrics together with a .5 IN. seam allowance. (A in diagram)
STEP 6: Hem both sides (B in diagram). Start by folding the fabric over 1 IN. and press with iron. Then fold the fabric over again 1 IN. and press again. Sew all the way down the length of your curtain panels.
STEP 7: Make your tabs. Sew your tabs onto the top panel. First, determine how many tabs you will need. The tabs are about 2 inches wide and should be spaced about 5 to 6 inches apart. For reference, I used 6 tabs (12 total for both curtain panels) spaced 5 inches apart. My finished curtain panels were each 40 inches wide. See below for tab instructions:
A: Sew all of your tabs with a .5 IN. seam allowance on the wrong side of the fabric.
B: Turn your tabs right-side-out and press so the seam is in the middle.
C: Fold each tab in half with the seam on the inside. Pin the tabs 5 to 6 IN. apart all along the top edge, right side to right side. Sew each tab on with a .5 IN. seam allowance.
D: Flip your fabric over to the wrong side, fold and press with iron .5 IN. along the entire length of the top fabric where you sewed the tabs on.
E: Fold over again 1 IN. and press the entire width. Hem about .25 IN. from the edge where your tab is attached.
F: Flip your fabric back over to the right side and fold forward 1 IN. again (like an accordion) and press.
G: Sew across the bottom of the last fold.
Note: This accordion style hem worked well for my fabric and gave the top thickness to hold it’s shape better. If you using a heavier fabric, you may need to add a facing piece to the back of your curtain to hide the unfinished tab edges. Allow more fabric if you plan to do a facing.
STEP 8: Finish by sewing the bottom hem (C in diagram). You may want to double check the length before continuing, but you will fold the fabric over 4 IN. and press. Then fold the fabric another 4 IN. and press again. Last, sew to finish the hem. That’s it. Enjoy your new curtains 🙂