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DIY Tab Top Curtains in Just 7 Steps

Handmade tab top curtains make it easy to customize your space, while provide lots of opportunity for embellishment and fabric mixing. Compared to other more full curtain designs, these simple yet stylish curtains require minimal fabric and can be perfect for stationary panels.

Keep reading to learn how to sew your own tab top curtains!

curtain example

Cutting your fabric

Sewing these curtains generally requires about one and a half to two times the fullness of your window. Determine your curtain panels’ length and width based on the size and placement of the window. Next add extra for your preferred hem allowance on the sides and bottom edge. Add just another half inch to your dimensions on the top edge, as no large hem is needed at the top because tab curtains have a fabric facing to enclose the top edge.

Cut out your panels and also cut a facing piece for each panel. The facing should be the same width as the curtain panel and about 3-4 inches long. Now you are ready to create the curtain tabs. Alternatively, if you have plenty of fabric, you can make the curtain panels a little longer than you think might be needed, including the tab top, and then try them out on your curtain rod to check the length before hemming.

Step 1: Determine the length of the tabs.

measure tab length Fold a length of fabric over the curtain rod and pin to determine how long you want the tabs to be. Generally the curtain top edge should hang about 2 to 4 inches below the curtain rod. Measure the length as pinned and then add 1 inch to make seam allowances at either end of the tab of ½ inch.

Step 2: Make the tabs

sew curtain tabs

Determine your tab width, usually around 1.5 to 2 inches. For a 2 inch wide tab, cut pieces of 5 inch wide by whatever length you determined in step one. You can also cut a continuous length of 5 inches wide and sew the long edges together.

With either method, turn right side out and press flat. To determine the number of tabs, plan on one at either outside edge of the curtain and then space them evenly around 6 and 8 inches apart. If you have enough fabric, make plenty of tabs so you can play around with spacing choices

Step 3: Finish the edges.

press curtain edges

If you haven’t already finished the curtain edges and hem, now is the time to do so. Fold over twice and stitch to create a clean edge on the sides, and hem now if you know the exact length, or you can do that as a last step.

You can use a longer stitch length when sewing home décor items as the seams don’t have the same need to resist wear and tear as clothing items do, plus the longer stitch makes the sewing go a bit faster!

Step 4: Attach the tabs.

attach curtain tabs

Pin the tabs onto the curtain panel, starting at the outside edge and spacing every 6 inches or so. If you fabric is quite heavy or thick then spacing them further apart makes them easier to slide on the curtain rod and open at either side of the window.

If you have stripes as in the example pictured you may want to match the tab pattern to the stripe pattern, or even choose an accent fabric for the tabs. Sew across the top using the ½ inch seam allowance, to fix all the tabs in place.

Step 5: Attach the facing.

attach curtain facing

Fold the side and bottom edge of the facing piece to match the finished width of the finished curtain panel and press, but don’t stitch. Pin the facing right sides together to the curtain panel and stitch across the top edge seam allowance.

Step 6: Press the facing.

Pressing curtain facing

Press the facing and tabs upward as shown. This helps to create a crisp edge at the top of the curtain panel.

Step 7: Sew the facing.

sew curtain facing

Turn the panel over and press the facing down at the top edge, being sure to keep the tabs extended. Stitch across the bottom of the facing to enclose the top edge. The red thread shows the stitching line. You can stitch across the sides of the facing but it is not necessary if you want to omit that step. Time to hang your new curtain panels!

Think about using embellishments of ribbon or two layers of fabric to accent your color scheme. You can even design your curtains to reverse the facing piece to the outside of the panel and create a fabric mix that way.

Tab top curtain on rod

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4 Comments

Alison

Thanks for the tutorial! How long do you make the facing?

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sarimah

thanks a lot for the tutorial….it really helps me a lot…

Reply
Corinne

Nice and simple. Would help if step 4 indicated that tabs should be pinned to the right side of the curtain panel. Thanks.

Reply
Cindy

I made the panels for my daughter in laws nursery curtains but I have been staring at the remaining fabric just trying to wrap my brain around how long and how wide to make the tabs. Thanks for this tutorial it helped me determine width and length of tabs. If I don’t have enough material left over for the backing I will use drapery lining fabric I have left over from another project. For some reason this took longer than I imagined.

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