Today I’m excited to show you how to sew your own drapes, with the same easy DIY back tab curtain tutorial my Mom and I used to sew new drapes for my bedroom.
I have previously demonstrated my unwavering commitment to sheer curtains, but the turquoise polka dot drapes in the laundry room re-awakened in me a passion for patterned curtains. The last time I had patterned drapes I was in a red and cream toile phase so, suffice it to say, it’s been awhile. I picked a bold Richloom Solarium outdoor fabric (Titan Peacock) to complement my vintage poster art. Because I couldn’t find curtain rings to match the exact shade/diameter of my new white curtain rod, I decided to do back tab curtains instead:
What is a Back Tab on Curtain?
Instead of relying on curtain rings, back tab curtains (also called hidden tab curtains) have a series of small strip of fabric or ribbon sewn into the back of the curtain panel, near the top. A curtain rod can be fed through these strips of fabric, the “back tabs,” to hang a curtain. From the front, a back tab curtain panel drapes beautifully. Back tab curtains are easy to sew but look very professional – and they’re a great solution if you can’t find curtain rings to match your curtain rod.
How Do You Make Back Tab Curtains?
Making back tab curtains is surprisingly easy! Here are the basic steps for how to make back tab curtains – but keep reading for detailed instructions and step by step photos:
- Cut out each curtain panel and hem the sides and bottom as usual – leave the top un-hemmed
- Cut out 4.5″ by 6″ rectangles of fabric (we used 7 per panel)
- Sew the small rectangles into tubes (right sides facing)
- Turn the tubes right side out and iron flat, with the seam in the middle
- Sew the tabs into the top seam of the curtain panel as you finish the top hem
How to Sew DIY Back Tab Curtains:
Here’s the DIY back tab curtain tutorial accompanies by photos for each step. For the first step of this DIY back tab curtain tutorial, we just hemmed the sides and bottom of the curtain panels as usual. For the tabs, we cut out 4.5″ x 6″ rectangles of fabric, which were sewn into tubes (right side facing), flipped right side out and then ironed flat with the seam in the middle. The finished tabs are approximately 2″ wide. Once the tubes were turned into flat tabs, we folded and ironed each end of the tabs under. These tabs were then hooked under, pinned onto and sewn into the top seam of the curtain panel, which is approximately 5″ wide.
Here’s a close up photo of one of the finished curtain tabs:
How Far Apart are Back Tabs on Curtains?
6″ between tabs is typically recommended as the distance between back tabs. Each of my curtain panels are approximately 53″ wide and we did a total of 7 tabs per panel. My curtain rod has an overall length of 8 feet. You can adjust the distance between back tabs: more tabs will create a fuller, more pleated look.
How to Hang Back Tab Curtains
With the tabs affixed, we just slid the curtain rod through the tabs. I worried back tab curtains would stick and not open smoothly, but my fears were unfounded. These curtains actually function better than curtains on rings, plus they look more polished. The tabs result in soft pleats which control the drape of the fabric. I used to spend forever fussing with the office curtains in the townhouse, which Hubby would close nightly and fling open with wild abandon every morning. I would then adjust the drape, pulling and fluffing the top so it would drape just so. When Hubby flings these open they fall perfectly. I wonder how many hours I’ll save annually, thanks to these curtains. It’s embarrassing to think about it.
How to Control the Style and Drape of Back Tab Curtains:
Little changes in the construction of these DIY hidden tab drapes will change the drape and overall style, so here’s a brief explanation of what we did to achieve this particular look:
- We sewed the tabs very close to the top of the curtain, which creates a cleaner, more modern look than when the tabs are placed lower, which creates a soft ruffling at the top
- The number of tabs is up to you and will control the number of pleats – we used 7 tabs per panel
- Other folks use ribbon for the tabs, but using this fabric created a stiffer back tab, which holds its shape really well – I recommend taking the time to make fabric tabs
P.S. Want to See My DIY Back Tab Drapes in Different Fabrics/Colors?
How to Sew Back Tab Curtains with Stiffener/Drapery Tape
Recently we sewed silk DIY back tab curtains for my Mom’s dining room, pictured above and below. Instead of using the same curtain fabric to sew tabs, we used stiffener, also called header taper or drapery tape. Click here to find the tutorial for how to sew that version of hidden tab curtains.
My Colorful Bedroom Decor
Back to my colorful bedroom decor: I think the white and teal fabric looks great against the white walls, and the white curtain rod does a good job of letting the curtain steal the show – without being too skimpy.
In these photos the vintage Hungarian posters and silk pillows look really green and the fabric looks really blue. I definitely think it’s time for a new camera, but for now you’ll have to trust me that the curtain fabric is really a good colour match for the posters – it’s very nearly identical to the background of the middle poster (the gal in the orange dress). It’s more green/teal than what is depicted here and the difference in the colours of the art, the pillows and drapes is far more subtle in real life. The green pillows look positively neon – I blame the sheen of the silk.
Despite the fabulous curtains, the room still needs some tweaking. I just tossed our former accent pillows on the bed, we’re still using a borrowed, too-small, too-light dresser – and don’t even ask about closet doors! I did swap out the minty chair for the black one from the living room because the mint pattern was dulled beside this bolder teal, but a chair is a placeholder for the pair of dressers I’d like. In addition to big-ticket items like closet doors and dressers, I have some smaller changes in mind. The room could use some additional art and more thoughtful accessorizing. It’s far from done, but I wanted to show you my DIY tab curtain tutorial and share the progress as it happens.
I’ll keep you posted on the changes I make. I still can’t get over what a difference these back tab drapes make!
And here is the before-before, just for fun:
Colorful Bedroom Decor Update:
Since sharing this DIY back tab curtain tutorial, I’ve updated this bedroom many times! See the bedroom decor evolution right here. Here’s what the bedroom currently looks like:
Looking for More DIY Curtain Tutorials?