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March 19, 2014

Tutorial Time! Making Hidden Tab Curtains – Plus Some Tips For Working With Vintage Fabric!

By Andrea

Regular readers may remember my post late last year – asking for your opinions on what type of curtains I should make out of my vintage barkcloth for my living room.

After careful consideration, I decided to go with the hidden tab-style curtain.  A lot of people expressed concern with pinch pleats, fearing the pattern was too busy for that (which I decided I definitely agreed with), and a lot of people expressed concern that the grommet-style would end up looking dated (and I don’t want to hate my curtains in a couple of years).  So, the hidden tab-style seemed like the best way to show off the awesome print on this barkcloth – and I thought I would show you all how to make them, since it really is easy!  If you can measure and sew a straight line, you can sew these curtains!

A couple of things to consider before starting (while you’re still at the fabric purchasing stage):



First up – pattern repeat.  Chances are that you’re going to have to seam panels together for your curtains, and it always looks nicer if you can match the print.  Therefore, you will need to know the pattern repeat, which is the length of the pattern before it starts and repeats again.  You can see on my above picture that my fabric’s pattern repeat is 17″.  You’ll want to have at least one extra repeat per cut that you have to make.

The other thing to consider is fabric width.  Most drapery fabrics today are a standard 54″ wide, however, this is not always the case with vintage.  My fabric, for example, is only 46″ wide – which means for my 89″ x 89″ window I am going to need to cut three panels (one of which will be cut lengthwise and joined to the other two), in order for my curtains to have some fullness.

Another thing you might want to think about is prewashing – if you plan on machine washing your finished curtains, you will want to prewash your fabric.  It’s also often a good idea, especially with vintage.  However – I decided not to prewash mine, and here’s why: chances are I will not machine wash and dry my finished curtains.  This fabric has a metallic gold in the print, and I don’t want the gold to dull or come off.

Now, once you’ve got your fabric and you’re ready to go, it’s time to get started!



Start off by making sure your fabric has a nice, straight upper edge.  You may notice in my pictures that my fabric doesn’t look very wide at all – this is because I have very carefully and evenly folded it into quarters lengthwise – I find that this makes handling the large quantities of fabric way easier and if you fold and pin your fabric so it stays nice and straight, it’s a much easier method.

Now a bit of math – I mentioned earlier that I will need to cut three panels – but how long?  I am going to add a total of 6 inches to my fabric – 3-1/2″ for the top, and 2-1/2″ for the hem.  So, I will be cutting three panels 95″ long.

Cutting the first panel is pretty straight forward – just measure and cut.  Now, once we get to the second panel, here’s where the pattern repeat comes into play:



The bottom piece is my already cut panel.  I have laid it on the remaining fabric so that I can match it and ensure the top of this panel starts at the same place on the pattern repeat.  Once it’s lined up, trim off the bit that doesn’t line up, we’ll be using it later.  Now, rather than just measuring down another 95″, I am going to actually lay my first panel on top of the fabric – matching up the pattern along the way.



Here we are at the end of my layout, ensuring the pattern still matches.  Now I will cut the second panel, and repeat this process for the third.

Next, I am going to take one of my three panels and cut it in half lengthwise.  Double check your fabric width measurement before doing this – remember, measure twice, cut once!  My fabric is 46-1/2″ wide, so I am going to make marks at 23-1/4″



Do this along the entire piece, connect your dots, and cut.  Once you’ve cut, you may want to finish these lengthwise raw edges – I used my serger, but overcasting with a zig zag stitch would also work well.

That’s it for the cutting!  come back next week, and we’ll get to the sewing!  If you have any questions, or there is anything I can clarify – please mention it in the comments, I am happy to help!

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3 Responses to Tutorial Time! Making Hidden Tab Curtains – Plus Some Tips For Working With Vintage Fabric!

  1. Sara In AZ Reply

    March 19, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Oh my gosh, I cannot wait to see your finished curtains….they are going to be SO beautiful!!!

    I’ve noticed on some of my vintage barkcloth curtains (that were already made into curtains when I bought them) that whoever made them did not match up the pattern. I actually never even noticed it wasn’t matched up before I specifically looked to see if it was recently!

    Drats – I wish you were here…..I’d pay/beg you to make curtains for me!!!

    • Andrea Reply

      March 19, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      I am guessing your curtains were store bought, Sara – details like matching the pattern is something that home sewists usually like to do because it looks better, but is often missed in mass production cause it takes more time and fabric. It’s too bad you’re not closer – I would totally love to do up some drapes for ya! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Tutorial Time! Making Hidden-Tab Style Curtains and Working With Vintage Fabric – Part 2 | No Pattern Required

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