March 26, 2014Tutorial Time! Making Hidden-Tab Style Curtains and Working With Vintage Fabric – Part 2
Last week, we covered some things to look for when purchasing your fabric for your curtains and measuring and cutting out. Now it’s time to get sewing!
First things first, we’re going to take the panel that we cut in half lengthwise and sew it to the other two panels. For best pattern matching, you will want to match selvage edge to selvage edge, and leave the cut edge on the outside of the curtain. Now, because we took the time to make sure our pattern matched when we cut our panels, this should be pretty easy. Just make sure your repeats continue to match up as you pin and sew your panels together, and it should be smooth sailing.
Here’s mine once sewn. As you can see, the pattern match is pretty darn good!
At this point, you may want to consider finishing your raw edges – I like to run mine through my serger just to make sure everything is nice, neat and even. However, this step is optional as the raw edges will all be enclosed.
Now, on to hemming the edges. We are going to start with the sides of the curtain – all we are going to do here is turn it over 1/2″, press, and turn it over 1/2″ again.
Once you’ve done that, time to sew. If your machine has a left needle position, hemming is a great time to use this feature, as it lets you get nice and close to the hem edge.
Now, on to the bottom of the curtain. Yes, that’s right, I am doing the bottom next. We’re going to turn the bottom edge under 1/2″ again, and then 1-1/2″ after that.
Now, on to the upper edge of the curtain. First off, we’re going to press our header into place. The size of the header is determined a by the size of your curtain rod (wider rods need a bigger header), you want it to be at least the size of the rod plus a minimum of 1/2″ ease. I am doing a 3-1/2″ header, so I am turning my upper edge under 1/2″ again, and then turning it under 3-1/2″ and pressing it. Don’t sew it yet, just press and pin.
There’s a few things to consider and a bit of math required. We need to figure out the size of our hidden tabs, and the spacing between. For tab size, this is largely dependent on how wide you want your curtains to be when they are open – if you need them to be quite narrow, you will want a smaller tab (2″ or so). If this is not a concern, you can go with something wider (Mine are 3-1/2″). Next, we need to consider the spacing. I do not recommend going over 4″ spacing in between tabs, as the fabric can then tend to get a bit droopy and not have a nice pleat effect when open any more. You will need to measure your curtain’s finished width and divide it by the total width of your tab, plus your planned spacing between tabs. Also, keep in mind that you need to have a tab at the beginning and a tab at the end, so if you get a fraction, you will need to round up to get your number of tabs. Example – my curtain is 66.5″. I am planning on a 3.5″ tab with a 3.5″ spacing = 7″. 66.5″/7″ = 9.5. So I am going to round this up to 10 tabs, with 9 spaces in between. Here is where you may need to fiddle with your numbers a bit, as your planned spacing might need to be adjusted. Add up the total tab width, and subtract that from your total width. Divide what’s left by your number of spaces needed, and that will be your correct tab spacing. I mine worked out to 3.5″ tab and 3.5″ spacing.
Now we can cut some tabs. I used the pieces of fabric I had to cut off for pattern matching, but you can cut strips from anything, really – even totally different fabric. Cut a long piece double your tab width, plus 1″ seam allowance (1/2″ for each side), fold in half right sides together, and sew with 1/2″ seams. Turn right side out, and press. Now cut pieces to the size of your header.
I ran mine through the serger on the raw edges, as my fabric is quite thick and I didn’t want to turn it under. You can turn yours under and press if it’s not too thick, or zig zag if you don’t have a serger.
Now we’re going to pin them to our header using the spacing we calculated earlier.
You’ll notice I have my tabs not flush against the top edge of my header. This is because I don’t want my tabs poking over the top when my curtains are hanging up. I find that offsetting them by 1/8″ or so keeps this from happening.
Once they’re all pinned, you’re ready to sew! You’re going to sew along both the top and the bottom edges of the header. We are sewing this all at once as it keeps a neater finish on the front.
Here’s my header after sewing – nice and neat. And guess what – that’s it, you’re done! Time to hang your curtains!
Here’s my finished curtains! I couldn’t be any more pleased with how these turned out – they definitely bring the retro-awesome to my living room!
Here’s how they look open (I apologize for the picture quality on this one, really hard to take a pic of a window!)
And here’s a closeup of the pleat effect created by the hidden tabs.
I hope you found this tutorial helpful, and as always, leave any questions for me in the comments – I will do my best to answer. Happy sewing!