Tab Top Curtains ... and a Giveaway!

Submitted by Ana White on Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:41
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DIY tab top curtains! Use this free easy step by step tutorial to make your own tab top curtains!

This project tutorial featured a giveaway that is now closed.  Congrats to Sara and Misty, please send me your contact information so I can get your packages shipped right away!  Thank you everyone for entering!


Last week, when I posted plans for these simple wood magazine files that you can make on the cheap

(thank you for your nice comments and pinning!) many of you asked about the curtains in the photos.
It's nice to know I'm not the only one who cannot find the perfect set of curtains for their space.  I've actually bought two other curtain sets (more on that in a moment) but they just were not perfect for my color thirsty office space.
These curtains that my mother-in-law and I made are just perfect.  The fun bold over sized floral print brings a light playfulness to my office, but the well thought out pattern we used makes these curtains look professionally made.  
The tops are tab tops so the curtains slide easily on the curtain rod, and form pleats when opened. 
These tabs are actually pretty simple to do.  I can't wait to show you how to make these curtains!  
But first a little bit of business ...


What to do with the old curtains that were quite lovely, but just didn't have the color splash I needed?  I thought I would give them away to you!  I have actually two sets of West Elm Tortoise Shell Curtains (one new in package, one freshly laundered by yours truly) that I would love to ship to you.  If you would like these curtains, simply  leave a comment subject line GIVEAWAY and we'll choose two random winners.  Check back on Friday to this post - winners will be announced in the post.  Best luck!
And for those of who still need curtains, read on ... of course I am going to show you how to make these!
Standard 84" long curtain panels - can be customized to fit any size.


Shopping List

54" wide home decorator fabric cut to desired length of curtain panel + 12" per panel (so for my curtains, I bought two 3 yard panels to make two 84" long panels, with some scraps leftover)

Matching thread and notions
Sewing Machine
Cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler

General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Step 2

Now take the four inch strips and fold in half, right sides together, and stitch along raw edge with 1/4" inseams as shown in diagram. Inside outside the strips so you are left with a tube.

Step 3

Lay the tubes flat, seam up centered on the tube and press flat. Keep the seam centered on the tube as shown in the diagram.

Step 4

Cut the pressed tubes into 6" long strips and set aside. These will be your tabs. You will need a minimum of 7 tabs per panel.

Step 5

Step 6

For the bottom hems, fold up 1/2" and press. Then fold up another 2" and press and pin. Stitch along folded edge as shown in diagram.

Step 7

For the top edge, start by folding the top edge seam over 1/2" and pressing. Then fold over another 4" and press and pin. Then line your tabs up, evenly spaced, and tuck under the folded edge (at least 3/4" under) and pine tabs in place. Stitch as shown in diagram with 1/4" seams to both secure tabs in place and finish top edge of panel.

Step 8

Finally fold the tabs upward, folding the top edge of the tabs under. Press and pin so top folded edges of tabs are even with top of panels. Press. Stitch along top edge with 1/4" seams.

Step 9

Some tips in closing ... if you are making multiple panels, make sure the lengths match up exactly. Check to make sure you prints are cut in the same direction, or make sure you cut sew your panels so the pattern runs in the same direction. Best luck!

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.


Guest (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:52

Love the West Elm curtains! They would look great in my living room.

I'm going to try to make your curtains for my bedroom.


Jennifer Maselli (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:55

Would love the West Elm curtains! What is the fabric that you made the tab top drapes from?

Sara (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:57

These are so cute! Love curtains, wish I had more time to make them!

Brandi Trevino (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:57

Would love them!

lizgrant (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 11:59

Thanks for posting the curtain instructions! Pre-made West Elm curtains are pretty great, too.

Guest (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:00

Your curtains would look awsome in my bedroom! Just bought a new a house. Can't wait for it to start feeling like home.

Michelle M. (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:02

These WEST ELM curtains would be so great in my apartment!

Diana Libs (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:02

These would rock my bedroom!

Guest (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:07

I haven't seen a tutorial for this type of tab curtain before. Thanks! If I don't win the West Elm ones, I will definitely make my own!


Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:09

Awesome curtains (both sets)! I know my wife would love those in our room (or in any room in our house!). I've been making furniture all over the place... it's time she join in the DIY spirit and learn how to make some curtains! I'm forwarding this to her!

HTA (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:09

Those curtains would look great in my bedroom!

Guest (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:10

These look fabulous!!! I too will have to get my mother's help! ;o) I just can't sew! LOL

Sheyla (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:12

I will take them... they would actually go great with my newly remodeled living room :)

Angela Phillips (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:12

Super cute!!!!

Kimberly W

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:13

I would love to win those West Elm curtains for my living room, but I think I am going to try to make some curtains for my bedroom that is full of windows. Thanks for the pattern.

Meagan (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:13

Would love the West Elm drapes. In dire need of an update to our basic white.

Paulina J! (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:15

Awesome giveaway. I could use them in my office or bedroom. I will also be using your curtain tutorial. You rock!

Guest (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:17

wonderful! Thanks for the great tutorial. Something to try! And if I'm lucky enough to win the curtains then my bedroom will thank you too!


Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:18

Love the tutorial. If I don't win the curtains, I think I am going to give these a try. I have been looking for curtains for my living room for what feels like forever. Thanks Ana.


Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:18

I'm dying to know where you got the fabric for your new curtains. It's so cheerful and uplifting. By the way, your blog on momplex has me checking it several times during the day to see what you and Ram are up to next. Loving all the detail, being in the construction field myself, I love to see other women embrace the joy of building. Thanks for sharing.


Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:22

I would love the curtains for our dining room!!! I do agree...please do tell on where you picked up that adorable fabric for the curtains! Thanks!

jen m (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:24

I'd love to give the curtains a new home!

Jaimie F. (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:25

LOVE these! I would love to use these in our livingroom. They would add a much needed statement.....we are very blah right now.

jen mc (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:25

I'd love to give the curtains a new home!

Stephanie (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:26

So cute! I love the idea of having pleated curtains without having to use a traverse rod.

jen mc (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:27

I'd love to give the curtains a new home!

Shasta Brown (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:31

I just moved to a new place and would love new curtains!!!

Seanna (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:31

Curtains are tricky but those would look great on our basement slider!

Seanna (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:31

Curtains are tricky but those would look great on our basement slider!

Anna Peterson (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:32

I would LOVE those curtains! They would look fabulous in my husbands home office. It's in deep need of some sprucing up! Thanks!!!

Jen Pedro

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:33

I absolutely love the West Elm curtains. It's sweet of you to give away something you purchased.

But I have a question about your curtains. Since there's no lining, the curtains probably don't insulate well. What do you do when the temperature drops? Do you add something to the windows? It doesn't get nearly as cold here in Missouri as it does in Alaska, but being a Texas gal, I struggle with the cold in the winter. I'm getting ready to make lined curtains, but didn't know if there was a better way to insulate the windows. Any cold weather suggestions are appreciated! :)

Brandy Pruitt (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:36

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these curtains... we just moved into a new house and they would look perfect in my currently curtainless bedroom :D


Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:36

I really need curtains, and the day I get a sewing machine (I have 2 miter saws but no sewing machine... hmm) this is absolutely on my list. BUT: the finishing instructions are about filling in all the holes with filler and paint preparation. Personally, I think it's sweet, funny, and adorable, but just in case you have readers who are a bit more literal, you could consider changing that to talk about ironing it before hanging it on the rod or something.


Jeanine (not verified)

Wed, 09/28/2011 - 17:08

Exactly what I was thinking, only you said it so much better! :)

Bridget (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:37

I'd love to win the curtains for my living room!

bdaiss (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:39

I love tab top panels. This is one of the best tutorials I've seen! And yup, I nearly always make my own curtains. Mostly because I'm too cheap to pay the exorbitant prices some places think we ought. But I'd love to take those West Elm beauties off your hands! They'd go perfectly in my living room. Thanks for the chance!

Amyc83 (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:39

I would love those curtains for our office!!

Guest (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:40

Ooh, would LOVE the curtains! And thanks for the curtain making plans!


Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:42

And good tutorial. I love that after Step 9, your standard Finishing Instructions still appear. "Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed...." Unintentionally very funny!


Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:43

Wow! These DIY curtains are easier than the ones I was trying to make...Think Ill scratch mine and go with yours for sure! And yes, those West Elm curtains are awesome! I would love to have em! Make it a great day!

Guest (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:46

I love the large print! I can never decide on a print I like but the curtains in the giveaway would work in my bedroom.

Alejandra (not verified)

Tue, 09/27/2011 - 12:46

Hi Ana,
I'm getting married in January and moving to Italy where my fiance lives. We both love your blog and follow it!!! I would love to have curtains as a design inspiration to get started on turning a cute italian apt. into a piece of home away from home :)

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