Tab Top Pocket Curtains

Learn how to make tab top pocket curtains, and dress your windows in the latest style with minimal sewing skills.

One of the newest, neatest, most stylish trends for drapes is the tab-top curtain. Featured in almost every home décor mail order catalog, this window treatment offers a casual elegance that is so prevalent in modern homes. Changing out dusty drapes with crisp linens is great makeover for any room. And if window coverings are new to your home, you'll find that the advantages to adding them go far beyond interior decoration.

Energy efficiency is a huge issue in today's resource-ravenous times. Even if low resources don't scare you, keeping the cost of energy down is every household's nightmare. Adding curtains is a practical way to help your home stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If you want your curtains to accomplish these goals of style and efficiency, use a heavy, dense fabric or purchase light-blocking fabric from your local yardage store.

But before you rush off to the fabric store, measure the height and width of your windows. You'll need these measurements to calculate how much fabric to buy. A good rule of thumb is to double the width and add six inches to the height, then add your seam allowance. Seam allowance varies, but 1"-1 ¼" on the top and sides with 1 ½" - 2" on the bottom works great for most fabrics.

Fabric is generally sold in two widths: 60" and 45" -- you might want to keep this in mind when you choose your fabric. It isn't necessary to do so, but it might help your cause. You'll also want to add about a yard to your calculations for the tab tops. For the pockets, choose a yard of contrasting or sheer fabric. A great advantage to choosing a sheer option is that you can use the pockets to display photos, knick-knacks or seasonal touches like pressed spring flowers or colorful fall leaves.

Now it's time to get down to cutting your curtains. You already have the dimensions for the body of the drapes, so start by cutting your panels to fit your windows. Don't forget to add that seam allowance or else you'll end up with a project that doesn't fit. The tabs should be cut 9" long and 3" wide. This measurement includes a half-inch seam allowance on all sides. You'll need to cut two pieces for each tab""a front and a back""and you'll need a tab at least every six inches. Cut your pockets, too, remembering to add a half-inch seam allowance there as well. Your pockets can be just about any size, but a five or six-inch square is a good size to start with.

Sewing is a cinch. Start with the curtain panels first. These require long straight seams on each edge that will get your sewing skills warmed up. Try pressing your hem first, then sewing. Your project will be easier if you do so because you won't be fighting the fabric, you'll be guiding it. Pressing is especially helpful with projects like this one that require large amounts of fabric to be hemmed.

Once you have the panels all hemmed up, you can begin sewing the pockets on. Hem the top edge of the pocket and press the seam allowances on the remaining four sides. Use an L or T-square to make sure your pockets are plumb (straight with the grain) as you're positioning them on the drapes. You can use straight pins to hold them in place until you get them to the sewing machine. Or, you can use hem tape, an iron-on product that eliminates sewing altogether.

All you have left to sew are the tab tops. Place two pieces together and sew down each side. Turn the fabric right side out and press. Position each of the tabs to the backside of the top of the curtain panels and stitch in place. Press the tab up, then press the remaining unfinished edge under so that when the tab folds over and meets the curtain there's a finished edge. Let the tab overlap ½" - 1"to create detail. You can even add decorative buttons so that it looks like they are holding the tabs in place.

And there you've done it. Your new tab-top pocket curtains will be sure to be a hit with your friends, not to mention your pocket book when the energy bill arrives.

© High Speed Ventures 2011