Simple Sewn Back Tab Curtains

Finding just the right draperies without breaking the bank is a DIYers dream. But when presented with a simple sewing task vs. paying sticker price for the perfect curtains, many of us go running to the bank because we’d rather put those hard-earned pennies to work than break out a needle and thread. Well, no more! Our guest today has a super simple tutorial to show how even YOU can create these chic back tab curtains:

Easy Back Tab Curtain Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic #drapes #sewing #diy

Read below for the tutorial, and if the back tab curtain isn’t your style, you might try these other easy DIY styles (plus find more window tutorials here and explore #AllThingsWindows). You can use inexpensive drop cloth material and clip rings to get this look:

DIY Drop cloth curtains How to make curtains

Or you can paint those drop cloth curtains or other curtain panels to get this confetti drapes style that I love in my daughter’s room:

Remodelaholic - confetti polka dot curtains tutorial

Try a faux roman shade on for size:

faux roman 2

or create your own fully functional roman blind:

functional roman blind 33 shades of green

Here’s Tanya to show you how simple it is to make your own tab-back curtains (and don’t they look fabulous in her master bedroom!)

Make your own custom back tab curtains from any fabric you love with this detailed photo tutorial at

How to Make Back Tab Curtains
by Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse

My name is Tanya and I blog over at Dans le Lakehouse, where I’m transforming a cute bungalow on the shores of Lake Superior.  One of my recent projects is sewing a set of sleek back tab curtains with my Mom.  My bedroom is still very much a work in progress, but I was so blown away by how easy these curtains were to make – and how sophisticated and professional they look – that I had to share the tutorial.

simple sewn back tab curtain tutorial, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic

retro modern bedroom with diy back tab curtains, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic
diy curtains tab back tutorial, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic

To get started, we just hemmed the sides and bottom of the curtain panels as usual – turning over twice and sewing, for a tidy seam.  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 around 5″ wide.

diy back tab curtains 01, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic

6″ between the tabs is often recommended for a nice drape and gather.  Each of my finished panels are about 53″ wide and we did a total of 7 tabs per panel.  In case anyone is curious, the curtain rod has an overall length of 8 feet.  Ultimately, we could have done as many as we like; more tabs would have created a fuller, more pleated look.  (The one thing to pay attention to is to make sure that the overall width of the curtain isn’t shortened too much by the addition of more tabs and thus more gathers).

diy back tab curtains 02, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic

Here is what the back looks like when the tabs have been completed:

diy back tab curtains 03, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic

Then we just slid the curtain rods through the tabs.  I worried back tab curtains would stick and not open smoothly, but my fears were unfounded.  These curtains function just as smoothly as curtains on rings, plus they look much 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 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 make simple back tab curtains in a modern retro pattern, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic

There are many different tutorials for back tab curtains, some of which propose a different construction or placement of the tabs.  We sewed the
tabs very close to the top of the curtain which I think creates a cleaner, more modern look than when the tabs are placed lower, which creates a soft ruffling at the top.

geometric patterned curtains with diy back tab loops, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic
make your own back tab curtains, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic

In some of my photos, the fabric reads as more blue/teal than it is in real life.  In real life it’s a bit greener than what is depicted here and – more importantly – a perfect match to the 1960s Hungarian posters hanging across from the bed.

modern retro bedroom with diy tab back curtains, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic
simple sewn back tab curtain tutorial, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic
retro modern bedroom with diy back tab curtains, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic
easy back tab curtain tutorial, Dans le Lakehouse on @Remodelaholic

A note about lining curtains: you might have gleaned that Hubby and I have conflicting attitudes toward the use of curtains.  I like to keep them open at night and wake up to the sunlight (hence my love of sheers), while Hubby prefers a total blackout curtain.  The fabric I chose is fairly opaque and lined it would have been very opaque.  Keeping it unlined lets a tiny bit of sunshine filter through in the morning, so I don’t feel like I’m waking up in a coffin, but Hubby gets enough of what he calls “actual curtain-curtains”.  Lining would help prevent fading and other damage to the fabric and is a simple step to add should you choose.


Lovely curtains, Tanya — and so simple to make, too! Thank you for sharing with us!

 Tanya has been a regular visitor here at Remodelaholic — check out her fireplace here, the desk here, and a great upcycled play kitchen here — and then head over to Dans le Lakehouse to check out her latest endeavors, like a $100 bathroom makeover and a fabulous turquoise kitchen (and get some info about her awesome headboard here!)

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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  1. The curtains look amazing, Tanya! I’m hoping to purchase a sewing machine soon and then I’d love to *attempt* my own curtains with this tutorial – I’m not particularly great or even good at sewing, but you make this look totally doable 🙂

  2. Thank you for the very detailed tutorial, really loved the photos showing so much detail and your explaining how to make the tabs with giving measurements. I wasn’t liking a lot of the info about making back tabs using bias tape, thinking the tabs will stretch or ribbon as it will fray. So your tutorial was perfect. I’m making curtians for a grandbaby. The mother wants to hang the curtians with clips but I’m afraid that the extra weigh of the blackout lining plus the curtain fabric will make them to heavy for the clips to stay attached with opening and closing of the curtains. So decided to add back tabs just incase. I’m agree with you about how great the finished look, curtains hang beautiful using back tabs and the ease of opening.
    Thank you !

  3. These look very polished. I guess I’m a bit surprised because I had back tab & lined drapes professionally made for our master and they had to add in rings because the tops kept flopping over so the top of the tab showed from the back. I wasn’t impressed considering what I paid. Maybe they were just too heavy. What diameter rod did you use? What’s the height of the tab? I’m guessing you turned them under 1/2″ on each side….so ended up 4″?????