Drapery tape.. question about sewing back-tab drapes

mlrprincetonMay 13, 2014

Hi All, I'm posting this in the off-chance someone can answer my question. I'm planning to make my own drapes (12 in all!) for the living room which is about as big a sewing undertaking as I've ever tried. I don't like the look of clips and rings and I don't want to use grommets (I guess I like a clean look) so I was interested in sewing on back-tabs. The curtain rods are 1" diameter round rods and I do want to be able to open and close the drapes on occasion.

Wouldn't you know they sell pre-made tape that you sew to the back of the top of the drapes which has tabs through which you thread your curtain rod! A company called Rowley makes some, they call it Serpentine Tape, and Dritz has something similar. But I watched a Rowley video and they said this tape is to make drapes which are stationary, not ones that are designed to be opened and closed.

Can I use this tape and close the drapes sometimes anyway? Would they bunch and look terrible? Is there some other tape I could try that would be similar? Thanks in advance, I know this is a random question but I'm not sure who else to ask!

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shadylady2u

The problem with the rod is, they won't stay open because they'll keep sliding closed. You need to either use short rods with finials on each end, or find a way to stop them at the point you want them to open to. That's why they should be stationary. Can you put some blinds or shades under them?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 3:27PM
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mlrprinceton

Ohhh, shadylady, thanks!! That makes perfect sense but I wouldn't have thought of that! Hmm. Maybe I'll try making back tabs out of ribbon which some people seem to have had success with. But I feel like that won't give the stiffness/stability that drapery tape would. Or maybe I'll just put sheers behind them? My husband would not like, though, replacing the rods we just hung with double rods.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 5:51PM
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shadylady2u

It has do with the rodpocket thing. Doesn't matter if you make your own tabs or not, it will still slide.
Anyway, making a double fold heading helps and you can also add buckram to stiffen the top.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 12:13PM
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ratherbesewing

I think the back tabs should be wider than the width of a ribbon for adequate support. If you have the time, Bed,Bath and Beyond carries back tab drapes and have them hanging in their stores. Bring your tape measure. Take note of how wide the drape is, width of tab, how many tabs per drapery width and the amount of space in between the tabs. You could also purchase a drape, do your measuring at home and return. This way, all the guess work will be taken away. Can you tell I have done this before?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 5:55PM
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ratherbesewing

I think the back tabs should be wider than the width of a ribbon for adequate support. If you have the time, Bed,Bath and Beyond carries back tab drapes and have them hanging in their stores. Bring your tape measure. Take note of how wide the drape is, width of tab, how many tabs per drapery width and the amount of space in between the tabs. You could also purchase a drape, do your measuring at home and return. This way, all the guess work will be taken away. Can you tell I have done this before?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 6:00PM
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new-beginning

my back tab drapes have a tab that is 2 1/4" wide and double thickness of the drapery fabric; there is a 5" space between tabs

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:27PM
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mlrprinceton

Wow, I've been a long time home renovations/kitchens forum reader but who knew this sewing page was so wonderful?
Okay, I've ordered 2" wide grosgrain and I'll see when it arrives whether it seems like it could work; maybe I could double-layer it?

Hehe, RatherBeSewing, that's clever reverse-engineering of you!

New Beginnings, thanks! I'm going to make a couple of different "trial run" drapes to see what works--buckram in the header, no buckram, type of material for the tabs.. If they don't look too embarrassing I'll post photos. :-)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 6:50PM
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Laurie

"Trial run" or mock up of header ideas is a good way to go. I've done it that way before tackling pinch pleats. I have never done back tabs, so would be interested in the process and what you find that works best for you.

Please post photos & details on your drapes if you get a chance. It will be so helpful to visualize everything!
Good luck on your drapes and I look forward to seeing them!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 2:54PM
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big_city_lights

Hi, I actually have done a curtain panel using this method - lined, with buckram and used gross-grain ribbon to make it work on the rod (this was for a shower curtain and I wanted the shower liner on the same rod).

Even with the buckram, they just aren't as perfect as real drapes, maybe it's the ribbon placement or the weight of the fabric not being a good match for the ribbon? Hope you'll have better luck.

I'm actually planning to make proper window curtains with header tape now. I bought Rowley's Clip n Wave tape. It's similar to the Kirch Ripplefold curtain style, but you can use curtain hooks or clips with it, but it still has a clean modern look to it (IMHO). I linked a video if you want to look at it.

I attached a photo of the back of my "ribbon" header tape curtains.

Here is a link that might be useful: Video of Clip n Wave (she holds example up at ~5 min)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:27AM
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big_city_lights

"ribbon header" curtain panel from the front side.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:30AM
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Laurie

City Chick - Thank you for the link showing how to use Clip N Wave Tape. It looks like something I would like to try.

Have you made your window curtains with this tape, yet?
Will you (or did you) use Buckram in the header?

I like your shower curtain. Those are great photos (front & back) of the header.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:38PM
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shadylady2u

I wouldn't use buckram or anything else, if you're using the tape. There will already be some stiffness from the tape, and using something else too, might prevent it from pulling up correctly. If you think you need it anyway, try it on some scrap fabric first before going thru all the work and then having to redo.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:12AM
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big_city_lights

Hi Laurie, glad the photos could help. I had a hard time figuring out a way to get both the curtain and the liner on the same rod. I haven't made the curtains yet, only ordered the materials. I am at the most challenging part of the project, waiting for them to arrive. :)

Yes, ShadyLady is right, most header tapes don't need buckram. And it is not included on the clip n wave tape's manufacturer instruction sheet. Having said that, I've never worked with this type of translucent tape and since buckram is relatively inexpensive... I purchased non-fusible buckram and plan to see what I think when I see the tape in person.

ShadyLady, have you ever used the translucent tapes before? Any insights?

Personally, I wonder about the durability but I love the style of this particular header so much, I figure I can always change the tape out if I have issues down the road. Laurie, I'll try to update you on my decision after all my materials and supplies arrive and I can see them in person.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:04AM
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shadylady2u

CityChick, yes I have used them. They're pretty sturdy and should last. Unless someone's really rough on them or hanging on them, I can't see any problems. They're woven pretty tightly, not tissue like or anything.
Altho, I've only used them for stationary panels, so can't vouch for daily opening and closing.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 1:00PM
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Laurie

shadylady - it's always great to get your valuable input. If I decide to use the clip n wave tape, I'll test it out first. Also good to hear the tape is pretty sturdy & woven tightly.

City Chick - What room/size window are you covering? What material are you using & will the curtain be lined? Will the curtain be stationary or will you be opening & closing it regularly?

I am still in the thinking process for my two master bedroom windows. I do know that I want them lined with blackout lining & I will be opening & closing them daily.

I'm glad you will be updating us as you go through this process.
It will help me ( & others) a lot! You may want to consider starting your own (new) post. Maybe with a title like...My experience using Clip N Wave tape on curtain/drapery.

P.S. Is there a difference between (the words) curtains & drapes? I always think of those two words as the same.

Laurie

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 2:37PM
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shadylady2u

Laurie, to me they're the same and interchangeable. Technically, draperies are referred to as the heavier, lined panels that you would open and close, while curtains would be considered unlined or even short ones. Stationary ones are just called "panels" now. In the UK, they're all called curtains. They don't call them draperies at all. I've studied techniques from the UK, so I usually just refer to them as curtains. :)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 2:58PM
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Laurie

Thanks for the clarification, shadylady. Very interesting.
On a separate subject, did I once read that you also made shades (for lamps/lighting)?

Just curious because there was some discussion over on the Home Decor site not too long ago about shades (for Bouillotte lamps).
Anele & Holly-kay were searching for the right size, material, shape, color for their lamps. I wasn't sure if you had the chance to see their posts or not. Here is a link to one of Holly's posts. Anele posted her shade experience (on a separate post), as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: One of Holly-kay's Lamp Shade Postings

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 3:55PM
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big_city_lights

It's so good to hear that translucent header tapes are sturdy ShadyLady. Thank you. The functional drapes in my living room have a traditional pinch pleat header tape and have held up fine after 3+ years of use.

Sounds like we are looking at similar window treatments Laurie...

My guest bedroom's window has existing shades (pulled down halfway in the photo below), but since it's quite large (100" W x 108" H), I decided to add black out draperies to help manage the light, add texture to the room, and give myself a sewing project (ha!).

So yes, they will be functional. Opening and closing with a baton hung inside the on the center edges of the 2 panels. Also, I added 30% additional width to my rod length to allow room for the stack back as I didn't want the opened curtains to block any light. But I read thinner fabrics and/or curtains without blackout lining need as little as 20% additional rod length for stackback.

I linked below to an online tutorial I found loaded with photos that might offer additional help since she goes into great detail.

My Fabric: medium weight Robert Allen Bella Porte fabric in midnight aka blue.
http://www.robertallendesign.com/trade/fabric_detail.aspx?product=207642

Lining: Hanes OutBlack lining. This lining has been described as having a soft hand and being easy to work with (compared to other blackout linings).
http://www.hanesindustries.com/blackouts.htm

I wish my shipment would hurry, all this sewing talk has me excited to start! =)

Here is a link that might be useful: Blog Tutorial: Sewing Pinch Pleat Lined Curtains

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:37PM
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Laurie

Your guest bedroom is beautiful! I like your fabric choice.
In the past, I have used both Roc Lon budget blackout and Hanes OutBlack. I prefer the Hanes lining.

I remember using that same blog tutorial that you posted...very helpful.
For my master bedroom window curtains, I want to also add a cornice. I want to block the light that comes out from above the drapery rod. Making a cornice will be a new experience for me.

Here is a pic of Robert Allen's Bella Porte - Twilight

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:22AM
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clt3

How would you calculate finished length using the tapes? Hang the rod with the clip on rings and measure from what point on the ring? I purchased ready made rod pocket draperies for my bedroom and want to change the heading to something else.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 11:39AM
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big_city_lights

Laurie, a cornice huh? That sounds like a project that is easy enough in theory, but the very sort I'd be likely to underestimate. Granted, I've never done one either.. Are you going for a special shape or planning to add any trims?

So glad to hear you liked this particular blackout lining. It will be my first set of blackout curtains.
So now I have a question for you (and ShadyLady if she's still here)...

I have seen two different methods to complete the side seams of a curtain panel; and wonder which you used/prefer. They both return the exact same finished look!

One method basically has your fabric about 4" wider than lining. Then, right sides together, you sew the side seams the length of the curtain panel on each side (just shifting the 4" difference to make edges meet for you to sew). Then you turn the tube/panel so right sides are out... And continue fabric hem & complete the header normally. The 4" difference of the fabric's widths becomes the side of the panels that wrap around to the backside.

2nd method (same as the ^above linked tutorial uses) seems to be more popular. Right sides out, it has you blind hem stitch the seam where the fabric and lining meet along the side of the panel (no turning the panel right side out required).

Clear as mud? Mostly I'm curious of the rationale of one method vs the other. Or any anticdotal sewing experience on this.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 2:49AM
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big_city_lights

CLT3,
You might try to watch a few youtube videos so you can see how header tape is applied. Header tape makes life pretty easy.
Since you want to add header tape to existing panels, you would simply sew it to the first 3-4" of the top of your curtain (on the back/lining side). Your length wouldn't change at all.
Depending on the new header's repeat amount, the width of curtain panels required to achieve the same fullness might change since some curtain headers take more fabric (width) to achieve their look vs others.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 3:06AM
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shadylady2u

Mostly I hand stitch, but I have an industrial blindhemmer if I machine blind stitch.
I'm not a fan of pillowcasing (sewing right sides together and turning) for the most part. I'd rather use fusible tape on a double turned hem than use that method.

Laurie, no I've never made lamp shades. Always wanted to try but never got around to it.

CLT3, I've never used clip on rings, but I would guess you would measure from the top of the clip, since it can't go up any further. You may need to hang them and measure, then take down and re-sew.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 12:13PM
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Laurie

As of now, I'm thinking of making a simple rectangular shaped cornice, straight edge along the bottom. I plan to cover it with the same fabric as the drape panels. I haven't ruled out trim.

Keep in mind that I'm no expert. I've not ever tried the "pillowcasing" method (sewing together & turning).
I'll try and describe how I do my side seams.

On the fabric, I press everything first (hem, header, side seams).
My side seams are 1 1/2" double folded. Hem & header are 4" double folded.

For the OutBlack lining, I don't fold anything. I insert the lining
into the fabric. The edges of the lining go under the folds of the fabric. The only part of the lining not encased is the lining "hem".
I don't sew/hem the Outblack lining because it doesn't fray. I have the lining hem edge shorter than the fabric hem by about 1 1/2". Then, I pin and sew.

I insert drapery weights into the bottom hem corners. This section (where the hem meets with the side seams) is where I needed to hand sew.

I don't have a blind stitch machine. I use a Singer Featherweight.
I used a size 14 needle. Then, switched to a size 18 for stitching the pleats in the header (which had buckram).

Here is a pic of the side seam and hem (Hanes OutBlack liner encased)

Another side seam pic

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 1:43PM
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