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  • Writer's pictureSusan Woodcock

Burlap and Linen Drapery with Faux Leather Tabs

Do you remember tab-top draperies? Quaint curtains made of calico or muslin for historic homes or country decor? Well, tab-top curtains or draperies do not have to be quaint.... or boring!

In this tutorial I show how to make an updated version of tab-tops with faux leather, a gorgeous floral printed linen and burlap. Decorating is all about textures and patterns and by combining different materials you can create a window treatment that is custom and unique.

The tabs and tieback look like leather straps but are made using a soft faux leather that is stitched and then backed with Phoomph™ for fabric, a no-sew adhesive stiffener. I was able to sew this without an industrial walking foot machine, which would have been needed if real leather was used. I love how this project turned out and I hope you enjoy learning about how it was made.

To begin, purchase a soft leather-look material. Look for a fabric that will be easy to sew with a soft hand and a fabric-like backing. Often vinyl is difficult to sew and will not feed properly under the presser foot. By using one with a fabric backing, you can sew with the fabric side next to the feed dogs on your sewing machine, and it will feed evenly.

Cut the faux leather 10 x 12 inches. On the reverse side draw a line with a marker inset 1/2- inch along each long side. This is the seam allowance.

Draw a line for each tab at 1-1/2 inches each across the entire back. You will get eight tabs from each piece of Phoomph. Six are needed for one single-width drapery panel. Using a different color marker (orange used here), draw lines for the decorative stitching inset 1/4-inch from each end, and on each side of the black lines.

Select a decorative stitch and sew along the orange lines. You can choose any style stitch that you like - I used a simple scallop. Another option would be to use a straight stitch, sewing two rows close together on each side, or sewing a decorative straight stitch pattern within the tab. You can be creative!

This is how the faux leather looks with the stitching completed.

Peel the paper off one side of the Phoomph adhesive sheet. I purchased black to create the leather strap look, but it comes in other colors.

The sticky side is adhered to the reverse side of the faux leather. Smooth it evenly with your hands from the front. Be certain to center the Phoomph sheet between the lines, so that the seam allowances are free of Phoomph. This is important because the tabs will be sewn into the top of the drapery and Phoomph can't be sewn because of the adhesive.

Peel the paper off the reverse side, exposing the sticky surface.

Add a backing which is cut to fit the front at 10 x 12 inches. I used a soft polyester suede which I had in the workroom. Felt would also work great for this. Smooth it over the back, lining up the edges with the front fabric.

Cut the tabs between the stitch lines using scissors or a rotary cutter and mat. This is how the finished tabs look. If you have any left-over tabs you could a grommet on the end to make key fobs.

The drapery will have unlined burlap at the top portion (24 inches finished), and linen, lined with Ruby Plus sateen in a tan color for the bottom portion. Allowances were made for the seams (1 inch) and hem (8 inches). At the top of the print fabric, layer with print fabric face up, burlap in the middle and lining face down. Pin together and sew across using a half inch seam.

Turn right sides out and press the seams on the front and back. Smooth out the fabrics and measure for the finished length, turning over a 4 inch doubled hem at the bottom of the face fabric and a 6 inch doubled hem in the lining.

The bottom hem is hand sewn. I like to use John James #7 long darner needles and Coats hand quilting thread. You could also finish the hems with a machine blind stitch or hem stitch. I sew the hem in the lining using a straight stitch and matching thread.

After the bottom hems are sewn fold over 1-1/2 inch doubled hems along each side, pin. Add drapery weights at the bottom of each hem and sew the side hems.

After the side hems are completed pin the taps to the top edge. In order to have a "return", where the fabric can fold back to the wall at each side of the window you will need to inset the tab on the opposite side of each panel when making a pair. The distance depends on the projection of the hardware used. For this drapery the tab is inset on the return side 3-1/2 inches.

The tab on the leading edge is placed even with the edge.

The other tabs are then spaced across the top. On this panel there are 42 inches between the tabs at the leading and return edges. I divided by 5 to determine that there would be six tabs spaced 8.4 inches (on center). This spacing allows for the slouched style - space the tabs closer together for a flatter, or rolled look at the top.

Cut a piece of burlap 3-1/2 inches by 2 inches more than the finished width of the drapery. Begin sewing by tucking the burlap strip under 1 inch and then continue sewing across the top, sandwiching the tabs in-between and removing the pins as you sew. When you have sewn all the way across, tuck under the excess burlap strip and sew.

Turn the burlap facing over. In the photo below you can see the neat finish that is achieved by tucking under the ends when sewing. Press the facing neatly across the top.

Top stitch the facing 1/4-inch below the seam, securing the tabs.

After the top stitching is finished, turn under the raw edge and create a 1-1/2 inch hem. Machine stitch along the edge of the top hem.

Hand stitch each end closed. It will be very thick here and hand stitching is much neater.

Install the hardware above the window. Add a drapery pin to the return edge and a tenter hook, screw eye or small cup hook to the wall for the pin to hook over. This gives the drapery a neat, professional appearance and blocks light.

This is how the drapery looks before being dressed. Very pretty already!

To dress the drapery, the spaces between the tabs are brought forward, creating a soft, scalloped look.

Here is another view. I love the profile - fantastic with the slouched burlap between the tabs!

What do you think of the finished drapery? If you find this tutorial to be informative, and if you use these techniques let me know! I invite you to share your projects on the Home Dec Gal facebook page.

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