Day 27: How to turn tab top curtains into rod pocket curtains

The following is a post by contributor Tiffany Larson and is Day 27 of 31 Days of Sewing School.

Ever find a pair of curtains that you love but they aren’t quite right?  You may not want to pass them by so quickly.  With a few simple sewing skills, they can be exactly what  you were looking for.

I recently moved into a new home and needed curtains measuring 100 inches in length. I wanted a neutral color and found a pair at IKEA that were very reasonably priced. Unfortunately, they had tabs on top which is not the style I was looking for.  I decided to alter them to fit the style I wanted because the fabric and price were right.

Removing the Tabs

The first step is to remove the tabs.  Use a seam ripper to remove the threads holding each tab onto the curtain.  When you are done, you will have a hole at the top of the curtain where each tab used to be attached.

Pin each hole with one or two pins.  Using a straight stitch, sew a single line of stitches from one end of the curtain panel to the other end along the top edge of the curtain closing the tab holes which will leave a nice looking top stitch.

Attaching Gathering Tape

Gathering tape is an easy way to create a pocket for your curtain rod or a place to put curtain rings.

There are two different ways to attach gathering tape to your curtains: fusible (with an iron) or sewn. I used sewn for this project but fusible is great for anyone shy of sewing.

Pin the gathering tape along the top edge of your curtain. Using a straight stitch, sew a single line of stitches along the top edge of your gathering tape to attach it to the curtain.

Then sew the bottom edge of the gathering tape to the curtain.

Make sure to back or reverse stitch both ends to close the stitch as you may be tugging on them in the future.

Choosing Your Style

I love the versatility the gathering tape gives you because you can choose between sliding the curtains onto a curtain rod (rod/pole pocket) or you can add curtain rings for a different look.

To use them rod pocket style, slide the curtain rod down the pocket made by the gathering tape. To create the “gather” in the top edge, you can pull the two small strings on each end of the gathering tape. Once you get the amount of gather that you want, tie a knot in the two strings.

To use them with curtain rings, you can either attach curtain hooks to the gathering tape or attach the curtain rings directly to the curtain (as seen in the photo).

One final note: if you think you may need to wash the curtains in the future, you may want to wash them first, before you do any sewing.  This will help to eliminate any shrinkage problems once you’ve sewn on the gathering tape.

Editor’s note:

One of the best things about knowing how to sew is being empowered to be able to modify things to suit your needs and taste. I hope this post inspires you to look past small undesired details and see the potential of things. This is what I call refashioning— we aren’t repurposing an item to do something different with it, but simply altering the style.

Have you ever modified a pair of curtains? 



Tiffany lives, plays and works in sunny Bend, Oregon with her husband and 2 kids. When she isn't outside playing or dreaming about her next vacation, you can find her writing here.

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  1. I modified tab tops via an alternative method, possibly on the same IKEA set. I wanted the look of pleated curtains, so I just sewed the tabs down to the curtain back to create a rod pocket that has a gap between each tab. When you pull the curtains back or hang tightly, the fabric gathers forward between each tab to more of a pleated look. Hard to describe, but look at your tab tops and it will make sense! I like the gathering tape option. I’ve never heard of gathering tape, so this will be a good alternative without losing length to create the rod pocket.

  2. This is very interesting post..and nice review about this article..this is looking awesome..You doing great job..thanks for sharing here.

  3. The type of color you buy for your window curtains will make all the dissimilarity in the earth. If you are continuously on the move then your move toward will be dissimilar that a person who just bought a new house.

  4. Nice to be here and see your post!

  5. great

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