Friday, July 27, 2012

Updating Drapes - It's the Little Things

Before and After
It's the little things in life that can make the biggest difference.  Take, for example, my dining room curtains.  Or drapes, or window coverings.  Or whatever!  
Do you know the difference between a curtain and a drape?  I did not know until this past week.  I've interchanged the terms for years until I read this online article.  Based on the definitions it provides, I have drapes.  Who knew?

Update One: Rope Trim Tieback
When we moved into our house, two single drapery panels hung from a wooden rod and seemed 'sparse' and slightly unfinished.  I added a simple, cream colored rope trim to each drapery panel (previously used in my SAV house) as a tieback soon after we moved in.  I assumed I would change out the drapes someday and did not really put much additional thought into the matter.  After all, we do not really spend much time in the formal dining room.  
Re-purposed rope trim tiebacks are held in place with cup hooks. 
Update Two:  Lengthen with Drapery Clip Rings
The rope trim tiebacks helped.  Still, every time I walked through the dining room, I thought, "Those things are just a bit too short against the white wall."  That thought became a little tic in my brain every single time I saw the drapes.    So, the next improvement I made was to bring the length of the drapes down a couple of inches using drapery clip rings.  The drapes now brush the floor so the white wall paint no longer shows.  What a huge difference that one little (and inexpensive) alteration made!
Adding clip rings lengthened panels - they now barely brush the floor.
Update Three:  Sew Coordinating Fabric Tiebacks (Tutorial follows)
When I updated the wall art in my dining room a couple weeks ago, the draperies once again caught my critical eye. The tones of the drapery fabric did not contrast enough with the wall's paint color, making it look bland.  So, I began scouring the Internet for ideas on how to add some visual contrast.  Houzz and Pinterest are currently my favorite sites for inspiration.  Along with real estate sites, such as Zillow and Realtor.

Ultimately, I decided that I loved the graphic, black-and-white pattern of my wall art fabric so much, I wanted to incorporate the pattern onto the window wall.  Looking at the tablecloth's packaging material sealed the deal for me.   It looked just like a tieback.  Holding it up to the draperies, I knew it would work.
Tablecloth packaging looks just like a drapery tieback! 
I decided to use what was left of my fabric napkins to make drapery tie-backs.  This quick project would not only carry the graphic black-and-white pattern to another wall in the room, but it would also jazz up my otherwise boring drapes. 
Curtain tie-back before and after
Many tutorials exist online for learning how to make drapery tiebacks.  An obvious tutorial I checked was  While browsing Pinterest, I found another great tutorial on the  blogger, Homemade Ginger's, site.

As usual, I read through several tutorials and watched a few videos before coming up with my own method of creating the tiebacks.  This was a re-purposing project that used up scrap material.  Luckily I had enough fabric scrap from my wall art project to create two tiebacks.  I did not need to purchase additional napkins.  If you are considering using scrap material as well, read this link to learn more about industry standards on tieback lengths. 
Now, keep reading to see how I made my simple tiebacks:


  • Fabric - in my case I used the remaining 6" x 20" fabric from the napkins used for wall art.
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure or quilting ruler
  • Scissors or Rotary Cutter
  • sewing machine and supplies
General How-To:

  • Measure and cut fabric to length.  Iron to remove any wrinkles.
    Note:  I started with an L-shaped piece of scrap fabric.  I cut it at the corner using a 45-degree angle and then sewed the pieces together on the bias to create a long rectangle approximately 6" x 38."  Yes, I left the original hem - I did not want to waste any width.  

Fabric scraps joined to create proper length.

  • Match the fabric, right-sides together, and pin into place.  
  • Sew fabric in place, along two sides, removing pins as you go.
    Note:  Leave one short side open.

Sew fabric to form a long tube.

  • Turn fabric right-side out, straightening as necessary.
  • Use scrap material to create a loop for the drapery tieback.
    Note:  You can also use an elastic hairband, plastic ring, small length of ribbon, etc.  I cut a small piece off the end of each tieback and sewed it into a loop for a more uniform look.  Truly, this project used every last bit of the original napkins! 

Sew loops for tieback using scrap fabric.

  • Iron each fabric tube flat, folding the open end in about 1/2" and inserting one of the small fabric loops.  Pin into place.

Insert the loop into the open end of tieback.

  • Top stitch around the entire tieback, closing the open end and securing the loop.  Remove pins as you go.
    Note:  Because I only made one loop per tieback, I folded each tieback in half and sewed it together at the short end to create a large loop.  An alternative method would be to sew the open end closed and then sandwich the loop between the two short ends and stitch to secure.  Or, to create two loops per tie back.   My method worked pretty well for a first attempt.

Attach loops to tiebacks

  • Install the tiebacks and your'e done!  Stand back and reflect on how a little (and zero-cost) thing can make such a big difference.
Draperies with newly installed tiebacks
Drapery tiebacks coordinate with the wall art.

I like this tieback look so much more than the previous rope trim.  The project took about one hour and cost zero dollars.  Very simple to do, and priced right.  If and when we opt for update or new draperies, I will not hesitate to make a new set of tiebacks using the skills I just learned.    It's the little things...

1 comment:

  1. Compared to the previous look, tying your drape with a tieback does make it look more orderly. And what’s even better about that is it won't easily get crumpled when the wind blows strong. It's true that even the small things are important, especially when it comes to decorating our home. You should be proud you did those tiebacks yourself!

    Roxie Tenner