Add a pop of colour and personality to plain curtains, and let in maximum light with these quick and easy curtain tie backs! I’ll show you step by step how you can make them in minutes with simple materials and basic sewing skills.
My Window Covering Philosophy
I adore sunlight. Too many gloomy days in a row really affects my mood. And so I like to approach window dressing to let in the maximum amount of light, especially in rooms where I’d like to be able to see well for tasks, like my craft room or the kitchen. But privacy is also important to both of us, so we don’t want to be on display once it’s dark out.
The back of our house faces southwest, and in the summer, my husband’s office and my craft room get very sunny and very warm. When we moved in, we immediately hung blackout cellular shades to help keep the house cool on the most intense sunny days. They are a cost effective solution and they really do help.
But even when there are adequate blinds in place, I prefer the look of curtains for visual softness and interest. Adding fabric elements to a room also helps with sound absorption.
Craft Room Curtains
In both my husband’s office and my craft room, we were able to reuse handmade curtains that I had made for our previous apartment. They are a lovely off-white linen, lined with inexpensive broadcloth, and they filter the light beautifully.
We were finally able to hang the curtains in my craft room after the room was recently painted. They are a shorter length, which technically breaks design rules, but I have done so on purpose in this case. I often put my ironing board in front of the window when I’m sewing, and there’s often long fabric draping off, or threads and trimmings falling. I don’t want to step on the curtains, or continually have them covered in debris, especially since they are off-white.
Functionally, I tend to quickly pull the cellular shade at night, and leave the curtains open. I only plan to pull the curtains shut if I want to filter the light, such as when I’m taking photographs, or when the low winter sun is blinding me. But otherwise, I would like the curtains pulled open to let in maximum light from this small window.
Enter curtain tie backs! They are the perfect way to make sure curtains stay pulled back, and to add a pop of colour and personality to plain curtains. Since they don’t use much fabric, you can change them when your colour scheme changes, or even seasonally.
If you’re interested in other quick sewing tutorials, check out Easy DIY Plant Dusting Gloves, or Zippered Cushions with Piping. Or you might also like Anatomy of Fabric: 21 Top Terms to Know for Better Sewing.
To make curtain tie backs, let’s get started!
Materials to Make Tie Backs:
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To make these easy curtain tie backs you will need:
- A scrap of fabric at least 20 inches long. I’m using an approximately 11 x 20 inch scrap of quilting cotton. If you have wide curtains or ones made from bulky material, you may wish to use a piece longer than 20 inches.
- Matching thread
- Velcro (The sew on kind. Use a coordinating colour if you have it, or black or white because it won’t be visible)
- Rotary cutter and mat (though you could draw a paper rectangle pattern, pin it to the fabric and cut it with scissors)
- Scissors and pins
- Sewing machine
- A knitting needle or something pointy to poke out the corners
How to Sew Curtain Tie Backs
Step 1 – Iron your fabric and cut 4 equal pieces.
I worked with the size of my scrap of fabric to cut 4 equal pieces, each 2.75″ x 19″. The exact size doesn’t matter overly. I’m accounting for 1/4 inch seam allowance on all 4 sides. If you wish to have 1/2 inch seam allowance, you can cut larger pieces. Each of my finished tie backs will be about 2.25″ x 18.5″ when they’re laid flat.
If you have wide curtains or curtains made of a really bulky material, I would recommend cutting 4 pieces, each about 3.5″ x 25″ or so. This will result in a finished tie back about 3″ x 24.5″ with 1/4″ seam allowances. Then follow the same method below.
Step 2 – Pin right sides together and sew around 3 sides
Take 2 of your 4 pieces and place them right sides together with the edges lined up. Pin in place.
On your sewing machine, with matching thread and a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew around the edge of three sides, leaving one short end open. Put your needle down to pivot at the corners. On each and every sewing step, always backstitch a couple of stitches at the beginning and end of each stitch line.
Repeat with the other 2 pieces.
Step 3 – Trim the corners, turn right side out and press
To reduce bulk in the corners, trim away some of the seam allowance on the 2 sewn corners of each tie back. Cut close to the seam, but don’t cut through the line of stitches!
Turn each tie back right side out. Use something like a knitting needle to poke out the sewn corners as best as you can so they make a nice point. Be careful not to poke a hole in the fabric.
Smooth the edges of each tie back and press flat with an iron.
Step 4 – Turn the seam allowance on the open end inward and press
Turn the raw edges of the open end of each tie back inward to approximately a 1/4″ seam allowance. Make sure the edges are even with each other. Pin in place and press with an iron.
Step 5 – Topstitch around all 4 sides
Starting with the open end that you just pressed and pinned, top stitch close to the outside edge (about 1/8″) to close that open end. Put your needle down and pivot at the corner. Continue topstitching around all 3 remaining sides of each tieback until you return to where you started.
Step 6 – Cut and attach velcro strips
Whoo! We’re almost there.
Cut small strips of both the hook and loop of the velcro, just slightly narrower than the width of one end of each tie back. Pin the hook pieces to one end of each tie back. It doesn’t matter which side or which end.
On your sewing machine, stitch the hook velcro onto one end of each tie back by sewing around the outside edges of the velcro in a rectangle, pivoting at each corner with the needle down. You’ll be able to see that rectangle of stitching on the reverse. Velcro is surprisingly easy to sew through so don’t be worried.
Next, lay the curtain tie backs so the hook pieces you just sewed on are facing up on the right. To attach the loop velcro pieces, flip the left end of the tie back over to the right. The loop velcro needs to be on the left end, and on the reverse side of the tie back as the hook velcro. That way, when the right side flips over on top, the velcro will meet and it will make a loop like in a paper chain. If you’re not certain you’ve got it correct, pin the loop velcro in place and play with it to make sure the tie back will make a loop and fasten correctly.
Once the loop velcro is pinned in the correct place, sew around the outside edges of the velcro in a rectangle, like you did with the hook velcro.
Step 7 – Try out your easy curtain tie backs!
You did it!!
Loop your tie backs around your curtains so that the velcro closure is turned toward the back and won’t be visible. I liked to put mine closer to the bottom of the curtains than the top, with about 3/5 above and 2/5 below. I also like to make sure the curtain doesn’t look strangled and tight, and to angle them downward toward the window.
There you have it! With just a few materials you can add personality to your curtains and let in maximum light from a small window.
What’s YOUR window covering philosophy? Do you prefer blinds, curtains, both or just bare windows? Do you prefer light and seeing the view, value privacy, or a balance of both? Leave me a comment below.
All the best,
I had no idea this was so easy… To anyone renting, please read this post! I wish I had when I first rented my current place. Thank you so much, Danielle!
That’s a great idea Emma, thank you! If you are renting and stuck with curtains that came with the place, or have inexpensive plain curtains, this is a quick and easy way to jazz them up!