DIY Curtain Tiebacks

Updated February 21, 2017

Tiebacks are loops of fabric, ribbon, cord or other material used to hold curtains back against the sides of the window frame. Tiebacks allow more light into the room, keep very long curtains from pooling on the floor and are an easy, inexpensive way to change the look of the windows without replacing the draperies. These tiebacks are simple to make if you have some sewing experience; they are made on heading tape, a self-gathering fabric used to make ruffled draperies.

Determine the amount of gather you want your curtains to have by looping the measuring tape around the drapery panels and adjusting it until it looks right. Multiply this measurement by 2.5. Cut one piece of heading tape and one 5 ½ inch wide piece of fabric to this length.

Turn the edge of the fabric under 1 inch on all sides, clipping excess material at the corners so that they lie flat. Press with a hot iron. Place fabric wrong side up.

Knot the gathering threads close to one end of the header tape, on the wrong side. Free the gathering threads from the first 1 ¼ inches at the other end of the header tape, on the right side. Turn each end of the header tape under 1 inch and centre it right side up on the fabric, being sure to keep the loose gathering threads free. Pin in place.

Starting at one corner of the end with the knotted gathering threads, machine-stitch header tape to fabric ½ inch from the edge along the end and up one side. Remove fabric from machine and, returning to your starting point, sew up the other side. Leave the end with the free gathering threads open.

Pull on the gathering cords to shorten the fabric into pleats; continue until the tieback has reached the desired length. Tie the cords into knots close to the header tape and trim the free ends or tuck them behind the tape.

Hand-sew a curtain ring to the centre of each end of the tieback, securing it ½ inch from the edge.


Screw small hooks for the curtain rings into the outer edges of the window frame about halfway down the wall; this will position the tiebacks correctly about 2/3 of the way down the curtains. If you're making the curtains as well, use the same fabric to make the tiebacks for a finished look. If you're making tiebacks for pre-existing curtains, use a coordinating fabric that matches your decor


Sew the long seams of the tieback in the same direction to minimise puckering.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil-pleated heading tape, 3 inches wide
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Needle
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Sewing machine with thread that matches the fabric
  • 2 curtain rings
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About the Author

Siva Stephens has been a writer since she could hold a pencil. She has written newspaper articles, medical manuals, advertising copy and gags for cartoonists. Stephens has been publishing online since 2004, most recently as a contributing author for the Oregon Encyclopedia Project.