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Curtains: Heading Tapes & Handmade Headings

Heading Tapes

The final task, Once you have assembled your curtains, is to attach the heading tape that you choose when deciding on the style of the curtains.

Every type of ready-made heading tape, from the simplest pencil pleat to the most sophisticated triple pleat, is made of a strip of strong, stiff fabric.

Ready-made heading tape has one or more rows of pockets, through which the curtain hooks are threaded,

and two or more drawstrings that run along the length of the heading tape and are designed for gathering up the curtain fabric to the desired fullness.

Applying Heading Tape

You will need the curtain, the heading tape and hooks, and the basic sewing kit. Measuring from the bottom edge up, mark the desired length on the fabric at the top of the curtain.

Turn the fabric down at the mark, and press. If necessary, trim the folded part to the depth recommended for the tape.

Cut the heading tape to the width of the curtain, plus 4 cm.

Unlined Curtain

1. Tacking Tape Lay the tape with its top edge just below the top fold. At the leading edge, Knot the drawstring ends.


2. Turning End Turn under the fixed end of the tape by 2 cm and align the fold with the curtain edge. Tack the tape in place. At the side edge, turn the other end of the tape under by 2 cm, leaving the drawstring's ends free.


3. Sewing Tape Machine sew along the top and bottom edges of the tape to secure it to the curtain. Sew in the same direction both times, to prevent the fabric from puckering. Sew across the ends of the tape, securing the knotted ends of the drawstrings at the leading edge, and leaving them free at the side edge. Remove the tacking stitches.


Lined Curtain

1. Folding Fabric Trim the lining fabric at the top, so that its edge aligns with the mark that indicates the top of the curtain drop. Fold the top of the curtain fabric over at the mark, covering the raw edge of the lining fabric. Pin the folded fabric in place over the lining, and press. Remove the pins


2. Sewing Tape Lay the heading tape just below the top fold of the curtain. Knot the drawstring ends at the leading edge, turn under the end of the tape by 2 cm, and align the fold with the curtain edge. Pin and tack the tape. At the side edge, turn tape end under but leave drawstrings free. sew the tape in place as for an unlined curtain.


Gathering Up The Tape

1. Pulling Strings Grasp the free ends of the drawstrings at the side of the curtain. Hold the tape and curtain steady with your other hand, and pull the strings to one side. As you pull out the drawstrings, the tape will gather and form pleats. As you pull, ease the pleats along the whole length of the tape, until the curtain heading is gathered to the required width.


2. Tying Off Tie the ends of the drawstrings in a slip knot to hold them. Wind the free lengths of drawstrings around a cord tidy, so that they will lie neatly out of sight. Do not cut off the drawstring ends: When the curtains are taken down to be cleaned, the drawstrings must be released and the heading tapes pulled out again so that the curtains will lie flat.

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3. Threaded Hooks Distribute the curtain's fullness evenly along the width of the curtain by adjusting the pleats. Decide on the position and spacing of the hooks, and insert them into one of the rows of woven pockets in the tape.


Handmade Headings

Until relatively recently, the majority of headings were handmade, forming an integral component of a curtain. Nowadays, most types of pleated heading can be purchased as proprietary heading tapes.

There remains, however, a range of curtain headings that either can or must be made by hand.

In some cases, for example the looped and scalloped treatments, this is because they are very specialised.

In other cases, such as cases headings, it is because they are simple. Assembling your own hand-made heading also allows you to customize curtains and maintain greater control over the look of your room.

Cased Heading With Frill

A cased or slot heading provides the simplest method of hanging a curtain. It is suitable for treatments where the curtains will be held open with tie-backs, while the heading remains closed.

You will need one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half times the width of the finished curtain, (if necessary, join widths with french seams),

the curtain rod or wire that you intend to use, and the basic sewing kit. Hem the bottom and side edges of the curtain first.

1. Turning Top Fold a double hem deep enough for the slot and the desired frill. Mark a seam line to the depth for the slot, which should fit the rod loosely, and tack along it.


2. Tacking Heading Tack close to the bottom of the turning. This will now form the case, or slot, for the rod. Before sewing, check the fit of the casing, and adjust if necessary.


3. Sewing Slot Machine sew along the tacked lines. Work in the same direction each time, to prevent puckering. Remove the tacking stitches and press. Insert the rod, gather the curtain, and hang it in place. A heading with a frill will hang better on a rod than on a wire.


The Finished Curtain


Other Case Headings

Making a turning in, the top edge of a curtain fabric to form a slot for a rod or wire is a simple and versatile heading technique.

It can easily be adapted to make a variety of heading treatments, both plain and decorative.

All of these headings are ideally suited for hanging sheer, net, or lightweight fabrics that are not intended to be drawn: cased headings do not draw very easily.

Ungathered Curtain

Some curtains, such as pictorial lace panels, look best if they are made up without any gathers at the heading. Cut the fabric slightly narrower than the width of the rod or wire, to prevent wrinkles. Turn a double hem to fit the pole or wire, and stitch along its edge.


Gathered Curtain

A simple casing will hang better on a wire than one with a frill. Cut the fabric to the fullness desired. Make a double turning for the slot, deep enough to fit loosely over the eyes at the ends of the wire. Tack and sew along the lower edge.


Gathered Double Frill

Press a turning in the top edge to the wrong side for the slot. Fold two pleats wrong sides together for each frill. Align the inner fold of pleats with the raw edge of the slot. Sew two seams for the casing: the bottom one through slot fold; the top one through raw edge and pleats.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Temoor Dar

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