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Moda's Half Moon Modern Sewing Room: Tab-Top Butterfly Curtains

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Welcome to our second Moda Fabrics Series: a bold and beautiful sewing room in Half Moon Modern. A good sewing space is all about clever organization. Clearing the clutter frees your brain and helps creativity blossom. We love the crayon colors of Half Moon Modern: apple red, sky blue, canary yellow, marshmallow white and more. It's a perfect match for the simple geometric lines and shapes of the motifs. This clean design is energizing and especially good in a sewing room or any space where everything else is busy; the simple design and happy hues help pull the room together so it appears neater and more contained. There are eight projects in our series, starting with today's tab-top curtains, featuring a butterfly accent strip and big white buttons. In the coming weeks, we'll bring you sewing machine and serger covers, an ironing board cover and caddy, a task basket, pinboard, and a sewing and craft apron with pockets a'plenty. In addition, Moda has put together a stunning Half Moon Modern Great Giveaway and has sponsored a free downloadable Sewing Reference Guide.

Open or closed, the swirling blue paisley and white of these curtains softens the drama of the red walls in our featured sewing space. We made six panels to cover one large and two small windows. Fully lined, the panels do a great job of blocking the sun when needed, but they aren't super bulky, which allows them to be pulled open for a view of the great outdoors.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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The amounts listed below are for ONE curtain panel and ONE tie back . Depending on the size and number of your windows and the height of your curtain rod, you will need to adjust your measurements accordingly. Below, in our Getting Started section, we explain how we determined the sizes of our cut pieces.

  • 2 yards of 44-45" wide fabric for the main panels and tabs: we used Half Moon Modern by Moda Fabrics in Paisley Aqua
  • Fabric for the inset accent: this amount will depend on a couple of factors: the width of the motif you wish to cut and how many panels. For our project, we had a 3" vertical motif. As you'll see in our Getting Started steps below, we show you how to figure the width and length of your panels. Using these calculations, our inset strip needed to be 4" x 57½". We made seven curtains for our sample room and so started with 1¾ yards of our chosen 44-45" wide fabric: we used Half Moon Modern by Moda Fabrics in Novelty Butterfly Aqua
  • 1½ yards drapery lining: we used Moda Fabrics' 200 count muslin in Warm White
    NOTE: You'll see by our measurements below that our cut length is actual 54½" and 1½ yards is only 54"... you almost always get a bit extra in your cuts, but if you want to be super safe, ask for 1⅝ yards.
  • ¼ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the tie back: we used Half Moon Modern by Moda Fabrics in Dots Spots Aqua
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of lightweight fusible interfacing for the tie-back; you need one 3½" x 25" strip for each tie-back
  • 1¼ yards of 2½" header tape
  • SIX decorative buttons, apx 1 to 1½"; we use plain white 1⅜" buttons
  • All purpose thread to match the fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started


The first step in creating this curtain panel is to do some math. Yay! We explain how we determined our cut and finished measurements. But, you're likely to have a different size window and/or your hardware (or rod) will be set at a different height. So, you can follow our example and adjust it accordingly to meet your curtain needs. We all have certain curtain needs, don't we?

Finished LENGTH measurements

Total height

The height from the top of our rod to just below our window's sill plate is 52". This is the total finished height we want to achieve. We have a similar set of floor-length curtains in our Nature Brights Kitchen series, if you'd like to see typical measurements for a floor length set.

Tab height

Our top tabs are 2½" in height from the top of the rod to the top of the curtain. This is a standard measurement for tab top curtains.

Panel body height

The finished length of the panel body (without the tabs) will simply be the finished height minus the height of the tabs. 52" - 2½" = 49½"

Cut LENGTH measurements

Now we need to add for hem allowances at the top and bottom.


As you may remember, if you were paying attention, our top tabs are 2½" in height from the top of the rod to the top of the curtain. These loop over the rod, so you need double that height. Then, one end overlaps the top seam by 2" on the front (that's where the accent button is sewn). Therefore, the total finished length will be 2½ x 2 = 5" + 2" = 7". Finally, we need to add to the length for seam allowances. Our cut length for the tabs will be 7" + ½" seam allowance on one end to create the finished end of the tab + ½" seam allowance on the other end where it will insert into the top seam = 8".

Panel fabric

We need a total of 7½" for a nice deep hem on the bottom (also standard) and a ½" seam allowance at the top. Using our finished measurement of 49½", we add 7½" hem + ½" seam allowance = 57½" for our cut length.

Cut WIDTH measurements

Well, this part is fairly easy. We decided the finished width of our panel curtain would be 44", including a 3" accent inset; so, our pieces use the full width of the fabric, including the selvedge, simply split down the middle. This gives us the extra we'll need for the sides.

NOTE: Our window width was 48" and we wanted a nice gather to the two panels that would cover the window opening. We went with a bit more than 1.5 times the window width, also taking into account the How To Measure For Curtains.

Our inset accent strip is fussy cut from the Half Moon Modern Novely Butterfly in Aqua, so this motif determined the width of our accent. We determined 3" was perfect to center the butterfly motif. Accounting for a ½" seam allowance on both sides, this meant we needed a 4" wide strip. Depending on your fabric, your insert may be slightly wider or narrower, but try to keep it close to the 3" in order to best balance with the proportion of the main panels and best fit between two of the top tabs.

And, finally, that brings up to the tab width. These need to finish at 2" wide and we need a ½" seam allowance. Instead of cutting two strips to sew together, we can cut just one 5" strip and fold it in half (2½ x 2). So, our cut width is 5".

Finally, we're ready to cut! Referring to the cut length and width measurements we figured out above, we cut as follows for our window:

  • Cut one 8" x width of fabric strip from the main panel/tab fabric (Paisley Aqua in our sample) Then, turn the fabric and cut SIX 5" x 8" strips for your six tabs.
  • Cut one 57½" x width of fabric piece from the main panel/tab fabric (Paisley Aqua in our sample). Then, cut this exactly in half so it is now 22½" x 57½".
  • Cut one 57½" x 4" strip from the inset accent fabric (Novelty Butterfly Aqua in our sample).


Let's not forget, we still need to cut a lining. It's important to use the proper lining for your panel because it helps with light control, protects the fabric from fading in the sun, and gives the curtain body. The lighter quilting weight fabrics just aren't enough on their own. However, if you choose a heavy decorator weight fabric, you might be able to get away without a lining. For the most part, we're in the strongly-recommend-a-lining camp.

Before you cut the lining, you need to do some math again. What a great day this is! It's standard practice to make the lining shorter than the actual panel so the lining doesn't hang below the hemline (much like the lining in a skirt). That measurement is usually 3" less than your finished total length. So, we need to subtract this from our total length before hemming.

Our total finished panel length (less the tabs) is 49½". Our hem allowance at the bottom was 7½" and at the top ½". 49½" + 7½" + ½" = 57½"

The cut length of the lining will be 57½" - 3 = 54½"

For the width, we cut the lining 5" less than the cut width of the panel. This is also a standard measurement.

The cut width of the lining will be 44" (width of fabric) - 5" = 39"

Cut the lining piece 54½" x 39".

Tie Backs

Just when you were ready to put away your cutting tools. The tie-back!

Our tie backs are 3" x 24", and we approached the cut width the same way as the tabs above, cutting them wide enough to fold in half and seam. The calculation is: the 3" finished width + ½" seam allowance = 3½" x 2 = 7".

The tie back length is simply the finished length, which we determined should be 24" for a generous loop, plus a ½" seam allowance on each end: 24" + ½" + ½" = 25".

The end loops are simply tiny tubes.

From the fabric for the tie backs (Dots Spots Aqua in our sample), cut the following:

  • ONE 7" x 25" strip
  • TWO 1½" x 5" strips


  • Cut a 3" x 24" strip from the lightweight fusible interfacing.
  • Cut a 43" length from the header tape.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Pre-make your six tabs

  1. Fold and pin the six tab pieces in half, right sides together.
  2. Using a straight stitch and ½" seam allowance, sew along one short side, pivot at the corner, and sew to the next corner. Clip the corners diagonally. Turn right side out, poking out the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press.
    NOTE: The open end you used for turning will later be sewn between the panel and the lining, hiding its raw edges.
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Assemble the panels and accent strip

  1. The instructions below reference our cut measurements; yours may be slightly different.
  2. Find the two 57½" x 22½" panel pieces and the 4" x 57½" accent strip.
  3. Place the accent strip right sides together along one 57½" side of one panel. Pin in place.
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  4. Stitch in place, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the seam allowance towards the main panel piece.
  5. Place the remaining 57½" raw edge of the accent strip right sides together with one 57½" side of the remaining panel piece. Pin in place. Stitch in place, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the seam allowance towards the main panel piece.
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  6. Topstitch ¼" from each 57½" seam on the panel side.
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Panel and lining bottom hems

  1. Create a double-fold hem along the bottom. Fold up and press 3½", then fold and press again 4".
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  2. Stitch close to the fold to finish the hem. Set aside. If you're new to hemming, check out: How to Make a Simple Hem.
  3. Repeat the same hem on the lining piece. Remember, this piece is shorter than the panel piece so it will finish shorter.

Sew front panel to lining along each side

  1. Lay the panel on a table, right side up. Place the lining piece right side down (the sewn hem side will be the wrong side) on top of the panel. So .... right sides together.
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  2. The hem of the lining should fall within the hem of the front panel and the whole lining should be 5" narrower than the face panel.
  3. Align the lining and the front panel along one side, pin and stitch with a ½" seam allowance. Stitch from the top of the panel to the bottom.
  4. Remove from the machine and lay it out flat again. Pull the lining so it aligns with the opposite side of the front panel. This will cause the sewn side to roll in a bit. Pin and stitch this side with a ½" seam allowance.
  5. Remove from the machine and lay it out flat again. Now, in order to lay flat, both sides of the front panel will curve around to the back. Match the raw edges of the front panel and the lining along the top edge, making sure the center point of the lining matches the center point of the front panel. To find your center point, you can either measure from each side or fold the entire unit in half and mark
  6. Press the side seam allowances towards the outside edges.

Insert tabs and sew top seam

  1. Place the six tabs in between the lining and panel at the top raw edge.  Open the lining so you can pin the tabs on to the right side of the paisley panel. Line up the raw edges of the tabs and the raw edges of the curtain.
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  2. The two end tabs should be placed against the fold of the side hem. The two middle tabs go on either side of the inset accent strip. The final two are centered in the open space between on either side. Our measurement was 6-7/8" to the edge of each tab.
    NOTE: Depending on the finished width of your curtain, you'll need to divide the width evenly to determine the spacing of your tabs.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew through all layers along the top of the panel. You DO stitch ALL the way across, including across each folded sides.
  4. Clip the two top corners of the panel at a diagonal. This makes it easier to turn the corners.

Attach header strip

  1. The header strip adds strength and body to the top of the panel so it doesn't droop between the hanging tabs. Place the long header strip on the bed of your sewing machine (most of the header strip will be to the right of your needle your needle). Pin in place if needed. The bottom of the header strip should line up with your sewn seam. The top will simply extend about 2" beyond your seam allowance.
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  2. Stitch through all layers within the top seam allowance.

Turn right side out and complete tabs

  1. Turn panel right side out through the open hemmed bottom. Press the sides smooth. You will have a fully lined, finished curtain panel with no visible stitching on the sides.
  2. Pull the tabs out firmly and overlap them 2" onto the front side of the panel. Pin in place.
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  3. Secure each tab by hand sewing a button through all layers.
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  4. At the very bottom corner of the panel, fold under the remaining raw edge of the side hem.
  5. Make a short vertical stitching line, in thread to match your fabric, to secure the side hem to your bottom hem. We hand-stitched ours in place so there would be no stitching visible from the front, but a machine stitch in matching thread would work as well.
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Tie backs and loops

  1. Find the 7" x 25" tie-back strip, the two 1½ x 5" loop strips and the 3½" x 25" interfacing strip.
  2. Fold a loop strip in half lengthwise and press to create a center crease. Unfold wrong side up and fold each long raw edge into middle, so the two raw edges meet in the middle along the crease. Press well.
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  3. Fold the strip in half again along the center crease, enclosing the raw edges to the inside.
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  4. Topstitch along the length of the tiny folded strip.
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  5. Repeat to create the second loop.
  6. Fold the tie-back strip in half and press to create a center crease.
  7. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the tie-back, aligning the top of the interfacing strip along the center crease and centered it end to end. There will be ½" of fabric extending beyond the interfacing along the opposite raw edge and at both ends.
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  8. Flip the fused tie-back over so it is right side up and open flat on your work surface. You should be able to see the center crease.
  9. Worked on the fused side, place a loop strip on each end. The inside edge of the loop should be ½" from the center crease. The outside edge of the loop should be 1" from the raw edge. The raw edges of the loop strip are flush with the raw edges if the tie-back. Pin in place.
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  10. Fold the tie-back, right sides together, along the original crease. Pin in place, sandwiching the loops in between the layers.
  11. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all three sides, leaving a small opening for turning. Remember to pivot at each corner and lock your stitch on either side of the opening. Press all seams open and clip all corners.
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  12. Turn the tie-back right side out. Poke out all the corners so they are nice and sharp, and turn in raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Topstitch around the enter tie back. This will close the opening used for turning.
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    NOTE: For our window configuration, we used three panels on one larger window. On the two outside panels, we used the tie-backs described above. On the middle panel, we simply made a non-interfaced version of the tie-backs from of our leftover scraps and used that as a ribbon to bunch and hold the center panel in place.
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Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild



Comments (158)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Sharon - That is excellent news - congratulations on your project.

Virginia Elaine said:
Virginia Elaine's picture

I finished these curtains for my granddaughter's nursery and they are unbelievably cute! Thanks so much for the inspiration and wonderful tutorial. There is one error in the instructions, though. The fusible interfacing for the tie backs should be cut 3"x 24" by my calculations, so as not to interfere with the seam allowances. Am I correct? Again, this is a great tutorial!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Virginia - With the lightweight fusible, it's not quite as much of an issue to keep it out of the seam allowance, but you are right - and that is what we show in our photos. Thanks for the heads-up. We've fixed it above. 

Virginia Elaine said:
Virginia Elaine's picture

I love your site! Thanks for all of the wonderful curtain tutorials. I am making tab top curtains for my newest grandchild's nursery. I have chosen a good quality cotton and I usually prewash my fabrics to prevent shrinkage later when laundering items. I see that some of the drapery header tape is dry-cleanable only. Do you suggest I skip the prewashing step? Is there washable header tape?  Please advise as I am anxious to begin these cute curtains.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Virginia - Thanks for your kind words. We're so glad you're finding some great project options. Regarding the header tape, yes, most full draperies are more likely to be drycleaned than laundered. If you are thinking your curtains will need to be laundered frequently, you oould substitute interfacing for that stability.

Virginia Elaine said:
Virginia Elaine's picture

Thanks for your prompt response to my questions. I will check with mommy-to-be and see if she plans to launder the curtains or opt for drycleaning. I also reread your great article on preshsrinking fabrics. It is so thorough and I learned many new tips. I have been sewing for many years and I am always learning something new on your site. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Thanks again Virginia! Have a great time with the project.

Kathy Woolard said:
Kathy Woolard's picture

I believe your instructions are incorrect for the tabs.  You state to Fold and pin the six tab pieces in half, wrong sides together.  I think it should be with "right sides together".

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Kathy Woolard - thanks for the catch - glad you could tell from photos what we meant.  It has been fixed. Enjoy.

Emily C said:
Emily C's picture

If I want to put a block out inner liner in these, would I first attach it to the lining and then proceed with the lining to the face?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Emily C - I have not tried this, so I can't guarantee exactly what the outcome would be. As always, it's best to keep the layers you are working with to a minimum. So, as you mention, you would want to baste the lining and the black out layer to one another so you could work with them as one (go around all four sides). In this case, the black out would be come the "wrong side" of your lining panel. If you are making a large panel, it may become difficult to keep the two layers nice and flat - you'll just have to do the best you can. Depending on the material you use, the black out fabric could become the lining unless it is important to you to have a white lining. 

beth ciai said:
beth ciai's picture

Gosto muito do Site adimiro suas ideias maravilhosa estão de barabens.

O avental eu já fiz para o meu trabalho ficou lindo.

JannieK said:
JannieK's picture

Thank you so much for the tutorial! I love these curtains and can't wait to buy the fabric and get started.

I'm new to this site and excited to find and use more of your tutorials.


EmmieJay said:
EmmieJay's picture

Gorgeous fabrics and great ideas for easy, cool curtains!  Wow, love this site!

craftymom001 said:
craftymom001's picture
thanks alot fro such a detailed tutorial along with pics im making curtain for my kids room adn it helped m elaot smilies/smiley.gif
Liz Johnson, Editor Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson, Editor Sew4Home's picture
@ chiara - As we mention above in our supply list, we used Moda's high quality muslin. There are and "rules" but choosing a high quality, solid fabric with good opacity is your best bet. White usually works best as a color, but even that is not mandatory/ We also prefer working with cotton over the blends.
chiara said:
chiara's picture
i am going to attempt to create these curtains and was wondering what type of material i need for the lining, is a special type?
Carol Radcliffe said:
Carol Radcliffe's picture
Love the home theme and the curtains certainly can cheer you into creating some awesome projects!!! The layer cake could be turned into a wall hangin for display on a small white cheery shelf near the curtains.
Aggiequilter said:
Aggiequilter's picture
BEST CURTAINS EVER !!! Your projects just continue to amaze me, I could spend hours on end here ... Thanks for all the inspiration !
CaraQuilts said:
CaraQuilts's picture
I loved Half Moon in the black and white, and can't wait to get it in colour!
Brenda Sanders said:
Brenda Sanders's picture
What beautiful curtains. And they look so easy! If I ever finish the quilt I'm working on, I think I would like to make these. And the blue is my favorite color - or maybe yellow. I'll have to think about that one!
Susan Sampson said:
Susan Sampson's picture
Hi, what fun, a new site and there is the wonderful Moda. I love butterflies (who doesn't) then there are paisleys & spots - great especially with my fave colour.
RaeLyn said:
RaeLyn's picture
I Love your tutorials, so easy to follow and fun ideas! I wish I had tie to try them all!
amorette said:
amorette's picture
beautiful! these would brighten up any room!

asdrexler at gmail dot com
Jennifer Cheek-Payan said:
Jennifer Cheek-Payan's picture
Today's post was great! I really love the color combination and I am in major need of a room make-over so the timing is perfect!
Bj Bevins said:
Bj Bevins's picture
What cute curtains, I love the button accents on the beautiful blue fabric.
Kocanquilt said:
Kocanquilt's picture
I love the curtains and the fabric. I look forward to seeing your other projects.
bimbi9 said:
bimbi9's picture
Okay now I want to paint my room red and hang those lucious curtains in it! Thanks for the ideas.
esterling1923 at
Beth D said:
Beth D's picture
I love our site. So many cool ideas. Buttons on tabs for curtains-great shower curtain idea. plus I found the apron idea.smilies/cheesy.gif
Deb B. said:
Deb B.'s picture
These are lovely curtains! I really like the colors and the print. I would love to make some for my kitchen window.
carol fun said:
carol fun's picture
those are just too cute -- they'd look great in my sewing room!
Jennifer M said:
Jennifer M's picture
SEW excited about this week's projects! My sewing room needs a facelift and looks like SEW4Home and MODA are the plastic surgeons!
Ginny Bresette said:
Ginny Bresette's picture
I love fabric New and old and this line is just beautiful I would love to make some matching aprons for my daughter and her lil girl for 2012 They have birthdays are in January and February respectively Thanks for the opportunity to possibly win this great prize!
Happy Holidays!!