Machine sew your curtain header tape

Curtain header tape (also known as drapery tape or curtain styling tape) can be attached to your curtains either sewn by hand or by machine. In this section we'll look at machine sewing your tape.

Have you allowed for the correct heading?

Sorry to emphasise this, but did you remember to allow for your heading measurement when you calculated the finish length for your drapes? If you're not sure what I mean, go back to the page about drapery yardage and check.

Which curtain header tape to use?

There are tapes available for all types of headings. You can get them for pinch, goblet and box headings, and they give reasonable results.

The disadvantages of machining these tapes to your drapes are:

  • The machine stitch lines are visible on the front of the drapes.
  • The depth of the heading is fixed.
  • For Goblet or Triple pleats, the distance between each pleat is fixed.

If you are prepared to accept these features, then machining curtain header tape will give you very good results.

Sewing the curtain header tape

If you've followed the instructions for making lined drapes, or lined and interlined drapes, then you'll have a completed panel ready to head up.

Lay the panel on the table with the lining face up. Measure the width and cut a piece of drapery tape to the width plus about 6" (15cms).

place tapePlace the curtain header tape in position

Position the tape (with the correct side up) onto the drape panel, with about 4" over on one side. Pin in place. The tape should normally be about ¼" (0.6cms) down from the top, unless you are allowing for a deeper heading (see earlier paragraph).

Pull the cords out of the end where you have the extra 4", and tie a secure knot (or knots if there are a lot of cords). Now cut off until the tape is just ½" (1.5cm) over and turn this amount under.

Pin the tape across the remainder of the panel.

curtain header tape sewnCurtain tape sewn in place

Machine sew the curtain header tape in place, on the side you turned under and on the top and bottom. Stop sewing about 6" (15cms) from the end, but don't take the work out of the machine.

Pull the cords out of the open end of the tape. Cut the tape ½" (1.5cm) longer than the panel and turn this amount under. Sew in place, taking care not to sew over the cords!

Pull up the cords until you have the correct heading width. Secure the cords by tying them into a bow, or use a special cord tidy. You can make your own out of a piece of plastic or card.


Once you see what the result should be (as shown in the last illustration), you can develop your own way of sewing on tapes. Just make sure that the cords are tied together at one end, and there's enough length of cord at the other to allow you to pull up the heading.

If you haven't already done so, do take a look at the page on fabric folds. It contains some important insights which will make sure your drapery looks its best!

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