Drapery tie backs can improve your drapes

tassel tie backs

These double tassel tie backs form the drapes into sweeping folds

There are two main reasons for using drapery tie backs.

  • To hold the drapes in position and stop them moving. This is useful in situations where the drapes are next to a patio door or window, and a breeze could blow them around, or they could get in the way of people going past them.
  • To improve the look of the drapes by curving them inwards and helping to frame the window. Tiebacks can be used occasionally, or as a permanent feature such as in the illustration.

Styles of tie backs

styles for tiebacks

These are the easiest styles of tieback to make

Drapery tie backs need as much care in their design and construction as any other part of your window treatment. There are different types of tie back.

  1. Straight - the tieback has no curve to it but the ends are normally tapered off.
  2. Contour - curved with the ends rounded.
  3. Plain - curved with the ends flat.
  4. Standard - curved with tapered ends.
  5. More elaborate ones such as platted, tassel, double tassel, rope, etc.

The straight tieback gives a plain and simple finish. The other designs allow the tiebacks to fold naturally around the drape.

More elaborate styles are outside the scope of this article, or can be bought from specialist stores.

For making your own, my preferred style is the contour, because it gives a stylish finish no matter what the size of drape. All these styles can be made using the same method.

The importance of the shape and size

Getting the shape and size correct is an important part of making tiebacks. The tieback should hold the drape in place without pinching it, but should not be so large that there is a gap when it is attached to the wall.

If the shape is not correct the curve of the drape will not look natural, but seem forced into position.

The easiest way to find out how long the drapery tie backs should be is to place a tape measure around your drape. Adjust it until the tape just gathers the folds of the drape but doesn't pinch them too much. Read off the measurement, which is the width of the tiebacks.

You may want to take a look at our professionally designed tie-back patterns. You can download a free sample and try it out.

How to make tie backs

lining tieback

The buckram shape laid onto the interlining (A) then fixed with adhesive or sewn in position (B). (The gaps on the interlining where it has been snipped are exaggerated for clarity.)

There are many different way of making tie backs, but the following method is the one I've always used. I've found it gives good results for all styles and sizes.

  1. The basic shape is cut from a medium stiffness buckram, which allows it to keep its shape. If you only use interlining (interfacing) or a softer backing, the tie back will lose its shape and look untidy.
  2. Once you have the shape, cut a piece of interlining half an inch or so larger. Snip the interlining so it will easily follow the curve of the buckram. Then use adhesive to stick it in position as shown in the illustration. This is the reverse of the tie back.
  3. Repeat the last step using the fabric. Make sure if the fabric is patterned that you get a suitable part of the pattern on the tieback so that it displays well when the tieback is fitted.
  4. finishing tieback

    Finishing the tieback

  5. If you want to use welting (piping cord) around the edges, now is the time to sew it in position as shown.
  6. Cut a piece of lining (as you did for the interlining) and sew it in position on the reverse.
  7. Now sew rings on the ends of the tiebacks on the reverse side so they can be attached to hooks inserted in your walls. If you sew the rings so they are level with the edge of the tieback, the end of the tieback will conceal the hook when seen from the front.

Placing the hooks

A guide to placing your tie backs is to have them approximately one third of the way up the length of your drapes. Another way is to have them about 37 inches (94 cms) up from the floor. This works well for most drape lengths unless the drapes are over 9 feet high, in which case raise the height of the hook to about 40 inches (102 cms).

Hold the tie back in position (or get someone else to do this so you can make sure it looks correct), and when you've decided the best position for it mark a spot on the wall level with the outside edge of the drape. Insert a suitable hook.

If you're fitting tie backs to a pair of drapes, make sure you fix the hook for the other tieback the same distance from the drape and above the floor.


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