Updated: Sep 29, 2021
On this episode of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech, Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock talk about drapery tiebacks. You can listen to the podcast here : Episode 51 or watch on Youtube!
Tiebacks are used to hold a drapery to one side. They can be practical like when used on an outdoor drapery to hold the fabric in place or purely decorative to create a beautiful style where the drapery is gently pulled back and dressed.
We don’t see as many tied back draperies as in the past so you might be taken aback when you get an order for tiebacks!
Determine the size of the tiebacks by gathering one curtain panel to the finished width and cinching with a soft tape measure, or installing the finished curtain and cutting sample tiebacks from muslin or heavy paper to visualize the finished curtain shape.
Generally tiebacks are made at least 18 inches long for single width drapery panels. A larger drapery may need a tieback that is 24 to 30 inches or more. The finished size is based on the fullness of the drapery and the look that you are trying to achieve.
Placement and Proportions
When installing tiebacks, you can create different styles by how the tieback is placed on the wall. Near the top, middle or low placement will give you entirely different looks. There is not a right or wrong way.
The photo above is from the Sunset book Curtains, Draperies & Shades published in 1979. It's a charming example of lower tieback placement and is described in the book as to "keep stationary pinch-pleated panels from fluttering in the breeze..." when the window is open.
The drawing below shows how you can create different looks with tieback placement.
Basic Tieback Construction
Susan prefers to make tiebacks in a curved or V-shape. This supports the fullness of the drapery fabric without the leading edge or tieback being crushed, and allows the tieback to cradle the drapery.
The first tieback shared in the podcast is made with fusible fleece which adds softness and body to the fabric. The tieback has a curved shape and welt cord around the edges.
1) Use the pattern to cut out front and back pieces, adding seam allowances all the way around the shape.
2) Apply fusible fleece to the front piece.
3) Cover welt cord (4/32" or 5/32" diameter) and sew around the edges. Pin the front and back together.
4) Sew around the edges getting snug next to the welt cord. Leave an opening on the back side of the tieback. Turn right sides out. Close the opening by hand sewing or with glue or fusible tape.
5) Sew rings on each end. Inset the ring on the front edge so that it is hidden.
How-To Make a No-Sew Shaped Tieback
This tieback is made with a heavy weight interfacing or stiffeners and a no-sew gluing technique. This is similar to making a soft cornice. It is a good method for making detailed, shaped tiebacks with scalloped or cutout shapes.
1) Cut a piece of fusible stiffener like Peltex 71f to the finished tieback shape and size. (You can also use Skirtex or other stiffeners with fusible web).
2) Cut the fabric around the Peltex stiffener allowing 3/4-inch extra around the shape for turning to the back.
3) With the fabric face down, clip and press the edges and fold over to the back side gluing in place. (Use a fabric glue like Rowley Company Fringe Adhesive).
4) Cover enough welt cord to go around the outside edge and glue to the edge, pinning in place until it is dry.
5) Cut a piece of blackout lining to cover the back. Glue in place.
6) Glue gimp trim over the cut edges of the lining on the back of the tieback.
7) Sew rings on each end.
No-Sew Tieback with Contrast Banding
This style of tieback is made with two pieces; one piece of Peltex 71f cut the finished size and covered in the banding fabric and one piece of fusible blackout lining (dofix No Sew, Inc.) or blackout lining and fusible web cut 1/2-inch smaller and covered with the main fabric.
Using blackout lining for at least the top piece makes it more flat and easier to apply but you could use two pieces of Peltex. Finish the reverse side with lining and gimp trim. Attach rings on each end.
This method was used to create the V-shaped tieback in the photo below.
Made by Susan Woodcock for The Red Door
When making tiebacks, you will want to know what type of hooks will be used on the wall so that the ring or loop is large enough.
To install tiebacks you can use a large L-shaped hook or cup hook if screwing into wood, but the screw attachment is fairly small and would not hold in wall board or plaster. Rowley Company “Tieback, Picture and Mirror Hooks” (WH30) is a simple solution that can be attached with a #6 screw or anchor.
You can also find many styles of hooks at hardware companies and home improvement stores. Even cabinet knobs would work as long as you attach a loop or ring that will fit over the knob. Decorative medallions or holdbacks can also be used in combination with tiebacks.
To keep the fabric from being flattened or crushed behind the tieback, you can use a concealed tieback holder (Rowley Company, HLB20) to hold the fabric away from the wall. This is especially helpful for thicker, interlined draperies. You could also make your own by upholstering a wooden support board installed with an L-bracket to the wall.
Tiebacks and Adjusting Drapery Length
You have to remember that when the drapery is pulled back with a tieback the front edge (leading edge) will be lifted off the floor shorter than the opposite side. The bottom will be angled like a cascade or jabot and the lining can show. You may want to plan for a better look by adding a facing to the lining, or encasing the lining in a deeper hem.
To have a straight bottom edge, you will need to drape a cord in the shape of the finished drapery when tied back to get a finished length for the front edge of the drapery panel. You will hem the drapery to be longer on the leading edge.
Making tiebacks can be very time consuming. Equate the time to making a pillow. How long does it take to make a knife edge pillow? That is the same time it takes to make a lined tieback with welt cord. Use your hourly rate and materials used to estimate a price.
The tieback sewed with fusible fleece and welt cord took 25 minutes.
The no-sew tieback made with Peltex, cording, lining and gimp took 20 minutes.
The two piece no-sew tieback with contrast banding took 40 minutes.
Tiebacks are not an afterthought and should be priced like any other part of a finished window treatment. As you can tell from today’s podcast, a lot of planning and time goes into making tiebacks.