Sew a tieback that matches your curtains for a streamlined look.

Ways to Tie Back Curtains

by Joanne Thomas

Adding tiebacks to your window treatment is handy for functional reasons -- to let in more light and maximize views -- and also for decorative effect, emphasizing the drape of curtains while complementing their style. Tiebacks of all styles add visual interest to draperies, whether providing an ornate contrast to plain curtains, or matching the fabric of patterned ones. Tiebacks can be homemade or store-bought, but it's usually best to consider the options when you're first planning or designing your window treatments, rather than as an afterthought.

Fabric Tiebacks

Fabric tiebacks are basically bands of fabric designed to wrap around drawn curtain panels and anchor them to fixtures on the wall. The most common styles are straight and rectangular, curved and kidney-shaped, or ruffled. Fabric tiebacks made from matching or complementary fabric are often sold alongside curtains in stores. You can also design and sew your own, using the same fabric you used to make the curtains or a contrasting fabric for a different look. Consider contrasting the texture of the curtain and tieback fabrics, as well as the color or pattern. For example, use a rustic burlap or heavy linen to make tiebacks for country-style curtains, or a shiny, nubby silk to complement matte velvet drapes. Make a test tieback from paper to determine the appropriate size, shape and positioning for the finished tiebacks. Use interfacing to make the tiebacks somewhat stiff, and trim them, if you like, with piping, binding or cording. You will need to add some hardware: plain or decorative hooks to screw into the wall at the sides of the window, and rings to sew onto the ends of the tiebacks. Fabric, thread or cord loops will also work in place of rings.

Rope-Style Tiebacks

Rope-style tiebacks, often made from glossy strands with large tassels at each end, are readily available in the drapery section of fabric and decorating stores. You can also create your own by purchasing thick cording or twisted rope by the yard. Use plain white cording, perhaps twisted into a decorative knot, for a nautical look, or encase cording in fabric for a custom design to match or complement the fabric of your curtains. The fabric casing can be smooth or shirred. Use a single rope, twist two together, or braid three narrower strands for decorative effect. Rope-style tiebacks usually don't need any hardware other than hooks or knobs mounted at the sides of the windows. Simply wrap the rope around the curtain panel and loop it directly onto the hook or knob.

Beaded Tiebacks

Beaded tiebacks are among the most ornate options, adding jewelrylike decoration to your window treatments. Purchase ready-made beaded tiebacks, repurpose costume jewelry or visit a specialist bead store to see all of the possible options for this style. Bead stores will generally sell strings of beads as well as individual beads that you can use to create your own strings. Use multiple strands of smaller beads, or single or double strands of larger ones. While beaded tiebacks bring to mind a shiny, jewel-type effect, you can also create different looks depending on the choice of beads. Beads made from wood, brightly colored plastic and metals all offer inspiration. If the string part of your beaded tiebacks will be visible, use something attractive such as silk embroidery floss, velvet ribbon or even lace trim.


For attractive tiebacks without the need to be crafty, look for hardware designed specifically to hold back curtains without any separate tieback. They are often sold alongside matching curtain rods. Available styles typically include hooks that you tuck the curtain panels behind; larger arm-type pieces that work in the same way; and fist-sized knobs, which are best suited for lightweight curtains. Options range from minimalist to ornate designs, such as those etched or engraved to resemble leaves. Some have a whimsical design, incorporating a motif suitable for a particular room or decorative style. Depending on your DIY skills, you might be able to dress up plain hardware with a more decorative element; for example, attaching an enamel brooch, vintage brass door knocker or a wooden carved ornament to a plain metal hook.


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About the Author

A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.

Photo Credits

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