Why does this tab phenomenon persist? For a good reason: Today's window coverings industry has available a great variety of marvelously creative decorative hardware-more so than at any other time in its history. And tabs are a wonderful way to attach fabric to decorative hardware while still allowing the color, style and shape of the hardware to show through.
How long will this trend last? I predict it will continue for a long time yet to come. As long as highly decorative hardware is prevalent, tabs also will be prevalent.
Because using tabs has been so widespread for such a long time, industry professionals have been pouring their creative energies into coming up with new, innovative styles. Let's stop to consider many of their latest ideas.
Tabs Keep Popping Up
At this year's Heimtextil show in Frankfurt, Germany, tabs kept showing up at exhibitors' booths in many creative ways. ADO, for example, effectively used tabs in two different ways. One was as a top treatment over side panels. ADO used tabs on a piece of fabric cut on an angle to create a tabbed-jabot (cascade) effect. This same idea could be combined with swags on a pole by adding tabs to the top edge of the swag. Tabs also were placed on the bottom angled edge of Roman shades, with decorative rods placed inside the tabs. A similar look was created on the bottom of a valance.
A slightly frillier look can be created by running tabs through grommets or button holes along the top edge of a panel. The tabs are not sewn onto the drapery panel; the two ends of the tabs are tied together into a knot to prevent them from slipping through the opening when the treatment is placed on the rod. Another slightly frilly, relaxed look is ingeniously created by wrapping the two shaped ends of tabs up over a rod and bunching them together by tying them with a narrow strip of fabric, cord or ribbon.
In yet another example of being creative with tabs, a wide tab was embellished by slipping a decorative wood bead over it, creating a triangular shape to the tab. In one exhibit, the tabs actually were cut into triangular shapes and sewn onto the drapery panel a few inches into the treatment rather than along the edge.
Tabs today are being used in so many ways we're even seeing them used on double rods in layered treatments with both layers of tabs showing. For example, tabs are being used on the top of sheers and on the over panel, or on the top of valances and on the under panels.
One clever exhibit at the show capitalized on the tab trend by offering unique pre-made tabs of real leather in two different widths. The versatile look these inventive tabs create can be interpreted as very contemporary, Southwest-ern or country depending on the style of hardware and the fabric pattern selected to work with them.
Tabs also are being combined with a current prevailing embellishment trend: buttons. Some of the buttons are custom-made, like the diamond-shaped buttons I described in an earlier article ("The Many Facets of Diamonds," The Big Picture, August 1998). Some are typical and some are very unusual, as in the oversized wood buttons seen at the Heimtextil show. Usually the buttons are sewn onto the end of the tabs as they overlaps onto the face of the drapery panel or valance, but they can be sewn on anywhere along the tab, below the tab, or between the tabs on the panel.
Even Faux Tabs
Tabs are so popular they even are being imitated by non-tabs! One particular favorite of mine is creating the look of tabs by running tassel tiebacks through grommets placed along the top edge of a valance. The loops of the tiebacks are then placed over the rod to hang the treatment.
On one particular valence I designed, I wanted shaped tabs that didn't wrap over the top of the rod in the usual way. I wanted them to project above it to create a three-dimensional effect. I created faux-tabs by bonding the face fabric of the valance onto lining with d÷fix iron-on soft cornice stiffener. I then cut out the tabs following the unusual shape printed on the fabric. On the back side of the faux-tabs I ironed on loops of fabric (very much like belt loops). The rod was fed through the loops of the fabric on the back of the tabs, which allows the decorative rod to show between the tabs. The treatment appeared to just float in front of the rod.
For another unusual application for tabs I created a working tab-top balloon shade that hung from a brass pole. I placed the screw eyes into the back edge of the pole to hide them and placed a tab where each screw eye and cord would be to hide the cords.
I also have used tabs on valances on a rod over Roman shades: not a common combination, but very effective!
Flourishing, But Downsizing
Tabs are being combined with smocking and shirring tapes, box pleats, gathered pleats and just about any other style of treatment tops you can think of. Tabs also are being used as embellishments on table cloths, pillows, bedspreads, shams and many other accessories.
Where does the tab trend go from here? Because highly decorative hardware provides so many opportunities for the designer to create such personalized and unique looks, decorative hardware is here to stay. So, tabs of all shapes and sizes also are here to stay. But because the new trend in the growing decorative hardware industry is in downsizing (making everything smaller in diameter), the tabs used on those rods probably will be downsized also. They probably will become very narrow and more subdued.
Regardless of the particular type of rod, tab styles still will flourish and be even more inventive in the future.
Cheryl Strickland is owner of Professional Drapery School, Swannanoa, NC, and is an internationally acclaimed speaker with 20 years experience in the window coverings industry. She is the publisher and editor of Sew WHAT?, an international monthly newsletter for professional drapery workrooms. Strickland also is the author of A Practical Guide to Soft Window Coverings and the Designer's Sketch Pad, which are available through Draperies & Window Coverings magazine.