How to Make Swags and Jabots

Is there anything more elegant than swags and jabots? It commands attention and frames the room beautifully. Best of all it really is quite a straightforward job that a sewing novice can master in no time at all. Read on and find out how.

First Things First

Okay, so what exactly are swags and jabots? You may have heard the terms bandied around homes and interiors magazines and websites, but you still don’t know what they are. The swag is the layered ‘u’ shape and the jabots cascade on either side of the window. It is a design that involves a large amount of fabric. It has been used for decades to create a stunning look – this curtain design can completely change the look of a room.

What You Need

  • Muslin cloth
  • Curtain fabric
  • Iron
  • Chalk or fabric market
  • Pins
  • Ruler
Making the Swag

To get started you need to sort out the foundation of your window – the muslin pattern made to fit your window.

Simply cut the muslin into a trapezoidal shape (wider at one end than the other) with enough fabric so that you can create the actual drape and swag – it should be as wide as the window and the swag length can be as long as you want it to be. A good way to judge is to pin the muslin on either side of the window and let it swag naturally in the middle – if you want a deeper effect adjust accordingly and cut the fabric as necessary.

Write down all your measurements made – this data will come in very handy! Using a pencil or a piece of fabric chalk, mark the muslin into sections – this is simply for your reference so you know where to create those pleats. Grab an iron and carefully press those pleats into place so that you have a good guide for the main fabric.

You now have your base for the swag. Choose your fabric and cut it in exactly the same way that you did the muslin, following, as best as you can the measurements. Sew the muslin and the finished fabric together with a secure stitch and start preparing for the jabots.

Making the Jabots

As you know, the jabots are the cascading pieces of fabric draped on either side of the swag. They are tailored and detailed and add sophistication to your window treatment. The length of the jabot is going to depend on your own personal taste. Some people have them sweeping the floor whilst other jabots sit just below the window-ledge: the choice is yours. The basic jabot shape is irregular, with one long edge, representing the fabric that will hand on the outer edge.

As you did with the swag, get a piece of muslin. Use your fabric marker or chalk to mark the portion of the fabric that will be pinned to the curtain board. Then start using your hands to delineate neat pleats. Aim for the pleats to be as equal and as exact as possible. No pressure but jabots are exposed and need to be finished perfectly! Once you are happy with your work, get the fabric, cut it to the precise measurements, and carefully sew the muslin to the back of it.

Putting the Pieces Together

It’s time to prepare the curtain board. The board should be made of durable wood – MDF is perfect. Wrap the board in matching fabric, stapling or glueing it into place. Leave this to dry or settle for a moment before you start attaching the jabots.

When attaching the swag and jabots it is best to use a staple gun – this is the quickest and easiest method and also goes largely undetected to those looking closely at the curtains. Start with the swags first, affixing them in place and then neatly attach the jabots.

And that’s it! Once you have secured the board in place you are finished. Sit back and marvel at the masterpiece you have just created!

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