Tab Top Curtains & Back Tab Window Drapes

Window treatments are great aesthetic elements besides being functional additions. Curtains – the most traditional and popular of all window treatments –  come in a variety of heading styles, each with a unique appeal and a distinctive set of pros and cons. Hence, homeowners who are looking to satisfy their particular requirements never experience a dearth of options.

If you’re looking for casual curtains that don’t need rings or clips to be hung, two popular heading styles on offer are tab top and back tab curtains. While sounding very similar, the two styles are, in fact, quite different in their construct. 

What is common between them is that they both have fabric loops (or tabs) stitched from the same fabric as the drapery itself. The drapery rod is fed into these loops to hang the curtains. Hence the need for rings/clips/grommets is canceled in both styles. 

What makes them different is the placement of tabs. Tab top curtains have their tabs/loops sewn and visible on the top end of the curtain panel. Back tab curtains, on the other hand, hang on fabric loops stitched and hidden behind the header of the drapery panel.  

For handy images to see the difference between these two elegant styles, do browse our detailed Curtain Headings Style Guide.

Because of their construction, back tab curtains conceal the hardware and have no risk of light leaks – easily making them suitable for bedrooms that need total light control for a good sleep. Also, back tab curtains yield a more minimal look than tab top curtains. While tab top curtains look chic in casual spaces, back tab curtains can decorate both formal and informal spaces.

Now that you know the key differences between the two, let’s go through the specifics of each style one by one. 

Tab Top Curtains

In this style, fabric loops sit atop the drapery panel header. The drapery pole is fed into these loops to hang the curtain. Since tabs are sewn at intervals on the top edge, the pole is exposed, irrespective of whether the drapes are closed or open – a brilliant way to show off pricey drapery rods. 

Tab top curtains proffer a very relaxed vibe as the pleats formed are not highly architectural. That helps to make the space feel more homely, making this style an instant pick for kids’ rooms and casual spaces. 

In rooms where light leaks through closed draperies are not welcome, the gaps between the tabs can be a cause of concern. The light leaks can be minimized (though not fully canceled) if you can hang the curtains at least six inches above the window trim. So, remember to account for this as well as the loop size in the drapery length measurements and the positioning of the pole.

Tab top drapes as well back tab curtains are both highly economical choices in drapery as they spare the expenses incurred on show-worthy drapery poles as well as other related accessories. This minimalistic attitude makes them instant picks for decor styles which uphold the ‘less is more’ ideology. 

Back Tab Curtains

In this style, the fabric loops are stitched behind the drapery panel on the top. When the pole is fed into these loops, it gets concealed behind the drapery, thereby proferring it a seamless flow from top to bottom.

The placement of the tabs at equal intervals also ensures the uniform gathering of the fabric, bestowing thereby a very architectural construct to the drapery. Hence, back tab top curtains go well with formal interiors. However, the minimal construct renders them the versatility to decorate casual spaces as well.

Given the construction, total coverage is ensured. There is no possibility of light leaks, therefore, they are just right for rooms that need to be fully darkened at times such as media rooms and bedrooms. 

How to Make the Most of Tab Top & Back Tab Curtains

No matter how much you may love to splurge on dressing up your beautiful windows, being able to cut down on hardware requirements is relieving, isn’t it? And when it’s time to get them to the laundry, the job is really easy – no hassles of removing the accessories. But going without rings or clips has its flip side too. 

Since both back tab curtains and tab top curtains panels glide on fabric loops, they are not as smooth and easy to operate as styles supported by grommets and rings. Over the years, the loop fabric can weaken and fray with frequent pulling and tugging. That said, there are ways to compensate for the restricted movement. And, in certain situations, the limitation is, in effect, a blessing in disguise. 

So, how do you make the most of tab top curtains and back tab curtains? Here are the answers.

Consider Suitability:  The limited movement of both styles makes them instantly one of the top choices for curtains that are primarily decorative or meant to ensure total privacy. Tab top curtains and back tab curtains are most efficient in the following instances:

  • For sheer curtains that are often drawn closed throughout the day.
  • For lightweight fabrics which require lesser pressure for movement.
  • For decorative drapes that are kept stationary. 
  • For cafe curtains that pull an excellent look with lesser fullness and are usually operated very rarely.
  • For less used windows where drapes are generally left closed.

Fullness Factor: While we recommend a minimum of 2x fullness for most other styles, we advise not going beyond 2x fullness to ensure ease of movement for these two styles.  This way, you can also avoid the fabric bunching up at the tabs which can further restrict the mobility of the drapery and also spoil the look.

Fur further information on how to calculate fullness and measure for your drapery, please visit our Curtain Measurement Guide.

In Closing

So, what do you prefer more – the idyllic tab top curtains or the architectural back tab curtains? Even though both styles use fabric loops to hang, they are different in their overall appeal and practical viability. Depending on the requirements of the room in question, you can navigate through the pros and cons of both and make the call. And should you want something different, feel free to check out all our other heading styles. We’re sure such a well-researched purchase can never go wrong. And no matter which style you choose, you will always thank yourself for shopping at Spiffy Spools.