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Back Tab Curtains: Raw Elegance for Windows

Back tab curtains


Any designer will tell you – curtains make a room — but only when done right. From choosing the right fabric to measuring with surgical precision – every decision takes you a step closer to your perfect set of drapery. The choice of heading style – whether a traditional pinch pleat or a casual grommet top – is one such key consideration to ensure your drapes sync perfectly with your aesthetic while fulfilling their functional destiny. In this blog post, our stylists take readers through one of our most popular curtain heading styles: back tab curtains

Interested in knowing about other heading styles we offer? Read our full DRAPERY HEADING STYLE GUIDE.  


What are Back Tab Curtains?

Printed Custom Rod Pocket Curtains


Known interchangeably as back tab curtains or back tab top curtains, these drapes – as the name suggests – are stitched with tabs or loops behind the top portion (header) of the curtains at regular intervals. The curtain rod is passed through these loops on the back, while the front top of the panel covers the hardware, rendering it practically invisible. The outcome is simply fantastic – floating curtains with neat, even pleats and having a smooth, seamless flow from top to bottom. 

This resulting neat, tailored look without the hassle of handling rings and clips, is what makes back tab curtains an ever-popular choice with our clients. Traditional, modern or contemporary, no matter what your personal interior design style preference, back tab curtains are a smart choice.  


Pros and Cons of Back Tab Curtains

Back tab top curtains on pole


The key reason back tab curtains are top faves of so many of our clients is the clean, architectural quality of the drapes’ fall that is signature to the style. Because the tabs are sewn at equal distances, they resist clustering of fabric on top. The construction ensures that the resulting pleats are uniform and unfussy, making the style an especially good pick for semi-formal, minimalist spaces. In summary, the heading is elegantly simple, and yet a complete style statement in itself.  

Another advantage is that this style allows you to do away with all the additional hardware like rings and clips, that you’d need for most other headings like flat tops or any of the pinch pleats. It saves you the fuss that comes with handling accessories and also a few bucks in your purse.  

Last but not the least, we recommend this style (amongst a few others) for spaces where light blocking is a high priority. Some heading styles, such as grommet tops and regular tab tops for instance, will always allow some light to leak through the grommets or loops. But back tab top curtains – with their specific style of construction and mounting – allow for much lower level of light leakage through the top, and therefore present a strong candidate for spaces where preventing light leaks is a front-burner issue.  


For clients who are considering this uber-chic style for their homes, there are two key limitations worth keeping in mind.  One, back tab curtains can only be mounted on poles, not on tracks. This means further investment in new hardware for homes that may already be furnished with tracks.  

Two, the tabs do not glide along the rod as easily as rings and grommets do, and therefore we recommend this style primarily for lightweight fabrics and/or decorative drapes that are rarely closed. If used regularly with drapery-weight fabrics, we advise gentle care and pull while gliding to avoid tearing tabs with harsh handling. 


Measuring for Back Tab Curtains


Patterned back tab curtains


If back tabs rank on the top of your list, you are surely counting on its tailored look and architectural finish.  Indeed, the ability to hide the hardware and the neat, controlled fall of this heading style is a thing to fall for. But, any tailored piece can only get as good as the measurements. For a perfectly crafted drape, take accurate measurements as given in the guide.



Length: For back tab top style custom drapes, measure length from *top* of your curtain pole/rod to the desired end point. This should be the final length provided to us in your custom order specifications.

Width: While width is a personal preference to some extent, our general guideline for back tab top curtains is to order panels that are close to double the width of your curtain pole/track. 

For example, if your curtain pole is 36 inches wide, we suggest two panels that are 36 inches *each*, and not two panels of 18 inches each. This will get you a rich fall/gather. If your drapery pole is 36 inches wide and you order curtain panels that are also 36 inches wide altogether, they will hang absolutely flat with no pleats or gather.

If you are looking for less than average fullness and/or to economize on budget, 1.5 times should also be acceptable, but we do not recommend more than 2x fullness for this style as the tabs restrict ‘bunching’ of fabric somewhat at top and therefore panels do not gather as neatly with too much width.

Interested in knowing how to measure for other heading styles? Read our full DRAPERY MEASUREMENT GUIDE.  


Back Tab Vs Tab Top

Tab Top Vs. Back Tab Curtains


Although the two sound alike, tab tops and back tab tops are two very different styles and therefore should not be confused!  

Tab top curtains also hang on tabs but the tabs are stitched as loops on top of the curtain header. The loops are therefore visible and are –  in fact –  a signature feature of this style. Unlike back tab curtains that hide the hardware, regular tab tops do the exact opposite and are often chosen by clients who want to show off the hardware. This very feature also adds a vibe that is much more relaxed and casual than that rendered by back tab tops. 


In Closing…


Back Tab Curtains


Back tab curtains are an exercise in restraint and pared down elegance. A cross between the formal and the informal, they are neither too structured like the French pleats drapes nor too informal like the grommets and tab tops. If you are looking for clean lines, minimalistic style, seamless flow, freedom from additional accessories – an overall uncluttered look and feel – back tabs are a perfect choice. Paired with poles with ornate finials, they can manifest a luxe, modern touch to your interiors.  Topped with pretty valances, back tab curtains will give you the benefit of orderly pleats while imparting a more relaxed feel. 

So go on, browse our collection of over 2000+ carefully-curated fabrics and get any of these stunners handstitched in this lovely style.  When it is so easy to order custom back tabs and a whole world of choices are just a click away, why should a dexterous stylist settle down for readymades? 

Happy draping! 



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