Back tab curtains, sometimes referred to as hidden tab curtains, are versatile, modern-style draperies. Unlike traditional tab top curtains, which hang by a series of fabric loops extending from the top edge of each panel, the tabs on back tab curtains are sewn along the backside of each panel’s top seam and are hidden from view. The result is similar to a modified pocket. Tab size, fabric weight, window type and overall style are the main factors that determine the type of rod best suited for your back tab curtains.
Traditional drapery poles or rods come in numerous styles to complement nearly any decor, from brass to steel, iron, bamboo and carved wood. Poles are set on window frame-mounted hardware that extends outward to allow for clearance. They’re usually finished by attaching finials — such as balls, knots or other decorative shapes — to either end. Traditional poles are most often used when hanging standard tab top curtains, because much of the pole is exposed to view. Back tab curtains are similar to pocket draperies, however, in that the pole is seen only when the curtains are open. To ensure your curtains open and close with ease, choose a pole that’s smaller than the maximum width allowed by the tabs.
Flat Pocket Rod
Pocket rods are a simpler, less expensive option intended for shorter curtain styles. Made of lightweight aluminum, such rods mount directly onto the window frame. Because the rod itself curves into the mount, there’s no need to finish it with finials. Pockets rods generally provide less clearance than traditional poles, so they’re more suitable for thinner fabrics than heavy draperies. Most flat pocket rods are painted white. Although they blend in when mounted on white window frames, they aren’t generally meant to be seen. Flat pocket rods are ideal for curtains that are rarely opened, such as lightweight cotton or linen back tab panels hung on a small bathroom window.
Tension rods are lightweight adjustable aluminum poles with rubberized end caps. They mount directly into the window frame without the use of additional hardware and are held in place by spring-loaded tension. Because these rods are inside-mounted, the window’s trim remains exposed. The window itself, therefore, is more of a focal point than its dressing. Tension rods are suitable for windows that are used as a source of light rather than for a view, and accommodate lightweight or sheer curtains with small back tabs. They’re also commonly used to hang café curtains over the bottom half of a window, a style that provides some amount of privacy without sacrificing light or the view.
Tension wire is a modern approach to curtain hanging. Typically, “long span” wire is suspended between two walls and used to hang large lightweight panels over a picture window or a series of windows. Curtains slide best on tension wire when hung with clips. To hang back tab curtains on tension wire, attach drapery clips along the top edge of each panel, or attach the clips directly onto the tabs. Tension wire is also used to hang a secondary drapery behind a primary set of curtains. For example, you can hang a heavier back tab curtain on a traditional pole, and run a tension wire between the pole’s mounting hardware for a more lightweight curtain.
- The Complete Book of Curtains, Drapes and Blinds; Wendy Baker
- Fashion Window Treatments: Back Tab Panels/Curtains
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images