Back Tab Curtains: A Complete Guide to Hidden Tab Top Window Drapes

Back tab drapes


Window drapes execute a specific functional role and finetune the aesthetic language of the decor. And, one of the elements that contribute to a well-performing visually pleasing drapery is its heading style. Therefore, it is wise to check whether the heading style you select goes with your interior design and your functional requirements. If you’re considering the back tab heading style, here’s all you need to know about it so you can weigh its prospects of delivering as per your vision.

Back tab top curtains - also known as hidden tab top curtains - offer symmetrical delight with their perfectly wavy contours and seamless top-to-bottom flow. They hang on fabric tabs placed behind the top header, and therefore, they ‘wrap’ over the drapery pole. Showing only the bare minimum of the supporting hardware, back tabs seem to ‘float’ and act as visually stunning decor accessories. At the same time, they are impressive functional accessories as their seamless coverage of the pole makes them extremely efficient at providing light control and privacy. 

If you are looking for custom curtains that can go on your drapery poles without any additional investment in hardware, back tab top curtains are on point. The tabs behind the header replace rings that are usually used to hang curtains, saving you some precious money and the hassle of handling them during installation and maintenance. 

Interested in exploring more about back tab curtains? Hang on. We’re about to introduce you to all their unique traits and things to be factored in when shopping for them.

What are 'Hidden' Back Tab Top Curtains?


What are back tab curtains


Back tab curtains are curtain panels with fabric loops or tabs stitched at equal intervals behind their top header. The pole is passed through these tabs resulting in a drapery that sits taut on the drapery pole, concealing both the tabs and the drapery pole (and hence the alternate name - hidden tab curtains). The pleats are formed by the gathering of fabric between the tabs. Thus, you get drapes with a uniform gather and pleats flowing elegantly from the top of the pole to the bottom.


Back tab drapes


The tabs are stitched of the same fabric as the drapery itself. Note that fabric tabs do not offer the same operational ease as smooth metal rings or grommets. Therefore, this style is best avoided for excessively heavy drapery fabrics and oversized curtain panels, unless you expect them to be operated very rarely. 

Not to be mistaken with tab top curtains that have their fabric tabs stitched above the drapery panel, back tabs have their tabs behind the header and out of sight. While tab tops need to be complemented with suitable hardware, back tabs are self-reliant and make their statement independently. So they can team up with any type of drapery pole carefree.

What are the Reasons to Choose Hidden/ Back Tab Top Curtains?


Minimalist decor living room


Curtains add colour, visual depth and softness to the room while creating the perfect ambience by letting in the right amount of daylight or by darkening the room. When done right, they are the aptest finishing touch to any room and make life easy by ensuring privacy and light control. Back tab curtains take their functional role seriously, while also exuding a crisp pared-back beauty. They are a great option for any home, and here are the reasons why -

UNIFORM GATHER: As the tabs are spaced equally and the curtain header sits snugly on the drapery pole, the pleats that are formed are even and hang straight from top to bottom, offering uniform gather throughout the length of the drapery. This renders an undulated contour with very well-tailored architectural visual appeal to the drapery, making them great choices for formal spaces without being too elaborate like the pinch pleat drapes.

MINIMALISTIC LOOKS: The header has no stitched-in pleats or embossed grommets; it is plain - simply fabric gathering into pleats at equal intervals. Offering an architectural contour without any embellishments, hidden tab curtain offer simple sophistication to the decor. Therefore, they make great candidates for clients who prefer minimalism or like the simplicity of laid-back, casual decor styles.

VERSATILITY WITH DECOR STYLES: Back tab top curtains are extremely versatile and can go with several decor styles. Topped with opulent valances and jewelled with ornate drapery trims, they perfectly air classical maximalism. With elegant wooden poles and artfully carved finials, they offer handcrafted beauty and raw simplicity fitting for rustic homes. With sleek poles and flat finials that don’t make their presence felt, back tabs can make an impressive solo performance for a hardcore minimalist home.

OPTIMAL PRIVACY AND LIGHT CONTROL: As the drapery goes over the drapery pole, it does not let light pass through from the top. And since the tabs don’t glide too easily on the pole, the curtains don’t gather to the sides when it is windy. As a result, hidden tab top curtains provide a rigorous privacy guard and great control over light inflow as blackout drapes or other non-sheer curtains.

ECONOMICAL: Curtain hardware and accessories add heavily to the overall cost of window drapery. Here, back tabs save the day as you can hang them if you just have a drapery pole installed. A simple drapery pole that serves the purpose will do as it is going to be concealed when the drapes are in use. There is no need to invest in show-worthy poles or finials and there is no need for additional accessories like rings and drapery pins.



What are the Factors to Consider When Shopping for Hidden/ Back Tab Top Curtains?


Living room curtains


Back tab curtains are a practical and stylish choice for window dressings. But, as is the case with every heading style, they offer their functionality at best when styled correctly. Here are a few things to be kept in mind when shopping for back tab curtains:

OPERATIONAL EASE: Because fabric tabs do not offer the same ease of operation/movement as rings or grommets - back tab curtains can tend to be a bit heavy to glide on the drapery pole when stitched with extra-heavy drapery fabrics or as oversized panels. Hence, when going for extremely heavy fabrics or covering large windows, it is advisable to go for low-width panels or consider another heading style that offers more operational ease.

SINGLE PANEL CONSIDERATIONS:  If you have used a centre support bracket for your extra-long drapery poles, consider how many panels to order since the tabs cannot glide past the brackets. A one-way draw, single curtain panel is not an option with this hardware setup as the panel will be blocked by the centre bracket.  

HARDWARE CONSIDERATIONS: If you have expensive show-worthy hardware, note that hidden tab top curtains cannot flaunt them. Alternatively, if this high-end hardware does not fit your decor style or colour palette, it presents the perfect opportunity to completely hide it. 

What are the Hardware Options for Hidden/ Back Tab Top Curtains?


Drapery pole


Back tab top curtains are hung on drapery poles. They do not need any more accessories to be mounted as the tabs fulfil the role of rings, pins and hooks. And since the curtains cover the hardware, they negate the need to necessarily invest in show-worthy hardware. 

Note that back tab tops are not compatible with curtain tracks. If you already have installed tracks in your home and would prefer to not have to swap for new hardware, we recommend considering drapery designed in other heading styles like our flat panel top curtains or pinch pleat drapes. 

How to Hang Hidden/ Back Tab Top Curtains


How to hang back tab curtains


Since back tab top curtains do not require any prep like pin insertions owing to the fabric loops stitched at the back, hanging them is pretty straightforward and fairly simple.

Start by flipping your curtains backside up, so the tabs are visible to you. Next, feed the drapery pole through the tabs, making sure that you do not miss any tabs. 


Adjusting curtain pleats


Once you have threaded the pole through all the tabs, adjust the tabs so the pleats formed look well-rounded and properly arranged while hanging. 

As a final step, place the pole in the brackets and tighten any screws to hold the pole in place. Attach any finials, and adjust the curtains again if needed to create a neat fall. That’s it, stand back and admire!

How to Measure for Hidden/ Back Tab Top Curtains

 How to measure back tab curtains


For curtains to look their very best, it is important to get the measurements right. And while measuring for your drapes may seem unnerving at first, we’re sure our detailed step-by-step guide will ease you into the simple maths of measuring for back tab curtains.


Start by measuring the length from the top of the drapery pole to the desired endpoint. Just be careful to measure the length from the top of the pole, not the underside of it. And that's it, that simple. You’ll have the final length to specify in your order for back tab curtains from us.

As to what the endpoint should be, you may choose between any of the standard sizes of short curtains that stop at the sill or go for long curtains that reach the floor. The choice is entirely personal based on your preferences and requirements.


As back tab top curtains are not sewn with fixed, pre-stitched pleats like in the case of pinch pleat headers, they offer a certain amount of flexibility on ‘pole coverage’. 

A 300cm wide panel - for example - can be mounted on a 100cm long pole, and gathered into lush pleats and dense fall, or over a 200cm long pole yielding shallower pleats and sparse gather. Since you can adjust the look/gather of the pleats for back tab top curtains, they are much more forgiving with width measurements than styles like pinch pleats that require precision in measurement. So, if you’ve chosen back tab tops, you’re in a better position already. Now, we get to the math:

For back tab curtains, we recommend clients to order panels with 2x fullness. And what does ‘2x fullness’ mean? Let us take you through the steps to measure panel width and explain.  

Start by measuring the width of your pole, finial to finial. Then, for 2x fullness, double this number - and this should ideally be the width of your back tab curtains altogether.  

For example, if your pole is 100cm long, then doubling that figure to 200cm, we recommend ordering a pair of curtains with a panel width of (roughly) 100cm each, or a single panel close to 200cm.

This extra width is to ensure that the panels have enough fabric to form deep round pleats, and not look sparse or flat like a sheet. 

If you are working on a tight budget, or simply prefer a less full look for your curtains, you may go as low as 1.5x fullness resulting in less dense pleats, without compromising your drapery’s elegance heavily. 

However, we do not recommend going below 1.5x fullness for back tab top drapes because they may end up looking ‘stingy’ and hang like a flat sheet when drawn across the entire window.

In Closing


Back tab drapes


Creating a clean and seamless look on the front, back tab top curtains / hidden tab top window drapes are a great choice for any home, no matter what decor style you follow. From window-hugging light sheer curtains to light-blocking bedroom drapes and from decorative window frames to fully operational drapes,  back tabs present several design opportunities for a picturesque window. If back tab tops sync with your vision, head on to shop from our exquisite collection. The White Window’s drapery fabrics leave you with no dearth of choice - be it palette, pattern or fabric type. So, get to the best part - designing and shopping for your made-to-measure window drapes online!
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