The Complete Guide to Back Tab Curtains (Steps + Tips)

If you’re looking to update the look of your windows with a contemporary style, back tab curtains are an elegant and easy option. Back tab curtains feature small tabs sewn onto the back top edge, allowing you to slide the drapes directly onto a rod without any need for old-fashioned curtain rings or grommets.

With their smooth, undulating folds, back tab curtains offer a clean, modern aesthetic perfect for today’s homes. Their innovative tab design also ensures the curtains hang beautifully and evenly. Read on to learn all about what back tab curtains are, where to find them, how to install them yourself, and design ideas to help you make the most of this fresh new curtain style.

What Are Back Tab Curtains?

Back tab curtains get their name from the tabs or loops sewn onto the reverse top back side of the curtain panel. These small tabs, usually made of fabric or sometimes metal, allow the curtains to effortlessly slide onto a curtain rod without requiring any rings, grommets, or other hardware.

The tabs keep the drapes nicely stacked and prevent them from bunching or sliding around on the rod. This allows the curtains to hang cleanly for a smooth, refined look. The tabs are evenly spaced, typically 5-8 inches apart, to distribute the weight smoothly across the rod.

Key Features and Components

Here are the main components that make up back tab curtains:

  • Back tabs – The small fabric or metal loops sewn onto the back top edge of the curtain panel.
  • Rod pockets – Channels sewn into the header tape to slide onto the curtain rod.
  • Header tape – Sturdy top hem into which the rod pockets are sewn.

Difference from Regular Curtains

Unlike regular curtain panels that require curtain rings or grommets threaded onto a rod, back tab curtains are revolutionary in their hassle-free installation. The tabs eliminate the need for any hardware other than the rod itself. This enables the curtains to elegantly cascade in fine, smooth folds.

In addition to being easier to install, back tab curtains also have an updated, contemporary look. While grommets can feel dated, the tabs have a streamlined, almost futuristic aesthetic. Back tabs work with a variety of styles and materials, fitting today’s modern sensibilities.

Benefits of Back Tab Curtains

There are many advantages to choosing back tab curtains for your home’s windows:

back tabs for curtains

Streamlined, Modern Aesthetic

With theirnear invisible hanging system, back tab curtains have an incredibly clean, refined look. The small tabs tuck neatly behind the folds, almost disappearing from view and allowing the drapes to cascade smoothly.

Allows Curtains to Hang Evenly

The tabs along the top edge distribute the weight perfectly so the curtains hang beautifully. This prevents issues like bunching or uneven spots you can get with regular curtain rings.

Easy to Install

Just slide the rod through the built-in pockets and you’re done! No need to painstakingly thread countless little rings onto the rod. Installation is a breeze with back tabs.

No Special Hardware Needed

Aside from a standard curtain rod, back tab curtains don’t require any specialty brackets, rings, or grommets. The tabs handle everything, making setup simple.

Versatile for Any Curtain Style

Back tabs work with all kinds of curtain designs and materials like linen, velvet, cotton, faux silk, and more. Pretty much any style of drape can be fashioned with back tabs for an updated look.

Where to Buy Back Tab Curtains

You have several options when it comes to finding back tab curtains:

Ready-Made Panels

Many major retailers sell pre-made back tab curtains ready to hang. These include online stores like Pottery Barn and West Elm as well as brick-and-mortar shops like Target and Walmart. Amazon also carries a range of ready-made back tab curtain panels in various sizes, colors, and materials.

Custom from Interior Designer

Hire an interior designer to create fully customized drapes with back tabs suited to your exact windows and decor style. While pricier, this option allows for a truly one-of-a-kind look.

Make Your Own DIY Panels

For the budget-conscious DIYer, sewing your own back tab curtains is a smart way to save. You can choose from any fabric and fully control the sizing and tab specifications.

How to Make DIY Back Tab Curtains

Making your own back tab curtains takes some sewing skills but isn’t too difficult with these steps:

Choose Curtain Fabric

Pick out your favorite curtain fabric, taking into account durability, light filtering needs, and style. Linen, cotton, velvet, faux silk, damask, and more all work beautifully for back tabs.

Determine Curtain Dimensions

Measure your window carefully to calculate the finished width and length you need your custom panels to be. Add several extra inches to account for shrinkage and hems.

Sew Top and Bottom Hems

Finish the top and bottom edges with neat hem allowances. A double-folded hem provides extra strength along the bottom. The top hem will hide the header tape.

Fold and Press Sides

With right sides together, fold the curtain sides over and press to form an even edge. This gives a crisp, clean look.

Make and Sew On Back Tabs

Cut your chosen tab fabric into strips about 2 inches wide x 8 inches long. Fold in half lengthwise. Space tabs evenly every 5-8 inches across the curtain back top and pin in place. Sew tabs with reinforced stitching.

Attach Header Tape

Insert sturdy header tape along the top back edge to form the rod pocket. Sew this in place just above the tabs.

Iron and Hang

Give your finished panels a final ironing, slide them onto the rod through the rod pockets, and enjoy your DIY back tab curtains!

Tips for Installing Back Tab Curtains

Installing back tab curtains is a breeze, but keep these tips in mind:

Use Appropriate Curtain Rod

Check the rod diameter – 1 3/8″ rods work best. Extend the rod at least 4″ past the window on each side for a professional look.

Ensure Walls and Rod Are Even

Shim mounting brackets to correct any uneven spots. Uneven walls or rods will prevent the curtains from hanging properly.

Follow Included Directions

Use the specific spacing, placement, and hardware recommended by the manufacturer for ideal hanging.

Evenly Space and Place Tabs

Distribute the tabs at equal intervals across the rod. Don’t bunch them too close together.

Check Curtains Hang Smoothly

Examine from all angles to ensure even, consistent draping. Adjust tabs or rod placement if needed.

Design Ideas and Styling Back Tab Curtains

Back tab curtains offer versatility in both design and decor. Consider these style ideas:

Materials That Work Well

The clean lines of back tabs pair nicely with linen, cotton, velvet, faux silk, chiffon, damask, and other fabrics. Try textured or patterned materials for visual interest.

Styling Tips

  • Layer with gauzy sheer curtains to soften the look.
  • Add coordinating trim or contrasting ribbon to customize tab color.
  • Mix in other window treatments like roman shades or roll-up bamboo blinds.

Rooms to Use Them In

Back tab curtains bring a modern update anywhere, but work especially well in:

FAQs about Back Tab Curtains

Do they work with any rod?

Back tabs work best with standard 1 3/8″ diameter rods. Larger rods may be too wide to easily slide through the pockets.

How do you clean them?

Check fabric care instructions, but most can be gently machine washed and air dried. Steam or iron on low heat if needed.

Can you iron back tab curtains?

Yes, iron on a low heat setting to avoid damaging the fabric or tabs. Insert a cloth between the tabs and iron plate.

What if my walls aren’t even?

Shim mounting brackets with tape or hardware to create an even surface. Uneven walls will make the curtains hang unevenly.

How wide should the panels be?

For proper draping, panels should be 2-3 times the width of the window. However, very wide curtains may require additional support.

Back tab curtains offer an updated look perfect for contemporary homes. They provide hassle-free installation with a smooth, elegant silhouette. Follow the steps to easily make your own back tab curtains in any fabric or style. You’ll be amazed at the beautiful transformation back tab curtains can make in finishing off your home’s decor.

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