Different Types of Curtain Tops & Headings Explained

Terry Baskeyfield | Posted

Curtains have been used to dress windows for hundreds of years. As the decades past the simple lengths of fabrics suspended from window openings to help keep rooms cool have evolved to compliment the various interior design styles we see today. Having a curtain to enhance your décor is an essential part of any interior, along with the right type of fabric and design your curtains also need to be hung in a style befitting your decorating motif. You'll also have to consider the weight of the fabric and the type of track or pole you wish to hang the curtains from to get the right look in the correct setting. Extra long curtains can be quite weighty, as such you'll need a substantial pole or track to hang them from. On the other hand voiles and sheers are extremely lightweight, so it's possible to hang them from narrow diameter poles and even tension wire. Let's take a look at 5 of the most popular types of curtain tops in more detail.

Pencil Pleat

Gold curtains and white voiles in a cream living room, with cream sofa Duck egg blue and grey pencil pleat curtains at a living room window Gold and dark red pencil pleat curtains at a living room window

Pencil pleat curtains are one of the most popular types of curtain tops. They offer a neat and tidy look to compliment the vast majority of decorating motifs. Due to their nature pencil headings can be found on virtually any weight of fabric, from the lightest voile panels to thick chenilles and damask fabrics. One of the great advantages of ready made pencil pleat curtains is that you are given the option of hanging them from poles and tracks to suit the style of your home. Traditionally pencil pleat headed curtains are hung from tracks. Clips fix to the heading tape at regular intervals and then the clip is snapped over the face of the track. The end result is curtains which hang with tidy pencil pleats which can be close together or spaced apart according to your needs. To achieve the desired gather you simply pull the cords which are threaded through the heading tape until the curtain is suitably adjusted. To hang pencil pleat curtains from a pole you use a different style of hook which attaches to the heading tape. The other end of the hook is them looped into a small eyelet screw which is attached to the bottom of a curtain ring. The rings are then slid over the pole to hang the curtains in place.

Slot Top/Rod Pocket

A bright white living room with white voiles at floor to ceiling windows White and green floral voiles covering a back door Bright green voiles at a living room window

Slot top or rod pockets are the simplest of all curtain headings. They don't have any heading tape or eyelets, they are simply threaded directly onto a narrow gauge curtain pole. These types of headings are most commonly seen on lightweight voiles, sheers and nets.


Cream eyelet voiles at a window in a dining room Cream and brown eyelet curtains with a brown patterned strip at across the top of the curtains Dark blue short eyelet curtains in a cream bedroom, with hot air balloons at the top

Eyelet curtains are designed solely to be used with poles. The eyelets are built into the top of the curtain itself. Eyelet curtains are very easy to hang, you simply thread the pole through each of the eyelets. The end result gives an equidistant gentle wave-like fold.

Tab Top

Teal voile curtains at a home office window, that also has white venetian blinds Red voile curtains at french garden doors in a living room White voile curtains at a living room french door opening out to a garden

Tab top curtains are made with tabs made from the same or contrasting pieces of fabric. Like eyelet curtains they require no pins or hooks to hang them, the pole is threaded through the tabs. Tab top curtains can be found in various weights of fabrics, however, due to the fact that the sit directly onto the pole it is essential to keep the pole completely smooth and dust free in order for the tabs to slide easily without snagging.

Pinch Pleat

A pair of cream curtains being hung on a dark wooden curtain pole Grey made to measure curtains at a window, with a wooden cream armchair in the middle of the window Cream made to measure curtains and grey roman blind at a living room window
Pinch pleat curtains are majestic and orderly. The pleats are made by pinching the fabric at equidistant intervals and sewn into place at the top of the curtain so that they always remain in exactly the same place. They are available in made to measure curtains with a choice of 3 inch or 6 inch distance pleats. They are ideal for formal rooms as they give a look of grandeur and style, although they look equally at home in modern houses too. Pinch pleat curtains are typically made from middle to heavy weight fabrics and usually come fully lined.

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