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Curtain Headings: It's Important To Know Your Swag

Curtain Headings: It's Important To Know Your Swag

So, you know you need them, you’ve heard they’re quite pricey and thus have saved up.  Let’s choose a colour.

Why curtain headings are important to interior decorators

Curtains. Not so fast.

Selecting the fabric is definitely the most exciting part of getting new curtains, but an often overlooked element of your very expensive curtains will determine whether they are the perfect backdrop or finishing touch to the room you envisioned.  

Before you visit your favourite fabric house, decorator or highly referenced curtain maker, prepare yourself by getting familiar with the type of curtain heading you have in mind for your room.

Having the angry curtain maker (I don’t know why so many of them are angry) spew a bunch of pleat names at you can be very intimidating and may cause you to end up with the wrong one if you’re too afraid to ask, again, for the third time, what the difference is.
Curtain Headings Chart by Tassels & Tigers Interiors

Curtain Headings. Have fun with them.

There are quite a number of different headings, and even variations on those, but we’re just going to have a quick look at the most popular ones.  Each one will give your space a different feel or level of formality, so It’s important to consider the heading when selecting fabric. 

Pelmet, Valance, Swag & Tail

Not technically curtain headings, but worth mentioning in terms of the formality of window dressings.  Not many people opt for any of these dressings these days, due to added effort, cost and formality.  But there’s no reason why they can’t look beautiful in the right home, made from the right fabrics.

Pelmets form closed boxes at the top: images 1 and oh-how-pretty-is-2!?

Valances are just decorative add-ons: image 3

Swags & Tails can be modern (images 4), without tails (image 5), or very smart with tails (image 6).


This is right up there in terms of formality. Depending on how large the goblets are however, and how formal the fabric used, they can be made to look a little less dramatic and more romantic.

Box Pleat

Also sometimes called inverted pinch pleat.  It has straight lines, as the name indicates, is quite formal and not popular at the moment.  It also comes in a double and triple box pleat.

Pinch Pleat (Double & Triple too)

Single pinch pleat is one of the most simple and popular curtain headings and can be hung on either a rod or railing.  Having said that, it can get quite a bit more formal when you add a second or third pleat.

The triple pinch pleat is often adorned with contrasting buttons or folds, providing a lot of opportunities to add small details without looking put on… which is why it is our favourite.

Wave Tape & Concealed Tab Top

Wave tape is a simple, elegant choice for curtains and is very popular because it can be quite masculine and when done right (and from the correct, stiff fabric) fold perfectly like rows of neatly folded handkerchiefs. Here are some wave tape curtains we made for a client.

Another heading type that looks similar, but is less precise and works with a different type of band, is the concealed tab top (images 3 and 4).


Probably one of the most popular curtains at the moment. Most ready-made curtains are sold with eyelets. They look very similar to wave tape (if a tad less formal), but are much easier to hang and take down.  They are popular for sheers, but can also get dressed up wit some velvet or shimmer.  These eyelet curtains we made came out perfectly!

Pencil Pleat

When store bought curtains don’t come with eyelets, this is probably the heading they come with. They're simple and sweet, though they may start to look untidy after a while of opening and closing. Pencil pleat curtains are able to run on a track (image 1) or a rod (image 2) and are called Cottage Pencil Pleats when they have frills at the top (image 3).

Tab Top

Another popular one - neither too masculine nor too feminine.  It usually creates a relaxed atmosphere and is also often used for sheers.  Due to the fact that it is so simple to make, the tab top curtain often gets a fun twist.  

We hope you found this information helpful.   It’s worth getting the basics right before having oodles of fun with rolls and rolls of fabric, knowing that your money will be well spent. 


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