Deciding between back tab and rod pocket curtains? Not sure which one to choose?

Let’s take a look at what they are and which is better.


What’s a Rod Pocket Curtain?


A rod pocket curtain is a curtain that is gathered on a curtain rod through a rod pocket.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need a rod pocket that’s twice the diameter of your curtain rod. For example, a 1-1/2-inch curtain rod will typically fit through a 3-inch rod pocket.

These types of curtains aren’t tailored and are a casual way of simply gathering a curtain panel on a simple rod.

Take a look at the examples below –

The tighter the fit, the better the shirring will look. In other words, leaving too much space between a rod pocket and curtain rod won’t give you the rich, shirred effect shown in the examples below.


Example shown: Antelope in Port Rod Pocket Curtain Panels


Example shown: Peacefulness in Luna Rod Pocket Curtain Panels


What’s a Back Tab Curtain?


Back tab curtains have tabs sewn on the back, creating a wavy form when viewed from the front.

This is a more tailored look as opposed to the rod pocket curtain that’s just shirred on a rod.

The same rules apply here as well – the size of the tabs can be up to twice the size of the diameter of your curtain rod . For example, a 1-1/2-inch diameter curtain rod requires 3-inch long tabs in the back.


Example shown: Peacefulness in Luna Back Tab Curtain Panels


Example shown: Antelope in Dark Peacoat Back Tab Curtain Panels


Should I Choose Rod Pocket or Back Tab Curtains?

Neither is better than the other, so the decision is up to your own preference.

However, here are a few things to consider:

  • A rod pocket curtain that’s shirred on a rod is best as a tight fit around a rod. While this may look better, it will also make your curtains more difficult to move. If you need to constantly open and close your curtains, choose a looser fit around your curtain rod.
  • Back tab curtains have a wavy form that each back tab creates, but the fabric first must be “trained”. Don’t expect your back tab curtains to immediately fall into their wavy shape. After unpacking, create your curtains’ form, then give the fabric a week to memorize it.
  • Both back tab and rod pocket curtains will ride up on a curtain rod after hanging. Depending on how thick your curtain rod is, this may mean adding an extra 1/4″ to 1/2″ when measuring from top of rod to floor. It also means that the typical 84-inch length curtains will be too short for most typical builder grade windows if you want a floor length curtain to look properly.
  • Only the rod pocket curtains will be able to wrap around the sides of your curtain rod. If you need to have your curtains wrap around towards the wall or have a curtain rod with a deliberate projection, you won’t be able to do that with back tab curtains. You can read more about projections here.

Hopefully, this blog post was helpful. Check out all our custom curtain panels.

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