Choosing a curtain heading style

You’ve decided on curtains. You may have even gotten as far as choosing your fabric. But have you thought about the heading style? This is how the curtains are pleated and sewn at the top. The heading style you choose will dictate how your curtains fall, which has a massive effect on the overall look and feel. Some are suitable for all rooms, while others work best in certain areas. So let’s go over some of the most commonly chosen options.

Neat, elegant and classic. The pencil pleat (named because the tightly packed folds look like a row of pencils) is the most common heading style. Pencil pleated curtains have a heading tape at the back with three cords running through it. Pulling the cords concertinas the fabric, knotting the cord holds the look in place. The heading tape also has three rows through which the hooks can go to adjust the hanging height. Pencil pleat curtains can be hung on either a track or rod and rings. The relaxed and classic look of the pencil pleat makes it suitable for any room.

Pinch pleat

There are lots of variations of the pinch pleat. Like the name suggests, folds of fabric are pinched and tacked together (facing outwards into the room) to create a stylish heading and even waves in the hanging curtain. The pleats are created by making folded creases in the stiff material at the back (this is called buckram); hooks are then inserted and the curtain can be hung on a track or rod and rings. Pinch pleated curtains can hang on tracks but look so much more elegant on a rod.

  • The single pleat is classic and economical, and ideal for small spaces and patterned fabric.
  • The double pleat achieves a contemporary feel, whilst maintaining fabric efficiency. The finished look is full, smart and elegant.
  • The triple pleat (also called a French pleat) is a very formal heading style and creates an opulent, full curtain. It does require more fabric to achieve. This look is suitable for any room, but with such a decorative heading why not choose it for a room where it can be admired often.

Something to factor in with a pinch pleat, is that the greater number of pleats, the wider they stack to the side when open, simply because there is more fabric.

Escape by Russells Designer Range

Reverse pleat

Also known as a box pleat or inverted pleat, the pleat is hidden at the back of the curtain rather than the front. This heading style creates deep folds down the length of the curtain. It is best saved for full-length curtains as it can make shorter lengths look too bulky. Also, ensure there is ample room on either side of the window to accommodate this larger stack back. - The reverse single pleat lends itself to a beautiful, minimalistic look, creating an illusion of fullness whilst requiring only minimal fabric. - The reverse double pleat, when paired with contemporary fabric, establishes a clean, minimalistic look.

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Paris wave

Designed by Russells Curtains and Blinds, the Paris Wave heading style combines and inverted pleat with a rounded front like a wave pleat, giving the curtain a soft and full appearance.

Eyelet heading

Tailored with a European influence, the eyelet heading style is gaining in popularity for its contemporary look and low maintenance operation. The eyelets (metal edged holes) run along the top of the curtain. These then thread over a rod and slide along to open and close. The even spacing of the eyelets allows the curtain to hand in very loose, soft folds, creating a wave-like effect. A great if you’re opting for a bold pattern as it won’t be greatly interrupted by pleats.

To add a little something extra to this heading style, choose decorative hardware and turn the top of your curtains into a design feature.

This style is best used in living spaces over bedrooms as they do allow more light to enter a room than a tight pleat.

Eyelet curtains are also quick and simple to hang as there’s no fussing with hooks, and they’re easy to take down and clean.

Aruba by James Dunlop in Jungle

Tab top pleat

This is the most simple of curtain systems. Tab top curtains have a fabric loops evenly spaced across the top through which the curtain rod is fed. The drawback of this heading style is that they are not the smoothest to open and close so is best used on lightweight fabrics, sheers that are rarely opened or decorative drapes that are rarely closed.

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