Curtain heading styles: What you need to know

There are many things that define the design of your curtains – from the shape and size of your windows to your choice of fabric. But one of the most overlooked factors is the impact your choice of curtain heading has on the look of your window treatments.  

It’s maybe not the most obvious design element, hiding at the top of the curtain or even behind a pelmet. But while it’s a functional part of your curtains, it has great potential as a decorative element as well. 

So, let’s have a look at the different curtain heading styles you can choose from!

Curtain heading styles for your home

The choice of curtain heading depends mostly on whether you have a more formal or informal style in mind. Do you want the fabric to hang in really nice folds or are you looking for something a bit more relaxed?

Other factors are the amount of fabric you have available, how much bulk you want your curtains to have and what size of window we’re looking at. 

It’s also important to take your choice of fabric into account, especially if it has a pattern. For example, if you have a regular vertical pattern, your curtainmaker may recommend following the pattern when placing the pleats. Otherwise, the pattern will start moving across the curtains in a random way and your curtains could end up looking unbalanced.

And don’t forget about trimmings. There are a lot of possibilities to add interest from contrast sewing, pinching the top of the pleat, adding buttons for contrast at the bottom of the pleats or embellishing the curtains with a narrow contrast border at the top of the pleats.

Single, double & triple pleats

These are very popular and versatile curtain heading styles. The type of heading you choose for your curtains depends on the look you’re going for. But also on the amount of space you have available. 

A triple pleat curtain, for example, takes up a lot more room on the track or pole than a single pleat. This is because more fabric is put into each pleat to create fullness in the folds. This can look really luxurious, though you may lose more light when your triple pleat curtains are open as the extra fabric takes up more space. 

Triple pleats are also the most formal style of the available curtain headings. If you’re looking for a less formal look, you might want to go for double or single pleats instead. Single pleats offer a particularly elegant, streamlined look, stack back neatly and work very well for softer fabrics.

Double and triple pleats are particularly suited to traditional or period properties with (Edinburgh-sized) sash windows. The more formal pleat emphasises the folds in the fabric which is great for taller ceilings.

Single pleat curtains are the perfect choice for sleek and contemporary homes and they work well with bifold doors or a large wall of glass. This style also works very well under pelmets, whether in a contemporary setting or a traditional bay window.

Wave, pencil pleat & more

Other styles you can choose from are wave headings, pencil pleats or a cottage heading. Wave curtains are ideal for giving modern homes a contemporary, clean minimalist look. They look great across a big expanse of glass such as bifold doors and stack back tightly onto a small wall space.

And cottage headings, while perfect for small cottages, are also a good fit for young girls’ rooms. The frill at the top of the curtain adds a relaxed and informal look (without looking twee) and you can easily keep the curtains when your daughter’s room becomes a guest bedroom.

If you’re looking for a simple contemporary style, cartridge pleats might be for you. The single fold at the top gives your curtains a rounded finish and they’re a great choice for fabrics with large and distinctive patterns.

A pencil pleat tape heading is for you if you’re looking for a more informal, less streamlined style. The heading uses tape, which is machine sewn on. The strings in the tape are drawn up to create pencil-like folds – hence the name! It comes in two different widths, with the 3-inch tape being perfect for shorter curtains and the 6-inch tape a good choice for a crisper look. 

This heading is very unobtrusive and so is used a lot for voile curtains, particularly when the voiles sit behind the main curtains.

The only thing to keep in mind is that with pencil pleat tape, it’s difficult to get elegant folds in the curtains and you can’t control how the pattern falls.

Want to find out more? Get in touch for a free, no-obligation consultation!