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Curtains Terminology

Portico Pleat Grommet Top Curtain Panels

So you can talk about curtains like a pro

Now that you're armed with information about types and lengths of curtains, let's look at the different styles available from The Vermont Country Store. Curtains come in a wide variety of styles, and are easy to layer or mix and match to create a variety of different looks.

Curtain Panels

Curtain panels are designed to cover at least the full length of a window. Typically mounted above and slightly outside the window frame, panel length curtains offer the most coverage and have the most impact on your room's aesthetic.

How they hang

Grommet Top

Featuring a series of rings along the top of the curtain panels, grommet top curtains fall into gentle folds. Grommet top curtains are extremely easy to add to almost any curtain rod, and slide along the rod much more smoothly than other styles.

Country Plaid Rod Pocket Curtain Panels with a header

Rod Pocket

Also known as pole top curtains, rod pocket tops are a classic way to hang curtains. With this style, a casing may be sewn on to the back of the curtain, or the hem at the top of the curtain is sewn in such a way as to create a pocket for the curtain rod to slip through. Rod pocket curtains hide the curtain rod they hang from.

Tab Top

Featuring an exposed loop of fabric at the top of the curtain, tab top styled curtains are a great way to show off a decorative curtain rod. This style of curtain hangs with a gentle fold, similar to a grommet top.

Pinch Pleat

Pinch pleat style curtains add an extra level of detail. Typically, this style of curtains features pleats or gatherings along the top hem, causing the curtain fabric to hang in tighter, more structured folds that relax slightly as you move down the length of the curtain. Pinch pleat curtains are hung using either pin hooks that pierce the fabric behind the pleat, or using clip rings. Hanging with pin hooks can be time consuming and will hide your curtain rod. Clip rings are easy to attach and allow you to show off a decorative curtain rod.

Hatfield Rod Pocket Curtain Panel and Scalloped Valance

Valances and Swags

Valances and swags, sometimes referred to as "window toppers," are designed to cover just the top of a window. Often thought of as a finishing touch, swags and valances can be layered over curtain panels or curtain tiers. They also look great over blinds, and even on their own. These styles come in a variety of different types:

Tailored valances:

Classic panel with clean, straight lines

Scalloped Valances:

Classic panel with soft, scalloped hem

Pleated Valances:

Tailored panel with added top pleats

Layered Valance:

Two layered panels of the same fabric

Tie-Up Valance:

Decorative panel with accent or adjustable ties

Bradford Valance:

Two fabric panels layered for contrast


Two piece top panel with longer, fluttery sides

White Wide Ruffle Tier Curtain with coordinating valance

How to Measure Valances and Swags

Measure from the top of the curtain rod to where you would like the valance or swag to end. Remember: the rod pocket measurement is included in the length.

Tier Curtains

Similar to valances and swags, tier style curtains are designed to cover only part of the window. Typically the curtain rod is mounted at the middle of the window height, and the tier curtain falls from there to the window sill. This style of curtain looks lovely on its own, but also works well paired with a valance to provide privacy without completely covering the window.

How to Measure Tier Curtains

Hang the curtain rod across the middle of the window. For length, measure from the top of the curtain rod to the windowsill. For width, order panels that are 1 1/1 to double the width of the window area.

For more easy tips on how to measure different styles of curtains, plus a free downloadable worksheet, visit our How to Measure page:

Essex Check Valances paired with Essex Toile Tier Curtains