How to hang drapes so they look their best

If you've made up your drapes or bought some ready made, you'll want to hang them so they look good. This section on how to hang drapes shows you how to do just that.

Limit the number of hooks you use

One of the classic mistakes made is to have too many hooks or drapery pins in your headings. This will have two effects.

  1. The drapes won't be able to hang in regular, neat folds.
  2. They won't pull back very well into the stackback space on either side of the window.

You'll only need about four hooks per foot (4 per 30cms). Having about 3½" (9.0cms) between them is quite enough. Usually you only need 4" (10.0cms).

For hand sewn headings constructed with buckram such as goblet or triple pleat, the hooks are fixed on the back of the pleats themselves. This will often mean that your hooks are anything up to 5"-6" (13.0-15.0cms) apart for deep headings.

For machine sewn headings which have regularly spaced pleat, do the same and fit the hooks on the back of each pleat.

Check the length and heading

Hanging drapery correctly means making a few checks.

Is the heading size correct?

Pull your drapes together to make sure they meet with some spare take-up in the heading. The heading shouldn't be tight with a tendency to pull back from the center.

If your track has an overlap feature, make sure the drapes overlap as they should, again with spare take-up in the headings.

Is the length correct?

If you've done you calculations correctly, the drapes will finish just above the floor as planned. If they touch in one or two places, you may need to raise the track or pole to adjust this. Or you could remove the drapes and reduce the length at the hem.

Always make sure the drapes are hanging correctly by gently pulling on the hem. This will make sure the hooks are supporting the drapes as they should.

(It's also surprising how often you find pins remaining in the hem which you forgot to remove!)

Adjust the pleats

hanging drapes with tall headings

Drapery folds have to form on the front of the track.

There are two ways drapery can be hung.

  1. Regular, evenly spaced pleats.
  2. Irregular, 'natural' pleats.

Irregular pleats are a style which some people prefer. Once the hooks have been inserted into the runners, the drapes are left to hang as they are. Some folds will be larger than others, but they are left as long as they all hang more or less vertically.

Regular pleats are where the folds are evenly spaced as much as possible.

In the first illustration the heading prevents the folds from being able to form behind the track. So make the folds form outwards between the hooks as shown.


hanging drapes with small headings

When drapery folds can go to the front and back, the folds can be deeper and allow the drapes to pull back into a smaller space.

In the second illustration the heading lies below the bottom of the track and so the folds can go behind as well as in front.

Notice how this affects the folds. They can be much deeper, which in turn means the bulk of the drape will take up less room when they are pulled back. (Compare A in the first illustration with B in the second.)

You may find that because of your track or pole construction that your drapes form regular folds as soon as you hang them. If not, then you have the option to adjust them.


Drapes with unruly folds

Sometimes you'll find that when you set your drapery in the stackback space, the folds don't stay in place. This usually happens when using stiff fabric, and you find they spring out and look untidy.

Tear off some strips of lining or old fabric to form ties, and tie the drape folds loosely in place. Don't have them so tight that creases are formed.

Leave the drapes like this for a few days, and by then they should have got used to hanging correctly.

How to hang drapes so they look their best

Doing these simple checks will ensure your drapes look their best. It would be a shame to spend all that time, money and effort and not make your drapery look its best!

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