THE #1 MISTAKE WHEN HANGING CURTAINS & DRAPERIES

The window coverings you’ve ordered have arrived! You’ve been dreaming of statuary pillars of beautiful fabric flanking your window.

Online shopping . Ooo, these are going to be beautiful!

Online shopping. Ooo, these are going to be beautiful!

You’ve carefully picked out the fabric and now they’re here, ready to hang on the rod. You excavate through the hoard of stuff in your basement to wrangle that ladder your husband stashed in the very back (that’s another post!), hang the drapes and step back.

Meh.

Meh.

Well, that was disappointing. Why don’t they look like the curtains in the catalog?

By the way, did you know that curtains and draperies are not one and the same? No, draperies are NOT the fancy way of saying curtains.

Curtains are unlined, usually thin window coverings while draperies are lined, usually made of heavy fabric.

The tip I’m about to share with you is SO SIMPLE, and yet of all the blogs and magazines I read, I’ve never seen it written. It’s something I’ve been doing to my curtains/draperies for years and only recently saw this video a workroom posted that gave it an actual term!

It’s called “fan folding.”

Screenshot (780).png

The single most important thing to do when hanging a curtain or drapery is fan folding before you put them on your rod. It doesn’t matter if you have store-bought curtains from Target or custom draperies. Ideally we could all get custom curtains or draperies made and the workroom would do this for us! But most of us are on a budget, including my clients, so this is a small, easy step that I include in my installations. Fan folding will improve the look of any window covering.

It couldn’t be simpler.

The curtains above are big rectangles of duck cloth, edges finished, fan folded and hung from rings. For an even more structured look, the top could be pleated but for this space, a slightly casual, simple fold worked.

The curtains above are big rectangles of duck cloth, edges finished, fan folded and hung from rings. For an even more structured look, the top could be pleated but for this space, a slightly casual, simple fold worked.

  • Lay the fabric out on a large work surface, front side up.

  • Find the top pleat and grab it and, following the pleat down, pinch the fabric, forming a fold all the way from the pleat to the bottom of the fabric. Make sure to include the lining, if any, when you pinch. Tuck that lead fabric down so the front side is facing the table. Run your hand down the fold you’ve made to make a gentle, neat crease.

Here, I’m making that first fold on regular back tab curtains. I’ve pinched the fabric the length of the curtain, starting at the rod end centered between the tabs, since it does not have a pleat built into it.

Here, I’m making that first fold on regular back tab curtains. I’ve pinched the fabric the length of the curtain, starting at the rod end centered between the tabs, since it does not have a pleat built into it.

  • Most store-bought window coverings do not have a pleat on the top but either a grommet top, pole pocket, or back tab. if you have grommet topped curtains, flip the first grommet over so the front side is facing down on the table and then fold the curtain and stack the next grommet on top of the first so the front side is facing you. Then form a crease just with your hand, from the grommet to the bottom of the fabric. For pole pocket curtains, ignore the pole pocket all together and get curtain rings and clips, like this or replace the clips with hooks like this (poke through the back of the fabric about a half an inch from the top of the drapery, being careful not to go through to the front). Because they have no pleats, you’ll have to measure the width of the curtain and decide where your “pleats” (just a fold) will go. I have found that folds 7-10 inches apart look best. You can use chalk to mark where your folds will go. Then, with the finished side of the fabric facing down, fold the fabric back over itself with the fold at the mark you’ve made. Fold the fabric from the top to the bottom and run your hand over the fold to make a crease. For curtains with back tabs, the fold will be exactly centered between two back tabs, so pinch centered between the two tabs down the length. Then fold that first edge under to create a crease down the length of the curtain with your hand. Back tab curtains could also be hung with curtain rings.

  • Repeat, pinching down the length of the fabric at the next pleat or fold location, and then pull the fold over to line up with the first fold’s edge.

You’re basically making an accordion fold through the entire window covering until it makes a neat stack.

Each crease doesn’t have to be perfect: it’s just to give the curtain or drapery a little memory of how to fold when hung. Make sure to run your hand over each fold to form a slight crease. If you hold the top or bottom of the stack, the folds should all be about the same length.

And that’s it! Hang them and steam each side of the crease you’ve made to remove any wrinkles (some wrinkles will fall out on their own over time with gravity’s help). Make sure to fan fold your curtains or draperies after cleaning, too.

Before and after fan folding, above—and on the simple back tab curtains, to show that even inexpensive curtains benefit from fan folding.

Some additional tips:

  • If using clips to hang those store bought pole pocket curtains, the teeth of the clips should go on either side of the fold, pinching the fold together, on the fold that will be closest to the wall. This way, the clip part of the ring is pretty much out of view when the curtain is hung.

  • It’s best to install the curtain rod higher and wider than the window. Most stores sell 84” tall panels which, 98% of the time (made that up, but, yeah, most of the time) are too low for your window! Hanging them high gives the window presence and draws the eye up, making your space feel, well, more spacious. Hanging them wide allows the curtains to frame out the window in a beautiful way, and allows the curtains to stack on each side of the window when not drawn without blocking the view or the light.


Give it try! It’s so easy, it seemed silly to write a post about it. However, it makes such a difference in the end result, It seemed worth sharing!








Joelle Somero2 Comments