How to hang curtains with hooks • Grand Little Place

How to Hang Curtains

A few months ago I was so frustrated with our curtains that I enlisted help. I had spent a small fortune on ready made curtains for the girls’ rooms and they just looked blah.

A friend of mine put me in touch with a professional who came over and showed me what I was doing wrong. The idea was there, but my execution fell short. We had used drapery hooks and clips, but to my surprise, a few too many.

I learned a lot of tips and tricks to hang curtains – like a professional. These are the simplest tweaks that make all the difference… making these ready made curtains look more like custom drapes. I’m so excited to share them with you!

Keep reading to learn how to hang curtains, tips about curtain lengths and how high and wide to go.


How to hang pencil pleat curtains?

You’ll hang pencil pleat curtains similarly to hanging pocket style curtains; however, I suggest having someone hold the curtain rod up into place with the rings and drapery attached to determine the *exact* placement of the hardware.

Generally, you want curtains to just barely kiss the floor (be about 1/4″ above the floor). This is very hard to calculate exactly without actually holding the drapery into place. Even if you’ve ordered a specific length, human hands make things, and very slight variances can occur. Better to be sure before drilling into your walls.

With pencil pleat curtains, there is some advantage because the drapery hooks can be adjusted slightly to get the height *just* right.

DIY Ikea Pleated Curtains from Grit & Polish
DIY Ikea Pleated Curtains from Grit & Polish

Step 3: Iron Hem In Place

(If your curtain is really wrinkled, go ahead and iron the whole thing now before proceeding.)

Place your curtain panel right-side down onto an ironing board or other heat-safe surface, with your pinned hem along the top. Fold the hem along the pin line wrong-sides together, as shown below.

Remove the pins and then use a hot iron (with stea

Remove the pins and then use a hot iron (with steam if needed) to make a crisp, clean fold line across the top of your panel.

TIP! I love using my Cricut Easy Press for curtain projects since the heat plate is so much bigger than an iron’s.

You’ve now technically hemmed your curtains!

You’ve now technically hemmed your curtains! But how does that fold stay in place? Remember, we made the hem at the top of the curtain panel (rather than the bottom), which means we can use our curtain rings to hold it in place!

Mind blown, yet?

Pin Hook Curtains

Pinhooks come in several types, points out The Home Digs. The simplest is the single- or double-pronged hook that is intended for use at the edges of your curtain panels. Pleated curtains alternate between gathered and flat areas, and usually have flat ones at each end. Multi-pronged pinhooks are used to create pleats by spreading the prongs out. For example, if you insert your prongs in every other vertical pocket on the pleating tape, the prongs gather the fabric in tight pleats. Skip two pockets for larger, looser pleats, and so on.

Purchase snap-open shower curtain rings and fit each one with a 1/2-inch metal ring like the type used to make jewelry. Slip the hook part of the pinhook through the small metal ring and slide the shower curtain rings over your curtain rod. Long-neck pinhooks have a hook set about 1/2 inch below the top of your curtain, while short-neck pinhooks have the hook set 1 inch to 2 inches below the top edge of the curtain to hide the traverse rod.

TIPS: How to Hang Curtains to Look like Custom Drapes

  • When in doubt, go high. I like to hang my rod six inches above the window. Use a stud finder and wall anchors to ensure your curtain brackets are secure and won’t tilt. In fact, many designers will suggest going all the way up to the ceiling. This lengthens the look of your windows visually!
  • Have the rod extend beyond the bracket. I tend to do 2-3″, not including the finial.
  • Add at least 10″ to each side of the window. It will make your window appear larger.
  • Use wide panels. A good rule of thumb is at least 50″, but for large windows I like to use 100″ wide panels. This will make them feel full. A common rule for curtains is that their finished width should be at least 2 times the width of your window for heavier fabrics such as velvet, and 2 times for sheer fabric… though this often applies to formal spaces.
  • Skim, kiss or puddle. Be diligent about your curtain lengths according to your window height. Hang curtains to skim 1/2″ above the floor for a casual look, 1″ longer than the floor for a kiss or 8+” longer for a puddle {I tend to puddle mine}.
  • Steam. This is my least favorite rule, but it makes a world of difference in how curtains lay and can offer a more custom appearance.

Types Of Drapery Hooks

There are several types of drapery hooks, and these are just some of them.

#1. Pin hooks

Pin hooks are just like a folded metal wire.

It has a sharp end and a curved hook in the other.

#2. Sew-on hooks

Sew hooks are similar to pin hooks, but the difference is the other end is to be inserted and sewed on the fabric.

#3. S- hooks

S-hooks are exactly as the name describes.

They are “S” shaped hooks that are usually made from metal plastic or wood.

This type of hook is most commonly used in shower curtains.

#4. Clip rings

Clip rings or Round Rings are designed to add a more detailed look to your curtain.

The clip is attached to the plastic loop and at the top of the curtain attached to the ring base.

It has a small eyelet ring and at the base of the ring.

The hook is to be inserted into the hole on your curtains.

Curtain Hanging Mistakes to Avoid

I’d rather have puddling curtains than curtains that are too short! My preferred look is curtains that rest about 1/8″ above the floor. However, puddling curtains are certainly luxurious and look fantastic! I just think of the cleaning though… :/

I see this ALL the time. Where the curtain rod measures the exact size of the window frame. You want your curtain rod to extend 8″-12″ beyond the window frame on either side. So if your window is 6′ wide, the curtain rod should be about 8′ wide. Remember, curtains are meant to accentuate and frame the window as well as filter or block light.

Usually if I see a curtain rod that isn’t wide enough, it’s installed too low. The curtain rod should be about 8″-12″ above the top of the window frame (unless the ceiling or crown molding prevents this – then just go as high as you can).

For designers, we talk in fullness and or stack width when it comes to drapery. Standard fullness is 200%, meaning you need 2x the amount of fabric as curtain rod length. Extra fabric is pleated in some sort of decorative way to make the drapery appear more full and luxe. Drapery fullness details. We also factor in stack width: this is the added width of a window treatment so that you can install the drapery slightly outside of the window frame so that it does not cover the window when the drapes are open. At a bare minimum, the curtains should be wide enough to cover the opening they are intended to cover when closed.

Converting Rod Pocket Draperies Into Flat Panel Draperies Using Rings

Rod pocket draperies can be converted to flat panel draperies. There are three points to keep in mind, however.


The drapery will lose some of its fullness. For example, a 50-inch wide flat drapery usually can cover about 24 to 28 inches of width when gathered. Yet, that same drapery will only cover about 15 to 24 inches of width once the rings are added. You can still dress it at the original 24 to 28 inch prior, but you’ll definitely notice that it appears to be more flat, especially on top. That’s because it will drape differently.

You’ll need to create deep, wave-like folds in between the rings, so more of the fabric will go into creating depth rather than width


The fabric may need to be reinforced. Since you’ll be pushing sharp metal pins directly into the fabric in the back of the drapery, you may wish to think about it first, or else the fabric may start tearing as you keep pulling on the drapes over time. If you have kids or pets, or the drapes are in a high traffic area in your home, then you’ll definitely need to at least think about it.

This usually isn’t a major problem with medium and heavier weight fabrics like linens or duck cottons, but you’ll definitely need to reinforce a thinner fabric like silks or faux silks. What I’m about to advise you isn’t the best advice, considering that it’s coming from a professional drapery maker, but you can always sew some standard header tape behind the top header and make sure it isn’t glaringly visible when looking at the drapery either from the room or street.

#3: The drapery will become longer. This is something anyone rarely complains about, but keep in mind that by adding drapery rings, the drapery will get longer by default, assuming the curtain rod stays put. For example, if the rings are about 2-1/2 inches wide and the pins are about 1/2 an inch down on the drapery, that means that the drapery will be hung 2 inches longer.

So, a floor-length drapery all of a sudden can have a modest 2-inch puddle. In fact, I happen to have pictures to show you what converting a rod pocket drape to a flat panel drape does, going from floor-length to a 2-inch puddle.

Before: Rod Pocket

After: Flat Panel Drapery

After: Flat Panel Drapery

Step 1: Hang Curtains Upside-Down

(This tutorial is going to assume your curtains are too long. If your curtains are the perfect length for your rod (when hung on the rings), you can skip Steps 1 – 3.)

Your first step is going to be to hang your curtains upside-down. (Trust me on this, it will make sense as you work through the tutorial!) At this point, you don’t need to place your clips perfectly, but you do want to space them fairly evenly and use the correct number for your desired pleat number and depth, as outlined above.

NOTE: Please ignore the grommets on the photo below…my panel IS technically hung upside-down because I will be “hemming” the non-grommet side.

Using Drapery Hooks

Drapery hooks are most commonly used with rods. I very much prefer using hooks instead of plain pockets.

It is easy to use and to replace.

Since tension and continuously opening and closing curtains could tear the curtain, these hooks can prevent them from happening.

How to hang curtains with drapery hooks?

Here are a few simple steps to attach the curtain to its drapery hooks.

#1. Rod pockets

When you decide to hang curtains using a rod pocket or already have a rod and decide to use curtain clips instead, you must find a hook that could fit your rod.

Curtain clips are what’s good for rods that tend to be thicker and bigger.

You can clip one end and hook the curtain with the other.

#2. Hidden tabs

Hidden tabs are a great way to hang panels while giving you a nice and neat look.

These hidden tabs can make your curtains look pleated.

The curtains are sewed at the back of the drapery panel, making the curtain appear floating.

Insider’s takeaway

When hung correctly, the right curtains not only play a role in controlling privacy, light, and heat, but also aesthetically contribute to a room’s overall look. Choosing the right type and size curtains depends on how you want them to function and on the dimensions of the room and window.

Ideally, curtains are long enough to just touch the floor when hung from a rod installed 3 to 6 inches above the window trim. Maximizing the height of curtains helps a room look taller. Remember to choose a curtain rod that extends past the width of the window to allow as much natural light inside as possible when the curtains are open.

Mari Herrema Associate Project Manager, Reviews Archive Mari is an associate project manager for the Archive team on the Reviews desk, where she works across multiple verticals to help maintain their ever-expanding archives. With experiences ranging from tech start-ups and film sets to coffeehouses and restaurant kitchens, Mari has an undying curiosity for understanding how things work and how to make that knowledge more accessible. When she’s not writing, editing, or analyzing data, Mari’s usually trying a new recipe, seeking out NYC cafes, or reading a romance novel. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in English Literature. Read more Read less


Leave a Comment