Ring top draperies are a welcome upgrade to standard rod pocket draperies. Not only will the drapes look more luxurious and tailored, but they’ll also slide on the curtain rod much, much easier. But you may be wondering how exactly drapery rings work.

It’s actually quite simple.

You just hang them from a metal pin that’s in the back of the drapery. Some drapery rings also have built-in clips, allowing you to hang the drapes without needing to insert pins into the fabric. So, let’s take a look at some examples and cover some design rules.


Pin Placement and Its Importance

Usually, a standard drapery ring has a small metal loop at the bottom. Some also have a clip attached to them.


Pay attention to the metal loop – this is where most people make a major design faux pas. This metal loop has to be hidden from view. For that reason, many workrooms will insert the metal pin about half an inch below the top of the drapery (3/8 inches if you want to be exact, although our workroom prefers them even lower).


That way, the header looks neat like this. All you see is the wooden drapery ring, not the other metal parts that are below it.


The correct way to hang drapery rings. Light blue Euro pleat drapery.


When you turn the drapery over, you’ll notice the metal pins and drapery rings being spaced out, usually right under each pleat of the drapery.


Our pinch pleat drapes from the front…


The same pinch pleat drapery viewed from the back.


What About Clip-On Rings?

Clip-on rings are fine, just keep in mind that the clips will be exposed and clearly visible. This creates a larger gap between the rod and drapery than the method mentioned above does.


Spa Scroll Drapery Dining Room

Draperies with clip-on rings.


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



What Size Drapery Rings Do You Need?

There is no set rule on just what size the drapery rings need to be, but it’s always a good idea to think about scale and proportion. A drapery that’s hung 9 feet from the floor may do just fine with 2-1/2-inch diameter rings and a 1-3/8-inch diameter drapery pole. This is what we used for the cream and black drapes above, as well as the light blue Euro pleat drapes pictured at the beginning of this post.

But if the drapery is hung high up in a two-story living room and is a whopping 240 inches long, you may need to upgrade the size of the hardware. The hardware will be further away and harder to see, not to mention that it may look out of proportion compared to the extra long drapes.

More fabric also means more weight that needs to be supported, so the hardware will need to be substantial, too.


And Don’t Forget – the Last Ring Must Be Secured

When hanging your drapes, remember that the outermost drapery ring on each side must be sandwiched in between the finial and bracket. Drapery folds can take a while to form and train, and some fabrics seem to have a mind of their own, no matter how much you try to adjust them.

Your drapery should only move where and when necessary as you open and close it. Securing the last ring in place will help with that.


Need help figuring out what size your drapery needs to be? Check out our measuring guide (includes calculator and worksheet).

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