You bought a lovely pair of curtains fresh from the store. It took you weeks of deliberation to choose the right material and color, but you’re happy with how the curtains look. Well, mostly. You’ve waited patiently for the curtains to drop, but it just hasn’t happened yet. Do curtains typically drop after hanging? We've researched this to get the answer for you.
Your curtains may drop right out of the box, but more than likely, they will flare at the bottom. You need to train the curtains for three days to two weeks after unboxing them, so they take on a more appealing shape.
Training curtains? What does that mean? Don’t worry; in this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know so your curtains drop the way they should. We’ll also discuss how to fix stiff curtains and what the appropriate curtain length should be. You won’t want to miss it!
How to Train Curtains to Hang Appealingly
It’s the moment of the truth. Your curtains have come fresh out of the box, and you expect them to hang on the rod and look beautiful. That’s why it’s so disappointing when your curtains just sort of sit there, flaring at the bottom. As the name suggests, when your curtains flare, they’re wider at the bottom than at the top, sort of like flared jeans. This is quite unattractive and not at all what you envisioned when you unboxed the curtains.
You can get your curtains to hang just as you wanted, but you have to train them first. In this instance, training simply means gathering the curtains how you prefer them, securing them, and then letting them stay that way until the curtains sit like that naturally. Here’s how to train unruly curtains.
Step 1: Lay Curtains Flat
Lay your curtains out flat on your living room floor. Create folds with your hands, following the top pleats or gathers of your curtains. If you have pinch-pleat curtains, they will fold no problem, but you need to do more work with pencil pleats.
Step 2: Gather & Tie Curtains
Take some ribbon and tie the curtains at the top, the middle, and the bottom. If your curtains are especially long or thick, you can secure them at two points in the middle or the bottom. You want a firm tie here, but not so tight that you’ll crease the curtains.
Step 3: Steam Or Wait
You have two options. If you’re in a rush, then plug in a steam iron and use it on each section to get the pleats. You’ll have to repeat this for upwards of four days, then untie the curtains.
You can also just leave the curtains alone and wait for two weeks with no need to steam iron. By that point, when you release the curtains, after spending so much time tied, they should drop elegantly.
Are you training curtains for bay windows? Check out our post, What Curtains Look Best on Bay Windows?
Should You Wash New Curtains Before Hanging Them?
Another issue you can have when you first pull your curtains out of the box is that they look way too long. You’re not sure what happened, as you thought you had the right measurements, but your curtains drape too much.
Fortunately, a quick fix for this issue is to wash your curtains before you hang them up. Spending time in the washer (and perhaps the dryer depending on the material) will cause the curtains to shrink by half a foot in some instances. That goes for both the length and the width of the curtains. Don’t forget to iron your curtains too, as washing and tumble-drying can leave the fabric wrinkled.
How Do You Fix Stiff Curtains?
Oh, darn. You were thinking more about privacy and light saturation when you picked out your curtains. When they arrived on your doorstep, you realized the material you selected is awfully stiff. The curtains came out of the box, all crinkly and unmoving. What should you do?
Washing the curtains might help, so give that a try first. If not, some homeowners, like on this Hometalk forum, had success by washing their curtains on a rinse and spin cycle, then letting the washer fill with water. At that point, you should stop the wash cycle, open the lid, and add a cup of fabric softener. Turn your washer off and let the curtains soak in the fabric softener and water all night.
In the morning, close the lid and resume the wash cycle. If necessary, you can repeat this to decrease curtain stiffness even more.
Are you looking for more privacy at home? Please read, 4 Types of Curtains That Are Best for Privacy.
How Do You Gather Curtains Evenly?
We talked earlier about how you have to gather curtains when training them, so they drop right. Besides gathering according to your curtain's natural pleats, you also want to make sure the curtains are gathered evenly on both sides. Otherwise, you’ll want to start all over because your curtains won’t look right.
How do you gather your curtains, so they’re perfect from left to right? We’d recommend buying pinch-pleat curtains if you can. As we said earlier, gathering these curtains compared to curtains with pencil pleats or grommet tops is much less effort.
When gathering the curtains' tops, use the heading tape as your guide; it’s the part of the curtain near the top with several cords. By attaching the curtains to the heading tape, you get natural gathers at the top. A "gather" refers to how pleated the curtains are at the top, with one times the gather looking rather flat and three times the gather being quite pleated.
To gather the curtains' tops, take the three heading tape cords, loop them together, and tie them into a knot. Some curtains come with the cords attached on one side already, which saves you time.
On the other side of the cords, feed the curtains through, gathering the curtains as you do so. You want your gathered curtains to be half as long as the rod. When you’re finished, tie the cords on the other side. Rather than a tight, unyielding knot, you might want to do a slipknot style, so the knot comes undone when you want to remove the curtains someday and wash them.
Then, to gather the rest of the curtains by hand, follow the pleats you’ve formed at the top of the curtains. The instructions we outlined earlier in this article should help you get the pleats as you want them.
For a visual demonstration on how to gather pencil pleat curtains, watch the video below:
How Do You Weigh Down Curtains?
Several situations might call for you to weigh down your curtains. If the curtain material you bought is too billowy and loose, then even a slight breeze when the window is open might send your curtains flying.
If your curtains are polyester, training them per our earlier steps doesn’t always yield the desired results because polyester doesn’t train as easily as other curtain materials. By weighing down your polyester curtains, you can help them along, so you don’t have to spend four to six weeks at a time training them.
How do you weigh down a curtain? Buy a chain weight or a pennyweight, both of which are made for curtains. You can also use drapery weights like the 20-piece set below. Click here to see more on Amazon.
Should Curtains Touch the Floor?
If your curtains touch the floor, are they too long? That depends on your personal tastes. Some homeowners like the curtain puddling look. If that’s you, then yes, it’s perfectly fine if your curtains are that long. Just make sure you occasionally lift the curtains from the floor so you can clean them and what’s underneath.
A good compromise if you don’t want your curtains dragging on the floor is to have the curtains barely touch the floor. You might have to get your curtains hemmed to achieve this length. You can also try washing them to shrink them.
You can order your curtains, so they’re an inch above the floor as well, which is stylish. Going too much shorter than that can make your room look smaller, as the ceiling seem like it’s lower. To break that illusion, you’ll need longer curtains.
Curtains may drop right out of the box, but more often than not, you’ll have to train them to sit the way you want. Now that you know how to gather your curtains, what their ideal length should be, and how to treat stiff curtains, nothing is stopping you from having beautiful curtains all over the home!