Window coverings are often one of the first DIY home décor projects people attempt. And rightly so; they’re usually simple panels with just a few hems – fast, easy, and so much more affordable than off-the-shelf options. However, figuring out how best to hang those pretty panels can be more of a challenge. We found three drapery tape options that solve the most common hanging alternatives: Rod Loop Tape, Clip Ring Tape aka Wave Curtain Tape, and Iron-On Shirring Tape. We made a mini sample to test each product and were quite happy with how quickly everything went together. Read on to find out more. And you know that blank window you’ve been staring at for months? It could have its very own curtain in no time at all.
This article is all about the finishing steps for hanging your curtains. If you are brand new to making a curtain panel, check out one or more of the links below. We explain the formulas for determining cut width and length, how to handle linings, and the standard options for hemming as well as stabilizing the top of a panel.
A few S4H curtain projects – click here for our full Curtains Category:
Each of the these drapery tape options is the final step in a curtain project, which means you’ve already hemmed the sides, bottom, and top of your panel(s).
The only thing to keep in mind is that most Rod Loop Tape is nearly 4” wide and most Clip Ring Tape is about 3¼” to 3¾” wide. In either of these cases, you’d want a top hem that is at least 4” deep.
The Shirring Tape is usually just over 1” wide, so it can be used with both wider and narrower hems.
Rod Loop Tape
This is probably the most versatile option of the three since many people have either flat or round curtain rods begging for a curtain panel.
If you make your own curtain panel, you can easily leave both ends of the top hem open and simply slide the panel onto the rod. So, why would you even need this type of drapery tape? We’re so glad you asked.
With the Rod Loop Tape acting as the “channel” for the rod, the top hem can be fully sewn closed giving the top of the curtain panel maximum stability. In fact, with many décor weight fabrics, this traditional deep, double hem will probably be all that’s needed to keep the top of the curtain panel straight and stable. Even with lighter weight fabrics, a single layer of Header Tape would be enough to properly stiffen the top edge when using a Rod Loop Tape.
In addition, the loops of the Rod Loop Tape are evenly spaced, which means when your panels are pushed open, the resulting gathers will be even. When you just have an open channel in the fabric, it is much harder to get a pretty flow along the top of a panel, and if there’s more than one panel, the gathers are never even from one panel to the next. Rod Loop Tape can solve this problem. And, as shown below, it’s easy to pleat the tape to get an exact fit.
- Cut the tape 7½” longer than the finished width of your curtain panel. Pin the resulting length of tape to the top edge of the curtain. Center the tape within the hem, and adjust side to side so the first loop is about 1” in from the left edge.
- When you reach the opposite side edge, the last loop should be within 2½” of the side hem. If it’s not, simply unpin and fold the tape into small pleats between the loops, removing ease until the tape fits correctly and lays flat.
- When the tape is properly adjusted left to right, trim the tape 1” beyond each side hem.
- Fold under these 1” ends so the folded end of the tape sits just inside the side hem of your curtain panel.
- Stitch the tape in place along all edges: top, bottom, and sides.
- Gather up the panel and remove the pins.
- Slide the panel onto the rod and hang.
Clip Ring Tape
Clip Ring Tape aka Wave Pocket Tape is applied in a very similar manner to the Rod Loop Tape.
There are usually two rows of little “pocket/loops.” Either row can be used. The difference is how close you want the top of your panel to the rod, in other words, how much of the clips you want to show. The pocket/loops themselves are evenly spaced. The original Clip Ring Tape we used for our sample had rows close together near the top. You’ll also find many tapes with one row along the top of the tape and another row near the bottom.
We are showing our sample with traditional clip rings – a favorite decorative look. This type of drapery tape can also be used with standard pin-on drapery hooks.
- Cut the tape 4” longer than the finished width of your curtain panel. Pin the resulting length of tape to the top edge of the curtain. Center the tape within the hem, and adjust so the first pocket/loop is about 1” in from the left edge.
- When you reach the opposite side edge, the last pocket/loop should be within 1½” of the side hem. If it is not, just as above with Rod Loop Tape, simply unpin and fold the tape into small pleats between pocket/loops, removing ease until tape fits correctly and lays flat.
- Trim the Tape 1” beyond each side edge. Fold under the ends so the folded edge sits just inside the side hem.
- Stitch in place along all edges: top, bottom, and sides.
- Attach the clip rings into either the top or bottom row of pockets. If you use the top row, it allows space between the top of the curtain panel and the rod.
- If you use the bottom row, the top of the curtain is likely to just touch the rod and hide the hook completely.
- As mentioned, the spacing between the pocket/loops on most tapes is even. Our sample tape was set at 1½”, so we found it was best to clip the outermost rings into position first and then the center ring. Once those rings are placed, use your tape measure to evenly position the other rings. The spacing may not be able to be exact, but with a pocket/loop every 1½” or less, you can come very close.
- Slide the the rings onto the rod and hang.
Iron-On Shirring Tape
This is a Dritz® product can be used for curtains as well as other situations, such making a fabric hiding panel for the front of a cabinet or along the base of a counter. We didn’t find it from other manufacturers, but it could exist.
As mentioned above in the section on the Rod Loop Tape, you may wonder why you would need this product if you can simply make a channel with the top hem of your panel. When slipped onto a rod, especially with a narrow channel for a tight fit, the channel itself will “gather” when pushed open. You are right, and this is certainly a viable option. But the cool thing about the Dritz Shirring Tape is that your gathers stay in position.
Once you pull the cords to your desired width, the cord is knotted at both ends, and the width is secured. This is very handy if the window or other opening is an unusual size and/or if you rarely want to open or close the covering. You can use a single panel, gather it to the exact width, hang the panel, and it will stay as-is.
You could also use it for other projects that require a lot of gathering, such as bed or crib skirts.
- The panel should be prepared and hemmed in a similar manner to the samples above. As mentioned in the introduction, the Shirring Tape is much narrower so you don’t need to have as deep a hem the way you do with the Rod Loop Tape or Clip Ring Tape. We used a deep hem for our test to keep all the samples consistent, but we could have gotten away with just a narrow 2” hem.
- Center the tape, adhesive side down, on the wrong side of the top hem.
- Lightly pin in place across the entire width.
- Pull the cords out of tape at the side edges. Cut away the excess tape to just inside the side hems of the panel, but do not cut the cords.
- With a dry iron on the “Wool” setting, press the tape in position for just about 10 to 15 seconds in each area. Continue along length of tape until it is completely fused.
- At one end, knot the cord ends together.
- Pull the cords from the opposite end to gather (shirr) the tape.
- When the panel is gathered to the desired width, knot the cords you used to pull with.
- Adjust gathers evenly across the panel.
- We left the sides of our top hem open in order to allow the shirred panel to slide onto a rod.
- It worked just as well to attach clip rings because the gathers don’t shift. We could have also used pin-on hooks.