You might have come across a valance that’s being sold as a “rod pocket” or “pole pocket” valance. In fact, the majority of valances are sold with a rod pocket. Only once you enter the realm of custom window treatments does a rod pocket valance become less common.
But what is a rod pocket valance? It’s simply a valance that has excess fabric on top that’s folded over to create a pocket for the curtain rod to fully slide through. There are various rod pockets available, but the 3-inch size is most commonly found.
Let’s take a look at more details and what kind of hardware you’ll need.
What a Rod Pocket Valance Looks Like
YES – a flat rod pocket valance on a wooden pole.
YES – a gathered swag rod pocket valance on a flat curtain rod.
NO – this valance was hung on drapery rings instead.
NO – this valance was hung on a wooden board (it’s a board-mounted valance).
NO – this valance was hung on wrought iron medallions.
What Size Rod Pocket Do I Need?
Now that you roughly know what a rod pocket valance is supposed to look like, you might be wondering what size the rod pocket needs to be. Before you can figure that, you’ll need to figure out what kind of hardware you’ll use. The valance can either be hung on a round pole or on a flat curtain rod. The round pole will have a decorative finial on the end, as seen in the first valance picture above (the black and gold arched valance). The flat curtain rod doesn’t have any finials, but the valance wraps around the sides of the brackets, so it will look like the second valance picture from above (the red single swag). Let’s take a 3-inch rod pocket as an example.
This size will ideally work on:
- a round pole between 1 and 1-5/8 inches in diameter.
- a flat, 2-1/2-inch continental rod.
As a general rule, the rod pocket needs to be at least twice the size of the diameter of the round pole, or half an inch more than the size of a flat (continental) curtain rod. For example, a 2-inch round pole will require a rod pocket of at least 4 inches, while a 2-inch flat curtain rod will require a rod pocket of at least 2-1/2 inches. A bigger rod pocket isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Don’t go up a size just because you want to “play it safe” and make sure it fits. You may find that there’s a big gap that doesn’t look good at all. And if your valance needs to be fully gathered on the rod (at least 2.5 times the fullness), you’ll have to find a rod pocket that’s just the right size to fit without problems, while leaving no gaps.
The window treatment below had a 3-inch rod pocket and was hung on a 1-3/8-inch pole.
This becomes even more important if your valance has a header on top that’s intended to create the proper ruffled header.
Also, some smaller windows may be best with hardware that’s more in line with the scale of the window. French doors may also require light-weight hardware. Consider a 2-inch rod pocket in these cases.
Can Valances Have a Less Visible Rod Pocket?
Rod pocket valances are convenient and great for your budget, but there will be a thread running across the valance. This isn’t usually a problem since a workroom should color-match the thread to the main color of the fabric, but there is a solution to this.
If you’re still trying to stay on budget (and can’t afford another style of valance like the board-mounted valance), consider a rod pocket that’s hand-sewn in the back. The seamster’s needle only threads through the back of the valance, making the front smooth and stitch-free.
Don’t be shy to ask about it. Most experienced tailors and workrooms are familiar with this method and should be able to accommodate your custom order upon request. There are various ways to achieve this and will depend on how a workroom does things, but it usually comes down to hand-sewing or machine blind-stitching instead of a regular straight machine stitch. If you already own a pair of custom-made draperies, take a look at the side hems. Chances are, you already have a blind-stitched window treatment in your home.