I’ll warn you ahead of time…this one’s a doozy. But I’ve had several of you request the instructions for my breakfast room valance, so I’m gonna go ahead and post it. If you’re just learning to sew, this may not be a “beginner” type of project. Although, I will assure you, it’s not difficult to make. There are just lots of little steps that could get overwhelming.
But even a very determined “beginner” can master this process if you’re willing to go step by step without allowing yourself to get overwhelmed. After all, there are no fancy stitches required–just straight stitches, folding, and ironing.
So let’s get started…
First, you’ll need to measure your window, and write down the FINISHED WIDTH that you would like your valance to be. I generally like mine to extend about two or three inches on either side of the window, so I made mine 60″ wide. Then you’ll need to determine the FINISHED LENGTH that you want your valance to be. I chose 20 inches as my finished length.
Cut a piece of wood to the FINISHED LENGTH of your valance. I used a 1″ x 3″ piece of MDF. You can use any size you want (1″ x 4″, 1″ x 6″) but just keep in mind that the larger the number, the farther the valance will stick out from the window.
Measure the actual width of the wood (or MDF). Although mine was labeled 1″ x 3″, the actually measured 2.5″
Now cut your fabric. The HEIGHT that you will cut the main fabric and the lining is the FINISHED HEIGHT of the valance plus four inches. The HEIGHT of the contrast band will be the height that you would like to show PLUS 2 1/4 inches. I wanted a three inch contrast band, so I cut the contrast fabric 5 1/4 inches.
Now let’s determine the WIDTH of the fabric:
Unless you’re working with a tiny window, you will probably need to sew at least two widths of fabric together. Here’s how to determine how wide your fabric needs to be:
Finished width + fabric for pleats + returns (width of your board) + about six extra inches.
So mine was 60″ (finished width) + 36″ (three pleats at 12″ each) + 5″ (my board was 2.5″ and there are two returns) + 6 (extra width just to be sure I have enough to work with) = 107 inches wide
Since fabric is generally 60″ wide, this required two widths of fabric.
You’ll also need to cut the same number of widths for the contrast fabric and the lining.
Then sew your widths of fabric end-to-end, sew your widths of contrast fabric end-to-end, and sew your widths of lining end-to-end.
Remember, when you sew seams, you want to iron the seam open…
…and then turn it over and iron the other side flat. This extra measure will ensure that you have really smooth seams. Do this for the main fabric, the contrast fabric, and the lining (shown in the picture).
Now pin the contrat fabric to the BOTTOM of the main fabric, with right sides together. Be sure that the seams are lined up. Pin all the way across.
Then sew the main fabric and contrast fabric with a standard 5/8″ seam.
Next, pin the lining to the bottom of the contrast fabric, with right sides together and seams lined up. Pin all the way across, and then sew the contrast fabric and lining with a 5/8″ seam.
When the three pieces are sewn togehter, iron the seams with both fabrics going to the same way. In other words, do not iron the seam open, like you did in the steps above.
Next, fold the contrast band one inch from the bottom, so that one inch of the band is on the back of the valance with the lining. Iron in this fold.
NOW ON TO THE PLEATS:
Beginning in the very center of the fabric, measure over six inches and place a pin to mark the distance. Move your tape measure up a few inches, and repeat. Do this several times, so that your pins form a line parallel to the middle seam.
Using your pins as a guide, fold the fabric along the 6-inch mark…
And then fold that over to the middle seam.
Now repeat going the other way. Measure six inches and mark with a pin. Do this in several places, and then fold over to the middle seam. Use your iron to press in the folds, and you should be left with a very neatly folded pleat.
Next you wil mark, fold, and press your pleats into what will be the corners of your valance.
My finished width was 60 inches, so beginning at the center seam, I measured over 30 inches and marked with a pin. Then I measured over from there 6 inches, and marked with another pin, and then measured another six inches, and marked with another pin.
So I had three pins…one at 30″ (which would be actual end of the valance), one at 36″, and one at 42″.
(Actually, because my board was only 2 1/2″ rather than 3″, I had to make some adjustments to the side of the pleats that fell on the return–the end of the board.)
Then using those pins as guides, mark, fold, and press the pleats into the fabric. Do this on the other end of the valance as well. When finished, you should have three pleats–one in the middle, and one at each end of the valance.
Next, measure and mark your finished length. Starting from the bottom of the contrast fabric band, measure up and place a pin at the measurement of your finished length. I wanted my valance to be 20″ long (or high). Place pins about every three or four inches
Next, determine where the edges of the fabric need to end. My board was 2 1/2 inches, so from the middle of the last pleat, I measured 2 1/2 inches, and folded the fabric under. Do this on both ends. So if your board is 3 1/2″, you’ll measure over 3 1/2″ from the middle of the pleat and fold the fabric under. Use your iron to press in this fold.
From the fold that you just pressed into the fabric, measure over one inch and cut off the excess fabric.
Now fold the fabric over 1/2 inch, so that the raw edge is against the ironed-in fold.
And then fold over one more time, along the ironed-in fold.
Use pins to secure, and then iron in these folds.
Now this is just a little finishing touch, but one I think is important. On the very bottom corner, unfold the fabric where you just ironed in the folds.
Fold the corner up at a diagonal, so that the corner is at the 1-inch fold.
Now re-fold the fabric the way you did originally, with the raw edge over to the 1-inch fold…
And then fold again along the 1-inch fold. This gives you a very clean corner so that no raw edges or stray threads will peek out from the corner.
Now sew in the folds along the edge with your sewing machine. Sew about 3/8″ from the edge.
Repeat these steps on the other side of the valance. When finished, the bottom edge and side edges of your valance should look finished…no raw edges showing anywhere. The only raw edges left should be on the top edge of the valance.
Are you with me?! 🙂
Next, you’ll finish off the top edge of the valance. You should already have pins marking the finished top edge all the way across, so now fold along that line, and re-pin. The use your iron to press in the fold. Be sure that your pleats are still perfectly folded. The fabric will seem bulky around the pleats, but it will be fine.
Using iron-on velcro…
…sew the Velcro to the back side of the top edge of the valance, about 1/8″ from the top. Sew as closely to the top of the Velcro as you can. Sew all the way across the top of the valance.
When it’s attached, it should look something like this.
Next, open the fold (of course, it won’t open all the way because you’ve just sewn along the top), and use a zigzag stitch to sew the very bottom of the Velcro to the fabric.
When you’ve sewn all the way across, it should look like this.
Now you can trim away the excess fabric on back. If you’re using a fabric that unravels easily, you might want to put another zigzag stitch along the raw edge of the fabric, or use a product like Fray Check to keep it from unraveling. If you’re using a decorator fabric in cotton, you shouldn’t need this extra step.
The last little detail is to finish off the corners. Lift the corner and fold the edge under just a bit.
Be sure that when it’s pressed down, it doesn’t stick out the side.
And then hand-stitch this corner in place.
AND YOUR SEWING IS FINISHED!!!!
Are you still with me?! Have I lost you?! I sure hope not!!!
The last thing to do is to prepare the mounting board…
Using an electric stapler, attach the other piece of Velcro to the edge of the mounting board. Remember to start on the sides!!! I staple mine about once every two inches or so.
Then attach the L-brackets. Valances are generally not very heavy, so there’s no need in purchasing large L-brackets. These little guys will do the trick. Place on in the very center of the board, and then one at each end, about three inches from the end of the board.
Now attach the mounting board to the wall. Be sure that the Velcro is wrapped all the way around the edge of the board!! It should start at the wall on one end of the board, and end at the wall on the other end of the board.
Now attach the valance! I find it easier to start at the very middle and work my way to the corners.
And if you’ve done your measurements right, the corner of your valance should line up perfectly with the corner of the board. But the good thing about attaching the valance with Velcro is that if your valance is just a touch too wide, you can “ease” the Velcro over just a bit to make the corners line up. I’ve had to do this several times myself, because getting measurements just perfect is easier said than done.
And speaking of done…
Woohoo!!! Did you make it? Or did you give up on me!? Come on…you can do it!!