Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to make a simple window valance - as requested :)


I made this cute little valance yesterday in all of maybe 30 min while the kids napped. I used left over fabrics I had in my collection and have a cute new look in my little toilet room! :) Here's how you can do the same.

One little note - please read completely through this tutorial before you begin. The math part will seem super confusing - but I promise you it's NOT hard to make this valance. The math is probably the hardest part and it's simple addition!! :)

First thing you want to do is measure your window. There's quite a bit of simple math in any sewing and this is no exception. You'll measure the width of your window. And you'll measure how far of a drop you want your valance to hang. For example's sake we'll say that your window is 24" wide and you want a 12" drop. (How far down you want it to hang.)

You need your valance DOUBLE the width of your window to get a ruffled look. If you want it straight flat just use the width plus your seam allowances. (We'll get to that in a bit.) So for our 24" window we would need a 48" wide piece of fabric. Write your window measurements down as you go. You'll thank me later! :) You will be placing a hem on each side of the valance and that takes about 1/2" for each hem. So you need to add 1" to your fabric. So now your total width (what you'll cut your fabric) is 49". I hope you're still following me - I ramble. :)

Now for the drop. If you're using one fabric it'll be a tad easier, but in our example we're using two. We want a 12" drop. You'll have a hem on the top and bottom so we'll add 1". (1/2" for top 1/2" for bottom) We're now at 13". The top of the valance will be folded over 3 1/2" to create a curtain rod pocket and a small ruffle on top of the rod. So that is 7" (3 1/2" folded is 7" total fabric) So now we are at 20". That would be your cut measurement if you're using 1 fabric. You'd cut your piece 20" by 49". BUT in our sample we added a strip of fabric near the bottom.

So here's were it gets a little more confusing - I wanted 4" on the bottom but the seam allowance is 1/4". So if you're being super precise you would cut 4 1/4" x 49" for your bottom strip but I just kept it at 4". So you've just added 4" to the bottom you'll need to subtract that from the top fabric. We would cut our top fabric 16" x 49" and our bottom strip 4" x 49". (It will be 1/2" shorter due to the seam allowance but I was fine with that on mine. If you are not you'd cut your's 16 1/4" x49" and 4 1/4" by 49".) If you use a 1/2" seam allowance you'll need to adjust your math for that as well.

Okay now that we've got the math out of the way we'll start with the HOW-TO part. :)

Supplies you'll need -


  • Fabric
  • Rotary Cutter and Mat OR Scissors and fabric pen
  • Pins
  • Iron & Ironing board
  • Sewing Machine

You can use scissors and a ruler to cut or a rotary cutter, mat and ruler. I prefer to use my rotary cutter and mat so I'll be showing you that way. If you use scissors you'd use your ruler and a fabric pen and cut along that line.

Begin with prepared fabric - pre-wash and dry. Then iron it back to smooth fabric. You don't want to cut with any wrinkles in fabric. Cut off the selvages (the ends that have writing from the manufacturer or sometimes they just have little holes).

First you want to square up your fabric for a clean line - then using the ruler and mat figure our your width and cut.

Square off fabric so you're working with a straight edge

Cut to your pre-determined measurements
Cut all pieces to the measurements you've written down. You may have to piece together if you're measurements are longer than the fabric. Most fabric comes off the bolt t 45" so in this case you'd need to piece (sew two pieces together) to get your desired length. When you've got everything pieced and cut it's time to iron!

Iron a hem along the LONG side (49") of the main fabric (in my sample its the white fabric). You do this by folding fabric up 1/4" and ironing - then folding it up again 1/4" and ironing.


To sew the hem down you sew very close the the folded edge as shown in the sample below.





After you have the hem on the top you will add the colored strip to the bottom. To do this you pin right sides together. The right sides of the fabric are the pretty sides. You will be pinning the strip to the unfinished edge of your main fabric. (the end you did not hem.) As pictured.


Use as many pins as you need. More pins will help keep the fabric from slipping. Make sure you take the pins out as you sew. Never sew over pins. It's bad for your machine and you could break your needle. (Talk about frustrating!!) :) Sew together using a 1/4" to 1/2" seam allowance. (I used 1/4".)

After they are sewn together iron the seam down.


You will now create a hem on the small strip. Hem the same way you did the top of the main fabric.



Now hem the short sides of your valance so all 4 sides are hemed.





Okay now you're ready to create the curtain rod pocket. Fold the top of the main fabric down 3 1/2". **Note - if you have a large/wide curtain rod you will need to adjust your math so your pocket is wider to enable the girth of the curtain rod. Use your ruler as you fold down and iron in place. You want to make sure it's 3 1/2" the whole way down. It will look funny if it's uneven.





Iron and sew like you did the hem. Very near the edge.




Once you've sewn it down you will bring that same piece back up and sew about 1" to 1 1/2" from the folded top. This will create the ruffle on top and the pocket for the curtain rod. See below picture.


When your finished it should look like this on the side -


Clip any loose threads (or if you're slightly OCD like me you've probably been doing this as you go along) and hang it up to enjoy!! Happy Sewing! :)



I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and it inspires you to make your own! :)



30 comments:

Hi I'm Christy! said...

I Love the fabric you chose!

LaRae said...

Thanks Christy! It was actually left over from a couple other things I've made in the past so in my view it was free!! (Kyle hates that I look at things this way, he says - it's not free if you paid for it even if it was a while ago...) lol

kismetique said...

Please either polish your nails or take off the chipped away polish before you take your photos. The project is so cute, but those nails detract from the 'polished' look of your presentation.

trh3180 said...

Thanks for sharing! I am sooo going to do this project tomorrow. And BTW...your chipped nail polish doesn't bother me in the least. In fact, it just illustrates that you keep busy and are probably an interesting person.

Michelle said...

This was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for sharing!

Kathy said...

Exactly what I was looking for too! Will be making this today. I can believe someone commented on your nail polish. I didnt even notice! I'm just happy you took the time to post this to help a new by sewernlike myself!

Anonymous said...

You made this project easy to follow. I am going to attempt to make Mickey Mouse ones for my son's bedroom, so dealing with lining up the pattern will be tricky, but you made the other part easy! btw I didn't notice your nail until I read the comment - you are a busy working mom...who cares what your nails look like!

Ms. Redo said...

I am so thankful to have found *your* post pop up when I Google searched for "how to make a window curtain valance blog" - I'm going to follow your wonderful, clear instructions today to make a valance for my bathroom window. I'm sorry to see you aren't blogging any more. Hugs ~ Mary

LaRae said...

Thank you everyone! I'm so glad you're able to do some home projects with this. :) Mary, I hope to start blogging a little more in the future, but for now with my etsy shop, my two kiddos, and my hubby about to deploy again I just can't seem to find the time!! :( Thanks so much for stopping by though, I love sharing fun decorating/crafting projects with people! :)

Anonymous said...

Cool posting. I am thinking about making some for my kitchen. I can't find any valances that have the colors I am looking for, so I might just give this a try :) I can't believe someone said something about your nails, which for me, did not detract at all from the tutorial. Actually, it made me like it better because I guarantee you that my nails look just the same, except mine are more uneven because I chew on them. I hate how our society is brought up to believe that you always have to look perfect. Here's a fact... people aren't perfect! Grrrrrr! Thanks for the info deary!

Anonymous said...

Hi - I just started sewing and I tried this valance. It turned out great. This was a great tutorial and the step by step pics. and instruction were very easy to follow. I will be making this valance again!!!! Thanks. - Jennipher

Anonymous said...

I have used a sewing machine 4 times in my life (I am 21 years old) and I just did two of these in about two hours.

Great directions, thank you for sharing!

LaRae said...

So glad you all are enjoying the directions and they are helping out! These are fun to make and so easy!

Angela said...

I am so glad I found you LaRae! You did a great job of laying out the directions! Thanks for the great job!

LaRae said...

Happy to help Angela! :) Good luck on your project!

Annie said...

This was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for sharing. I didn't notice your nail polish either.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for the step by step directions with the measurements and pictures to go along with your directions. I can't wait to get the fabric to do this project for my kitchen.

Anne said...

Your directions were so easy to follow. I have sewn all my life but have never attempted curtains. You provided exactly what I needed.I offered to make these for a co-worker and feel very confident that she will love them. I might even make some more for myself! Thanks again.

Tara said...

I used your tutorial to make my own today! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hello LaRae
I just made three window toppers for our family cabin in just a few hours today. They turned out so cute, and they were soooo easy to make with your tutorial. I am not an expert in sewing, but I was able to make professionally-looking toppers thanks to you. Thank you!

LaRae said...

So great to hear! Thank you for commenting! :)

Sharon said...

Heck I didn't even *see* your fingers!! I'm going to try this for a valance for a little girl's room :D Thanks!

Anonymous said...

why would anyone care about you nails, this isn't a project on "nails", it is a valance how to.

Anonymous said...

Using this tutorial as a guide, I made a valance for the local animal shelter with leopard-print fabric and black trim - it came out beautifully! Thanks for sharing!

jouena said...

Hey, Luv, wonderful tutorial and a lovely blog you have here! Thank you, sunshine, very inspirational! I might have a question/request for you - am looking into making a Moroccan-style Valance. Have a clear visual picture in my mind, but no idea how to make it into reality. I'll stick around!

Anonymous said...

LaRae - THANK YOU! Almost 2 years later, your post is still helping folks interested in sewing a valance.

Can't believe the N.P comment! How rude!

Custom Creations by JoAnne said...

JoAnne says thank-you LaRae.your window valance is great and is similar to my ideas. Good minds think alike. God bless you. Happy New Year 2014

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tutorial! It was very easy to follow. I just made a valance for my kitchen and it looks great!

Anonymous said...

So happy to have found these directions....I am going to make curtains for our grandson's bedroom.....this will totally help me attempt to do this. Thanks so much! Thanks for taking the time to help others.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to try making a set for my first grade classroom. Decorating on a teacher's budget...thanks for the tutorial!

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