Simple Curtain Valance

Design by? Instructions by Diana Trupiano

This is my studio. Well, one wall of it anyway. I fell in love with this fabric, from Polished Apple, a few years ago when I worked as a department manager at House of Fabrics. I made the valance for my studio, and this year decided to put the same fabric and style of valance on all the major windows of my home. This fabric is bright, with greens that go with anything. I'm an ivy fanatic, so it is perfect for my taste!

The valance window dressing has as many variations as there are windows in the world. This is a straight valance, with 2" ruffle at the top. A casing holds a simple 1 inch cafe rod. In my Living room, I will "fancy" the design, by using a 4 1/2" Continental rod, with 2" ruffle at the top, and floor length white lace panels gathered at each side to give the illusion of sheers.

Choosing Fabric

When choosing fabric for such a valance, remember that because of the ruffles, what ever print there is will be altered. When you find a fabric you think might work, gather one selvedge and hold it up. Sometimes the pattern will disappear, sometimes it will intensify. Always check this BEFORE you buy the fabric! Some stores will not take a return on cut fabric, no matter what.
Washability may or may not be a concern for you. It most certainly is for me. The fabric I chose is machine washable and dryable. The sheen of the chintz type coating will disappear after only a few washings, but I didn't choose it for the sheen, just the pattern, so I'm not concerned about it.
Dry Clean Only fabrics are ususally tagged more so because of shrinkage than anything else. I have been machine washing my drapes and sheers for years, ever since I had them professionally cleaned the first time...for almost $250.00! The trick is to hang them up damp. After washing, I put them through several spin cycles in the washer and immediately hang them up and draw them closed. In the ten years I've done this, my drapes have never shrunk an inch, and I saved lots of money.


When measuring your window to find the rod size, simply measure across the window plus however much over hang you want on each side. For example, a 48" window with 3" over hang on each side: 48 + 3 + 3 = 54
You will need a curtain rod that extends at least 54 inches.

To measure your fabric, first take the length of the rod plus the rod "return". The return is the distance from the wall to the front of the rod once installed. It should be noted on the rod's packaging what the return is. Once you know your final rod length (rod length plus returns), you take this number and multiply by 2.5. Two and one half the length of the rod is standard for a gathered valance. This is your "finished" valance length. For example, the 54" rod above, has a 3" return on each
side: 54 + 3 + 3 = 60 (this is your total rod length) 60 x 2.5 = 150 (this is the finished length of valance). To calculate yardage, divide the finished length by 36:
150 divded by 36 = 4.16 or 4 1/6 yards.

Depending on the length of valance you want, and weather or not you want a seamless valance, you could cut this measurement in half. Most standard fabrics are 45" wide, like the ivy fabric I chose. Standard valance length is 14 inches from the bottom of the rod casing. The following is a simple list of measurements to consider when determining the length needed to create this valance:

  1. Finished length: Length from the bottom of the rod to the bottom of the finished hem.

  2. Hem length: I used 1" (fold under 1/2", press and fold again)

  3. Rod pocket (or casing): Measure around your rod. No two are alike. Add 2" to this measurement for seam, and to ease the fabric gathers.

  4. Finished length of ruffle on top, double this measurement. (If you want a 2" ruffle, add 4" of fabric.)

For example, 14" finished length + 1" hem + 2" rod circumference + 2" for fabric ease + 4" for a 2" finished ruffle = 23"

If you have a 45" wide fabric, you can cut it in half lengthwise and need only half of the 4 1/6 yards mentioned above. It's very economical to do it this way.

SO, for this valance, you would need a piece of 45" wide fabric 2 1/12 yards long. Cut the fabric in half lengthwise and seam the two pieces together. This will give you a piece 22 1/2" by 4 1/6 yards. (The finished valance will be slightly shorter, but you use half as much fabric, ans save money.)

To Sew Valance:

It doesn't matter which you do first, the hem or the top. I prefer to start with the hem (don't ask why, I've always been "special" that way).

  1. Fold under and press 1/2" from one long raw edge. Repeat.

  2. Stitch hem. (Aleene's Ultra Hold Fusible Web also works great if you don't want stitches to show.)

  3. On each short edge (the sides of your valance) zigzag at each raw edge.

  4. Fold under 1/4" on each edge, press. Repeat.

  5. Straight stitch both sides.

  6. On remaining long raw edge, fold under 1/4", press well.

  7. Measure from fold, HALF of your finished ruffle and rod casing, plus the 2" for seam and ease. Mark this measurement.

  8. Fold at mark. Press and pin well.

  9. Straight stitch 2" (finished ruffle length) from outer fold.

  10. Straight stitch 1/8" from inner folded edge. You have just created your casing and ruffle, finishing your valance.

  11. Determine location of rod brackets. Install brackets. It's a good idea to put some Aleene's Thick Designer Tacky Glue on the screws to help hold them in the wall.

  12. Carefully insert rod into casing and push valance onto rod.

  13. Snap rod onto brackets, adjust gathers.

Now, that wasn't so hard, was it? You can find all kinds of patterns for valances and other window dressings at your local fabric store. Watch for sales and you could re-do your entire house for less than $100.00!



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