Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Simple Sewing: Make your own Valances

Doing this project requires very little skill-- if you can sew a straight line (or mostly straight, in my case) then you can do it!

Before you begin:   You will need fabric, measuring tape/ruler, thread, scissors, pins & a sewing machine. (*if this isn't replacing an existing curtain/valance you will need a curtain rod of the appropriate size)

1. Measure the width of your window. If possible, measure with the curtain rods UP! You will notice that the rods are slightly wider than the window and usually curve around. You need to add ALL of that to your width (*note from experience).  Now if you wish to to have a full valance, add half again the width to your total (for example if your window is 30" including curves, make your total 45") If you want a really full valance, double the number (30" becomes 60")

2. Decide how long you wish your valance to be-- typically they are between 12-18".  Proportionally I think valances that take up 20-25% of the visual space of the window look the best.

3. Cut fabric to the width you selected PLUS an allowance for finishing edges (about an inch on EACH side) So 45" now becomes 47". Make sure any pattern on the fabric is straight before cutting!

4. Cut fabric to the length you selected PLUS 12 inches--this will give us space for the rod.

5. We will sew the sides of the valance first. Fold in first side 1/2 an inch (towards back of fabric) and then fold over again. Pin in place. Continue until both sides are pinned. Use measuring tape to confirm that the curtain is the same width at all points AND that it will be the finished size you wanted. If something doesn't look right, remove pins and correct!! Sew a straight line, making sure to stay on top of the folded fabric at all times.

6. Measure the thickness of your curtain rod (anywhere from 1/2" to 3" is typical) Add 1/2 inch to that for small rods and 1 inch for large rods. This will be used to create the pocket that the rod slides through. We will also add 2-3 inches (artist's choice) for the ruffle at the top. So a 2 inch rod will have 2 (rod) + 1(extra room) + 3 (ruffle) = 6 inches total.

7. Next we will sew the top. Begin as you did with the sides and fold over 1/2". Then, make a big fold that is your rod pocket measurement calculated above (ex: 6"). Pin all the way across and check measurements.  Sew at bottom of fold.

8. Measure down ruffle depth (2-3") across valance, place pins to mark position. Sew a straight line next to the pins. Remove pins. You now have a channel formed between this line of sewing and the bottom of the fold, this is your rod pocket!

9. Almost done now!! Measure & pin height of valance to planned dimensions. Hang valance BEFORE sewing and make sure you are happy with the finished height. You should have SEVERAL extra inches to lower if necessary. If its too long, feel free to cut excess fabric. Once you are satisfied with the result, remove the curtain from the rod and sew across the bottom.

10. For professional results, press with an iron before hanging!

Project Results: (out of 4)

Savings = $$$
  • Typical valances cost $10-50 per unit, with many windows requiring 2-3 units. Fabric costs are as low as $2-3 a yard for basics and $5-10 a yard for designer fabrics, with 1 yard making 1-2 valances.
Satisfaction = :):):)
  • Being able to customize your home to your style is a big part of this project!
Quality = ***
  • Taking your time and measuring carefully will result in professional looking results!!
Green Factor = ^
  • Not much of a bonus here, except to save the collateral pollution created from commercial production & delivery. You can add to this if you start with a previously used fabric (an old sheet, etc).

Project #1: Thomas the Tank Engine in Jr's Room

What I like: Jr. got his Thomas fix for less than $3- found this fabric at Wal-Mart. Much cheaper than the $20 per unit premade.

What I don't like: I forgot to add in the measurements for the ruffle & bend of the curtain rod so its a little skimpy and the top looks flat.

Project #2: Front Windows

What I like: After completely failing to find the color scheme and pattern I had in mind, I was able to make these myself in 2 evenings. I applied the lessons about the top ruffle and was very careful to keep the pattern well aligned between units. While they aren't perfect, they look pretty good to me!

What I don't like: The back fabric is mainly polyester and is a little stiff, so the draping isn't as flowy as I'd like. The pattern alignment from unit to unit isn't perfect but would have dramatically increased the cost of the project-- as it was the top fabric was nearly $10 a yard WITH a coupon at Jo-Ann's.

 Please leave a comment and let me know how YOUR project went!!

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