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If you are thinking about making a valance for the first time and are wondering where to begin, then take a look at these tips taken from our practical guide TEACHYourself VALANCES

If you have already made some curtains and are feeling keen to try something a little more adventurous, why not attempt making some valances to match your existing curtains or incorporate a valance into your next window dressing sewing project?  You will have great fun extending the skills you have already acquired and in perfecting some new skills along the way.
Understand what we mean by a Valance Stiff pelmet Valance
Its so easy to confuse valances with pelmets, but they are in fact two totally different types of window dressing. A pelmet is flat and usually has a shaped lower edge. A valance is much softer in appearance with a gathered or pleated heading.  The scope for design variations is endless, so why not try your hand at creating something totally unique!

Valances are very popular at the moment as they can be used in combination with curtains to produce a complete window dressing or used alone on small windows for extra interest.  When used in combination with roller or roman blinds they soften the window without the fussiness that you might otherwise have with a more traditional form of window dressing.  They also serve the invaluable function of concealing any unsightly curtain tracking, the heading on a roman blind or the roller on a roller blind, that would otherwise be visible.

A box pleated valance on a straight band gives a lovely tailored look. This advanced valance has contrasting inserts and a knotted rope trim.
The interlined valance shown here on the left, has a simple gathered heading. A knotted rope trim has been applied to the lower edge of the tape and a co-ordinating fringing accentuates the shaped bottom edge. Other similar valance designs are shown to the right.
Consider your design options
We have presented our TEACHYourself VALANCES guide in easy to follow format using step by step instructions.  If you have never attempted making a valance before then this guide will take you through the various design options in order of the degree of difficulty involved.  Start with a valance with a straight lower edge and then move on when you have perfected the basic skills.  You will soon feel confident to tackle valances within Section 7 – our Advanced Design Options.
Check out these few design options. They are bound to inspire you:
  • Taped headed valances with either straight or shaped lower edges.
  • Hand stitched headed valances with trimmed or lipped lower edges that could be either shaped or straight.
  • Box pleated valances.
  • Hand stitched headed valances with scalloped lower edges.
Plan carefully

As with all your soft furnishings projects, it is essential that you spend some time planning your project:

  •  Choose the right design.  Read through our various design options picking the one that is right for your particular project.  There are designs suitable for the either the complete beginner or the more competent sewer.
  • Chose your fabric with care.  If you want a uniform appearance, then choose a fabric that is the same weight as that used on any accompanying curtains or blinds.
  • Get the proportion right.  Whether a valance is successful largely depends on getting the proportions right.  Get the balance wrong and the valance will either look far too heavy or too squat!  About a sixth of the overall curtain length or window size works well.  Invest in some graph paper and do a scale drawing.  You will then be able to see straight away if you have got the balance right.
  • Choose the correct method of suspension.  There are lots of different methods you can use for hanging your valance.  By carefully reading through our ‘tracking section’ will help you make the choice that is right for each particular project.
  • Select the right trimming.  A valance will look best with a trimming applied to the lower edge.  It helps to add weight and definition.  The trimming can either be a band of material that matches the main fabric or a purpose made trimming applied to the lower edge. The range of trimmings available today is endless and some of the colour combinations are exquisite.  Take a look at our TEACHYourself SOFT FURNISHINGS SEWING TECHNIQUES guide for inspiration or visit the KA International web site for a taster of their very reasonably priced and high quality trimmings.
Next Steps
Once you have decided on the best design and fabric for your valance you are ready to move onto making up your chosen design. If you are completely new to making soft furnishings, then its also a good idea to ensure that you understand some of the basic sewing techniques before getting started on more complex projects. These include the different stitches (hand and machine sewing) and seams that are used when making soft furnishings. We've got this covered in our free guide to Basic Sewing Equipment and Techniques which you can download, view, save or print off in no time at all.
The Simply Furnishings team has produced a unique step-by-step guide to help you tackle your valance project with confidence. TEACHYourself VALANCES offers all the practical advice you'll need on how to make valances, including a full list of materials and tools, design guidance and step by step cutting out, sewing, assembly and installation instructions. Using tried and tested techniques, clear instructions and illustrations, we will guide you through each stage of the design and make up process step by step. In no time at all you will be making your own beautiful valances with a really professional finish. Time to get to work!

Good luck!
Wendy Molnar

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  Last modified: May 12, 2008