Recently, you saw the curtain panels in our youth building at church that I hung on plumber’s pipe. Today, I’d like to show you the valance that coordinates with the panels.
Please excuse my blurry cell phone picture, y’all. I’m not very steady with my phone, obviously!
Since this triple window is very long, I needed a valance design that wouldn’t make the valance look like a long, straight (and boring!) run of fabric. The vertical breaks of the box pleats in the treatment help to avoid that. A curved valance would help, as well, but we have boys to please here, not only girls.
While using a coordinating fabric as the main focus, I wanted to incorporate the fabric used in the panels I showed you previously. Remember these curtain panels with the belt hold-backs?
Maybe I should warn you – at the risk of scaring you away. This tutorial is a little long, and I omitted some steps with links to other posts where possible. To provide the details needed when making a pleated valance, there are important things to cover! So, I hope you’re with me. Let’s get started.
I made a header strip, or flange, with some left-over panel fabric. The outdoor fabric is stiff and smooth, something that will hold its shape while tied to the pole with leather ties. If you have thinner or light-weight fabric, you could add buckram into the flange for stiffness.
I like how cording finishes seems, so I added the cord covered with the box pleat fabric. The panel fabric would have looked very nice on the diagonal covering the cording, but I had no fabric remaining for that.
To compute the width needed, decisions must be made about width of pleats and spacing between pleats.
Each side of my box pleat is a 2-1/2″ fold, which means the pleat is 5″ across when finished. The pleat is three layers, so to compute fabric needs, we triple the measurement. 15″ of fabric is used for each box pleat.
Most of the time, box pleat valances are made with no space between pleats, but that triples the amount of fabric you need. To save fabric, and for a lighter look, I allowed for some spacing between the valance pleats.
I decided 7″ between pleat edges looked nice. Using my decided measurements, I computed the number of pleats necessary for the valance – 13. I made a pleat at each end of the valance and hid the side hems behind the final pleat return.
Before cutting your fabric, make your computations this way for box pleats. We won’t compute my 13 pleats, because that’s a little ridiculous! But, I’ll show my measurements for the side hems, pleats, and space (between pleats) used in my treatment.
Left Side Hem + Pleat + Space + Pleat + Space + Pleat + Right Side Hem
3″ + 15″ + 7″ + 15″ + 7″ + 15″ + 3″
With these measurements, the above valance would have three pleats. The cut width of fabric needed is 65″.
The finished valance width would be 29″. (Remember, the pleats are actually 5″ when finished, and the hems don’t add to the width.)
For bottom hem and side hem instructions see my tutorials for those here:
When making box pleats, you need to stretch your panel out flat and pin each pleat near the upper edge and the lower edge. The pins hold the pleats square while sewing (or stapling if mounting to a board). A pleat sewn askew (no, I don’t normally use that word!) will cause the valance to stick out abnormally or droop in that area. Not pretty.
When adding a flat flange at the upper edge, you’ll need to sew the cording to the flange strip first.
Next, sew the corded flange directly onto the pinned box pleat valance. The corded side of the flange strip is toward the upper side of the boxed valance. (Note: Finish seam edges as you go – serged or zig-zagged.)
This is how the valance looks after the flange is attached.
We need to finished the flange and make it neat and tidy. Press the upper edge of the flange under 1/2″.
Lay the treatment flat and fold the flange down as shown – with your 1/2″ flipped up along the bottom. This may seem a little weird, but you’ll see how it turns out soon. We’re making a clean finished end by sewing and inverting the seam. Don’t panic. You’ll see.
Stitch the end of the flange flush with the valance edge.
Trim the edge to 1/4″ at the corner for ease in turning. Angle your cut so the corded end of the edge will be trimmed to 3/4″. We need that end a little farther out so we can hide the cording end easiily.
The cording needs to be long enough to tuck under when you turn the flange.
I wanted to show the seam edge, so you can see what I did here. You’ll want to press the seam edge with the back side hidden completely.
On the reverse side, you can see how the cording is tucked under the flap.
It’s pinned temporarily on the back side. You’ll need to transfer your pin to the front side of the treatment, since you’ll sew it from the top side. Pin the back flange edge 1/2″ under all across the valance. Again, the pins should be placed on the front of the valance.
Stitch beside the cording on the front of the valance.
While stitching the front, the back side will be stitched consistently across the valance. It may not be beautifully straight, but it is secure, with no seams exposed.
Your cord-tucked end may get a little thick, so stitch enough to secure the cording end nicely.
For something dressy, I wouldn’t top-stitch the treatment. I have another little trick to show you today. No, it’s not magic. Remember, I don’t do magic – God does. 😉
You may have heard of it, though. It’s called stitching in the ditch.
This technique is used to secure fabric, while hiding your seam inside another seam.
You may occasionally get a little off, but try your best. If your thread matches well, the stitches you missed won’t show when your window treatment is hung.
Do you see how the flange will lay flat and hold the box pleats in place while hung from the rod?
When mounting a pleated valance (without the flange) to a board, you can staple pleats directly to the board and skip sewing the pleated edge. Remember to add the depth of the board to your measurements so you can wrap the valance around the sides.
Box pleat valances look a lot harder than they really are. It’s all in the measuring and the pinning – not the sewing.
I bought a package of brown leather stripping from WalMart and sewed 15 pieces of 10″ sections along the valance edge – about every 9 inches. I tied two strips at each end, one at the very end and another a couple of inches over to tie on the galvanized pipe corner turn. You want the valance to follow along the pipe edge consistently.
My goal was to expose the pipe – no use covering it up after paying for it!
My flat flange plan worked out well. No buckling away from the plumber’s pipe. Don’t you love it when your plan actually works? (Tabs along the top edge would look nice, too.)
After buying the zebra pillow, I made a few others for the “couch corner”. I love the cross pillow fabric – perfect for our church group.
The dogs are for fun. Besides, DOG spelled backwards is GOD. Not that a dog is anything like God, but both are the best of all friends! Well…God tops a dog, too. You get what I mean, though, right?
Our teens are comfortably ensconced in their room now. My job is complete. Well, for now…maybe. 😉
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