We love how curtains can change the entire feel of a room. When we saw how Spoonflower team member Gina added some cozy charm to her home with a handmade valance, we asked her if she’d share the DIY project with our community (fortunately for us, she said “yes!”) With one yard of fabric and just a few standard sewing tools, you have a project that might just give you a whole new outlook on your interior!
How To Make a Window Valance
Note: This project is designed for a narrow, single window that is a maximum of 48″ wide.
1. Determine Your Measurements
Measure the width of your window. If it falls within a standard, single window range of about 36″-48″, you can use the full width of the yard. If it’s more narrow, you may want to trim it down—I recommend adding at least 4″ (more is better!) to the width of your window for your panel if you do decide to cut. My window was 44″ wide, so I left my fabric at its original width of 52″.
Next, make sure you know the diameter of your curtain rod. This will come in handy when determining your curtain panel length. Mine was ⅝”.
Finally, measure down from your curtain rod to where on the window you’d like your curtain to fall. Keep in mind that your curtain will be gathered, so only the center of the curtain will fall to this spot—the rest of it will be shorter. Once you have your length measurement, you’ll calculate your length as follows:
Length = Max Curtain Length + (3.14 x Curtain Rod Diameter) + 2″
Note: The extra 2″ is to account for your top and bottom seam allowances, and to leave a little space in your rod pocket. You don’t want your curtain to fit too snuggly around your curtain rod.
My calculation looked like this:
18 + (3.14 x ⅝ ) + 2 = 21.96
The final dimensions of my fabric piece ended up being 52″ x 22″. I rounded up the length to a whole number just to make things easy. Once you have your length and width, cut your fabric to fit those dimensions.
2. Mark Your Gathering Points and Rod Pocket
Once your panel piece is cut, find the center of the top edge and mark with a pin or your tailor’s chalk. Now, find the center point between the curtain center and one of the edges of your curtain. Using your tailor’s chalk, draw a vertical line from the top of the curtain to the bottom. Repeat with the other side of your panel. These will be the lines to mark where you will gather your panel into sections.
Now, calculate your rod pocket allowance using the following equation:
Rod Pocket = (3.14 x Curtain Rod Diameter) + 1″
Mine came out to be about 3″. Measure down from the top edge, and draw a line across the full width of your curtain at this point—this will be your guide for pinning and sewing your rod pocket.
3. Hem the Sides and Bottom Edge
Fold one edge of the side of your curtain over about ¼”, then again another ½”. Pin or clip in place, and sew along the edge using a ⅜” seam allowance. Repeat this process on the other side edge of your curtain.
Once your sides are sewn, repeat this process again with the bottom edge. You should now have a curtain with hemmed edges on three sides.
4. Create the Rod Pocket
Fold the top edge over about ¼”, then fold it again until it meets the line you drew earlier. Pin in place, and sew with a scant ⅜” seam allowance. Rod pocket complete!
5. Divide and Gather Your Curtain Panel
Increase your stitch length to the longest length possible, and stitch along one of the vertical lines you drew earlier with a basting stitch, starting and stopping at the edge of your hemlines—do not backstitch and be sure to leave both ends of your threads long. Sew two more basting stitches about ½” on either side of this line—you should have three parallel lines of basting stitches. Gently pull the bobbin threads (bottom threads) to create a lovely gathered panel.
Did you know? A basting stitch is simply the longest straight stitch length on your machine!
6. Stitch the Curtain Gathers In Place
Return your stitch to the default length, and sew over each basting stitch to secure the gather in place. Rather than sewing three separate lines of stitching, I opted to sew one long line down the first gathering stitch, across my bottom hem line, up the center, across my top hem, and down the final gathering stitch. You can certainly stop and start at each line if you’d prefer.
Repeat this same process on the other side of your curtain panel. You should now have a curtain panel divided into thirds, with a lovely, draped center.
Optional: Slightly Gather Your Edges
You can hang your curtain as is, but I found with the shortened length that my edges kind of drooped a bit. I opted to sew one gather on each edge as a finishing step.