Quick and easy pleated window valance

I am preparing a nursery for my baby, and it’s not done yet. I’ll be sharing photos with you soon. I’ve made bedding and accessories from some adorable fabrics, but I probably won’t be ready to share the whole shebang with you until later in June.
For now, I wanted to make a little window valance with some of the fabric. The room feels really bare right now, and I loved the oomph this project gave to that wall. I whipped up a very simple valance; it’s not lined and it’s quick and easy. For me, the back side of the curtain didn’t matter. It’s a second-story window and it has blinds, too. If someone can actually take note of the fact that it’s not lined, they are probably a peeping Tom with binoculars. And I really don’t care what peeping Toms think of my window valances, anyway.


(Click fabrics for direct links for purchase at Warehouse Fabrics Inc.)

Spirodots stellar blue - SPSSTL

Neopolitan stellar blue - NENSTL

Valance rod
Since window sizes vary, amounts of fabric will vary by project. See below. I bought my valance curtain rod at Big Lots for $1.25. To be honest, I’ve never put up a valance before, and this rod seems kind of like it will fall down if I sneeze in the room, so perhaps it’s worth it to spend a few bucks more!

The pattern

You’ll need to measure your window before buying your rod. They are adjustable and come in a range, so pick something that will adjust to the size of your window. Adjust the width to a size that’s pleasing to you. I put a piece of scotch tape over the place where it adjusts to keep it from moving while I work. You may want to read the tutorial first and then come back to the measurements after you understand it.
Using a tape measure, measure the length of the rod, from end to end, even around the curves. Also measure the length of the sides, also called the “return.” This is the point from the walls to where the rod bends around to the front.
My total measurement was 44.5″. My return was 2″. So the front of the rod by itself was 40.5″.
I wanted four pleats in my valance, even spaced along the front of the rod.
To cut my fabric, I cut the main fabric 49.5″. This allows my distance from end to end, including returns, plus pleat seam allowances (you’ll see) for four pleats (at 1/2″ x 2 each), plus side hems (1/2″ each side). I cut it 14.5″ long (top to bottom).
For my contrast fabric, I cut four pieces 8.5″ x 14.5″.
For the top, I cut the contrast fabric 44.5″ x 3″ (that first number would be your original width measurement). This pieces is the casing for the rod.

The process

Excellent picture, I know. I was standing on a stool trying to hold the rod in place and photograph with the other hand. Step 1 is to figure out how wide you want your rod to be. Make a small mark with pencil on either side of the window where you’ll nail or screw it in later. You may want to put some tape over the point where the rod adjusts to keep it from moving while you work.
Measure the rod using the measurements I explained above. You’ll want to record the total length from end to end (around curves) and also the length of the return (from wall to curve) and length of front only.
With your big piece of fabric, determine where you want your pleats. I wanted some near the corners, but not right on the corners, so I marked my pleat line 4.5″ from the edges on either side. That’s two pleats, but I wanted two more, also. So I measured between those and drew lines about equal distance. In my case, I marked 13″ in from each of the first pleat.
One at a time, cut along these vertical lines and insert a pleat contrast panel inside. Trim the seams to reduce bulk and press open.
In the end, you’ll have a long piece that alternates fabrics.
To make the pleats, mark the halfway point of each pleat using a pin.
Bring the seam of the two fabrics from one side to the very center and pin.
Do the same with the other side. Press the pleat all the way down. The two seams where the fabrics meet should meet in the center of the pleat. After you’ve done all of the pleats, baste across the top of the pleats to secure them.
Hem the sides of your valance with by pressing under 1/4 of an inch, then turn and press another 1/4 of an inch and sew.
The strip at the top is my rod casing. Fold the ends in just a touch to eliminate the raw edge and sew. Make sure this piece will be the exact width of your valance top. Fold the strip wrong-sides together and press.
With raw edges lined up and right sides together, sew the casing to the top of the valance.
Run your rod through the casing and hang your valance on the wall.

Other views

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