If you already have blinds or shades in your room, a pretty little valance is an easy way to add a bit of color and style to your window treatment. Our pleated valance tutorial finishes at 44", which is a great standard width, but the clever panel construction means it's easy to add or remove inches to make the valance larger or smaller. This is just one of the eight projects in our new Storybook Lil' Boy's Room Series sponsored by Moda Fabrics and featuring the nostalgic Lil' Rascals collection by Chloe's Closet . We designed the room for a boy, but the tutorials can cross over into all kinds of applications.
Moda Fabrics has been in the sewing and quilting industry since 1975; a leader in bringing beautiful, innovative fabric collections to independent shop owners. We're excited to partner with them to bring you this collection of eight children's tutorials – perfect for when you are ready to update from a nursery to a toddler's room. At the end of the series, Moda will sponsor a generous Great Giveaway with fabric cuts and more. Plus, as a special bonus, we've composed our own storybook to go along with the adorable Lil' Rascals illustrations. You'll be able to download this exclusive, one-of-a-kind S4H Picture Book FREE.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome HD3000)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1¾ yards of 45" wide fabric for the valance skirt; we used Lil Rascals from Chloe's Closet for Moda Fabrics in Dots & Marbles Natural
- ¼ yard of of 45" wide coordinating fabric for the valance rod pocket; we used Lil Rascals from Chloe's Closet for Moda Fabrics in Blanket Tan
- 2 yards of 45" wide coordinating solid fabric for the valance lining; we used Moda's Bella Solid in Natural
- 3½ yards of ⅝" wide grosgrain ribbon in a color to accent the main skirt fabric; we used a dark wine red
- All purpose thread to match fabrics and ribbon
- Long see-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Straight pins
- Seam gauge
- Hand sewing needle
- From the fabric for the rod pocket (Blanket Tan in our sample), cut ONE 7" x width of fabric (WOF) strip: 7" x 45"
- From the fabric for the main skirt (Dots & Marbles Natural in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 7" x 18½" rectangles; these will be the pleat panels
TWO 17½" x 18½" rectangles; these will be the outside panels
ONE 27" x 18½" rectangle; this will be the center panel
- From the solid fabric (cotton duck in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 7" x WOF strip
TWO 7" x 18½" rectangles
TWO 17½" x 18½" rectangles
ONE 27" x 18½" rectangle
- Cut the ribbon into one 45" length and one 72" length.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Find the FIVE rectangles cut from the main valance skirt fabric.
- With right sides together, pin ONE 17½" x 18½" outside panel to the LEFT side of one 7" x 18½" pleat panel. Align the two panels along one 18½" edge. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- With right sides together, pin the 27" x 18½" center panel to the remaining RIGHT raw 18½" edge of the pleat panel. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- With right sides together, pin the remaining 7" x 18½" pleat panel to the remaining RIGHT raw 18½" edge of the center panel. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- Finally, with right sides together, pin the remaining 7½" x 18½" outside panel to the remaining RIGHT raw 18½" edge of the second pleat panel. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- You should now have FIVE panels sewn together in the following order: outside panel, pleat panel, center panel, pleat panel, outside panel.
- Press all seams flat
- Repeat these steps to create an identical five-panel unit with the lining cuts.
- Lay the completed front panel flat and right side DOWN on your work surface.
- Lay the completed lining panel on top of it right side UP.
- Align all the seams front to back as well as all the raw edges so both layers are nice and smooth.
- Pin the layers together.
- Machine baste the layers together along the top edge only, keeping your basting seam within the ½" seam allowance. This seam is just to help keep the layers from shifting during the pleating process.
Hemming the valance
- Rather than simply sewing front to back, resulting in a seam along both sides and along the bottom, we wanted to have a pretty hemmed edge with mitered corners. This way, when our valance flutters in the breeze, it looks pretty from the front and the back.
- Using your see-through ruler, draw three lines on the back panel: one 2" from the bottom edge, one 2" in from the left side and one 2" in from the right side.
- Press along the 2" marking across the bottom and then along both sides.
- Unfold all three sides so you can see your crease lines.
- Fold in each raw edge so it lines up along its corresponding crease line and press well. Do the bottom first, then each side.
- Fold in again, in the same order, along your original crease lines and press well.
- You now have a nice clean double turn 1" hemmed finish. But what about the corners?
- Unfold a corner so you can see the the fold lines of both turns.
- Fold the corner down at a 45˚ angle so the point of the corner lines up with the intersection of the second set of fold lines. Press.
- Re-fold the sides of your first 1" turn along its original fold line and press well.
- Trim back the point of the corner to 1" so it lines up with the sides.
- Refold the sides along your second 1" fold line and press. This second re-fold will create a diagonal line where your two finished edged meet, making a neat split or "mitered" corner.
- Repeat at the other corner.
- Hand stitch both sides and along the bottom. Then hand stitch along the diagonal at each corner (see photo below in the Applying the ribbon section).
NOTE: If you are new to this hemming and mitering technique, check out our tutorial. It features ¼" turns, but the technique works equally well with the 1" turns of this project.
Applying the ribbon
- Find the 72" length of ribbon.
- Measure 1½" from the bottom hemmed edge of the valance and place the bottom of the ribbon along these points across the entire width of the valance.
- At either end, wrap the ribbon around to the back. Fold under the raw edge of the ribbon to create a clean finish, aligning it with the edge of the side hem. Pin in place from the front.
- Re-thread your machine with thread to match the ribbon in both the top and bobbin.
- Edgestitch in place long both sides of the ribbon.
- Your edgestitching will catch the ribbon you wrapped around to the back (and, look, there's that pretty mitered corner we talked about above).
- Find the center point of each 6" pleat panel. You can do this by folding the panel in half and marking with a pin, or measuring side to side with your see-through ruler. Place a pin at the center point.
- Then, measure 3" out from each pleat panel seam. In other words, 3" to the right of the right seam and 3" to the left of the left seam.
- Pull the seams on either side in towards the center marked line to form a box pleat. Press flat.
- Pin at the top and bottom to hold the pleats in place while you finish.
- Set aside.
- Find the 7" x 45" strips of print fabric and lining fabric.
- Place the print fabric and lining fabric right sides together, aligning all the raw edges and smoothing until both layers are nice and flat.
- Pin together along both 7" sides.
- Re-thread your machine with thread to match the fabric in both the top and bobbin.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both 7" sides. Press the seams open.
- Turn right side out. Pin the print and lining layers together along the long raw edges.
- Sew the long raw edges together with a finish stitch. You could serge them or use a zig zag or overcast stitch. We used a serger.
NOTE: Check out our tutorial on machine sewn seam finishes.
- From the print side (the Blanket Tan in our sample), fold under one long finished edge ½" and then an additional ½", as if making a double turn hem, and press well.
- Align the opposite long finished edge (the non-folded edge) with the top raw edge of the valance. The two pieces (the valance and the rod pocket) should be right sides together. Pin in place.
NOTE: We apologize for the photography here it is hard to tell that you are looking at the lining and it is hard to see our seam finish. But you are working with two layers. Both ends are seamed, the layers are sewn together along the long sides with a zig zag or other seam finish, then one long edge has a double fold finish (the bottom) and the other long edge is just the finished layers, which is aligned with the top raw edge of the valance.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place. Press the seam allowance toward the rod pocket piece.
NOTE: This seam also secures the pleats in place at the top.
- Bring the folded edge of the rod pocket piece around to the back. The folded edge should wrap around and match up with the seam line, covering the seam allowance.
- Edgestitch in place through all the layers (don't worry about the seam showing on the front, we are covering it with a ribbon).
- Turn over the valance to the right side and mark 3½" down from the top of the valance
- Place the top of the ribbon along these points across the entire width of the valance, covering the seam. Pin in place.
- Tuck under the raw ends of the ribbon so they are flush with the side openings. Pin the ends place.
- Re-thread your machine with thread to match the ribbon in both the top and bobbin.
- Edgestich in place along both sides.
- Take out the pins holding the bottom of the pleats together.
- Press and hang.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 2600 Pink and the Bernina bernette 92C.