How to Make a DIY Window Valance

Bright green fabrics in a living room with window seat

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Window treatments are among the most important parts of any home decorating project. They may not be the first things that come to mind when you decide to start a project, but when they're missing, you notice that something is missing, and when they're done right, they can transform a room. Even though you'll rarely plan an entire room around them, the right window dressings are an important finishing touch that can create new levels of design in a space that aren't reachable in any other way. Mostly, when it comes to decorating the windows, we tend to think in terms of drapery or blinds. But if we reach a little further back into design history, we find valances - the third option in window dressing that also makes for a lovely and fun DIY project.

What Is a Window Valance?

Window valances are treatments that cover the very top of the window. They've been popular since the Renaissance and saw a high point in their use in Victorian England. As a practical, aesthetic piece, valances are used to hide the bars and other hardware that attaches to the wall to support drapes and blinds. As a design feature, valances come in a variety of styles and can be anything you want them to be, adding color, patterns and even texture to the overall design scheme of your room. There are many places to find valances for sale that you can bring into your home, but the best way to get the look that you want is to make it yourself. You can make a window valance pretty easily, even if you don’t sew. Here are step-by-step instructions for making a window valance, with and without sewing.

What You Need:

Here's How:

  1. Measure the width of the window.
  2. Determine the desired length of the valance, starting at the curtain rod. It should be about 15 inches deep, but it can be longer if you have an especially wide window.
  3. Lay the fabric on a flat surface, with the front of the material facing down. Measure the desired width of the valance onto the fabric. A valance can be hung straight on a rod, or gathered. A straight valance should be at least as wide as the distance between the outer edges of the drapes. For a gathered look, measure 2 1/2 times the window width for lightweight to medium weight fabrics. Measure three to four times the width for sheer fabrics. You will likely need more than one valance panel.
  4. Add 2 inches to the width of each valence panel for the hems. Cut.
  5. Measure the desired depth of the valence onto the fabric. Double the measurement; the fabric will eventually be folded in half. Add 2 inches for the hems. Cut.
  6. Keeping the fabric face down, measure a 1-inch hem from each side of the material and place straight pins down the length of the material.
  7. Stitch the hem on both sides with the sewing machine. Remove the pins. Or, use iron-on tape or glue gun to seal the hem.
  8. Turn the fabric over so that the hemmed sides face down. Fold the bottom of the fabric up to the top so that all the edges of the fabric meet.
  9. Measure a 1-inch hem from the top and pin. Stitch the hem with the sewing machine. Or, use the iron-on tape or glue gun to seal the hem.
  10. Turn the fabric right-side out. All of the hems should face inside.
  11. Measure 1 1/2 inches from the line you just sewed. This is where the standard size curtain rod will go. If placing on a thicker rod, increase the size accordingly.
  12. Pin across the width and sew. Or, use the iron-on tape or glue gun.
  13. Slide in the rod and hang.
  14. Or, stuff the valance with newspaper or tissue paper to give it a puffy look, and hang.