How to Sew a Pleated Valance

If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been working on getting the design studio ready. (I’m currently only able to offer e-decorating, but hope to be able to offer other types of decorating consulting very soon.) The window in this studio space needed a little pizzazz without a lot of fuss.

In this post I’m going to show you how to sew a pleated valance like I did for the studio window.

The fabric and style selection:

The window had a roman shade that I ordered from HERE.

That took care of the function, but didn’t add too much style.

I found a great fabric that subtly complimented the room’s decor. If you haven’t been following here is a peek at the room. HERE are the stools I redid to repeat the colors of the wallpaper mural. (HERE is the post with that DIY wallpaper mural project) The wallpaper mural is the main ‘charmer’ of the room, and I didn’t want the smallish space to feel overwhelmed with too much decor fussiness. Another fairly bold element in the room is the ceiling light, it’s kinda crazy with a bunch of cords on it, the pattern on this fabric reminded me of that that. HERE is a shopping link for the valance fabric.

Sizing and cutting tips:

After determining the finished length the valance, (length is the top of the valance to the bottom… NOT side to side), I added a couple inches to allow for top and bottom seams, and header allowance.

On my cutting/craft table, (HERE is one like it… I love how mine folds up so narrow) I marked the fabric where the cutting lines would be. The window is fairly wide, so the valance needed more than a single width of fabric. When it’s patterned like this fabric, care needs to be given for matching. I made sure the pattern match horizontally as I cut the widths that would get sewn together.

Sewing the pieces together:

The pieces were pinned to hold them in place and then stitched along the sides, creating one long piece of fabric. This piece was way longer than what the finished valance would be, this is because it allows extra needed for folding and tucking the pleats.

Next, it was time for the lining. Same thing as the face fabric, sew the sides together to create a wide strip of fabric.

Sew the lining strip to the face fabric strip along the top and bottom creating a long tube.

After the tube was turned right side out, I pressed the piece flat.

The next step was to finish the sides. If this were a typical rod pocket valance, I’d leave the side open where the rod would slip into it. but this one with the pleats, will need to have an extra piece sewn on the back for the rod pocket. Therefore, I folded, twice, pressed and stitched both sides to finish them.

I found some fun tassle trim that I added to the bottom of the valance.

This simply was stitched to the face bottom edge of the valance.

Figuring the pleats:

Next, I had to get a little more exact with the measuring.

Not wanting the pleats to be uneven across the front of the valance,

after measuring the return of the curtain rod this valance would be mounted on, I could add in the exact amount to each end of the valance and start my pleat measurements from there. (the ‘return’ is that little 3 1/2″ part on the ends of the rod, where the curtain ‘returns’ to the wall)

The exact width of the window, including the extra 6″ on each side that I intended for the valance to extend, plus the 3 1/2″ return on each side would be the finished width. Any extra width of my valance fabric beyond this amount is how much I would have to work with to make the pleats.

Bird’s eye view of an inverted pleat:

I decided that this valance would look best with 4 inverted pleats. 4 pleats makes the valance look like it is comprised of 5 sections.

I divided the amount I had left over from what I figured as the finished width, and divided it by 4. That gave me how much I had to create each inverted pleat with.

After marking on the valance the 4 pleats in the space, they were folded and then pressed flat, them pinned to hold them.

I stitched the pleats with the sewing machine by stitching through all the layers of the valance. This stitch line would be located exactly where the rod pocket stitching would be, so it would be hidden in that stitch line.

Creating a rod pocket:

This valance needed an attached rod pocket. I cut a strip of lining fabric the same width as the finished valance to make the rod pocket with. The top and bottom edges were folded and pressed 1/2″.

Here’s a tip: I’ve made the mistake of not having a generous width allowance for the rod to slip in. It’s so frustrating to have the rod get stuck trying to push it through a too tight of space. So after measuring the rod, be sure to still add plenty to accommodate the rod… remember extra will be needed for the thickness, not just the width.

After the fabric for the rod pocket was pressed top and bottom, it got stitched to the back of the valance, placed on the valance just below where the header of the valance would be. In this case, that is just 1/2″ down from the top of the valance.

I was careful as I sewed through the pleats, being sure they were laying flat.

Mounting the valance:

By pressing the valance with a crease on the side where that 3 1/2″ return was at each end helped the valance lay smooth and fold back following the rod return bends.

By mounting the valance as close to the ceiling as I could, and extending it 6″ wider at each side, the window size ‘grew’ dramatically. This is one of the reasons a window treatment adds drama.

Here’s another tips: to mount the rod high above the window for this valance only works as long as the valance bottom covers the window trim on the top, thus fooling the eye to make the window appear taller. Same goes for the width… to add 6″ on each side for the valance width, only worked because I added side panels to cover up this difference.

To sew the side panels, which are very simple unlined panels, I made them exactly how I explained in THIS Simple Curtain Panel tutorial.

Did you know I now offer e-decorating? I can help you with your decorating needs via email, without having to step foot in your home. If you’re interested in more information, visit my e-decorating site: Frame and Frills. I’d love to help you with your project!

Here are more sewing tips and ideas:

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please feel free to follow and share this blog with your friends, as well as on Facebook, Pinterest, Flipboard, Bloglovin, YouTube and Instagram! I appreciate you reading along.

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