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Thursday, June 28, 2018

How to Sew a Valance or Curtain

It's time for another FREE pattern and my daughter can vouch for this one. She begged for a long time to add curtains to her bedroom window.  I've made them many times before so I knew it would be a quick project and kept putting it off. When we finally got around to it, she helped me make it and it took less than an hour. Oops!  She loves how it turned out though.  Today I'll show you how to make a simple valance or curtain! 

 Didn't they turn out super cute?  You can do this too!

First of all, I'm sure you've noticed that windows come in all different sizes.  That's not a problem for our tutorial because I'm going to teach you how to make a valance or curtain for ANY size window! 

This process is easiest if you attach your curtain rod to the wall at the very beginning.  You don't want to make a curtain a certain length and then have it be too long or short because of where you placed the rod!  

You can get super fancy curtain rods if you want. The ones in our master bedroom are pretty nice and pricey, but this one in the photo above was less than $5 at Walmart. (Hey, it's what she wanted!)  So go ahead and install your curtain rods first. 

 Now decide whether you're making a valance or curtain.  


If you're making a curtain, decide whether you want it to be all one panel or if you want it to be split in two so it can open in the center.  (See the title graphic above.) 

Now it's time to measure your window area using a measuring tape. This should only take a minute so don't get overwhelmed by the explanation below! I'm just covering all the options: 

Calculating Width

For a valance or single-panel curtain:   

Measure the width of the window/rod.  Then times that number by two.  This is how WIDE you want to cut your fabric. 

(For example, my rod is 36" wide, so my cut will be 72" wide.) 

Note: If your chosen fabric is not wide enough for the amount above, it's okay. You will be able to connect two pieces in the center to get the full width. So for my valance I cut two pieces 36" wide each and then sewed them together in the center. The construction steps will show you how. Just remember the number for now. 

For a double-panel curtain: 

Measure the width of the window/rod.  This is how WIDE you want EACH of your two curtain panels to be.  

(For example, my rod is 36" wide, so my two cuts with be 36" wide each.) 

Calculating Length

Use a measuring tape to decide how long you want your finished valance or curtain to be.  It should start at the top of the rod and end at the lowest point you want the curtain to reach.  You may want the curtain to end at the window ledge if it sticks out, or a couple inches below the window if not. You may even want your curtain to be floor-length.  Wherever you want it to end, that's the number you write down for your finished length. 

Then add 6" to that length to allow room for the casing and hem. 

(For example, we wanted the finished valance to be 12" long, so we cut it 18" long to start.) 

Note: If you are using a curtain rod that is thicker than 1", add that amount to the length too. So if your rod is 2" thick, you will need an extra inch for the length. (7" rather than 6".) 

Ready to cut and sew!

Now that you know your cut width and cut length, go ahead and cut your fabric! 

If you are making the valance or single panel curtain but your fabric was not wide enough to make a single cut, take the two panels and match them on two sides, with right sides together.  Sew them along the vertical edge using a 3/8" seam allowance. 

Zigzag or serge the vertical seam you just made so there are no raw edges.  Then iron the seam to one side so it lies nice and flat.

At this point, you should have just one piece is you're making the valance or single-panel curtain, or two pieces if you're making the two-panel curtains. 

From here on out, the construction is exactly the same for all the pieces!  

First you will start by hemming the two SIDES of the curtains. (Not the top or the bottom.) To do this, fold the side edge 1/4" to the wrong side and use an iron to set the fold. Then fold another 1/2" to the wrong side and iron, pinning as you go.  Try to be as precise as you can so the curtains will hang nicely! 

Repeat on the other side edge of the curtain. 

Sew the side hems in place by stitching 1/8" from the folds, removing the pins as you go. 

If you have more than one panel, repeat with the second one. 

Next you will hem the BOTTOM of the curtain.  To so so, fold the bottom edge 1" to the wrong side of the fabric and iron to set the fold.  Then fold another 3" to the wrong side and iron, pinning as you go. This may seem like a lot, especially for a valance, but it helps them hang nicely!  Do NOT sew in place yet. 

On each end of the pinned bottom hem, fold the corner under at an angle so it meets at the inner edge of the side hem. The fold you make should go straight from the corner of the curtain to the edge of the side hem. See photos above and below.  Use an iron to set the angled fold, and pin in place. 

The photo above shows the same step on the other side of the curtain.

Sew the bottom hem in place by stitching 1/8" from the upper fold all across the curtain, beginning and ending at the intersection of the side hem and bottom hem. 

This stitching should automatically catch the slanted fold at the top, holding it in place. If it doesn't, you can stitch it in place by hand. 

Your bottom hem is now done!

On the top edge of the curtain, fold it down 1/4" to the wrong side and iron to set the fold.  Then fold down another 1-3/4" and iron to set the fold, pinning as you go. 

After pinning the top fold in place, you can use a ruler to check real quick and make sure your valance or curtain is now the finished length you wanted.  (The top and bottom folds should have used up the extra 6" by this point.)  If it's not the length you want, make adjustments before going on. 

Notice that on the top folds you do NOT need to angle in the edge like you did on the bottom hem.  This upper fold is the casing for the curtain rod to go through. 

Stitch the casing folds in place by sewing 1/8" from the folds all across. 

Your valance or curtain is all sewn now!  I bet you can guess what comes next!

Take down the rod and feed the valance or curtain onto it.  Then hang it back up again.
  (This process may be different depending on the type of rod you have.)  

It should be a perfect fit and super cute!  My daughter was more than pleased with how they turned out. 

If you made the single panel curtain, it will cover the whole window by itself and you can pull it to the side if you want it open.  

Or, if you made the double panel curtain, you can pull it to the sides to let in more light. You can also install tie-backs on the wall (also less than $5 at Walmart)  to pull them out of the way.  You will want to place them about 2/3 of the way down the window to get a natural drape, as shown in the photo. 

And that's it!  As you can see, these simple valances and curtains are quick and fun to make, plus they will work on ANY size window!  If your windows are super huge, you can look for fabric in wider widths. Drapery fabrics are usually 2 to 5 times wider than standard cottons. 

When you finish your valance or curtain, we would love to see! Please come share your photos in our patterns group on Facebook.  We can also answer any questions you may have. You are going to love having custom curtains for your house!  

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 


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