The Upholstered Valance (my first attempt at a tutorial)

Remember this?

I got rid of the curtains very quickly, salvaging the lining in case I decided to make new curtains.  Still undecided on that, but the yucky green color had to go.  I had chosen fabric that coordinated with my eclectic mix of citrusy colors for couch pillows, ordered it, and stored it in the the corner of the living room since March.  My family (14 of us total) has a visit planned in several weeks.  Visitors, family or otherwise, are always great motivators for me.

I started yesterday taking the valance down and removing staples.  (There are 4, this being the smallest.  There are 2 doubles and one huge picture window one.)

Easy work, but, man!  There were a lot of staples.

This is what was under all of that fabric–

a wood box missing one of the long sides.  The front and sides were covered with several layers of quilt batting for the upholstered appearance.  (If you are starting from scratch, using plywood instead of actual wood would work just fine.  I’ve seen them made of foam core as a less expensive option on DIY shows that are trying to stay within a budget.)

Next I did the re-calculations.  I recall purchasing 8 yards of the fabric, which has a design of large sprigs of a plant, alternating colors and direction.  Originally I had calculated using the length of the fabric which would make the sprigs be on their sides.  I decided that would eventually annoy me.  So I found the center of each valance, including sides and “seam” allowances and planned for a seam down the center of each of them.  (2 seams for the picture window)

My fabric is 55″ in width.  The first and smallest valance requires a piece of fabric 68″ long and 27″ wide.  I cut two full widths of fabric 27″ long, then found a place where I could make a center seam that would blend–between the columns of the sprigs.  See the straight fold below?  That is where I will place the seam.  I unprofessionally marked it on the wrong side with a pencil, sliding it through the fold.  I found finger pressing the fabric provided enough of a crease to see where the seam would be going.  (This is an art at this point, not a science.  All who know me knows that art is definitely my stronger suit.)

Next I pinned it along the marked line so it wouldn’t slip.  Then using my sewing machine with straight stitch, I sewed right down the pencil line, clipped the threads, trimmed the fabric so my seam allowance was closer to 5/8″ wide instead of 12″ wide, and pressed open the seam so it lays flat and looks neat and finished once it is hanging above the window.

NOTE:  If you have a solid fabric or a print that isn’t so fussy as to have an up, a down, or sideways, you can skip all of the sewing and just cut the fabric to the correct length and width per the measurement of the solid valance piece.

Simply measure the length–left side + front + right side + “seam” allowance x 2–and the height–height + “seam” allowance x 2.

I called it “seam” allowance, but there will be no seam since you are stapling instead of sewing.  You’ll need an inch to stretch across the bottom of the wood and then another inch or so to stretch the fabric taut across the front and side of the valance.  The more you have to handle when stapling, the easier the job.  You’ll see from my photos that some of my measurements could have been slightly more generous to make the job easier.

So to begin attaching the fabric over the actual valance, I found the center on the top of the wood (The part that is only seen from the ceiling.) piece and marked it. You can see the mark in the photo above.  I also marked the center on the bottom of the back of the valance.  (When connected these marks form a straight line.  Even with a solid fabric you would likely be able to detect if it were crooked because of the grain of the fabric.)  Finally I matched my center seam to each mark and secured the fabric with masking tape until I had the entire piece where I wanted it.  It’s easier to adjust the fabric when it’s taped down then when it is stapled.

For the corners on top I folded them as I would do when tucking in a straight sheet on a bed.  (For clarification on that you can refer to step 4 on this tutorial on “How to Make a Bed Neatly.”  Only on the Internet.)

I taped all the edges in place before I did my staple gun workout.  I stapled just above the masking tape all the way around, gently pulling the fabric so it was taut, but not so tight that it stretched and wrinkled.

This is the bottom corner.  I wasn’t as generous in the “seam” allowance along this side which was only a challenge on the corners.  I had a helper hold it down with a little screwdriver while I stapled.

This is what it looks like when the stapling is complete.

Since the wood will show at certain angles of view, I replaced the white lining that had previously been used on this valance when it was yucky green.  You could use white, muslin, or the same fabric with which you covered the front.  (If you would like detailed instructions on how to cut the lining, please express in the comments and I will certainly be glad to post them.)  I fit the lining fabric back into it’s previous position and stapled a little more–and voilà!  C’est fini!

And on the wall.  Mr. Detail took a break from the pantry re-do to put it up for me.  Now on to the remaining three!


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