How to Make a DIY Window Valance
Our two bedroom windows are long and narrow. They have wood blinds for privacy and I like them because they work well and look clean a crisp. Our master room bedding is turquoise for the summer, I considered painting one wall in an ombre effect, but changed my mind deciding on these more formal appearing fabric upholstered DIY window valances instead. I reviewed several different styles and easy valance ideas on Pinterest before coming up with this version.
This fabric covered valance is made using 1 ” white styrofoam insulation board. Its very light, especially when compared to the weight of wood. You attach the fabric with pins, making it very easy to update with different fabric. It requires no special tools and I was able to design, build, upholster and hang them in a day. The post walks you through every step of making a simple valance, with the simple equations I used so you can make one to fit your window dimensions. Let’s get started.
Fabric Covered Valance Tutorial
Step One – Making the Pattern
Instead of making the pattern directly on the styrofoam, create a paper pattern first. To do this you will need.
Freezer paper, pencils, pen, measuring tape, a yardstick (or thread), and eraser.
Measure the width of your window from frame edge to frame edge, then add 5″. This will be the width of the valance. For example, my window with trim is 30″ wide so my pattern needs to be 35″ wide. This valance is 12″ high, but you can make yours thinner if you like.
Cut out a long piece of freezer paper and draw a rectangle 35″ by 12″.
To make the notch on the bottom surface, measure in 6 inches from each end and draw a line 1 1/2″ long from the bottom edge.
To create the bottom arch. Find the center of the rectangle by folding the paper in half, lining up the two edges of the rectangle. Mark the center with a long line.
My usual habit in tutorials is to provide the instructions before the photo. In this case, I think putting the photo first will show you how simple the pattern is to draw even though my instructions seem complicated.
Secure your pattern in place with either something heavy or tape.
Measure and then make a mark on the center line 4″ up from the bottom. This will be the center point of the arch.
Using a yardstick and a pencil ( or a string with a pencil tied on one end) find the pivot point for your arch. (In the picture my yardstick has a hole so I used a pencil to hold the pivot point.
Take the pencil and place it at the 4″ mark. Test to see what size arch you like best. the closer the pivot is to the pattern more pronounced the arch will be. My pivot was 20 inches away from the 4″ center point. Once the arch looks the way you want it to apply pressure to the drawing pencil and draw the arch. Start and stop at the top of the 1 1/2 inch marks.
Cut out the pattern.
Step Two – Transfer Pattern and Cut Styrofoam
The commercially cut edge of the styrofoam will be the neatest, so take advantage of that. Place your pattern on top of the styrofoam line up the pattern edge with the edge of the styrofoam. Pin in place using simple sewing pins.
Double check the measurements before cutting. Cut out using a utility knife. To cut my styrofoam I cut twice. The first time with a regular length to the blade, and the second time I extended the blade to about two inches before slicing right through the styrofoam.
To cut out the sides of the cornice box valance. Cut out two rectangles 5″ by 12″.
In the picture above you can see where the edge of my cut has a few little pieces sticking out. Neaten up the edges as best you can without changing the dimensions of the styrofoam. Brush the edges with your fingers and if you have bigger blemishes remove them with the utility knife.
Cover your rough edges especially the bottom arch with duct tape. You will want to make little slices in your duct tape so that it curves around easily.
Step Three – Building the Cornice
For this step, you need the cut Styrofoam, of course, some hardware, a screwdriver, and duct tape.
Using hardware on the Styrofoam seems weird I know, but it works I promise. You could push the screws into the Styrofoam but don’t take the time to screw them in. I placed the L bracket on the side pieces of the cornice first. Then attached it to the front.
Now that you have the brackets to add strength to the inside of the cornice box valance, apply duct tape to the outside of the valance where the seam is.
Repeat on the other end, the other hardware is for hanging and we will do that last.
Yeah! The cornice is built.
Step Four – Covering with Fabric
For this step, you will need fabric, an iron, scissors and lots of plain sewing pins.
For my valance, I cut my fabric at 18 by 52″ to give lots of room to make adjustments. If yours is a different dimension I recommend measuring around your cornice and adding 6 inches for seams.
Iron a rolled seam at the top and sides of your fabric. Don’t worry about the bottom as you have to cut it for the arch. Place it over the front of your cornice making sure all sides are covered. Starting at the easy top straight top portion make sure your fabric is even and pinned on the backside.
(Alternatively, you can sew the rolled seams on your cut fabric if you want to. I did sew mine on the top and sides, it required fewer pins to make it neat, but otherwise, it looks the same as the unsewn bottom edge does)
Use the next photo as a general reference, the top and sides are easy to do, the bottom edge is still very easy but I will share a closer view with examples for you of the notch and arch.
Once you have the top and sides pinned you will need to cut an arch in the fabric to fold over the bottom edge. Cut it about two or three inches from the styrofoam to leave room for folding and notches. In the photo, I cut it about two inches and wish I had given it a little more fabric.
Starting at the center, fold the edge of the seam over to cover the frayed ends and pin in place. As you work towards the outside you will feel the fabric pull, to release the tension cut a little notch in the fabric, fold it under, pin in place and then continue. Do this on both sides of your arch.
Your seams will look neat and tidy when you turn them over, and tuck away all the threads. Use lots of pins to hold the stray threads in place.
Other than needed to make neat notches in the arch of the fabric covered valance. You will need to make sure that the notch in the valance is pinned very well. You can see where I added pins to the edge of the valance as well as the back of the valance so that the notch is crisp.
Adding the pins to the edge results in a neat and tidy notch from the front. The little metal pin heads don’t show enough to be concerned about them.
When you have your fabric attached to your DIY window valance. Turn it so you can see the front. If you have any pumps of wrinkled areas, simply pull them back and add more pins.
Hanging Styrofoam valances is so much easier than the wooden ones because they are light. Hubs preferred me to do it this way as the marks on the wall are much less than a mounting bracket for wood.
Step Five – Hanging on the Wall
Hang the valance like you would a picture with a hook on each end. The valance is very light so it’s easy to do. Start by attaching the hangars at each end of the valance. I simply screwed them in right through the fabric.
As we attached our curtain rods into a stud and the valance will be hung outside of the curtain rod, we are assuming that there will be no stud behind the gyproc to nail or screw into.
I really like using this new style of picture hangers that do not require a separate plug for hanging on gyproc. If you don’t want to use these type of hooks go ahead and mount any type of picture hangar you prefer.
Hang your valance centrally over the window. Ours is hung 4 inches from the ceiling and 18″ from the center of the window, on both sides. Once the hangers are attached simply hang the valance like a photograph one end at a time.
Our bedroom is very small so it is impossible to show the two valances framing the bed on each side. The curtains are handy to block out a little more light, and the valances give it a finished look.
Hubs was surprised that I could hang them this way, but it does work really well. Have you ever made valances before, and if so with what materials? I would love it if you commented.
In this related post, I gathered 10 of my favorite DIY window treatment ideas I found online. Enjoy!
Have a great week.