I needed to make a valance for Smokey’s Bar. I’d been putting it off for a while because, really, I don’t like to sew. Sewing is very frustrating and requires entirely too much patience. However, I do like saving money. So, in the spirit of thriftiness, I decided to share this project with you! I apologize in advance for not taking adequate pictures. I have learned from my mistakes and promise to take more pictures next time. Here are the steps I took to create my valance…..
Materials: fabric, scissors, marker, straight pins, yard stick, tape measure, white lining, interfacing, trim (cording with lip), tassel, 1″x 4″ board cut to the width of the valence, staple gun, needle, thread
1. Measure. I measured the width of the window with the tape measure. I had a predicament. There was moulding around the top of the bookshelves that I knew was going to keep my valence from touching the sides of the shelves. Normally, the valance would have fitted neatly into the window area, touching the sides and top of the bookcase. The moulding was going to create a gap on each side. Oh, well! It is, what it is. Having said that, I measured from one side of the molding to the other. I knew from previous experience that 24 inches was a good length for my valence. I needed it to hang down halfway down from the top half of the window. My dimensions for the finished valance were 42 1/2 ” wide by 24″ long.
This is the plan I sketched out. I know…not so good for an art teacher!
2. Buy Supplies. I had to buy fabric. Most fabric is at least 45″ wide, so I bought an even yard of fabric. I decided to chose a fabric that was “busy” so that I could rely on the fabric to do the work. If I had chosen a simple fabric, I’d have to do lots of fancy sewing to make my valence more interesting. I am a big believer in working smarter, not harder. I was actually very pleased that I was able to find a fabric that coordinated so well with my colorful Movie theater-style carpet.
I also bought a yard of inexpensive white fabric for the lining. White always looks best from the outside. Also, you don’t have to worry about white fading as you would with a color. While at the fabric store, I also purchased a yard of thick iron-on interfacing. I asked for the thickest they offered. Don’t be tempted to skip the interfacing. It makes the difference between looking cheap and looking nice. If you are going to do it, you might as well do it right!
I work on the catwalk. It’s fun to sit up there!
3. Make a Pattern. I began with a piece of paper that was 42 1/2″ x 24″. To create a symmetrical design, I folded my paper in half before I drew a design. Once I came up with a design that I was happy with, I cut it out. Really, I only trimmed the bottom into a shape.
4. Cut the Fabric. I laid out my fabric, and pinned the pattern onto it. I was careful to make sure the medalions on the fabric were centered before I cut it. As I cut, I added a half inch on the sides and bottom for the seam allowance. I added 3 inches at the top, so that I would be able to staple my valence on the board. Once I had the valence fabric cut, I used the valence pattern to cut the lining and also the interfacing. The pictures show that I folded my fabric and pattern in half. I took a short cut! As a beginner, it is easier to lay everything flat, non-folded.
As always, Smokey helps me cut the fabric. Sewing with a cat is a constant battle.
5. Iron the Interfacing. I ironed the interfacing to the back side of the valence fabric. I started in the middle and ironed my way towards the sides according to the directions that came with the interfacing….easy! Don’t worry if the fabric is literally as stiff as a board!
6. Pin and the sew the trim. Once my fabric was ironed and stiff, I pinned on the trim, making sure that I pinned the trim to the FRONT of the fabric. I sew the trim to insure that it stays in place, as you sew on the lining later. I don’t worry about sewing this neatly. I had to break out the old Singer for this step because it’s the only machine that has the proper presser foot for sewing trim. After I have sewn the trim, I slice the curves. This eases the curves and makes the finished product look neater. At this point in sewing, I shut myself into the bathroom to work. I needed a Smokey-free environment that didn’t test my patience.
Make sure your machine comes with a presser foot that looks like this. It allows you to sew closer to the trim!
When you turn a corner, snip the bottom of the trim to ease the turn.
Snipping the curves eases the curve and makes the valance look smoother when it is finished.
7. Pin and Sew the Lining. I pinned the lining to the fabric and trim, right sides together. This is probably the most difficult step. Using the presser foot, you must sew as closely to the trim as possible! It works better to sew with the lining side upwards. Don’t worry if the lining gathers a little. For some reason, it grows as you are sewing! No one will be looking at the back of your valence. after you have sewn the lining, leaving the top open, trim corners and slit the curves. Remember, only sew the sides and bottom.
8.Flip and Iron the valence. Turn the valance inside-out. Carefully iron the fabric. Be mindful of the trim. It melts very easily! I often iron my finished valence on the floor so that I can flatten it better.
9. Add the Decorative Tassel. I turned my valance, backside-up and hand sewed the tassell in the correct spot with a needle and thread. It doesn’t require lots of sewing. A few stitches will do.
10. Staple the Valence. I lay the valence on top of the board. Make sure that it overlaps the board by 3″. When it is in place, staple, staple, staple!
Of course, Smokey is always there to help!
11. Attach the valence. I (actually, my husband) screwed the board to the shelf above the window.
Oh, no! I see potential trouble. My valance has become Smokey’s toy!
12. Sit back, admire your work! Have a glass of wine. You have completed a challenge and you have saved money that can be spent on shoes!
Total time: 2 hours
Total cost: $45.oo