What is a Valance?
Valances are generally a separate curtain shirred onto the outer portion of a double curtain rod. The straight-bottom ones are made just like the curtains, but there are other possibilities.
Some elaborately draped window valances are actually made with no sewing except the hems. The trick is to give yourself the right fullness and length to drape them the way you want. Also, be willing to do a little hand sewing from the top of a stepladder to keep them that way.
Swag or Scalloped Shaped Valances
Swag-shaped valances extend far down the window on the outside edges and angle dramatically upward to a narrow valance at the center. These are made simply by cutting the fabric into the desired shape and adding a narrow hem, or finishing the edge. Make your pattern on heavy tissue or on the brown paper you can find sold in a roll (usually in the aisle with packing materials).
Pin your pattern to the fabric and cut both sides at once. Be sure
your fabric is lying with either right sides or wrong sides together so you
get a right side and a left side for your curtains. If you are using fabric that is exactly the same on the front and back, you may be able to cut your curtain the desired length and top width, then cut it in half diagonally to get both sides. If you are doing two identical windows and your fabric has no one-way effect, cut one from lower right to upper left and the other from lower left to upper right.
The more complicated scalloped, curved, or pointed valances are done with lining. Design your shape to fit your window, and cut out the shape from your fabric. Cut out a second identical shape from a neutral fabric that will not show through your curtain fabric. Put the lining right side down on the right side of your curtain, and stitch around the lower curves and the sides.
To make sharp points, stitch across the corner Thin fabrics will only require one stitch across the point while thicker fabrics will require two or even three. Trim the seam allowance away close to the stitches so there is less bulk inside the point.
Grade the seam allowances by cutting the lining’s allowance to one half the allowance of the curtain. Clip inward curves almost to the stitching line and the outward curves with a V. Turn the curtain right side out, and press the lower edges and sides. Rolling the edge between your thumb and finger can sometimes help you turn the seam completely Treat the two layers as one when you make the top casing.
Mock Valances and Flounces
Sometimes a valance is actually part of the lower curtains but is made to appear as if it’s separate. This is generally done by making the casing part of the valance then gathering the valance onto the top of the curtain just below the casing. If your window is large enough for an even fuller look, consider overlapping the curtains under the valance. Both sides can be pulled back with ties once the curtains are hung.
Flounces are made similarly to the mock valances, except the lower edge is caught up to the curtain close to the casing, leaving a loop of fabric to puff out. This seam is actually sewn to the curtains proper before the top of the curtains are attached to the valance.