I want to show you a method of pleating/draping fabric that doesn't use pins nor a pretty pleater. All the methods are good in their own way, but I find this one is quite quick, and doesn't require a lot of prep. Here are the materials you'll need to make the valance:
1) Scissors - the sharper the better. For those of you 'non sew' -ers out there, I highly recommend that you get a pair just for cutting fabric, that way they stay nice and sharp.
2) Fabric - anything fine that will drape easily. natural fabrics are always better than synthetics. Fine cotton lawn is great. I use a lot of fabric from old shirts, pyjamas etc., as they are nicely worn and drape really well. Here I'm using a cotton muslin.
3) Strong cotton thread and needle - I used no.80 DMC crochet cotton, but anything strong will do.
4) Fabric stiffener. I use Impex High Tack Fabric Stiffener, you can find it online relatively easily. If you haven't used it before, please test a small bit of your fabric, or it could end in disaster!
OK, here's the method:
Cut your fabric to size. For a nice pleat you need about 1.5 times the length of the bed, but it does depend on your fabric, so have a play and see what looks best.
Anchor your thread by oversewing in the same spot a few times. Start to gather the fabric on the needle.
Gather all of the fabric, use nice even stiches, but don't worry if they aren't perfect, most fabrics don't naturally hang in straight, uniform folds. A bit of variation is good!
When you've finished gathering, check the final length with a ruler to make sure that it corresponds with the length you need.
Again, anchor the thread at the end by over-sewing a few times.
Now soak your fabric entirely in water!
Squeeze out the excess water.
Lay your wet fabric on a waterprrof, clean, flat surface. I have a handy little tea tray for this!
Now squeeze a good dollop of fabric stiffener on to the fabric, enough to impregnate it entirely, but without excess dripping off.
Work it into the fabric, so that it is totally covered.
Now arrange your pleats as you want them. I find pulling in a vertical direction top and bottom helps to keep them straight.
Leave the fabric to dry completely, this usually takes a good day, so a great overnight job.
When dry, glue the top edge to your bed, and trim any stray threads that may have frayed.
And you're done!
As ever, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments, or email me,