Saturday, August 4, 2012

Let's Make a Valance!

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,



  1. Brilliant!
    What a great idea, thanks so much for sharing it. I am dreading my curtains...
    Can't wait to see the finished product x

    1. Hi Simon,

      You're quite right, I didn't actually show the final, final product, so I've just updated the photos.

      You could use this method on curtains, bedhangings, clothing etc...the sky's the limit!

      Don't dread your curtains, I'm sure they will be lovely,


  2. Great tutorial thank you. Your bed looks great with the valance.
    Hugs Maria

  3. Thank you for the tutorial. A nice, simple and spectacular method. Do you think there's anything else I could use instead of the fabric stiffener? Like glue dilluted with water or hairspray?

    1. Hi Gosia,

      fabric stiffener is basically starch, so you could make up a solution of thick starch the old fashioned way, though it might take a little longer to dry.

      If you dilute white glue (like tacky, or PVA) with water, it should do the job.

      As for hairspray, I don't know if it is possible to use it on wet fabric. The fabric is wet as that way the fold form really naturally, without using pins.

      Have play with all these things, you may discover a great new method!


  4. Hi Jonquil! Nice tutorial, thanks for sharing!! I often work with starch or hairspray without pins and it works well:D!
    Greetings, Ilona

  5. Thank you for this very practical tutorial.
    Hugs, Drora

  6. Hello Jonquil,
    What a great tip and the end result is wonderful. You rtealy did a great job of it and your explanations were great. thanks again for another great tip.

  7. I think a pretty pleater certainly has its uses, but here your valance looks soooo much more natural the way you have done it. I find the results with the pretty pleater often too formal and stiff.

    Lovely bed Jonquil!

  8. Jonquil!

    I think you are my salvation!! a no-sew valance! brilliant!! I shall be giving this a go sometime!

    Thank you for the tutorial, I shall be taking notes!!

    Andy xx

    1. Steady on, Andy! That's more than enough praise! ;)

      Well, there is a little bit of sewing, but I'm sure that you'll manage it... you'll be pleased to know that I've a pillow and pilloc case tutorial coming very soon, so look out for that...

      I'll also (hopefully) be doing one for a bolster and another for sheets, so by the end of the year, you'll have enough to make up all of your beds!


  9. I was always wondering how to get this natural pleats, thank you very much for sharing , it seems to be easy !