How to Make a DIY Upholstered Valance

Valances are making their way back to interior design trends because they soften the modern, industrial home. If you lack the budget to buy one, try making one yourself.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make a DIY upholstered valance. This basic tutorial is ideal for beginners and will go with many decor styles. 

What Is a Valance?

A valance is a window treatment that hangs high. It features a very short drapery panel that doesn’t reach half of your window. Some valances are made of a simple fabric piece to add softness and color to your room. 

Other valances have pleats and folds for dimension. The most common ones have box pleats on top that hang straight over the window. Others look grander with the cascade or Bordeaux design.

Valances use staples on a backboard or drapery rods like curtains. Either way, they have a soft appearance that doesn’t block the view from your window. Think of it as the cherry on top of your window design.

Many people get confused between valances and cornices. A cornice has a hard top treatment used to cover rods and other hardware. It is made by upholstering a board with fabric and cutting it into different shapes. Some are straight and casual, and others are arched. 

What You Will Need

This DIY upholstered valance resembles a cornice, except it has a softer appearance. Prepare the following materials:

  • 1” x 4” x 10” plywood or other wood (Do not use anything thinner than this.)
  • 1” 10” x (preferred length) board.
  • 2 yards of decorative fabric.
  • 2 yards of batting. 
  • 2 D rings, large.
  • “L” corner brackets
  • Screws.
  • Staple gun and staples.

You may also add cording, ribbon, and other decorative materials to your upholstered valance. If heat and bond work, you may also use them on the fabric.

Steps on How to Make a Valance

1. Build the Shape of Your Valance

After measuring your window and deciding how high you want to hang your valance, determine the shape or design you want. You can sketch the arch yourself, but others prefer tracing patterns they bought online. 

Sketch it on a piece of paper and trace the measurements using string. Cut the wood based on your overall measurements and face. 

2. Attach the Legs

Each valance requires two legs to add dimension. Cut the plywood to the edges of the frame. 

The easiest way to attach them to your main plywood is through L brackets. It quickly creates the “L” structure, and all you have to do is drill the screws. 

An alternative way to assemble the wooden pieces is by using 1.5” long wood screws. Start by hammering them on the corners and drilling them. You can also pre-drill the wood screws if you want.

3. Add the Batting

Once you have a “box,” cover the entire piece with batting using a staple gun and staples. I recommend using a thick material like textured cotton for that cushiony look on your window. The puffy appearance will reduce once you cover everything with fabric. 

Your batting should be several inches bigger than the overall length of your valance, including the legs. Only use one piece of batting for the whole item because several pieces may result in uneven texture. You can skip the back part of your valance to save more batting.

Make sure to pull the batting tight when attaching it. Then, trim the excess batting to become even with the wood. The holes or dimples made by the staples should be invisible because of the batting’s thickness.

4. Add the D Rings

Next, screw the D rings to the side of the boards. Don’t worry about the screw poking a hole through the batting. If you used a thick cotton material, it shouldn’t easily tear. 

5. Cover With Fabric

Now that you’re done with the batting, lay your fabric over the valance and prepare to attach it. Depending on your preference, you can also start creating pleats and hemmed drapes here.

You can use heat and bond to paste a piece of ribbon on the edges. This will help you trim out the edges of your fabric. Iron the cord according to the instructions. 

If you picked a patterned cloth for your valance, position it where you want the design to be more visible. Ensure it’s big enough to cover the whole area so that you don’t need to make adjustments on the second fabric. 

When attaching the fabric, start at the top of the valance. Doing so will help you keep the patterned fabric straight, especially if you’re using a striped design. Wrap the cloth around the sides and staple it as you previously did. 

Make sure the fabric is pulled tightly, but not so tight that it ruins the patterns. Keep the material even with the wood as you did with the batting. 

6. Fold the Corners and Finish

Once you’re done stapling the cloth on all sides, go back and fold them at the top. Do it neatly to avoid loose cloth, then staple again. Trim any excess fabric you see on the edges. 

7. Add Decoration

You can add a decorative contrast to your valance using ribbons and cords to make your window look more elegant. Use hot-glue instead of staples to make it neater. Leave a 4-inch lip when covering the cable so you can hold onto it quickly while attaching.

Or you can attach a few fabric pieces at the bottom, adding wrinkles and folds for that flowy appearance. 

Bottom Line

Now you know how to make an upholstered valance using only plywood, batting, and fabric. Because of its wooden backing, this DIY valance looks more like a cornice. But you can add an extra fabric piece under it for a beautiful drape.

Remember to use thick batting material to make your window look softer and lovelier. And start attaching the fabric on top to keep the pattern aligned. How was your experience making an upholstered valance? Share your insights in the comments below. And for quality fabrics to make your projects, check out our selection.

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