In our newly appointed home office space (which is almost finished and soon to be shared!) there’s a floor to ceiling double sliding windowed door (as briefly blogged about here). The natural light it affords the space is lovely. The blinding summer sun and frosty winter coolness which occasionally penetrates the glass…ummm, not so lovely. This was never an issue previously as the room was used as little more than a walkway, though now that it’s actually a functioning area there was need to install some sort of practical window treatment.
My usual solution in this type of scenario is a simple, off-the-shelf, black-out roller blind. They are cheap, effective, light blocking, climate controlling, easy to use and readily available, though on the unfortunate down-side, they are not particularly pretty. The blind itself I find discreet enough – a neat roll when up, a neat panel when down – though the visible plastic end caps, mechanism and chain kinda burn my eyes.
Previously, I have simply hung curtain panels to hide the ugly ends of my roller blinds though this particular window-slash-door isn’t really suited for drapery. However, it is easy enough to install some kind of pretty valance to conceal them instead. Though, of course, you don’t need the excuse of concealment to install a window valance, they are a lovely way to dress-up any window regardless.
I’ve called this a ‘no sew’ valance though it’s entirely up to you whether you choose to use fusible webbing (hemming tape) or a sewing machine – either will work equally well.
Note: the following tutorial is based on my particular requirements and the specific materials I used for my standard window (180cm wide x 210cm drop). Depending on several factors (window size, fabric weight, desired appearance, etc, etc) you may need/want to tweak the process slightly.
Measurements provided are predominately metric. If needed, for quick and easy conversion you can go here.
1. A roller blind (if applicable).
If you don’t actually require a usable window covering as I did, then this rolled valance can be effectively used purely for decorative purposes. I used a standard off-the-shelf block-out blind.
2. A length of timber to form the pelmet.
I used a 2.5 meter (8 foot) piece of 70mm (2.7″) wide x 18mm (6/8″) deep pine. Ensure your timber is longer than your window frame and slightly wider than your roller blind (if you are using a roller blind).
3. ‘L’ brackets.
I used a lovely mid-weight charcoal ticking I found online here at No Chintz, which I was fortunate to purchase at 50% off. The fabric was 137cm wide and I purchased 2 meters.
5. Fusible webbing (for the no sew method) or cotton thread (for sewing).
6. A fine dowel rod.
I used a piece of 2 meter (6.5 foot) long x 5mm diameter dowel.
7. Ribbon (or similar).
I used around five meters (5.5 yards) of 16mm (5/8″) wide natural linen herringbone I found here on Etsy.
8. Buttons (or similar).
I used rustic timber buttons.
1. Mount your roller blind (if you are using one) according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Position it inside, on or above your window frame as desired. This will form your guide for pelmet depth. If you are not using your valance to conceal anything then the window frame itself will be your depth guide.
2. Cut your pelmet to length.
To get the length for your pelmet, measure your window at its widest point (frame to frame) then add around 5cm. This will ensure you have a slight overhang at either end.
Because my window sits on an intersecting wall…
…the side of it (at the kitchen end) is clearly visible from elsewhere in the house so I also used a small off-cut of timber to form a little cap at this end to hide the roller blind when viewed from the side (this does create a nice finish though I wouldn’t have bothered with it if the side of the window wasn’t easily viewed).
I simply attached my end cap with some wood glue and two counter-sunk screws. I then filled the screw holes and painted it, along with the center of my pelmet where the two valances would meet, to co-ordinate with my existing architraves (of course you could choose to paint your entire pelmet though most of it will be covered by fabric).
3. Measure and cut your fabric to size.
Basically, you’re simply after a panel (or two) of square or rectangular fabric. For my window I created two individual valances, hence I needed two identical panels. My pelmet was around 190cm long so each piece of my fabric needed to be about 95cm wide (once hemmed) to cover the pelmet entirely and, as I decided, around 100cm long to allow for ample ‘roll’ (though the length is not crucial). I allowed 5cm at each side for hemming so both of my un-hemmed pieces of fabric measured 105cm wide x 100cm long. Of course the size of your fabric panel/s is dependant on the width of your window and your desired amount of ‘roll’ (which can easily be experimented with). If your fabric is particularly thin or flimsy you may want to back it first for some added rigidity and opacity.
4. Hem your fabric.
As already mentioned, you can do this with fusible webbing or with a sewing machine. Fold each side under twice (so the cut edge is concealed) in a straight line at the hem width you allowed for then press your hems into place with a hot iron to create firm creases. Pressing them in first not only gives you a distinct line to follow when actually sewing or fusing, it also allows you to double check that all is fine dimension wise prior. Once both sides are pressed, measure your fabric width and if you’re happy it is correct, actually fuse or sew your hems into place. Finish by hemming the bottom (this should naturally ensure you create a narrow pocket which is needed for step 5 – refer to photo above) then iron your valance panel/s so they are wrinkle-free and ready for hanging.
5. Trim and insert dowel.
Cut your dowel slightly shorter than your panel/s and thread it inside the pocket you created in the bottom hem (as mentioned in step 4). I found that dowel was rigid enough to help give a nice, neat finish (and counter any floppiness, particularly at the ends) though also flexible enough to allow for some softness. Depending on many factors (the weight of your fabric, amount of roll, thickness of hems, look you’re after) you may not need it. Adversely, you may choose to use something larger and/or stiffer to create a more defined roll. It’s all just a matter of experimentation.
6. Attach your valance to the top of the pelmet.
Place your pelmet on a solid surface (I just used the floor), position your fabric panel/s in place on top and attach away! You can use a staple gun or upholstery tacks or, for a less permanent solution, something removable such as velcro strips, double sided tape or even masking tape (I used double sided tape). This may be handy if you have plans to take the valance down frequently (for washing etc.) or if you like the idea of creating additional valance panels in different fabrics which can be easily interchanged! Although it’s not visible, for a neat finish I folded the raw top edge under before attaching it.
7. Create your ribbon loops.
Determine how long you want your valance to hang down, double the length then cut your lengths of ribbon a few cm’s longer. I wanted my valance to hang down around 35cm, so I cut my lengths of ribbon to 80cm each, which allowed for hemming the ends and overlapping the join. I hemmed my ribbon with a sewing machine though you could use fusible webbing. I joined my ribbon lengths to create the loops using rustic timber buttons which I simply hand-stitched on.
8. Roll up your fabric and slip the loops over.
Place your pelmet with the fabric right side down on a large clear surface (I just used the floor) then roll up your panel/s, reasonably tightly, almost to the top. I rolled my fabric to the back though you could certainly choose to have your roll/s at the front (though just make sure you adapt the method for creating your panels so they are reversible – you could even use different complimentary fabrics front and back!). Slip your loops over the pelmet and rolled fabric then shimmy them roughly into place then. If desired, you can pick up your pelmet at this point to see how it will look once mounted. The fabric rolls should fall to rest within the ribbon loops. If needed the position of the loops and neatness of the fabric can be adjusted later.
9. Attach your ‘L’ brackets to your wall.
Your pelmet should be reasonably lightweight though it’s best if you can position your brackets in wall studs. If not, plaster plugs are fine. I used two ‘L’ brackets which I positioned just above and inside each end of my roller blind.
10. Place your pelmet on top of your brackets and screw it in from the underside.
You should have clear enough access if you lift the fabric valance/s out of the way (though you may need to dismount your roller blind). My soft pine pelmet required no pre-drilled holes and was easy to attach in situ. You may need to mark and pre-drill if you have difficulty. In the above photo you can clearly see how everything ‘goes’ together. The roller blind sits in under the pelmet and behind the fabric panels though can be easily lowered or raised without effecting the valance.
11. Done! If needed, re-mount your roller blind, smooth your valance/s and neaten your ribbons, then stand back and admire you new window dressing.
I’m really happy with how this ‘experiment’ turned out and I especially like the informal, cottagey look of it. As mentioned above, the now concealed roller blind sits under the pelmet and behind the fabric panels so can be easily lowered or raised without effecting the valance one bit.
I think the combination of timeless ticking fabric, natural linen ribbon and rustic timber buttons helps with the overall unpretentious feel, and the subtle curves seem to impart a gentle softness.
Oh, and about the plastic chain (which can be seen in the photo for step 1 hanging down the left side of the window)…I completely hid it by anchoring it alongside the window frame using two small screws – one screwed into the side of the frame toward the top (which I tuck the chain behind) and one screwed into the side of the frame near the center where the chain ends (which I loop the chain around). Sorry, though it’s pretty much impossible to get a decent photo of this given it’s hidden behind a bookcase so I hope my explanation is clear enough.
Roller Blind – Spotlight ($35 on sale)
Ticking Fabric – No Chintz ($22 a meter on sale)
Linen Herringbone Ribbon – Etsy ($7 for six yards)
Rustic Timber Buttons – Spotlight ($5 for six)