Married to the Empire

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Make a Valance When You Really Don't Know What You're Doing

This post is for the new-to-sewing folks out there. If you want super-cute sewing projects that require more talent, there are plenty of other blogs for it. This is for those of you who, like me, are intimidated by sewing and are kind of making it up as you go along.

I posted last week about some updates to my craft room, including making a valance out of a curtain panel. For the most part, it was surprisingly easy, but I could have made things easier for myself if I'd been smart enough to buy my curtain rod before I ever started sewing. So, if you plan to do this project, learn from my mistake and make the first step be to buy your curtain rod!

Lay curtain panel out on cutting board:

Give the cat his moment to "help" by getting right in the middle of things:

Use 2 yardsticks to mark a straight line to cut off the tabs and hem at top of curtain. I used a charcoal pencil for this step, but you can use whatever you want:

Now, I was making this up as I went, so I wound up drawing lines every 18 inches. I marked off enough for 3 panels. I found out later that a typical valance is only 14 inches. In my case, I was fortunate that I originally cut mine bigger. More on that later:

I then cut out all the panels and headed to the ironing board. I used my handy little measuring tool with a sliding thing (it undoubtedly has a name, but I have no idea what it is) to fold down the edges evenly and iron them into place. I did this twice to make sure the edges were hidden, then I pinned it all.

Now, that above step is where I really should have already had a curtain rod so I'd know how big to make the pocket for it. I used the rod that was holding the curtain panel on the closet to figure out my pocket size. That was a major mistake on my part, because the window I was making the valance for is way longer. And when I went out later to buy a curtain rod for it, I discovered that they were all much bigger in diameter than my thin little closet curtain rod.

But because I didn't know all that yet, I went ahead and sewed everything up. Straight lines on the machine are actually super easy, and I had all three valance panels sewn up in about 15 minutes. I felt very proud of myself.

But then I bought a curtain rod, and realized I didn't have a prayer of fitting it in the pockets I'd made for it. I went on a curtain-rod search to try to find a smaller one. It didn't exist. So I started panicking. Then I did a little research, realized that my panels, which wound up being 16 inches after being sewn up, were actually 2 inches longer than average. So, I just folded the tops down 2 inches, which was plenty of room for the curtain rod, and resewed it all. The fact that I just measured for cutting according to what looked good to me, rather than actually researching how big it all should be, was actually a blessing in the end. It covered for my mistake. (And in case you're wondering why I didn't just undo all my stitches, well, I'd used a very tight stitch length that would have been a nightmare to remove. Live and learn.)

All finished and hanging in the window:

No comments: