Homemade Valance for Spring

Learn a simple way to freshen the house for spring.

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Since I love to throw open the windows to feel fresh spring breezes, I think spring is the perfect time to change out heavy curtains and draperies for simple window toppers. Over the years I've discovered many toppers that, while simple to create, can add color and interest to your decor.

Some of the easiest toppers require no sewing at all. A shelf mounted above a window is not only an interesting way to display favorite collectibles, but it is also a unique window dressing.

A piece of greenery or floral swag can be used as a stand-alone topper or can be combined with a soft sheer.

Do you own a colorful vintage tablecloth? Try folding it on the diagonal and draping it over a curtain rod. Instant window topper!

A tablecloth can also be used as a swag valance. Install two small cup hooks in the upper corner of your window frame. Fold the tablecloth in half diagonally and place it over the cup hooks to make a graceful swag. After adjusting so that both side pieces are equal in length, you might want to add raffia or ribbon ties to hide the cup hooks.

Fabric napkins can also be used to create a window dressing for the kitchen. First, slide decorative napkin rings onto a curtain rod and mount the rod on the window. Then fold the napkins in half diagonally and slip the ends through the rings. This treatment is perfect for seasonal changes because it only takes a few minutes to create.

Many interesting valances can be made with minimal sewing. A window scarf, for instance, is easy enough for even a novice seamstress.

To create a window scarf, first measure the length and width of your window. Add the measurements of one width and two lengths plus 10 inches. Using this measurement, cut a piece of sheer fabric to length and narrowly hem the raw edges. Simply swag the fabric over the curtain rod. Adjust the sides and center swag until you have achieved the desired effect.

Can you sew two rectangular pieces of fabric together? If so, there are several other valances you'll find easy to make.

To make a plain valance, first measure the width of your window. Multiply this width by 1-1/2. The length of the valance should be 1/4 the window height plus one inch.

Using these measurements, cut a rectangle from your fabric and lining. Place the fabric and lining right sides together. Using a 1/2-inch seam, stitch the fabric and lining together, leaving an opening for turning.

Clip the corners and turn the fabrics right side out. Press the seams so they are crisp and slip-stitch the opening closed. To mount the valance, attach decorative clip rings to the top edge of the valance and hang the valance on the rod.

Another interesting spiral valance can be created from two pieces of coordinating fabrics. To determine the cut width of your valance, measure the width of your window and multiply by 2-1/2.

Cut two rectangles measuring eight inches by this width. Again, place the right sides together, leaving a two-inch opening for the rod pockets on both short edges and a slightly larger opening for turning on one of the longer edges. After you have clipped the corners and turned the rectangle right side out, slip-stitch the opening closed.

To create the rod pocket, measure from the top of the valance down three inches and mark along the width of the valance with a fabric pencil. Pin the fabric pieces along the marked area to keep it from slipping. Sew all along the top marks to create the top ruffle, and then sew the bottom of the rod pocket in.

Iron the topper and insert the rod. To create the spiral effect, twist the fabric one-half turn around the rod, which will expose the coordinating lining fabric. Repeat this at regular intervals until you achieve a look you like and mount the rod on the window.

Why not try one of these valances to freshen up your windows for spring? They're fun to make, pretty to look at and, most of all, they're sew simple!

(Matt Fox and Shari Hiller alternate writing this column. They also are authors of Real Decorating for Real People and co-hosts of the Home & Garden Television show Room By Room.)

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