How to Sew Window Valances, Swags & Tier Curtains

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Window valances, swags and tier curtains can brighten any window and add elegance to your room. Valances and tier curtains are very popular choices for kitchen windows; however, they can be used in any room or on any set of windows where you desire to have the option to only open or conceal just the upper or lower portions of a window. Swags add elegance and formality when added to any window or layered on a pair of curtains. Sewing valances, swags and tier curtains for your home is an easy way to save money and a moderately easy project since sewing any of these curtains is not much different than sewing traditional curtains.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Chalk
  • Marker
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing needle

Sewing Valances and Tiers

  • Measure your window width and add 2 inches for the seam allowances. Add 6 inches for every 2 feet of window length for light to moderate fullness. Add more inches if you desire very full valances or tiers.

  • Measure the exact length that you desire your valance or tier curtain to be from the rod down. Add 2 inches for the seam allowance. Then add an additional 6 inches to the length, which will accommodate approximately 2 inches of material above the rod and the rod pocket.

  • Press, pin and sew a 1-inch seam around the entire rectangular piece of material for your valances or tiers.

  • Fold, press and pin 4 inches of the top of the valence or tier curtain down-folding it on the wrong side of the curtain (the side you will not display). It should look like a 4-inch long ribbon across the top of the curtain. Now draw a chalk line at 2 inches down across the fold. Sew across the chalk line at 2 inches down. Then sew the edge of the 4-inch fold to the curtain--this is already pinned. This creates a rod pocket and a 2-inch ruffle or poof above the rod.

  • Slide the rod into the second lower pocket for window valances or tier curtains with the traditional ruffle or poof at the top. If you desire window valances or tier curtains without the poof, insert the rod into the top pocket.

Sewing Swag Curtains

  • Measure the width of your window curtain or measure the distance between the curtain hardware that you have selected to hold and support your swags. Multiply this measurement by one point five for a swag with short sides--this can also be trimmed and pinned to have no side overhang. Or if you desire to have extra length on your swags for them to reach the ground, measure this length and add to your width x 1.5.

  • Measure the length that you desire for your swags to hang down and multiply this by 1.5 or 2. One point five will yield average fullness while two will yield enough material for deeper folds or more folds in your swag.

  • Cut out a piece of material that measures the length and width derived from your final calculations for sewing your swag curtains. It may be necessary to sew several pieces of material together for very long swags--this will not be very noticeable--if you plan the seams at the places where your swags hang on the curtain hardware, then the seams will be virtually invisible.

  • Fold, press and pin a 1/2-inch or 1-inch seam around the entire swag curtain. Sew the seam either by hand or using a sewing machine.

  • Place the swag curtain in place and arrange the folds as you desire creating loose folds similar to pleats. Pinch the parts above the hardware that holds the swags flat then either pin it, clip it or sew the seam either by hand or using a machine. It is very simple to add a few hand-stitches at this point to the swag curtains above the hardware to hold the perfect placement.

  • [Optional] Create greater definition in your folds or pleats by removing the pinned, clipped or stitched swag and pressing the folds using an iron. Then place the swags back in place. Also press extra thick or stiff drapery fabrics.

  • [Optional] To create swags without excess material or overhang, trim the swags when in place to remove any excess material on the sides or in the back. Mark the material to be trimmed off the swags with chalk, put your pins in place, and trim leaving 1/2 inch to 1 inch extra for the seam allowance. Pull the swags down, fold, press and pin the new seam, then sew the seam in place. Reposition the swags and clip them in place, pin them in place or stitch them in place using an invisible stitch like a hemming stitch.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can avoid seam allowances and sewing seams on some heavier weight fabrics, like some plaids, for country kitchen valances and tier curtains if you cut the fabric with pinking shears. The edge that pinking shears leave looks fine on plaids, checked patterns, some solids and for country curtains in general.
  • A sewing machine will save you a ton of time; however, if you sew a basic hand stitch like a straight stitch or a backstitch along the curtains while watching TV or a movie, you will not notice the time at all.
  • Launder your curtain fabrics first to prevent any shrinkage issues.

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