How to Make Waterfall Valances

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Waterfall valances are gathered, exaggerated drapes of fabric slipped over a separate rod in front of the main curtain rod for a window. A single, narrow window usually has one great swoop of fabric that drapes about a quarter or a third of the way down. Side-by-side windows, a picture window or other wide windows may have three “waterfalls.” Multiple valances require a double rod, so that there is one centered front valance and two valances just behind and flanking it, across the top of the window.

Make your waterfall valance from a flowy material that drapes easily — silk, a soft synthetic, or velvet for a more formal room. Fabric that is too stiff won’t drape well and will look bulky rather than graceful. Start with one simple solid-color waterfall for a standard-size 36-inch wide window.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Yardstick
  • Dressmaker pins
  • Seamstress chalk
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Curtain rod, brackets and hardware
  • Drill (optional)
  • Screwdriver
  • Ladder

Step 1: Cut the fabric

Fold the material in half to make a 45-by 30-inch rectangle with the fold on the left and the open ends on the right.

Step 2: Measure and mark

Mark a spot 12 inches from the fold with a pin.

Step 3: Angle the yardstick

Slant the yardstick from the pin to the bottom corner of the fabric, opposite the fold. Mark this line with seamstress chalk and cut from the pin at the top, along the slanted line, to the bottom corner, through both thicknesses of fabric.

Step 4: Unfold the fabric

The shorter top end will be 24 inches, and the bottom will still be 60 inches. Blind-hem the raw fabric all the way around by pressing the fabric in a 1/4-inch fold, front-to-back, then folding and pressing again front-to-back and stitching the folds.

Step 5: Create the sleeves

Fold the hemmed slanted sides front-to-back 1 1/2 inches and stitch the folded side 1/4 inch from the edge and 1 1/4 inch from the end.

Tip

  • Adjust this measurement so the sleeve is large enough to accommodate the curtain rod. You may need to make the sleeve slightly larger — match the width on both angled sides.

Step 6: Install the hardware

Position the rod at least an inch in front of the main curtain rod, depending on the thickness of your valance material.

Tip

  • Bulkier fabric, like velvet, may need a little more clearance so it doesn’t interfere with opening and closing the main curtains.

Step 7: Slip the valance on

Starting at the corner of the long side, push the material on the rod until the rod emerges at the short side. Push the remaining short side sleeve opening over the rod and gather the second side on the rod until it emerges at the corner of the second long side.

Step 8: Arrange the waterfall

Starting at the corner of the long side, push the material on the rod until the rod emerges at the short side. Push the remaining short side sleeve opening over the rod and gather the second side on the rod until it emerges at the corner of the second long side.

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