How to Make a Cascading Valance

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Swags and cascades
Swags and cascades (Image: http://www.jcpenney.com/products/C048084.jsp)

A cascading valance is a three-piece valance, mounted on a board and installed above the window. The center section of the valance is called a swag and the longer side sections are jabots. This valance is relatively simple to make with a minimum of sewing. The choices of fabrics are endless, but the valance will drape better if chosen fabric has a softer feel. This project will be lined with standard drapery lining fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Muslin or old sheet
  • Mounting boards
  • Straight edge or yardstick
  • String
  • Straight pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Chalk or fabric pen
  • Scissors
  • Fabric
  • Lining
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Staple gun and staples

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Cut a pattern for the swag from muslin or an old sheet. The top part of the pattern will be the full width of the mounting board. To determine the bottom width, hold a piece of string at each outer corner of the mounting board, adjusting the drape of the string until the curved part of the string is at a drape that is pleasing to you. The length of this string will be the bottom width of the pattern. Cut the length at 36 inches.

Pattern for cascade
Pattern for cascade

Experiment with the pattern folding and pleating the fabric, starting at the top. Fold the pleats to the top, pinning to an ironing board, adjusting the width of the pleats until the swag looks the way you want. Mark each fold line on the pattern with a pencil or chalk. An uneven number of pleats is generally more pleasing.

Shorten the length of the pattern if the swag drapes longer than desired. When satisfied with the appearance, lay the pattern on the fabric. Lay the pattern on the bias by placing the pattern at a 45-degree angle on the fabric. Cutting the fabric on the bias allows it to drape smoothly. Cut the lining fabric also on the bias, using the same pattern.

Sew the bottom and side edges of the cascade, with right sides together. Turn and press gently, being careful not to stretch the fabric. Sew the top edges of the cascade to hold them in place. Transfer the pleating marks that were determined in Step 2 to the fabric. Wrap the mounting board in fabric, as though you are wrapping a package, and staple. Fold and pin the pleats and then staple to the mounting board. Make any final adjustments to the pleats before stapling.

Pattern for jabots
Pattern for jabots

Cut a pattern for the jabot out of the muslin, 36 inches wide and 36 inches long. Measure down 8 inches on one side of the pattern and mark, then measure across the bottom of pattern 24 inches and mark. Using a straight edge mark a line from the 8 inch mark to the 24 inch march. This line will be on an angle (see image).

Fold the fabric, right sides together, lay the jabot pattern on the fabric and cut. Using the same pattern, cut two pieces of the lining. Sew the lining to the fabric, right sides together, and leave the top open. Turn and press. Sew across the top .

Trial pleats in jabots
Trial pleats in jabots

Fold pleats in the jabot, starting from the short side (center), leaving the section that will form the returns at the ends of the board straight. Wrap the back edge slightly behind the board. The lining will show at the bottom of the pleats. Staple to the top of the board, overlapping the swag.

Installing jabots on board
Installing jabots on board

Tips & Warnings

  • For a different look, stape the jabots to the mounting board first and staple the swag over them.

References

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