Saturday, November 03, 2007

Easy to Sew Valance

I decided it was time to dress up the kitchen window finally! Since we've just finished replacing all the windows in the house, but we still have to put the inside trim up, I'd been waiting for the trim to be done first. But that's going to be a while, so . . .

I had some fabric I'd purchased from a remnants rack: ivory, 100% cotton. I didn't have a pattern, but a valance is about the easiest thing to sew--straight lines only and you can make the dimensions up as you go along.

Because the remnant I had was wider than it was long, I was able to use the selvage on the ends by turning the fabric the other way. Normally, you would use the selvage on the long edge, and that's especially important with knits. But I thought that since this is just a woven fabric that's going to hang and not be something that's worn and stretched at all, it should be fine.

I started by cutting a 60" long by 17" wide piece out of the remnant, using a rotary cutter (I switched the blade to make it left-handed), self-healing quilter's mat and acrylic ruler.

I folded the fabric in half lengthwise and sewed about a 3/8" seam allowance, then went back over the edge with a zigzag stitch to keep it from fraying. I basically used the sewing foot as my measurement from the outside edge. Then I got out my table-top ironing board and ironed the seam, using the cotton setting with steam.
I turned the fabric inside out and lined up the seam about an inch down from what would be the top edge, and then ironed to get nice clean edges for the next step. I could have pinned the fabric to be sure the line was straight, but I winged it a little and used this ruler instead.
Back at my sewing table, I pinned the fabric every few inches, to keep it from sliding at all, and to keep the edges I'd ironed into the fabric where they was supposed to be. I first sewed the top ruffle at 2 cm using a 4 mm straight stitch.
Next I made the pocket for the rod. I made it too narrow the first time (always double-check your measurements!) and had to pull out the stitches. So the finished pocket width is actually 5cm. This incorporated the original seam into the back side so it wouldn't be visible later.
It's rather hard to see it in this picture, but after sewing the rod pocket, I sewed a line 5cm from the bottom edge.
I went back and ironed the whole thing again to be sure the edges were pressed and to set the stitching. Then I hung the valance in the kitchen window!
If you need help getting started with sewing, I recommend the Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing. I bought it when I bought my Pfaff about 10 years ago and it really helped me understand the sewing patterns I was buying, and taught me a lot of different techniques. Pfaff also has an online show Behind the Seams, which you can watch and learn from. Another site, the Sewing Enthusiast, has a lot of information, as does Sewing with Nancy. If you have a sewing question, it can probably be answered with a Google search!

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