How to Make Austrian Valances

Written by f.r.r. mallory
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How to Make Austrian Valances
Shirred Austrian window valances can be attached above windows or French doors. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

An Austrian valance is an easy-to-make curtain valance that has a soft, shirred appearance. This valance is made from a simple rectangular curtain panel and shirring tape. The valance can attach to a curtain rod with finials, or it can be stapled to a valance board or a cornice box. Making the actual valance takes less than an hour, and you can adjust the length of the valance to the exact height you prefer.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Iron and board
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Yardstick
  • Austrian shirring tape
  • Safety pins

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  1. 1

    Measure the width of the window. Add 2 inches for each shirring strip and 1 inch for the hems. Measure the length of the panel from the top of the curtain rod to the windowsill. Add 3 inches for the hems and pocket. Cut your prelaundered decorator fabric to these measurements.

  2. 2

    Fold the fabric to the back 1/2 inch and iron. Fold the fold to the back 1/2 inch and pin it in place. Sew a hem around all four sides of the panel. This will go much faster if you do it by machine, but you can stitch it by hand if you don't have a sewing machine.

  3. 3

    Fold the top fabric to the back 3 inches. Pin along the hemmed edge. Sew along the pinned edge. This is the bottom of the pocket. Measure the diameter of the curtain rod and add 1 inch. Measure up from your bottom of the pocket seam, using the curtain rod measurement. Sew a seam across the width of the fabric to form the top of the pocket. There should be fabric above the top seam to make a ruffle.

  4. 4

    Place the panel face down on the table. Measure from the bottom seam of the pocket to the bottom of the panel. Cut two strips of Austrian shirring tape to this length. Pin the shirring tape 1/4 inch from the side of the panel. Tuck the bottom and top of the tape under. Repeat for the second side. Decide how many tapes to put in between the two strips of tape. Two interior tapes will create three swags, three interior tapes will create four swags and so forth. Most 30- to 36-inch-wide windows use two tapes and three swags. Wider windows use more.

  5. 5

    Measure the width of the panel. Divide the panel by how many swags you want. Use the yardstick and tailor's chalk to draw lines along the length of the panel. Cut shirring tape for each line. All of the shirring tapes will be parallel to the sides and should be evenly spaced apart. Pin the tape to the line. Sew the shirring tapes to the curtain panel. Always sew in the same direction to prevent puckering.

  6. 6

    Slide the curtain on the curtain rod, and hang the rod in the brackets backward so that the back of the curtain is facing the room. Pull up on the cords of the outside-edge shirring tapes until the valance is the height you want. Tie a temporary bow knot in the cords. Pull up on each of the other shirring cords to the same height. Measure from the bottom edge of the valance to the windowsill, using a tape measure. Adjust the knots until your valance is even. Tie permanent knots.

  7. 7

    Wrap the ends of each set of cords around your fingers into a small loop. Pin the loop to the top of the valance with a safety pin. When you launder the valance, release the cords and untie the knots to thoroughly clean the fabric. Turn your curtain around.

Tips and warnings

  • Add a liner to your panel before sewing the shirring tape.

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