Friday, January 28, 2011

DIY Drapes and Valance from Sheets

This image from Decorpad was one of my inspiration pics for the nursery drapes (I have no idea why blogger is cutting off the right side of the photo, but if you click on it to enlarge you can see the full image):

I pulled down the valance to show you a photo of the top of the drapes:

If you were using a decorative rod, the drapes would look just fine by themselves, but adding the tailored valance allowed me to hide the cheap rod and the top of the roller blind!

How to make drapes from a king sized flat sheet:
  • Cut the sheet vertically down the center (so that the top edge with the wide decorative hem is at the top)
  • Finish the raw edge you just created on each panel by turning it under twice and either sewing it in place or using hem tape (you can face that edge toward the wall if you're worried about any imperfections)
  • At this point you could just shirr the panels onto a rod (you may have to open the side seam of the decorative top hem part to do this) or hang them from clip rings, but I opted to make slits on the back side of the wide top hem allowing them to hang like back tab drapes which forces the drapes into nice folds. Clip rings have the same effect, but why pay for clip rings when you can do this for free?
  • For each "back tab" just cut two vertical slits into the back side of the top wide hem (be careful not to cut through the front layer of fabric) about an inch long and an inch apart (make sure not to cut too close to the top edge- leave about half an inch from the top edge) with 5 inches in between the "tabs".
Here's a photo of my "back tabs"- make sense? The tabs will have raw edges, but no one will ever see that part. If you want to be able to wash them, run a little fray check along the edges of the tabs.

  • Hang your panels on your rod, mark the length for hemming and either sew the hem or use hem tape. I read on a professional drapery site that you should always mark your hem line all the way across, because the hem will pull up at the edges and I have found this to be true. I don't quite understand the physics behind it, but you have to leave a little extra length at the bottom corners if you want your drapes to uniformly brush the floor.
  • Lastly, add some trim! I just used inexpensive grosgrain ribbon and fabric glue.
Now on to the valance! Here's a closeup (and could you please pretend not to notice my ugly ceilings?!):

It's basically just one long rectangle of fabric, pleated in the corners and attached with duct tape to...

the very cardboard box the sheets were mailed in!!

And attached to the wall with...thumbtacks!

Now you know all my dirty little secrets.

Here are the specifics:

My window is 41" wide. I hung my curtain rod 56" wide to give me room for the panels to gather on either side (I actually hung my rod a bit off center to camouflage my off-center window.)

The first step in constructing the valance is to make a form out of cardboard or foam core for the fabric to hang from (I actually got this idea from Jenny's foam core pelmet tutorial!). You really only need a top and a back- the back edge will slide behind your curtain rod. I opened up the box completely until I had one large flat piece of cardboard and used duct tape to tape the flaps together so that I had one large solid piece of cardboard to work with.

You want to end up with a piece of carboard slightly longer than your curtain rod (mine was 56 1/2"), with a horizontal fold across the middle. The portion above the fold will be the top/overhang and the portion below the fold attaches to the wall.

My overhang was 6" and my back side was 4 1/2" so my cardboard started out as 56 1/2" long x 10 1/2". I cut away about an inch and a half of the bottom part on either side to allow it to slide behind the curtain rod.

You can kind of see in this photo how the back side of the cardboard is notched out on the side to allow it to slide behind the curtain rod...

Now for the fabric. I actually used one of the king sized pillowcases for this part. I just cut open the top and bottom seams of the pillowcase, leaving me with one long rectangle of fabric measuring 21 1/2" x 80" long. This seemed to be the perfect length for my window, but you could just as easily cut up the fitted sheet instead if you needed more length. I hemmed the long bottom edge only (the side edges were already hemmed for me- they were originally the open end of the pillowcase) and added the trim to the same edge. My finished valance has a 12 inch drop.

To attach the fabric to the cardboard:
  • Find the center of the long edge, measure 12 inches up from the finished bottom edge, and temporarily attach it to the front center of the cardboard with a pin.
  • Keeping the fabric straight, pull it smooth to the front corners and pin.
  • Line up the ends of the fabric with the back edge of the cardboard and pin.
  • Pull the excess fabric into a pleat at each corner and temporarily pin.
  • Now just smooth the extra fabric over the top of the cardboard form and wrap the corners like you're making hospital corners on a bed and use duct tape to attach the fabric in the back.
  • Remove the pins.

Now just slide it in place and use a few tacks to attach it to the wall. I think this looks best hung all the way up at ceiling heights. It weighs next to nothing, so the tacks really are adequate, but I suppose if you were using heavier fabric you could use a couple of "L" brackets from the hardware store.

That's it!

It's a little tricky to write a tutorial after the fact, so if you're confused about any part of this, please contact me or leave a question in the comments and I'll be happy to help!

Here are a few more fun sheet options I found...

Overstock $39.99

Smart Bargains $29.98

Smart Bargains $34.98

These last two are available in blue, brown or linen (beige)

I particularly like the first two options for the same reason that I like my Carleton Varney sheets- a) I love graphic prints and b)the larger scale makes them appear less obviously like sheets in the final product!



  1. Thank you for the tutorial on the valance and drapes. I am shocked that it is as easy as you showed. I can't believe something so simple can be so gorgeous. Thanks again.

  2. I'm STILL loving these, and that graphic element in the bookcases amazes me every time I look at it. It's just such a great statement! Thanks for sharing the tutorial, Pam. Have a great weekend...

  3. Absolutely amazing. Love your creativity and resourcefulness--and your taste! The pattern you chose is great--and the color combo of red and light blue so fun. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wow, very easy to do! Thanks for some inspiration for my new nursery. I'm excited to try this and see how it works. Glad I stumbled across your blog today! Will be following to see more projects.

  5. CANNOT get over the simplicity of it, when it totally pulls off a custom look in the end. Bookmarking this for a later date!

  6. These are beautiful. I really love the,. And i love your glad to know that i am not the only one.

  7. Your drapes look beautiful! You did such a great job, your so creative!

  8. I absolutely love this!! I always do DIY projects and hope no one looks close enough to discover the dirty little secrets ;)

  9. hi Pam,

    I have been following your blog & bookmark it for quite sometimes. But this morning, I stop by to say hello...

    Really love your step by step photos instruction. Someone like me, never know how to sewing but badly want my house to look as pretty as your house...

    Hopefully, this new year I will started to take one project...and you really inspire me.

    Thank you so much...

  10. Such a fabulous tutorial and what a beautiful result! Saw this on BluLabel Bungalow and just has to take a closer look. Amazing!

  11. I just found your blog and what perfect timing. I'm planning to make some drapes for my daughter's room and this will save me tons of time. Love the blog!

  12. Pam, this tutorial is awesome! I've made valances (lots of them) with boards and staples and L-brackets before, but the idea of using cardboard and thumbtacks REALLY appeals to me! I just love all your "dirty little secrets." Thank you for sharing your wonderful project!

  13. Excellent Content,
    Thanks for sharing.


  14. So glad I found your blog! Your tutorial was perfect... totally answered all of my questions! Can't wait to try this project! BTW, your nursery is FABULOUS!

  15. WOW! I wish I discovered your blog sooner. We just moved and I had to buy an extra panel to fit across the bigger panel is $15 at walmart...granted it's the light/heat reflective kind to reduce the light bill...but I would have been happier spending less money and having prettier curtains! I'm so glad I found your blog before I finished with all the other windows because that would have been expensive!! I can't wait to give this project a try!

  16. Great tutorial and I love how it turned out! I featured this in my project curtains post today, your post is a keeper!

  17. Thank you so much for the inspiration! I've already started working on these for our guestroom, but hit a snag at the end...

    Your lovely valence pleats look so effortless. When I tried them I just couldn't get the same effect. Any suggestions?

  18. Thank you so much for this idea! I did the top treatment to go with some curtains I had just made for our guest room and it's the perfect accompaniment. I knew I needed something but couldn't come up with an answer until I saw the link on The Nester. Again, thank you! :-)

  19. Woman, you are a stinkin' genius. I'm pinning this, so expect a flood of attention.

  20. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial! I will be using it very soon to make curtains to transition our nursery from boy to soon-to-be girl. So excited!

  21. Duct tape, cardboard and thumbtacks!!! You are a girl after my own heart. LOVE IT!

  22. Duct tape, cardboard and thumbtacks!!! You are a girl after my own heart. LOVE IT!

  23. Did this yesterday! Such a fantastic idea and it looks great!

  24. one think i must say about your contrast , love to see, your design approach is mind bl;owing i really appreciate. i have lot of experience in a designing and boutique feel, you contrast is very important in this field, and i also deal in a cheapest rated products like ; Hand towels, Luxury Bed Linen , bath towels, tea towels, bathrobes, bed sheets and every thing related linens.Thanks for sharing this information.


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