When I made this box pleat valance a couple of years ago, I carefully documented each step, edited the pictures for a future post and then promptly put it out of my mind. Probably because I knew it was going to be a bear to write the tutorial.
Recently, a reader of Beyond the Screen Door emailed asking about a box pleat valance. While searching for the answer to her question I came across these long forgotten pictures and decided it was a shame to let them go to waste.
I’ll warn you, this is a terribly long post with TONS of pictures. But if you’re interested in making your own box pleat valance this should help.
How to Make a Board Mounted Box Pleat Valance
Making this window treatment requires quite a bit of precise math. If you chose not to use a coordinating fabric for the pleats then your task will be easier. The first decisions to make are:
*Bolded measurements were used for the window treatment shown
- the width of your window – 45″ and length of board – 47″ – 2″ wider than window.
- how many pleats – 1 center pleat and 2 end pleats which results in 2 sections for the front of the valance. For a larger window you could make 3 or more sections with 2 or more front pleats.
- width of board – A 3″ x 4′ board was purchased. A 3″ board actually measures – 2.5″ wide
- finished length of window treatment – 24″
For this valance I used a red toile for the center and end sections and a coordinating check for the pleats and band along lower edge.
The size of your board will determine the finished width of your pleats and front sections. In this case a
- 47″ x 2.5″ board = 2 @ 23.5″ wide front panels (toile)
- 2 @ 5″ end pleats – (red check)
- 2 @ 2.5″ end pieces (toile)
Once these measurement are determined you can figure the amount of fabric and lining you will need for your project. Make sure you allow extra for matching patterns and/or centering a design (as shown here) on your window treatment.
*Hint – The pattern on window treatment fabrics can often be “washed out” or distorted with the bright sun shining through it. I suggest using a thicker lining to ensure your fabric design can be distinguished even on a bright day. This also helps with fading as well. My preference is a napped lining which is like a lining/interlining combination or a black out lining.
Cutting and Sewing Your Box Pleat Valance
Cut all your valance pieces allowing for a 1/2″ seam allowance.
- Red toile – Center front pieces cut @ 25″ x 25″ – Finished width is 24″ wide x 21″ long *I made the finished width slightly wider than the intended 23.5″. This extra width will fold into the center pleat. Shown later in post.
- Red toile -side piece cut @ 3.5″ x 25″
- Red check band along lower edge cut @ 7″ long (finished length 3″ with a 3″ hem)
- End pleats cut @ 6″ wide x 31″ long
- Center pleat cut @ 13″ wide x 31″ long
The finished length of the valance is 24″ including a 3″ band.
The finished length of the center section (toile) will be 21″ long. The additional length of the cut fabric will be used to wrap across the top of the board.
I chose to cut the band in widths to match it’s toile counterpart and then use full lengths for the pleats because I felt it would allow the pleats to hang better.
You could easily cut the band in a continuous width instead of piecing it as I did. In this case all your pleats would be the same length as the toile pieces.
Sew all pieces together. Press seams open.
Sew lining ONLY to lower edge of band. Press seam open.
Fold band right sides together matching seams. Sew valance side seams leaving top of valance open. This will give you a 3″ finished band for the front of your window treatment and a 3″ hem.
The reason for a 3″ hem that matches the front band is when the window treatment is hung you will not see an additional hem/seam line when the sun is shining through your window. Makes for a much cleaner look.
Turn valance right side out and press all seams.
Making the Pleats for your Box Pleat Valance
At this point you will begin the process of folding/pleating your valance.
I continuously check my fold/pleats against the length of my board to make sure I’m folding each pleat where it needs to be on the board. You can make adjustments if necessary.
- Find the center of your center pleat. Mark with pin.
- Measure 23.5″ from the right side of the toile section to center of valance.
- Fold right toile section at the 23.5″ wide to begin center pleat. 12″ was allowed for the center pleat. This fold will be approximately 3″ deep on each side and 6″ along back of pleat.
- Repeat with left side toile section.
Here you will see how I folded the extra 1/2″ on each side into the center pleat.
It’s been so long and I honestly don’t remember if I did this on purpose or not but this shows how if you happen to be off in your measurements for this center pleat it’s really not a big deal. You can easily fold the extra into the pleat. Continue folding the center pleat along the lower edge, matching the band seams. Pin in place. Press center pleat.
Press pleats on both front and back of valance. (stitching line shown in photo below is from decorative trim – shown later.)
Fold ends to make right and left box pleats. Press in place.
You may have to go back and take up a seam here or there if your fabric tends to stretch or your measurements are slightly off to fit your board. I’ve had to do this many times!
If you’re using a trim, turn under raw edges and top stitch trim in place.
Preparing the Board and Attaching your Box Pleat Valance
Wrap the board with lining and staple in place.
Of course you don’t have to do this but a wrapped board gives the valance a more finished look.
As far as how, it’s like wrapping a package trying to make should you have the least amount of bulk possible on each end. (The minute I think I have the perfect procedure, I wrap the next board entirely different.)
The stapled side will be the top of your valance.
Mark the center of your wrapped board.
Lay the center of your valance over the center of your board.
While wishing you had three hands, measure your valance to the desired length.
Staple in place at your center pleat.
Continue the process of stapling the valance along the front measuring every few inches to ensure the length remains the same across the width of the valance.
*Stop 4″ or so from each end.
The ends can be a bit tricky.
Measure again to make sure the valance is the length you desire and staple the inside of the end pleat to the side of the board.
Fold the pleat towards the front and staple again. (The bottom staple in the picture below is bugging me. 10 to 1 I missed the board.)
When these two layers are stapled in place, carefully trim away the excess fabric stopping a 1/2″ shy of the front of the valance.
Carefully cut a slit to the corner of the pleat.Depending on the bulkiness of the fabrics involved I will often cut away a portion of the lining or fabrics to assure the least amount of bulk when all the folding & stapling is complete.Fold the pleat in place first. Staple. Fold the front of your valance next finishing off the corner and staple in place. The front of your box pleat valance should always be folded to the top to ensure a clean edge from the front. When the corners are stapled in place, continue folding under the excess from the front of your valance and staple in place.
If you’ve measured perfectly or even allowed a bit extra in the length, the top of the board will be completely covered by your fabric.
You can plainly see this didn’t happen. Again, not a big deal. No one will ever see this except Angels, dust bunnies and the occasional spider.
The pleats may need some additional help after the wrestling match which just occurred. You can iron them again (which is a bit tricky, now attached to the board, but doable).
The best trick of all is to use a few clothes pins for a couple of days. If pleats remain stubborn and refuse to lay flat (which often happens when using trim) you can also place a small stitch or two in an inconspicuous place.
Board mount valances are one of the easiest window treatments to install. They are mounted using “L” brackets, which are often labeled corner brackets. The size of the bracket is determined by the width of your board. *A 3″ board, measuring 2.5″ wide, would use a 2″ L bracket.
- Determine where your valance will be placed remembering the brackets will be 3/4″ lower (thickness of board) than the top of the valance.
- Locate 2 to 3 studs depending on the weight and width of the valance.
- Screw brackets to studs making sure brackets remain level to each other.
- Place valance across top of brackets.
- Center valance to window or window trim and screw in place.
Whew! If you’ve actually read through this I applaud you and thank you! If you’ve found any errors or if any of my directions aren’t making sense please shoot me an email. I’ll be sure to correct them and try to explain better.
I sincerely hope this helps you along if you’re contemplating making your own box pleat valance.
Visit The Gallery to see additional examples of box pleat valances as well as many more window treatments and pillow ideas.
PROJECTS YOU MIGHT LIKE