How To Make A Box Pleat Valance

July 09, 2013

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Box pleat valances are usually mounted to a board, but you can make a box pleat valance on a rod, too and it's super easy.

Follow my step by step tutorial with pictures. Whether you sew or you don't, you can get a custom look, it's really all about the ironing.

How To Make A Box Pleat Valance text over photo of box pleat valance

Last week I updated my master bathroom with a few small accessories, this box pleat valance being one of them.

Today I am sharing how I made it.

I'm careful to warn you though, I am not any kind of expert sewer.

All of my stitching prowess can be attributed to one semester of middle school home economics, one super crafty aunt, one seamstress grandmother.

And one very generous and patient friend.

I never use a pattern and I can assure you that there are going to be some experienced seamstresses out there cringing at my methods, but they work and my bathroom looks great! Ok, enough of my disclaimer, you have been warned.

How To Make A Box Pleat Valance


Step 1. Obviously the first step was measuring my window.  

How to make a box pleat valance pattern sew or no sew


It was 30 inches wide, so I grabbed one yard of fabric.

Of course there are many exceptions to this rule, but generally I have found that if I have at least one and a half times my window width, I'm good.

Step 2. Next I decided on my style and make a pattern.

For this style I had to have enough width for the window itself, the rod projection and 5 inches for each pleat.

I also had to leave 1 inch for seam allowance.

I cut my fabric to 44 inches wide. I wanted it to be about 14 inches long, so I cut it to 15 inches leaving room again for the seam and the rod.

I also took into account that my fringe would add about two inches.

Box Pleat Valance Pattern on counter with yard stick

Step 3. Start Sewing

I am not a huge fan of white liner.

There are places in the house where I have used it, but generally, I like seeing the fabric from the outside.

So, I just folded my fabric in half and sewed the open three sides, leaving a 1 and 1/2 inch opening at the top.

Fingers showing small opening in fabric to flip inside out

Step 4. Flip the fabric. 

Then I turned the fabric back to the right side, by pulling it through the small opening I left.

Turning fabric inside out

Step 5. Make the pleats.

Next, I laid my fabric out to mark the pleat placement. I wanted two pleats. I found the middle of my fabric and then centered the pleats in the space from the end of the fabric to the middle mark.

Each pleat was made by folding the fabric over and then back. I ironed the pleats to mark their positions.

ironing the pleats on a box pleat valance before sewing

Step 6. Add fringe or fun trim

I sewed the fringe on next. That was super simple. Trim adds so much to a curtain design so have fun with it.

Blue fringe trim on blue and white paisley fabric

Step 7. Add a rod pocket

Now, most box pleat curtains are mounted on a board, but I am not a fan of boards. They are way too permanent for my fickle nature. So I made a loose rod pocket.

I anchored my pleat with a few stitches across the top, so it wouldn't slip.

Stitches over pleats on box pleat valance

Then I folded the entire top of the curtain over about 1 and 1/2 inches and sewed it almost all the way across.

I stopped my stitches about 2 inches from both sides of the pleats. This allowed them to hang more naturally.

If I sewed all the way across it would be tight.

I did not want it to look shirred on the rod. I still wanted the illusion of a board.

To achieve a flat look, I made a very large pocket that did not hug the rod and stopped my stitches about two inches from the center of the pleat, text over photo of the same

Here's my finished product!

What do you think?

Blue and white Box Pleat Valance with blue fringe on bathroom window

I'm certainly no perfectionist, but I like it. And turns out that a lot of people like the idea of it being mounted on a rod instead of a board.

It's become one of my most popular posts.

Here in 2020, even though I have a new curtain in the master bathroom now, people are still asking questions and letting me know that they've made box pleat curtains/ valances of their own from this pattern.

Cheap and Easy Curtain Ideas text over curtain idea photos

If you decide to make one of your own, be sure to let me know! And if you have any questions, you can check the comments for answers or leave me a message and I will respond.

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  1. It looks so lovely. You did a great job.

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  2. Love the valance and I love the helpful tips... visiting from Debbie Do's

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    1. Thanks Cathy! Like I said, I'm kind of a rogue seamstress, so don't look too close! :)

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  3. Lovely! Where did you get your fabric? I'm looking for some valances for the kitchen and these look great.

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    1. Hi Lindsey,
      I got my fabric at a small local shop, but I did Google it and it came up online. Just keep in mind that it is not upholstery fabric, it is actually quilting fabric, but it looks great on my windows. It is Swirly Girls Designs for Michael Miller Clubhouse Pattern # sg5214 Pristine Paisley. It also came in red, beige and white paisley on a blue background.

      So glad you liked it, hope that information helps you track it down!
      Have a great weekend and if you do make curtains with it, please let me know~ or post them on my FB page! I would love to see them!

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  4. You did a beautiful job and you could have fooled me. Looks professional! Love the detail!

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    1. Thanks Roeshel~ Just don't look too close! :)

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  5. You did a fantastic job...I sold my sewing machine years ago due to personality conflicts....we hated each other! lol Now I pay people to do it because I stink at it.

    I wish we were neighbors! your valance is beautiful. Great job....

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    1. Hahaha Christine, you made me laugh out loud! I have the same relationship with my machine~ it is very temperamental and when it misbehaves, I put it away for months at a time! :)

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  6. Love your valance, the color is wonderful and the fringe is such a lovely finishing touch. Thank so much for joining Inspire Me. Hugs, marty

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    1. Thank you, Marty! I am usually not a blue girl, but the color really caught my eye!

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  7. So pretty! I love the fabric. Thanks for sharing at Silver Pennies Sundays. x

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  8. For somebody that hasn't sewn much you did one heck of a great job. Whatever works is my way. You used your common sense and to me that works. It looks like somebody that has sewn for long time, you did such a great job. Good for you for trying and see what you accomplished.
    I'm going to print this out so I'll remember. I've sewn for many years and I still do things sort of kittywompis as it makes sense to me. Have figured out how to do all kinds of things and it wasn't as I'd seen or read how to. So what? Many times I get a wild hair to make something so I go into my sewing room to see what I have and go from there. We live out a few miles from a town where I could get fabric if I had the money to buy it, so I usually raid my stash of fabric and trims first. Sometimes things don't turn out how I'd hoped but I learn from it and hopefully do it better next time. Keep up the good work.

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    1. Wow! Thanks for the ringing endorsement~ you've made me feel so great about my curtains! I have to confess that I actually accomplish most of my DIY projects in this manner. Trial and error, like you said! I have to say that I'm so jealous to hear of your sewing room! When I sew, I have to do it on my kitchen table and have it cleaned up by mealtime! Thanks for stopping by to read my post and taking the time to comment! :)

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  9. Kim this is a great fabric choice, it looks like it lightens up the window and gives it some love, awesome!! Thank you so much for linking up to our Get Your DIY On Challenge this week. next week is Fall Themed Wreaths, I hope you'll make it back and share with us! Have a great week!

    Mandy @ The Hankful House Blog

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    1. Hey Mandy, thanks so much for coming by to check out my valance! I'm so excited I actually had something blue to link up! What a cute idea for a party, love it and I think I do have a good wreath post for next week!

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  10. What a great job in the valance, and you solved a question I had...how to make a rod valance look like it's on a board. I have a few questions if I may:
    -Your photo shows the lining about half the width of fabric. Is that correct?
    -What exactly are you folding in half and sewing?
    - I'm confused about your sewing three sides together and turning through the small opening left. Don't you have the entire fourth side left open to flip it through? Or are you sewing three sides of fabric to liner and sewing 4th side (the top side) to within a few inches of the corner and then flipping through that opeing? So all four sides are sewn except for that small opeing left to flip it to right side. Do I have that right?

    Sorry for so many questions. I want to make a valance just like your gorgeous work and want to do it right. Many thanks for your help and congratulation on being so creative.
    Carol in Chicago

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    1. Hi Carol. I am glad that you like my valance, Thanks for the sweet words! I am sorry if my instructions were not clear. I think that all of your questions basically revolve around the liner...and there isn't one. I folded my blue paisley fabric in half, inside out and lengthwise, and sewed the three sides together, leaving a small opening to flip it right-side out. The fourth side was the fold.

      You could make the curtain with a liner or a coordinating fabric, but I am lazy! ;) Also, I liked that pretty blue and thought it would be nice to see from outside. So I just folded it to cheat my way to a pleasing liner...and one less seam!

      I hope that helps! Of course if you have any other questions, feel free to post them here or email me. My contact info is listed in the tab above.

      Thanks for popping by!

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    2. Thanks so much. I thought I saw a liner in the 2nd photo of fabric laying on the counter, but now I understand. It is basically self lined. Very clever. Many thanks for clarifying.
      Carol

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    3. So glad my answer was helpful, Carol. If you make the curtain, please let me know! I have a Facebook page and I would love you to post a pic there for me to see! Good luck and again, thanks for taking a peek! :)

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  11. You did a great job, Kim! The valance looks fabulous and I love your method instead of using the lining!

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    1. Thanks Cher-Ann! I am a lazy seamstress, doubling the fabric is the easy way out! ;) Thanks for popping by to check it out!

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  12. Thank you for posting this! I made this valance for my daughter's room and they came out quite nice! I could not find anything in the stores that suited the space/ my needs so I decided to try to make them myself and came upon your site. Very well thought out, concise and easy to follow. I also appreciated that you were so encouraging and made things seem so simple. I tweaked things to fit my needs and design but am very happy with the results! :)

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    1. Thank you so much for leaving such a nice comment. I am so happy that you were able to use the pattern and make something you love for your daughter's room. I am also thrilled that you were able to follow it easily. Sometimes, things get lost in written translation! If you feel like sharing, please send a picture to my email. I would love to see your handiwork!! :)

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    1. I am certainly no pro like you, Deb, but I can get the job done! Just don't look too close....

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  14. I am definitely trying this in the upstairs bathroom.

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    1. Let me know how it goes! It was super easy. :)

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  15. Hi Kim, I cannot tell from the photo if you have a stitched line across the top where you created the pocket for the rod.
    How do you get the flat, unstitched look for the pocket?

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    1. Hi! What I did was fold the material over to create the rod pocket, then I stitched a broken line across. I started at the end and went towards the middle. I stopped stitching about two inches from the pleat. Then I continued sewing two inches after the pleat...then stopped again two inches before the next pleat and continues two inches after the it and continued to the end. I also used a wider stitch there and made the pocket about two full inches deep so it doesn't hug the rod. I think that is what gives it that flat look. It's enough of a stitch to hold it on the rod, but not tight enough to give a pocket look. I just took a new photo to detail that I will load it shortly. I hope that helps. :)

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  16. Best, easy to follow instructions I have found, thank you!I was wondering about just folding the material vs. using a lining and yours looks great.

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    1. Thanks Kathy!! I am so glad you found this helpful!! Happy curtain making!

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  17. This looks awesome! Thanks for posting the tutorial. I'm very inspired by the idea of using quilting fabric - there is so much fun quilting fabric with large patterns that would be appropriate for drapery purposes.

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    1. Victoria, I am so happy you found some inspiration today! I bet your quilting fabric would look great. Please share if you make one. I would love to see it!! Thanks for stopping by today!

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  18. Thanks for the easy tutorial, just what I was looking for. I had to modify slightly as I didn't have enough material to make the pocket along the top. I had just enough left over from the cushions to make the matching pleated valance.

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    1. Oh I am so glad that this worked out for you and thank you for letting me know! I still have this curtain hanging in my bathroom, it's just such a pretty style. I have a Facebook page at Exquisitely Unremarkable, if you'd like to share a photo of your valance and cushion!! I would love to see them!!

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  19. Loved your instructions. I just don’t understand the last part about stop sewing about 2 inches on the top so it didn’t hug the rod. If it’s not sewn how does it stay on the rod at the ends?

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    1. Glad you found the directions helpful, Diana! I know...hard to explain in words. You're not the first person to ask. What I did was sew straight across the top but I stopped the stitches about two inches before the pleat and then resumed sewing two inches after the pleat, continuing the stitch until two inches before the next next pleat and resumed two inches after. So I did not stitch across the pleats otherwise they would be very tight and have a rod pocket look which is what I was trying to avoid. I hope that makes sense. Good luck with your curtain and feel free to ask anything else...

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  20. Found you through Pinterest! I'm loving these valances, but I have a question about measuring/cutting; you gave the measurements you cut your fabric to, but after folding, isn't the valence to short? Or too narrow, depending on how you folded it? Sorry for not understanding!

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    1. Hi Anna! So glad you found me! I'm sorry the instructions are not super clear, hopefully I can help. My window is 30 inches wide. So I cut my fabric to 44 inches wide - that leaves me 30 inches to cover the front of the window, 10 inches for pleats (5 inches for each pleat), 3 inches for the rod projection (1.5 inches on each side) and one inch for seam allowance. I hope that is a little bit clearer. And if you make one, I hope you'll hope on over to Facebook and share it with us there!

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  21. I am in the process of redoing my kitchen valances (on a board) after repainting, etc. It's been probably 15+ years - time goes by so fast. Anyways, my pattern has disappeared and my "winging it" instincts kicked in but I needed a little help so I turned to Pinterest of course and there I found your blog. Awesome instructions! Hoping to get mine done in the next few days. One question for you - how much material did you use to make the pleat? I know you said you measure 5 inches - is that 2 1/2 inches per side of pleat?

    Again thanks for great info!

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    1. Hi Diane! I'm so glad you found the instructions helpful. It was a tricky one to describe. I keep thinking I should do a video to clarify. Maybe someday! In the meantime I'll try to help with words. So yes, I gave a 5" allowance for each pleat. What I did, was use those 5" to construct the pleat, by folding both sides into the center mark at 2 1/2". Then I folded the material back and adjusted the folds.So basically you end up with a pleat that's 2 1/2" across the back and each interior fold is about 1 1/4". You can of course adjust those measurements if you want a larger pleat for a larger window than mine. You just want to make sure that when you're done pleating, folding your fabric length will cover the window. I hope that helps.

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    2. Great! Thank you! One more question - did you add the trim before or after you did the pleats?

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    3. I ironed the pleats in place and then I added the trim. And I'm glad you understood my directions!! Good luck!!

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    4. Disregard the question about the trim - I went back and read the instructions again - Thanks!

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  22. I wanted to share my finished project with you! Thank you for the great directions - mine turned out great! I put mine on valance boards that I made...so pleased!
    I wanted to share a pic but I couldn't figure out how to do that -

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    1. Hi Diane, so sorry it's taken me so long to reply. I've been a little distracted as I'm sure you are as well. You can email me a photo to kim@exquisitelyunremarkable.com or you can post it online at the Exquisitely Unremarkable FB page. Hope you are well...take care.

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