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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ribbon Valances

I love my daughter's ribbon valances. Every time we give house tours (which is very often because our house is rarely the same two years in a row) I enjoy showing her room specifically because of these sweet window treatments.

My original plan for this room was to create a space that she could grow up with - girly enough for the fairy princess stage and grown up enough to avoid major renovations as she gets older. I had a really hard time finding fabric to fit this idea though. Everything seemed to be either bubble gum baby pink or metallic rock star pink. Or, if I did find the colors that I was looking for, they were in an old fashioned floral print that looked as if it belonged on grandma's sofa.
We own an interior decorating store. You would think if anyone could find the right fabric I could, but it just wasn't out there and I was getting frustrated. Finally, I decided to throw out the whole idea of finding fabric and go out and make something with the color combination that I wanted. I think we struck a pretty good balance, although it is hard to tell in these washed out photos.
I have gotten several requests for instructions recently, which I thought would be easy enough considering that the materials list includes little more than ribbons and a board, but because I made these several years ago and I didn't take notes or pictures along the way. You will have to use your imagination a bit. (I'm not-so-secretly hoping that Heather's Miss Bliss will take on the challenge of doing a proper tutorial - Hmmm? Maybe?)

So... The basics. You will need a board, angle brackets, screws, staples, white paint and lots of ribbons.

1. First you will need to measure the inside width of your window AT THE TOP. Most windows look straight but really aren't. Measuring at the bottom or middle can result in window treatments that don't fit properly, so grab a chair and take the measurement where you plan to hang the valance. In the same way, if you are making valances for several windows, measure every window even if you think that they are the same size - you might be surprised.

2. Time to make your template. Get some butcher paper or newspaper, mark the proper width, and cut a shape that you think will look good as your valance. Tape it in place - Is it too long? Too short? Would you like a deeper angle? Is it even on both sides? - If not fold the paper in half as if you were making a paper heart and even things out. Play with shapes - newspaper is cheap and this is an easy way to determine what you want. Once you have found a shape that you like save your template (I'm forgetful so I always write SAVE on my paper along with the date & window location). You will need this later.

3. From the measurement you made in step 1, deduct approx. 1/2 -3/4 inch. (This space will later be filled by the thickness of the ribbons.) and cut your board to length - I chose a board approx. 3/4"x4" because it was handy and fit well in the space I had available. You will want to look at the depth of your window, making sure that there is enough clearance for your shades, and the height you will need to conceal the header of the shades.

4. To determine how much ribbon you will need, there is a bit of thinking involved. For the math minded you could determine the area of your template and then add to it the area of the front face of your board (because you are covering it twice) plus some more (real scientific, I know) for "loss." ***I'm not a math person so all of you smart folks like Jen & Robert will need to look away for a moment. What I did was first go shopping and find several ribbons I liked. Then I lined them up side by side and determined their width as a unit. I divided the width of my board by this number and learned how many units of ribbon I needed. I then multiplied this number by the length of the longest point of my valance. By doing this I was able to determine how many inches of each ribbon I needed. Yes there was waste, but I'd rather waste ribbon than do the evil math problem several times over as I change my mind about ribbon width. Sad but true.
* As a side note, I found that ribbon from craft stores can be very expensive. I got some great deals at the Christmas Tree Shops but the bulk of our ribbon I bought as those weird curtain things that people hang from their doorways (think 1970s) and then I cut them apart.
5. Paint the board white - I actually covered mine in white fabric to make it look more professional, (and cuz' I don't like painting) but really, paint would work just fine. This will make the ribbons' colors appear more vivid and will prevent any raw wood from showing in your final product. Make sure your paint dries thoroughly.

6. Begin wrapping ribbons horizontally along the length of the board. These should not overlap because we will be weaving the dangling ribbons between them later. Use a staple gun to attach snugly but not extremely so on both ends. If your staple gun does not have enough force to sink the staples well, use a hammer to ensure a flat edge.

7. Dry fit your valance. This is your chance to fix any problems before we get too far. Does the board fit nicely in the window? Are your staples flush? Adjust as necessary.

8. Point the ribbons. I like hand sewing so I folded each ribbon into a point on one end and stitched it in place. You could easily do this with a fabric glue like Fray Check, but I'm not a fan of the shiny edges that it leaves - personal preference.

9. Place your board on top of your template and position it as squarely at the top edge as possible. Begin weaving ribbons vertically. Thread the ribbons from the top of the valance and weave them down through the horizontally wrapped ribbons. Pull the point until it reaches the bottom edge of your template. Staple in place. (Do not cut off the excess yet) Begin weaving the next ribbon and position it as closely as you can to the 1st ribbon without overlapping.

10. Once all of your ribbons are woven through, lift the board, or better, have a friend hold it up for you. Do a final check. If you are satisfied with the length of all of the ribbons, cut the excess off.

11. Attach your angle brackets to the backside of your valance. Attach the valance to the window opening with screws. Usually I like to hang valances from three points along the "ceiling" of the window opening, but the header for my daughter's shades was too wide to allow for this so we attached from the sides. It seems to be holding up fine.

That's it. I'm sure I missed a step or two, but I hope this will get you started. Enjoy!

1 comment:

sara said...

I love this idea! I actually came over to look at your Nim's Island ideas - but found the valances as a bonus! Enjoy the rest of your summer!