How To Add a Custom Valance to Ready Made Panels

Cinnamon & Brown (3)

This window treatment began life as a set of simple dark brown velvet Pottery Barn panels. The client, Renee, wanted to add color and pattern by altering her panels with a custom valance. Read more about our long distance collaboration here.

Curtains 9There are many different ways of customizing ready made panels. For this particular window treatment we added a custom valance.

The above photo shows the back side of the valance. Depending on the length of your panels, this style of valance should be between 20″ to 27″ long. This particular valance was 24″ long with 20″ being the patterned fabric and a 3-4″ houndstooth band along the lower edge. A multi-colored brush fringe separated the two fabrics.

Getting Started

Curtains 1Begin by opening the seam along the upper hem of your curtain panels.

Curtains 2` I use a seam ripper for his process.

Curtains 3The opened upper hem.

Adjust the length of curtain panel if necessary at this step. Much easier to cut off the top of your ready made panels at this point than re-hem them afterwards.

Curtains 4Open the seam along the side hem and lining about 6″ to 8″.

Curtains 5I like to add a band of contrasting or accent fabric along the upper portion of the lining. This adds a nice touch if your curtain panels will be hung with a “droop” effect.

HINT: To achieve a nice “droop”, use no more than 5 rings per 50″ wide panel. This places your rings approximately 11″ to 12″ apart depending on the returns. A return, also known as a projection or clearance, is the distance from the wall to where the window treatment is installed. Most returns average 3″ but can be deeper depending on your hardware.  A good rule of thumb to go by when aiming for a droop on a valance or window treatment that spans the entire window is a 2 times fullness ratio. If the curtain rod is 50″ wide then you will want a 100″ wide valance. If the rings are placed 7″ apart on the rod then you will want to place them 14″ apart on your fabric.  This can always be adjusted or altered depending on the look you’d like or the amount of fabric you may be working with. 

Cinnamon & BrownAccent fabric seen in droop.

Curtains 6Turn under 1/2″and topstitch a 4″ to 6″ band of accent fabric along upper edge of lining.

Curtains 7

With right sides together resew lining to curtain side hems.

Curtains 8While your curtain is still positioned with right sides together insert your valance into the opening along the upper edge making sure valance and curtain panel are facing the right direction.

Curtains 10 In the above photo layers are top to bottom as follows:

  • brown – right side of ready made panel
  • white – lining of valance
  • pattern fabric – right side of valance
  • houndstooth – band along upper edge of curtain lining.

Curtains 11Pin layers together and sew closed.

Turn right side out, iron all seams and attach rings. 

Cinnamon & Brown (3)

Not only is this technique one option to customize curtain panels you may already own but purchasing and altering ready made panels may be a less expensive option than an entirely custom window treatment.

It’s always so rewarding to add your own touch to something ready made.


Visit the Gallery to see additional window treatment styles and inspiration.


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5 Responses to How To Add a Custom Valance to Ready Made Panels

  1. Kristi says:

    This is absolutely wonderful! I got a sewing machine for my 40th birthday (3 months ago) and it’s still in the BOX! I need to get it out and give it a go! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial! :)

  2. Gwen says:

    That was an awesome work…! And your nails are lovely xxx

  3. Cynthia says:

    You always do such fantastic work. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Shenita says:

    Sonya, this is great! I haven’t forgotten about you! I’m just trying to decide what I want to do…lol!!!!

  5. Sonya,

    Thank you for sharing this info. You will be featured at my Nifty Thrifty Tuesday party on Monday.