How to: Making a Ruffled Bell Valance

Red Floral, Black Dot & Turquoise ValanceI call this sweet little valance a Bell Valance. I’m sure it has other names but since it looks like “bells” this just seems to make sense.

This valance is a favorite among my clients as well as you guys here at Beyond the Screen Door. Several have asked for more details about how to make this valance so today I’m sharing all the details and how to’s for you to make your own. 

Flange and Ruffle Detail

This particular valance has a ruffle and tiny flange along the lower edge but this detail is entirely optional.

You could embellish the lower edge with a tassel or beaded trim, use a ruffle without the flange or leave it plain.

The trick to achieving the “bell” shape of this valance is in the alternating triangle and rectangle shapes.

Wrong Side showing Valance pieces

Wrong side of valance showing triangles and rectangles 

First I have to say I don’t use patterns for my window treatments. I’ve been known to sneak a peek at a pattern in the store to see “That’s how they do that.” but I’ve found that no two windows are ever alike or rarely the same size and I tend to always alter the design so, for me, buying patterns often proves pointless. 

But there are patterns available with similar looks as this valance so if you’re more comfortable using a pattern be sure to check those out. It may prove easier for you than my how-to.  

The beginning math for this project is a bit tedious but bear with me and we’ll get to the fun stuff. I’ll be showing the measurements we used for this particular valance.
*Your measurements will differ depending to the desired width and length of your valance.

  • Determine your window width – Our window was 72″ wide. 
  • Determine the desired length of your valance – We chose 22″ long.
    *The valance will be hung with 1.5″ attached loops. Finished length is 22″ from the top of the loop to the lowest point of the “swag” in between the bells remembering to include our ruffle which is 1.5″ long. 
  • Determine the number of “bells” and rectangles.

How to determine the #of Bells & Rectangles

  • Estimate how many bells you would like. I was guessing either 5 or 6 bells.
  • Take the width of your window – 72″- and divide by the #of rectangles
    5 bells/4 rectangles @ 72 divided by 4 = 18″
    6 bells/5 rectangles @ 72 divided by 5 = 14.4″
    I liked the look of 5 bells best. 6 bells seemed too busy. 
  • Determine the width of your bell.

How to determine the width of your Bells

  • The bottom of the triangle will be folded to form the “bell” or a circle.
    If the triangle is 20″ wide at the base the finished bell will be 10″ wide.
    If the triangle is 30″ wide at the base the finished bell will be 15″ wide. 
  •  I chose to make each triangles 25″ wide at the base – 12.5″

*If the valance had been longer I would make the bells wider/larger.
*If the valance had been shorter I would choose a narrower width. 

We’ve now determined we want…
5 triangels @ 25″ wide
4 rectangles @ 18″ wide

You’ll need to allow for any “droop” you’d like between your bells.

I added an additional 1″-1.5″ to each rectangle for a bit of fullness and droop.
The “bells” will also give us a bit extra fullness as well.

Allowing for 1/2″ seam allowances you will need to CUT…

  • 4 pieces of fabric  @ 20″ wide x 20″ long.
    (18″ width +1″ extra + 1″ seam allowance is 20″ wide)
    (22″ finished length – 1.5″ loop – 1.5″ ruffle + 1″ seam allowance = 20″ long)

To form the “bells” you will be folding them into a circle shape. See below.
The finished width of the upper portion of the bell will be 2″. 
The cut width of the upper portion is 4″.
*DON’T allow for the seam allowance on the upper portion of the bell. It’s very hard to explain but TRUST ME on this, it’s due to the angle of the triangle shape. 

*It may be easier to cut the fabric for the bells as rectangles first and then cut your triangle shape later.

  • 5 pieces of fabric @ 26″ wide x 20″ long
  • Make a pattern for your triangle shape. *Your “bell” or triangle will be cut…4” wide at the top and 26″ wide at the bottom
  • 4″ finished upper bell width + without allowing for the 1″ seam allowance = 4″
    25″ finished lower bell width + 1″ seam allowance = 26″.

You will want to use a coordinating or accent fabric as your lining. For this valance we chose a solid turquoise. The same fabric used for the 1/2″ flange on the face of the valance.

Repeat the exact same process of cutting your rectangles and bells for the lining. 

 Wrong Side of Valance Showing Piecing

Wrong side of valance showing triangles and rectangles
This photo was taken after the ruffle and flange was already sewn in place.
This photo shows how the valance was pieced together. 

BEGIN by sewing your first triangle of your valance fabric to a rectangle of valance fabric.

Continue alternating rectangles and triangles until you’ve sewn all your pieces of your valance fabric together.

Triangle…rectangle…triangle…rectangle…etc. ending with a triangle.

Press seams open.

Repeat the exact same process with your lining. 

You will now have the face of your valance pieced together = 9 pieces.
As well as your lining pieced together = 9 pieces

Wrong side showing ruffle placement

Wrong side of valance showing lining and ruffle.
Ruffle is shown already sewn in place folded back along wrong side of fabric.
Turquoise flange (not seen) in sewn between ruffle and face of valance.  

For a 1.5″ ruffle you will need strips of fabric 4″ wide x 352″ long.

5 bells @ 25″ + 4 rectangles @ 19″ = 176″
176 x 2 times fullness for ruffle = 352″
352″ divided by 54″ (or 45″ depending on your width of fabric) = 6.5 widths of fabric

Cut…7 strips of fabric 4″ wide by 54″ long.

Sew strips together end to end. Sew together & finish each end of ruffle strip.
Fold ruffle strip together and press/iron. 
Gather raw edges of ruffle together using a ruffler or by using this easy method.

This flange is 1/2″ wide. Using the above figures we will need 176″ of flange.

176″ divided by 54″ = 3.25 or 4 widths of fabric cut @ 2″ wide.
1/2″ flange = 1″ of fabric + 1″ seam allowance = 2″

Sew flange strips together end to end.
Fold flange in half and iron closed. (Your flange will now be 1″ wide)
Sew together and finish each end of flange strip.

Bell Valance Shown Open

This photo shows the finished valance after lining and valance face have been sewn together but before triangles have been folded to form the bells. 

Place flange along lower edge of the face of your valance  - right sides together.
Stitch in place using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Place gathered ruffle over flange.
Stitch ruffle to flange & valance.

Bell Valance Showing Details

This photo shows the finished valance after lining and valance face have been sewn together but before triangles have been folded to form the bells. 

For 1/2″ wide x 1.5″ long loops cut fabric 2″ wide x 4″ long.

Fold 2″ wide strips together lengthwise and iron flat.
Top Stitch to finish each loop.
Fold and Pin one loop to the center top raw edge of each triangle (bell). *Notice how loop is attached with ends side by side not on top of each other.
Stitch or Baste to secure loop in place.

Stitch valance face (with ruffle and flange attached) to lining. Right sides together.
Not shown. 
Leave an opening on one side (of a triangle) for turning the valance right side out.
Press all seams.
Stitch opening closed.

Loop for Valance

Showing loops with valance turned right side out and pressed 

Beginning on the back side of one end of your valance…
Fold your first triangle into the bell shape.
Fold outer edge to meet the next seam.
Pin in place.

Wrong Side Showing Loop and Bell

Repeat the process with each Bell and pin in place.
Press/Iron seams in place to help form the bell shape being careful NOT to iron the bell completely flat on the face of the valance.

Back of Valance Showing Fold for Bell

Whip Stitch in place along upper edge.

Back of Valance Showing Fold for Valance and Hand Stitching

Tabs can be used in place of loops in order to hang this valance from a rod.
Small modifications can be used to allow for this valance to be mounted on a board or hung with rings instead of loops.

Turquoise Lining

I wouldn’t call this a terribly difficult valance to make but it is quite tedious and time consuming with a ton of steps.  I would probably put this valance in the intermediate to advanced sewing category simply due to the pre-sewing math & planning involved.

If you’re up for a challenge I do hope you’ll try this valance and not be deterred by the lack of step by step photos. It was just too many steps to include a photo of each one.

Red Floral, Black Dot and Turquoise Valance (2)



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11 Responses to How to: Making a Ruffled Bell Valance

  1. Cindy says:

    Such a pretty valance! Your fabric choices always compliment each other perfectly…

  2. Allison says:

    What a beautiful valance, and thanks for the very detailed instructions! What type of hardware did you hang it with – drapery tiebacks?

    By the way, I don’t think I ever let you know how much I like the burlap coffee sack pillow you sent several weeks ago. It looks great in my family room. :)

  3. Oh my word, this is gorgeous and your instructions are wonderful. I love it. I would love for you to link up to my Inspire Me party that will be live today at 2:30 PT. Hope to see you there. Hugs, Marty

  4. Lori says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have just saved me a ton of steps. Making a valance for my daughther this week.

  5. Cynthia says:

    Great tips Sonya, now if I could only sew, LOL!


  6. Well I love this one! Of course I do like the material and it has been years since I made this kind of valance, so this helps me to dust off the cob webs of my brain! Thanks for sharing..I will be pinning for future refreshment.

  7. Jessica Sala-Bonin says:

    Love the valance! Notice you are using drapery medallions! :) You should check out my friend from church’s website she designs and creates some awesome medallions! Has some stuff that has some real “Sonya Style”!

  8. Lisa says:

    Thank you so much, this was exactly what I was looking for! I love your work. I’m trying to make this for my kitchen bay windows. I have the lining cut and I am sewing the triangle to the rectangle and I am a bit confused. The triangle is much longer of course, so how do you sew these together? Do you match at the top, but that leaves excess at the bottom, do I trim that off? Or maybe I am doing something wrong? Any help would be appreciated.

  9. Lisa says:

    Hi Sonya
    Was that an answer to my question – it came out a bit garbled.

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