Monday, February 20, 2012

DIY Stripey Bustle-Style Valance

Black and white stripes hold special appeal for many goths.  Add lace and a bustle effect, and you have a look suitable for many goth and goth-friendly styles, including cabaret, steampunk, Victorian, and burlesque.  This project shows how to make a stripey bustle-style valance perfect for your gothic boudoir.

Cost: Varies depending on fabric and lace choices and size of valance(s)
Materials needed:
  • sewing machine
  • serger (optional)
  • fabric (approximately 4 yards for the project shown)
  • lace (approximately 7.5 yards of each type for the project shown)
  • ribbon (< 3 yards for the project shown)
There are no step-by-step photos because this was a pre-blog project.  Feel free to laugh heartily at my visual aids. :-)

Measure the width of your window to determine how wide your fabric needs to be.  The fabric should be about two or three times the width of your window to allow for plentiful gathers. For my 46” window, I used three pieces of 45” wide fabric stitched together.

Determine how long (top to bottom) you want your valance to be.  I decided on 20”.  Allowing for 5” between layers, I needed a 20” long piece, a 15” long piece and a 10” long piece.

Based on the width of your window and the diameter of your curtain rod, determine the size needed for the rod pocket.  I used a piece 45” wide (cheating slightly) for a 46" wide window and 6” long for a ½” diameter rod.  (If 6" seems too large for a 1/2" rod, keep in mind that the fabric will be folded in half (to 3") and will include the header as well as the pocket itself.)

Measure and cut your fabric.  Stitch pieces together to make the proper width for each layer.
not to scale, of course

Serge or narrow hem the sides and bottom of each layer.  Add lace.  I used 1” black lace over 2” white lace.
lace is represented by yellow lines
Hem the sides of your rod pocket fabric.  Fold in half wrong sides together and stitch two rows to create a pocket for the curtain rod.  I stitched 1” apart to create a 1” header and a 1” pocket for the ½” diameter rod.

Gather the layers.  With a conventional sewing machine, you can zig-zag stitch over heavy thread and use it as a "drawstring" to gather the fabric.  With a serger, you can use the differential feed and a shirring foot to quickly gather each layer.  Setting the differential feed at the highest setting and making two passes through the machine with each layer gave me just the right amount of gathering.  Stitch the gathered layers to the rod pocket one at a time with parallel seams a minute distance apart.  While stitching the top layer, include pieces of ribbon to the front and back of the valance.  These will be used to create the bustle effect.  I used two pairs of 24” ribbons.  Add lace to cover the stitching.

Hang the valance and tie the ribbons to bustle it up.  You could pin on bows at the bustle points for extra sauciness.
striped bustled valance over solid black curtains and striped panel


  1. These look great! I love the striped fabric.

  2. The valance is lovely. A lot of work but well worth the trouble - it has to be unique. And I think you're absolutely right to use fabric three times the width of the window. It gives it an abundant, opulent feel.

    Apparently a 'serger' is the North American term for a sewing machine that produces an overlock stitch. (I didn't know what an 'overlock stitch' was either but I do now!) I have a very old Helvetia sewing machine which I managed to thread for my girlfriend to do some simple hemming but I think for any future project a new modern machine might be a good idea as we had a real struggle to get it to just produce a decent line of stitches without mishap. I'm doubtful that even after servicing and lubrication it would be any nicer to use. What machine do you have?


  3. Lady Bethezda - Thank you very much!

    Orlando - Thank you! Yes, a serger is an overlock machine with a knife that trims the edge of the fabric. I have a Singer Simple sewing machine (cost <$100) and a Brother 1034D serger (cost <$200). Both are basic, inexpensive machines, but they have performed well under relatively frequent use.

  4. I love those curtains! We have stripey valances in the bedroom. Ours are pointy squares; we used a Simplicity pattern. I...may have to steal the stripey panel layered behind the black curtains. It's very striking!

  5. Woo! Welcome back!!! And you mark your return with a wonderful tutorial with excellent instructions. I stupidly bought a house with 22 windows, and have spent 2.5 years trying to get them all covered (still not done upstairs!). I need you to come sew for my poor upstairs windows. ;)

  6. kakuidori - Sometimes I feel that way as well. I have more ideas for window treatments than I do windows.

    Electrobat - Thank you! I have a photo of pointy striped valances in my "inspiration" files. :) I decided on a stripey panel instead of a miniblind. It lets in about the same amount of light and looks better, I think.

    VictorianKitty - Thanks! I hoped the visuals would make sense; I only had PowerPoint to work with. :P Wow, 22 windows?! Must be nice for the natural light, but definitely a challenge to dress them all! My house has only six windows - one in each room. I have ideas for more than six treatments, so I may have to put them on rotation. ;)