There’s nothing like a custom window treatment that’s specifically tailored to fit your window. Valances are commonly custom-made as part of the overall window dressing, but I know what you’re wondering:
How much do custom valances cost? It depends on many factors, but if we were to simplify it, the majority of custom valances will cost somewhere between $150 and $750 per each 36 inches of width. There are many factors that make up the price, including consultation, fabrics, supplies, labor, and installation.
Let’s go into more detail on this answer and what you can do as a smart consumer to get the best deal possible.
The “Full-Service” Way to Do It
If you have a high budget and want everything done for you, you can certainly call up a full-service design firm to do custom valances as part of an overall room design.
Just know that the more people and the more steps are involved, the more you’ll end up paying (and possibly waiting longer). There’s no such thing as free, so even if your in-home consultation or installation are free, you’ll pay elsewhere.
Usually, that’s in the fabrics or hardware.
That’s because interior designers and workrooms have dealer only accounts with other fabric resellers.
It usually looks something like this:
Fabric manufacturer prints their fabrics on 30- or 60-yard bolts, then sells the entire bolt to a fabric reseller at about $15 a yard. Fabric reseller then puts together those fabrics into fancy, color-coordinated fabric books and sends those out to interior designers.
The interior designer would be paying a “wholesale” price on this fabric, but it would be $23 or so since the fabric reseller has to make a profit and justify all the warehouse space that all those bolts are taking up.
Interior designer then goes to a client for an in-home consultation. Client finds a fabric he or she absolutely loves in a fabric book. Interior designer flips to the back of the book and tells client that the fabric cost is $46 a yard. The rule is usually to double the wholesale price when the fabric is presented to the client. This is called the “retail” price.
If you end up needing 12 yards of fabric but are being charged $46 a yard that realistically would be $23, you’ll quickly realize that the “free” consultation and install aren’t really free after all.
In my opinion, some of that upcharge is justified. Sourcing fabrics, trimmings, hardware, then curating and maintaining all those options together is a very thoughtful and time-consuming process (our mood boards took us over 200 hours to create).
The “I’ll Do Some of It Myself” Way to Do It
The other way to go about shopping for custom valances is to pay only for the custom fabrication, and then get resourceful and do the fabric selection and install yourself. By picking an online retailer, you also won’t have to pay for unnecessary overhead costs.
Pricing the Fabric
First, you have to decide how you’ll go about finding the fabric.
You can find fabrics at your local home decor store and save by providing your own fabrics to the workroom. This is called a customer’s own materials (COM) order.
Make sure to listen to the suggestions that the workroom is giving you. It’s easy to pick the wrong fabric and then you won’t be able to return it since all fabrics are final sales once cut.
You can also use the fabrics that the workroom carries. Ask them what part of the invoice is for labor and what part is for the fabric. Realistically, home decor fabrics should cost between about $18 and $35 a yard, although some fabrics can easily cost much more (i.e. 100% silks, embroidered fabrics, linens, exclusive patterns, etc.).
Once you have found a reasonable way to price the fabric, next you’ll want to determine the yardage needed. Always listen to the workroom when it comes to yardage requirements. If you end up being short on the yardage, you may not be able to go back to reorder and your whole project may be a waste just because you tried to save $10 on half a yard of fabric.
Understand that a lot of fabric is often wasted in the sewing process. What you may think is the correct yardage at first glance may be nowhere near to what the workroom actually ends up using. So listen to your workroom. It probably took years to develop the experience to gauge how much yardage is needed to create a valance.
This valance needed 2-3/4 yards of the yellow fabric, but did you know that it needed the same yardage for the red contrast lining for the inverted box pleats?
Pricing the Labor
About $20 to $35 per hour is reasonable for labor, although some very experienced, upscale workrooms can easily commend double those rates. This does not include fabrics, linings, other supplies, or any other costs that are necessary like using specialty machines, shipping, or other considerations.
Be careful about who you select. I hate to say it, but it’s so easy to open up a small Etsy shop and call yourself a seamstress. There are many talented people on those marketplaces, but always ask for pictures of the work to confirm.
When it comes to custom sewing labor, time can easily add up. The more features you request, the more time the workroom will need to complete your order.
For example, a rod pocket only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to sew, yet the same valance may require 30 to 45 minutes of time to staple on a board and to make sure the fabric is hanging evenly from the board when the valance is viewed from the side.
A drapery that’s only 50 inches wide may be a breeze to sew, but make it 100 inches wide and the workroom will have to do some heavy lifting since it will have to deal with 9 feet of heavy fabric. So it isn’t as simple as just doubling the price because a drapery is twice the width. The same goes for extra wide valances.
So how long should you expect for it to take to sew a custom valance?
It really depends. Some flat, rod pocket valances can be completed in 1.5 to 5 hours. Elaborate board-mounted valances need about 4 to 10 hours of labor each. Balloon and London valances are somewhere in between those two examples.
But again, it all depends. An 80-inch wide valance may be an all-day project for a workroom, while the same style in a 40-inch width may only take about 2, 3 hours of labor or so.