The same valance style can look completely different just by choosing a different fabric. Sure, it takes skill and attention to detail to tailor the proper valance, but the fabric is equally as important.
But how exactly do you choose the right fabric for your valance? In short, medium-weight home decor fabrics that are about 54 inches wide are best. Large patterns look beautiful on valances but keep in mind that they may require more yardage and increase your overall budget.
Let’s go into more detail about fabrics and share a few tips from the workroom.
Go Directly to the Home Decor Fabric Store
Some of you may already know this, but I want to make sure I cover the basics here as well. Soft window treatments require the use of home decor fabrics. These fabrics are usually about 54 inches wide, although on rare occasions you may see that this width can vary between 51 and 58 inches or so.
When you go to your local home decor fabric store, you’ll find that the majority of the available fabrics are medium-weight. These are usually 100% cotton, 100% polyester, or 100% linen fabrics, although you’ll also find that manufacturers often blend fabrics together to strengthen the fabric or to make it a woven. So, you may also see linen blend, polyester blend, or rayon/viscose blend fabrics.
Don’t shy away from blended fabrics, this is usually a benefit to make a fabric better to handle when sewing or draping. The point here is that the home decor fabric store will have fabrics looking like this when you walk into the store:
A typical home decor fabric display rack.
Now, the store will also have upholstery weight fabrics. These may work well with some flat valances, but you won’t be able to use them for swags or more complex valance patterns. Stay away from poor quality, light-weight 45-inch fabrics. These are for clothes, not custom quality window treatments!
Unacceptable fabrics for valances.
Pay Attention to Fabric Repeats
I will be brief here, but you may go into much more detail on the topic of fabric repeats in this post. Unless your fabric is solid, it will have a pattern repeat. This simply tells you how much space is between the repeating patterns of the design. There are two repeats, vertical and horizontal.
For example, a 23-inch horizontal repeat means that the same “dot” on the pattern on the left side will reappear 23 inches to the right if you were to put a ruler on a fabric. Fabric repeats are very important when it comes to the yardage required for the fabric. If your valance project requires 5 yards of solid fabric that costs a total of $150, don’t be surprised if this project requires 7 yards and $210 with a large pattern repeat.
Every situation is different, but be mindful that large patterns may increase your budget.
Notice the large vertical repeat on the blue fabric.
How the fabric from above looks on a shaped valance on a 40-inch window.
Picking the Right Colors
It’s best to pick a color from the overall design in your room and to continue it with the valances. Don’t be shy to choose a color that will pop from the wall color. Even if you want to match the fabric to the wall, consider going a shade lighter or darker to create some depth. Take a look at these valances that are just a few shades off from the wall color:
Consider silks and faux silks for balloon valances. Their “crispness” will create the depth and volume this valance style requires. Silks must be both lined and interlined, while faux silks can only be lined.
A faux silk embroidered valance with matching custom draperies.
The top fabric of this scalloped valance is a cotton chintz.
You’ll often come across damask finishes on cotton home decor fabrics as you see in this ivory and teal small-scale floral print.
Of course, valances can also pop: An embroidered faux silk fabric in red on a kitchen window. This valance style is a board-mount.
A slubbed cotton fabric with an oversized geometric pattern.
Some valances have accent fabrics. These should be solids or small-scale fabrics. For small-scale fabrics, consider repeats that are no more than 4 inches. Solids will create the most pronounced contrast and make the valance appear less busy.
A red rooster print fabric with small gingham check accent fabric in yellow.
A small-scale floral print was chosen as an accent fabric for the cuffs on this valance.
Detail on the cuff top valance.
Don’t Match Trim Exactly
We don’t recommend matching the trim exactly to the color of the fabric, especially when both the fabric and trim are made of solid-colored thread. You can pick trim that pops – red is a very common choice because it’s just so vibrant.
A general rule in our workroom is that whenever trim is a solid color, it shouldn’t be the same color as the main fabric of the valance. Imagine if the trim here were white – it would get lost on the white base fabric.
3-1/2-inch tassel trim in red and gold on a light gold faux silk stationary balloon valance.
Extra long acrylic bead trim on a distressed toile linen fabric.
Notice how the brush trim above picks up on the tan and gold of the fabric, not the chocolate brown base. If you’d like your trim to have a sheen like this one does, make sure it’s made with rayon, not cotton.