Friday, March 6, 2009

Butterfly Valance: Tutorial

This is a tutorial in, somewhat, the loosest sense of the word. My disclaimer is coming at the beginning, so that you might know right away that I am no expert. I was basically flying by the seat of my pants the whole time; however, I do think it turned out rather nice.

My problem was a naked window. Just a plain, ordinary window in my kitchen. But this plain, ordinary window allowed full sun to come in our home every morning practically blinding us while we ate breakfast. My kids and I needed to be able to eat our food in a half-conscience way or else the day was just not the same.

Solution: Curtain. (No-brainer, I know.) Now, I'm not someone who just runs out to get whatever I need from the local store. What kind of crafter/sewer would I be if I didn't first think I could make something. I just happened upon the above fabric while browsing the local Joann's. Originally $12.99/yd, this beauty was located in the remnant bin at $9.99 for 3 yds! Bonus? It just happened to match my new set of kitchen towels and washcloths. (Thank you, Larissa!)

So. Here we go.

What you will need:

1) Measurements for the window you will be clothing.

2) Outer fabric

3) Fabric for lining

4) Spool of ribbon or contrasting fabric (I used ribbon)

5) Curtain rod (or some method for hanging)

6) Usual sewing supplies - scissors, thread, sewing machine, ect...

7) Iron and ironing board

8) Paper for template

9) Air/water soluble fabric marker

I made a paper template for the exact size of my window. If you decide to make a template, you might want to add the seam allowance. I decided to leave it out of my template, but I did mark around the template with an air soluble fabric marker. Also, add an extra 2 inches or so at top for hanging purposes.

Lay your material out on a solid surface nice and flat. An entryway works well.

Place template on top of fabric (wrong side up), pin in place, cut out. Trace around template, if desired. Remember your seam allowance when cutting. It would be awful to do all this work and not have the curtain fit properly when done!

Place on top of your lining fabric, right sides together. Smooth out and pin in place. Trim. Sew together on both sides and bottom leaving the top open. We need to be able to turn this baby in a minute.
Get ready to turn. Clipping close to the seam in the corners will help get a nice sharp point after turning. Having something like a knitting needle will help in this endeavore, also.

Press the seams nice and flat. I had some trouble keeping the material where I wanted, so the pins came out to play once again.

Sew a 1/4 inch top stitch around the perimeter. This will help the material stay put and give it a nice finished look.

Next, do some measuring and playing with where you want your ribbon. I split mine into 3rds, but you might prefer a different spot.

Pin the ribbon in place the full length of your curtain on top.

Determine the length at which you will want your ribbon to hold up the bottom of the curtain. My window measurement was just over 46.5". I decided I wouldn't have the bottom of my curtain any higher than 23" when tied up. I then marked this spot on the front with a straight pin through the ribbon.

Do all this and then turn your curtain over. Find your pin that you marked with and start you ribbon for the back at this point. This will save you some work and save you some ribbon.

Secure the ribbon at the top of your curtain and at the spot at which you determined you will be tying. You should be able to catch both front and back ribbon when stitching.

Use the extra 2 inches (or whatever you decided) at the top of your curtain and make a pocket for your rod.

I found it easier to lay your curtain out on a flat surface to tie, rather than tying it while hanging in the window. Get it gathered and tied, then hang in window.

Stand back and admire your work. I love this feeling of accomplishment! Now, finding time to get the other one done......


  1. That turned out great! I just love that feeling of making something that works.

  2. Wow you did a great job! I have been putting off making window treatments because our apartment is so ugly- no sense in wasting good material on an ugly space you don't own!

  3. You are making me want to dig out the machine! It is beautiful.

  4. Well, I love it, Martha! I'm impressed with your go-getter attitude and your innovation, as usual.

    Question: in the tutorial where you are placing the patterned fabric on top of the lining, you have "Place on top of your lining fabric, wrong sides together." Should that be right sides together? I confused.

  5. Yes! Thank you, Larissa! I can't believe that is the only mistake that was found. I had to go back and forth so many times when writing this post, I was suprised it got done. :)

  6. Jessica, nice job! I'm really impressed - and encouraged - that you're finding time to sew and blog these days with a baby in the house. Gives me hope!!!

  7. Your new window treatment looks fab, well done on the tutorial too, I know how long it takes to write one but I'm sure it will be much appreciated by someone trying to figure out how to give their windows the same treatment :)


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