A couple of years ago I featured a shaped and scalloped box-pleat valance on The Discovery Channelís television program ďHome Matters.Ē Since then, many people have called to request that I share the steps on how to calculate and fabricate this treatment. So here goes!
Before we get started, letís get out a pencil and paper and
keep them handy. Using detailed, yet simple, drawings makes your
calculations much easier. Usually, you will begin and end this treatment
with a pleat. The box pleats usually are about four inches wide
when flat, requiring eight inches of fabric to make each one. The
scallops between the pleats usually are eight to 16 inches wide,
but can be even wider based on the size of any design you want centered
in the scallop. Letís use an example of a finished width of
37 inches and four-inch pleats.
THE EXACT AMOUNT OF FABRIC
The first step in determining the size of the scallops between the
pleats is to allow for the amount of space behind the pleat, between
the end pleats, and where the returns begin. Deduct from the width
of the valance the amount of two half pleats, one for each end.
If we tried to place the stitching of a pleat exactly on the end
of the valance, half of the pleat would wrap to the return, which
would not look right. (A in Illustration 1) So in our example, 37
inches (the finished width of the valance) minus two inches (half
of one four-inch pleat) minus two inches (the second half pleat)
equals 33 inches.
Knowing that the spaces between the pleats are usually about eight
to 16 inches, we can easily see that we would probably use three
scallops in our example. To determine exactly what size they will
be, divide 33 inches by three, which equals 11-inch scallops.
Next, on a piece of paper draw out the exact amount of fabric needed
from left to right: three inches for the side hem, the return, half
the width of one pleat for the space behind the pleat, pleat No.
1, space No. 1, pleat No. 2, space No. 2, pleat No. 3, space No.
3, pleat No. 4, half the size of the pleat for the space behind
the last pleat, the next return and the three inches for the side
hem. (Illustration 2)
Based on the drawing, and on placing the seams so that they will
be hidden, determine the number of widths of fabric, then cut and
sew them together. Lay the lining and face fabric right sides together.
Mark where all of the pleats and spaces will be.
DETERMINE THE SHAPES
Determine the depth of the scallops. Two inches is most common.
Using pattern-drafting paper, draw out the pattern for the scallop.
In our example, 11 inches wide by two inches deep. Set the pattern
aside and determine the shape of the bottom of the pleat by first
deciding how high you want the up-curve of the pleats to be. Usually
two inches. The first quarter of the shape rises half of the way,
or one inch. The next quarter rises the rest of the way (another
one inch) and is the opposite curve of the first quarter. The other
half of the pleat is the reverse of the first half.
Using pattern-drafting paper, draw out the shape of the bottom of
the pleat. Allowing for a one-half-inch seam allowance beyond the
pattern, lay the pleat pattern on the section laid out for the pleats
and lay the scallop pattern on the section laid out for the spaces
between the pleats. Draw and move the patterns over to the next
pleat and space. Continue alternating until you get to the end.
Draw a partial scallop across the bottom of the last space behind
the end pleats and a straight line across the return and side hem
as shown in Illustration 2.
Pin together, sew along the bottom, trim, clip, turn right side
out and press. Turn and sew the side hems. Sew in the pleats, press
down flat and mount to a board using your favorite mounting technique.
To create another innovative look, we can make a slight change to
the flat box pleat.
When sewing across the bottom of the valance, also sew across the
top to create a finished edge. Turn right side out from the ends
and turn the side hems. About two inches from the top of the pleats
bunch together the fullness of the pleat and tack in place by hand.
The inside of the pleat shows at the top. The top edge can be left
standing up, or the top edge can be rolled down to create a little
cuff. The finished product is so different from the typical box
pleat that no one ever figures out how it was made, yet it is very
Have fun with these two variations and see what others you come
Strickland is owner of Professional Drapery School, Swannanoa, NC,
and is an internationally acclaimed speaker with 20 years experience
in the window coverings industry. She is the publisher and editor
of Sew WHAT?, an international monthly newsletter for professional