Monday, October 24, 2011

Afternoon Sewing Project 101: Repurposed Quilt into Quick Valence

Remember the old quilt that we used in 2009 to make a skirt for the sink in Catharine’s Room?

We recently got the quilt back out so we could add a quick valence in Catharine's Room. It is for the window next to the sink. Repurposing an old quilt and turning it into a simple valence is a beginner-level sewing project that you can do at home.

First you will want to measure out the width* and height of the valence you want, adding 5/8” (standard hem measure) onto three sides for a handkerchief hem (which will include the bottom and two sides). The top is left for now without a hem since we will turn it inside out and add a hem later.

*The width includes the width of window plus returns (the part that wraps around each side). The right side of our valence will run into the wall, so we just have one side/return and we allowed an extra 1 1/2 inches for it.

Pin and cut the fabric.

Then pin and cut another piece of fabric that will be the liner. Look at the pattern of fabric to know where to cut. Our liner is a lightweight drapery liner. You don’t want anything too thick or it will be too bulky.

When cutting, cut nice and square it up by finding the center and then cut off excess from ends. You want to make sure to get the excess off when doing flat work like this, because the measurements really matter.

We wanted to add a little shape to our valence, so we needed to create a pattern. You can make your own pattern easily using parchment paper. Tape together pieces of parchment if your parchment paper comes in sheets instead of a roll.

Pin and cut parchment to fit fabric.

Now you can design your pattern. Use anything you have around the house, such as a plate, to give shape or you can draw freehanded. Mark 5/8” from the end to visualize the hem.

Tip: If you realize the pattern looks too skimpy, tape a little more parchment paper to the pattern and draw on your adjustment.

Remove the parchment paper and hold up to see if you are happy with the shape and design. You can make adjustments as needed.

Make sure the fabric is straight, especially if the fabric has a design in it, before attaching your valence parchment paper pattern. Pin pattern in the center to keep it nice and flat on both sides. Finish pinning and then cut.

Once the fabric and liner have been cut, then take the pins out to remove parchment paper. Now, re-pin the two pieces of fabric (pattern and liner) together with the right sides touching for your hem sewing.

Sew your 5/8” hem.

Trim the seams so when you turn it inside out it will be very smooth. Cut up close as you can without potentially having anything fray.

Leave the liner a little longer than the fabric if you want (grading the edges).

If you had a stiff piece of fabric, if you had a turn you would want to cut a few small cuts into the liner. As you can see in the first picture below, it does not turn well on its own, but with a few small cuts it can bend nicely. Since we trimmed so close to the edges, we don’t have to do it for this valence, but wanted to show you in case it is helpful during your own project.

Turn the fabric inside out so the right sides are outside.

Roll the ends forward a little bit so you won’t see the liner when it hangs. To help with this, start in the middle and push the fabric up, and secure with a pin.

Trim off any liner excess that bulges from the top when you are finished pinning. Press the fabric well. Pressing can be as important as the sewing!

Don’t forget that mistakes happen. We got to this point in the project and realized that we forgot to flip the pattern on the fabric during cutting (since the fabric was turned inside out). Since our two sides are not identical (one side was different because it hit the wall), this meant the right side isn’t able to show - oops!

To recover, we just cut off the straight edge return so it won’t wrap around the window frame and changed the shape of the valence to curve on both sides.

We are going to hang the valence using “half and half” velcro. The soft side gets pinned and then sewn onto the valence across the top.

The stiff side of the velco has a sticky side that you glue to your wood valence frame (the piece of wood frame was put up on the window by Bob).

Once the velcro is in place, Bob was able to hang our finished valence!

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