I call it, ‘The Great Divide.’ Your window valance needs to be 82″ wide, but your home decor fabric is only 54″ wide. If you just sew an additional 28″ onto one side, that’ll make the fabric’s design repeat look totally wacky. So… do you put off sewing the valance until they come out with 82″ wide fabric? No, because then you’d also have to give up sewing duvet covers, curtains, slip covers and anything else requiring fabric wider than what comes off the bolt. It’s time to ask our friend, and home décor expert, Donna Babylon. She explains that when you join fabric widths to make an extra wide panel, you need to make sure it’s added to either side of the center fabric piece and it’s done symmetrically – the same on both sides of the center point.
Instead of just sewing two pieces together, you cut the second one in half and sew each half to either side of the full width piece. Using this method, you can make a panel as wide as you like, and it will always look dandy.
The following tips and techniques, along with the helpful drawings, are excerpted from Donna’s latest book Decorating Sewlutions: Learn to Sew as You Decorate Your Home , which you can order directly from Donna’s website, More Splash Than Cash® .
How to make a half width
For large home décor projects, such as curtains, a duvet cover, or a shower curtain, you’ll almost always need more than one fabric width. Sometimes, you need both extra full and half widths. A half-width is just what it sounds like – a full width of fabric cut in half lengthwise. This should not be confused with a ‘half-wit’, which is someone who randomly cuts his/her fabric into itty-bitty pieces.
Here is the easiest way to cut a half-width of fabric.
- Fold your cut length of fabric in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and selvages perfectly even.
- With an iron, press a hard crease on the fold.
- Open the fabric. With the fabric flat on the work surface, use large sharp scissors and cut exactly on the pressed crease.
Joining multiple widths so they look symmetrical
When joining multiple widths or half-widths of fabric, you need to determine the seam placement. This depends on what type of project you’re making. Don’t worry if the combined widths are slightly wider than you need. You can trim them to the correct measurement after you’ve joined the widths of fabric.
- Usually, two widths of fabric are needed to make a duvet cover.
- Place the full width in the center and stitch a half-width to each side of the full width.
Full length curtains
- The number of fabric widths needed for a window treatment is based on the width of the window and how full you want the curtains to be. To create the fullness, you simply sew one or more widths together.
- If one and one-half widths are required to make a curtain panel, the half-width is stitched to the outside edge of each full width.
- If two full widths are required to make a curtain panel, stitch the widths together side by side.
- If three full widths are required to make a curtain panel, stitch the widths together side by side… by side.
- If two full widths are required to make a valance, one full width should be the center piece with a half-width stitched to each side.
- If three full widths are required to make a valance, as with the curtains above, stitch the widths together side by side… by side.
You can also use this method to join fabric together when you’re running short and are either not willing or not able to buy more of the same print.