How to make a relaxed roman valance

As promised, here is the lengthy tutorial on how to make a relaxed roman valance. Relaxed roman Shade in a kitchenI am no professional, but I thought I would attempt a tutorial on how I made it, just in case you want to make your own. The actual valance isn’t hard to make, it is a little time consuming because there are lots of steps. Writing directions is challenging for me, but here we go.

{This tutorial is given for an outside mount.  My inspiration picture used an inside mount. If you are doing an inside mount, calculate your width based on the inside measurements of your window and continue with the rest of the tutorial}  Also, I did not line my fabric.  I wanted the light to shine through the fabric to go with the relaxed feel of the valance.  I don’t think they lined theirs in the inspiration picture either.

How much fabric you will need for the width of your window

relaxed roman valance diagramTo figure out how much fabric you will need, measure the width of your window and add 20″.  This measurement includes the fold in the middle , side seams and the 3″ overhang past the window.  The valences I made needed two pieces of fabric sewn together in order to fit the window. If your window is any larger than 36″ wide, you will need  to sew to pieces of fabric together.


How much fabric you will need for the length of your window

To figure out the length {I based this diagram on a 48″ long window}  I always take a valance up to the ceiling, it makes the window seem longer and fills that awkward void above the window.

Relaxed valance diagram lengthSo for a 48″ long window you will need about a yard and a half of fabric for the length.  {remember, if your window is wider than 36″, you will need to double this yardage.  Which would mean 3 yards of fabric rather than a yard and a half}

Ok, now that you have gotten past the hard part of figuring out how much fabric to buy, lets get to making it!


Relaxed roman shade suppliesOnce you have your board measured and cut, you need to wrap it in any white fabric. {sometimes I have even used an old white sheet for this.  No one really sees it, but it gives it a finished look by doing this}

Relaxed roman shade board

Cut your fabric according to your window size.   Now you have one big rectangle. Iron in 1/2″ seam on outside edges and bottom, and then turn over and iron a 1″ seam and hem closed.  I used iron on hemming tape for this part, it goes way faster!

Hemming a Relaxed roman shade

After you’ve finished the seams, now it’s time to make the center pleat.  To do this, measure  from the center of your fabric 5″ out.  Fold the fabric in half {2 1/2″} toward the center and iron. Repeat on other side of center of fabric. Pin the pleats in place through all layers of fabric.

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial center fold

Your center pleat should now look like this

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial pleat

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial center fold

Here is the backside view

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial backside center pleat

Line the fabric panel on to the board lining up the side seams at each edge of the board. Staple the fabric to the board.  Making sure to put a couple of staples going down the sides and also in the center pleatRelaxed roman Shade tutorial stapling

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial center staples

Your valance should look like this at this point

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial before pleats

Folded Pleats

Measure from the top of your board where your valance is going to end in your window and put a pin to mark it. {mine was 18″}

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial finshed length step

Starting at the bottom of the fabric, make a series of long, narrow accordion-style folds. First folding the fabric under about two inches, then up two inches, then under, then up. Make sure that each new fold is even, so that the bottom and top align with the last one. Iron each fold as you go. Repeat until you have reached where you previously marked your pinned length. Relaxed roman Shade tutorial fan fold

FYI: You will have to unfold your center pleat to achieve the fan fold properly.  Once you are done with your folds, lay the center fold back in place.

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial center fan foldAttaching rings

Now that you have your folds, it is time to attach the rings.  Attach one ring to the top of each fold, on the outside edges, and both sides of the center pleat. You hand sew the rings on with a slip stitch.  And wouldn’t ya know it, all I have is a picture of the center pleat rings attached {you can see how I attached the side rings in the next step if you scroll down}  Make sure you go through all layers of the center pleat when you attach the ring.

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial center ring attachment

Now it’s time to add the dowel.  When I had originally finished the valance it looked like a hot mess.  The whole thing was droopy and weird.  But then after a ton of research, I found the solution hidden in small print. You insert a dowel into the bottom fold and it straightens out the whole valance.  It’s what keeps the valance from drooping.  You need two dowels each the length of center fold to the finished edge.  I tacked the dowel down with a whip stitch but it really isn’t necessary.  Once you put up the valance it won’t fall out, but I just wanted to be extra cautious. The dowel gets placed on the bottom fold. You do need to lift the side seam to slide the dowel in, and tuck the other side under the center fold. {I used a cafe rod for my dowel because that is what I had.  But you can buy the dowels at HomeDepot or Michaels.  And they are easily cut with a knife}

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial witha dowel

Relaxed roman Shade tutorial dowel

Once you have the dowels in place, tie the rings up each side closing them with a knot.  {you can buy the string at Joanns} You will have 4 rows of tied rings.  Two for the outside, and two for the center fold.Relaxed roman Shade tutorial tying the rings

And your done!  Attach the valance with a “L” bracket.

I will be posting a video to refer to probably next week.  I’ll add the link here when I do.  I did a video last time for my tutorial for the flat tailored valance and everyone thought it was really helpful. If have any questions please feel free to email me or leave it in the comment section.


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  1. My brain hurts. You did a great job with the tutorial, but it’s still a little fuzzy to me. I think I need a larger picture of the finished product since I don’t really know wahs a relaxed roman valance. πŸ™‚

    I can’t wait to see the video!

  2. Did you ever get to posting the video for the relaxed roman shade? There is a section of words in the tutorial that is covered up by the photo…yikes!

  3. This is exactly what I needed to know-I am using dress fabric that isn’t wide enough for my window and I needed a simple way to widen the relaxed roman shade. Great DIY -thanks

  4. What is the purpose of the center pleat? Is the purpose to hide the seam or to give the shade some fullness and to let the shade “droop” a little? This is exactly the look I want for my breakfast nook bay window except I need 3 panels. This is probably the best DIY tutorial I have seen on this topic. Thanks so much.


    Not sure if you are answering questions anymore on this. But How is it a relaxed roman when you add the dowels? how does that work, it looks like you attached the dowel at the bottom so wouldn’t that make it straight at bottom?

  6. Thank you so much! This tutorial is better than any I’ve ever seen in any publication or post on the Internet. I’m in the middle of making single valences, but this has helped me immensely. I will be making doubles in the near future , and I probably wouldn’t even attempt it had it not been for your post. Thanks for helping me save a ton of money too😊