Just like draperies, valances can also be made with various pleats. But first, let’s define what a pleated valance really is.

So what is a pleated valance? It means that the fabric on top of the valance has been folded over multiple times to create what is known as a pleat. The pleats are then spaced out evenly to create a unique top header. Inverted box pleats are very popular nowadays thanks to their modern design, but there are also other pleats like pinch, goblet, pencil and cartridge pleats, for example.

Let’s take a look at some examples of pleated valances.


Inverted Box Pleats

These valances are the most popular pleated valances nowadays. Open any interior design magazine and you’re sure to find a picture of a room with a box pleated valance sooner or later. There are three important keys to consider when shopping for this kind of valance:

  • Must be board-mounted or have a rod pocket that’s blind-stitched across the pleats. The box pleats must be smooth and come up from behind the valance. The pleats won’t look as good when there are messy stitches showing.
  • Pleats must be deep. Most people don’t realize it, but the yardage required for the fabric for the inside pleats is the same as the main fabric. Be careful to avoid shallow pleats that are tucked in only a few inches behind the main fabric.
  • Pay attention to the sides of the valance. There must be extra fabric when looking at the valance from the side, one way or another.

Some of this may be difficult to understand unless you see actual pictures, so let’s take a look at some examples.


Board-Mounted Box Pleat Valances

Geometric Print Modern Valance This style is the simplest box pleat valance design currently available. It’s very popular with interior designers because of its clean, contemporary construction. This valance is usually board-mounted and usually has a projection of about 3 to 4 inches from the wall. This valance can also be short.

If you have a low basement ceiling, for example, consider a length of about 15 to 16 inches. For all other box pleat valances, the length should ideally be between 17 and 21 inches, excluding trim. Notice how the fabric has an additional box pleat on each end and then wraps around the board towards the wall.

These pleats are often also called kick pleats or corner pleats. Look for this detail when shopping for your own valance! You’ll often find a banded edge on the bottom of these valances, like the kitchen and bedroom valances below.



Coral Beach Box Pleat Valances


Don’t be afraid of picking a bold contrasting fabric for the box pleats. Changing up the textures of the fabric is also a good idea. In this box pleated London valance, we used a heavy upholstery-weight, woven fabric for the main fabric in bold, but the cinnamon orange was a slubbed dupioni silk.


Balloon Valance with Lots of Fabric Volume


The pleats of the straight box pleat valance can be made in a contrasting fabric. It may be hard to imagine since most of the inverted pleats are barely visible, but when we made this valance, we used the same yardage for both the green accent fabric and the face fabric in red and white. This is necessary to create the proper pleat, so stay away from valances with shallow inverted box pleats.


Dictionary of Curtain Words And don’t forget that the sides of the valance must have kick pleats to finish off the valance.


White Balloon Valance Bedroom Look for half pleats or full box pleats on the sides of balloon valances, too.


Some box pleat valances are made with one flat section and only have kick pleats on each side. Here, a board-mounted valance was made in a linen fabric in black, red, and yellow. Then, an olive green Roman shade was used to create some privacy in the room.


These kinds of valances can also be shaped to create interest and make a room more welcoming. Here, a green linen fabric was used for both the main fabric and the fabric for the box pleats. The 3-1/2 inch multicolor tassel fringe was the finishing touch.


Burgundy and Yellow Living Room Curtains The valance can be designed any way you’d like. There really are no rules since inverted box pleats are so universal. It’s perfectly fine to create a valance with one wide section and then to finish off the sides with several pleated sections as was done with the living room valance above.


If you come across relaxed Roman shades or valances, you’ll often find a center box pleats. These pleats are actually very shallow and are tucked in only about 2 to 3 inches behind the front fabric on each side. This is a trick that fabricators often use to create a more pronounced “smiley face” shape at the bottom of the valance.


Three relaxed Roman valances with center box pleats, on a bay window.


Rod Pocket Box Pleat Valances

I’ll be honest with you – it’s easy to find a low-quality rod pocket box pleat valance. That’s because there shouldn’t be any stitches that are running across the pleats. Ask your workroom to do one of two things to make sure you’re getting a good quality valance:

  • Create a hand-sewn rod pocket. That way, stitches are visible from the back, but not from the front of the valance.
  • Create a normal rod pocket, with blind stitches across the pleats. This is a combination of a machine-sewn rod pocket across the flat section of the valance and blind stitching across the inverted pleats by hand.

When one of these two methods is used, the box pleat valances still have a standard 3-inch rod pocket without noticeable stitches. The valances end up looking like the ones below.



Silk Balloon Valance


Knife Box Pleats

Not to get too technical here, but an inverted box pleat is made by pulling both sides of the valance together and tucking the fabric underneath. When just one side is tucked in, you get a knife pleat. In essence, it’s a pleat that points in one particular direction. When several knife pleats are repeated, the fabric stacks up and creates volume.

This is better explained by showing you some pictures.


Notice how the pleats on the silk valance above are tucked in towards the center of the valance. These are known as knife pleats. Sometimes inverted box pleats and knife pleats can be combined together. In the two examples of the red valances below, the middle section of each valance had inverted box pleats, while the jabots on the sides were made with knife pleats.



Box Pleat Valance over Sliding Glass Doors


Other Pleats

The same pleats that are available on custom draperies are possible on valances, too. Let’s get away from inverted box pleats and take a look at some other pleated valance styles.


Goblet Pleats

Casual Valance with Goblet Pleats Custom These valances are usually hung on drapery rings, although it’s possible to make them board-mounted, too. The goblet pleat gets its name because it’s shaped like a chalice.



A goblet- pleated valance with a top banded edge.


Pinch Pleats

Pinch pleats are creating by pinching fabric into a butterfly shape. For that reason, you may see some designers call it a butterfly pleat as well (or also a French pleat to make it sound fancy). The bottom of the pleat (where it’s pinched) can oftentimes be accessorized with buttons, bows, or other accents.


Silk Pinch Pleat Valance in Master Bedroom



Euro Pleats

In this example, the fabric is pinched at the very top of the window treatment. Because the pleat is creating by folding over the fabric twice, the Euro pleat is also often called a double pleat or two-fold pleat. It’s also called a fan pleat sometimes (as you can probably tell by now, pleats have many synonyms).


Next, read about the different styles of valances you may wish to add to your own home.

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