Usually hung on a separate rod, a curtain valance can be the same color and pattern as the curtains, or it can be in a contrasting style. Many valances contain special elements such as buttons, tassels, or several layers of material. A pleated valance, which is one with tiny folds in the fabric, is one of the most popular drapery styles. Choosing the best pleated valance for your window treatment involves selecting the fabric, the length, and the style of pleat you prefer. Some of the most common pleats are pinch pleats, pencil pleats, and box pleats.
If you plan to make your own window valance or have one custom-made, then you can choose the exact elements you want. If you plan to purchase a pre-made valance, your choices will be somewhat more limited, and you may not be able to find a specific style of pleating in the color and length that you desire. Many pleat styles are similar, however, so it may be best to focus on length and color rather than a specific pleat.
A good first step is to decide how long you want your fabric valance to be. The most common lengths range between 12 and 16 inches (about 30.5 and 40.6 cm), but almost any length will work with most styles of pleating. Fabrics that are light or medium-weight generally tend to work better for pleating than heavy or stiff fabrics. Your pleated valance can be in the same color and pattern as your draperies for a uniform look, or in a contrasting design for a more unique style.
Once you have decided on color and length, you should choose the type of pleat you want. Pinch pleats are the most common type, and they come in several varieties. A two-finger pinch pleat valance will have pleats made of two pleats fastened together a short distance below the top edge and fan out slightly in a shape like a "V" above the gathered point. Three-finger pleats have three pleats, also called fingers, fastened together. Four-finger and five-finger pleats offer extra detail and are formed the same way.
Pinch pleats that are fastened at the very top rather than slightly below it are created in the same manner, but are called French pleats. All pinch pleat designs can give a pleated valance a different look depending on how close or far apart the gathered pleats are along the fabric. Butterfly pleats, for instance, are made from a large pinch pleat with a smaller pleat in the center. Pinch pleat varieties alone can offer dozens of different combinations based on size and how they are spaced.
A pencil pleated valance is made with a special strip of tape that is sewn on the top and pulled tight. This gathers the entire top together in tiny, even pleats all the way across. Another type of popular pleated valance is a box pleated design. Box pleats are flat, folded pleats like those you find in skirts or kilts. Pleats can look great in any room, casual or formal, but a box pleated valance tends to lend a more formal look than many other styles.