Types of Swag Valances

Swag valances are soft, free-hanging drapery top treatments composed of one or more semicircular or U-shaped sections of draped fabric suspended from or draped over a decorative drapery pole or, more traditionally, tacked to a concealed valance board.

Traditional Swag Treatment

Use swag valances alone or with matching side panels. Any top treatment featuring swags gives a room a graceful touch of romance, even opulence, depending on the fabric employed.

Traditionally, a swag valance is composed of a series of overlapping draped semicircles that can be uniform in size or a combination of different sizes, for varied effects, which are tacked on a valance board which is concealed by the swags. Often trimmed with fringe or beads, the swags hang over matching, tied back side panels. The swag valance is finished at each end with a jabot, a vertically pleated end piece with a diagonal hem that usually covers about 1/3 of the top of the side panel. This type of swag treatment is considered quite formal and is usually associated with opulent, heavily draped, highly structured interiors.

The Drapery Scarf Swag

A newer, less formal take on the swag valance is the drapery scarf, a long width of fabric artfully draped, in folds, over a decorative drapery pole to create a large swag. The drapery scarf can be long enough so that, when draped over the pole, the ends of the scarf can drop as far as a jabot or reach the windowsill or even the floor, creating a complete, one-piece window treatment. This more casual approach is cost effective, involving minimum drapery sewing labor; but, still has the charm and grace of a swag curving across the width of the window.

The Coiled or Looped Swag Valance

The coiled or looped swag valance is a more daring variation on the drapery scarf. In this case, the fabric width is crushed together and repeatedly coiled loosely in large loops over a decorative drapery pole with the back side of the coils or loops exposing a contrasting lining. The pole is exposed between the coils and the ends can drop, at each end of the pole, as far as the floor like the scarf valance. The coiled or looped swag valance is often made in lightweight, semi-stiff fabric like silk taffeta which gives the valance a whimsically puffy, floating effect.

The Duchess Valance

The Duchess Valance is made in two pieces with a rod pocket at the top and lined with a contrasting fabric. The bottom of each piece is cut on the diagonal and deeply scalloped. When the two sections are shirred together on a curtain rod the resulting folds reveal the lining fabric in places creating a two-tone effect. This ruffled archway across the window gives a country cottage feeling to a room.

About the Author

Interior Designer Michael Foley began writing in 1964 and has been publishing informative design-related articles since becoming "Redbook Magazine's" Home Furnishings Editor. He wrote for CBS Television and "The Herald" in New York and his writing has appeared in "Architectural Digest," "Palm Beach Life" magazine and the "Palm Beach Post." Foley studied at Niagara University and the New York School of Interior Design.