How to Make a Steampunk Cornice Board

Are you someone who loves to craft or do you craft out of necessity? Some love the activity of crafting, some craft to save money, and some craft to turn their vision into reality.

I identify best with the last reason. I like seeing an idea become reality more than the actual sewing. The crafting is a means to an end for me. Before deciding to make a cornice board, I spent hours searching for a window treatment to purchase. Because for me, the downside to doing it myself is I actually have to do it myself. 😐 Can you relate?

The good news is it took me less time to make this steampunk cornice board than it did searching for one.

It’s not especially hard or time consuming to sew straight lines (OK, I admit I’m still working on getting my stitches straight). I spent more time changing out the thread color (after redoing some sections) and figuring out how to get a basting stitch than I did actual sewing. The good news is there are several online tutorials that can help with the technical knowledge.

Deciding on a Window Treatment

When it came time to consider a window treatment for our steampunk-inspired home office, lighting and style were my main considerations. Our room has one window, so I wanted to maximize the natural lighting. Panels can block sunlight from the sides, and draperies can block sunlight at the top and along the sides where it drapes.

It may not seem like that would make much difference, but it does! Our house came with a swag over the window. After we removed it, we were amazed at the amount of light that came flooding in.

To maximize light and to add color to frame the window, I needed something that wouldn’t cover the sides or top. I decided to go with a cornice board, which would only cover the top inch of the window.

If you’re looking for a steampunk-inspired window treatment, I hope this inspires you and that my instructions help if you decide to create one yourself. If you’re unsure, you can skim through my instructions to get an idea of how much time and energy is required, as well as the materials needed.

Do you already have a covered cornice board, but you want to add a swag over it? Jump to Create the Overlay.

Time, Effort, and Materials

Time:  5-6 hours (not including the time to get materials or to let the brads age)

Difficulty: Easy (someone to help hold the draped fabric while stapling would be beneficial)


  • 12” wide wood board (the length depends on the width of your window)
  • 6 screws
  • Batting
  • Fabric for underlay (I used about a yard, but had to use two pieces to get the vertical stripes)
  • Fabric for the drapery part (I used 1.5 yards)
  • Black tulle ribbon
  • Leather straps or fabric that looks like leather (I used two straps 2” wide and after hemming the edges it became 1” wide)
  • 2 adjustable slide buckles
  • 6 brad fasteners (antique brass, but I used shiny brass and antiqued them)
  • Glue stick
  • 2 mounting hangers with screws
  • Pencil
  • Double-sided fabric tape

For antiquing brads:

  • Glass jar with lid
  • Vinegar
  • Black acrylic paint mixed with small amount of water


  • Drill
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Staple remover
  • Router
  • Straight bit cut
  • Glue gun

Measure and Calculate Materials

  1. Measure the width of the window from the outside edge (including trim) and add 4” on each side.
    This is the length of the front-facing board.
  2. Add 10″ (5” depth on each side) to the width calculated in step 1 to determine how much wood you’ll need.
  3. Calculate how much fabric you’ll need to cover the board (width of window + 4” + 10” for depth + more for wiggle room).

Cut and Assemble the Board

  1. Cut the front board the length you calculated in step 1 in the previous section (window width + 4”).

    Measure and Cut Board
    Measure and Cut Board
  2. Cut 2 pieces for the side that are 5 inches long.
    This is the depth of the cornice board.
  3. Attach the front of the board to the sides of the board using either pocket holes or by pre-drilling and then screwing the boards together.

    Boards Screwed Together
    Boards Screwed Together
  4. Cut a crevice where the mounting hardware will sit using a router and a straight bit cut.
    Creating a crevice allows the board to sit flush with the wall.
    To do this:

    1. Mark the location of the picture hanger by tracing around the outside edge of the hanger.
    2. Set the router bit to the thickness of the hanger and plunge the router bit into the hole to remove the material in the marked area.

      Indention for Mounting Hardware
      Crevice for Mounting Hardware

Add Batting to the Board

  1. Lay the batting on the floor or on a table.
  2. Place the cornice board on top, facing downward.

    Place Board on a Layer of Batting
    Place Board on a Layer of Batting
  3. Pull the batting around the board and staple.
    Note: There’s no need to cover the entire backside, but the edges of the bottom where you can see should look smooth.
  4. Trim any excess batting to ensure a smooth foundation.
  5. Cut a hole in the batting where you placed the indention for the hanger.

Prepare the Fabric (Optional)

  1. Iron your fabric.
  2. (Optional) Sew the pieces of fabric together if the width of your fabric does not cover the width of the board.

Note: I sewed the striped fabric together because the width of the fabric was a couple of inches shorter than the front of the board and if I used the fabric lengthwise, the stripes would go horizontal. To sew them together, I folded the fabric in half and cut the fabric along the fold. I lined up the two factory edges with the pattern on both pieces facing each other, found where half one black line was with half the black line of the other, and pinned it in place. Using black thread, I sewed straight down, until the two pieces were sewn together.

Sewing Two Pieces of Fabric to Get Vertical Stripes
Sewing Two Pieces of Fabric to Get Vertical Stripes

Staple the Striped Fabric to the Board

  1. Find the middle of the cornice board and mark it.
  2. Lay the fabric face down on the floor or on a table.
  3. If you sewed two pieces of fabric together, line that seam with the middle of the cornice board.

    Align Center of Fabric with Center of Board
    Align Center of Fabric with Center of Board
  4. Lay the cornice board on top of the fabric, pull it around the top, and adjust to make sure the stripes or design is straight.
  5. Staple the fabric in place when the design is straight, pulling taut enough for a smooth finish, but not so taught that it puckers.
  6. Continue stapling around the front.
  7. Staple the sides.
    Note: The bottom of the sides may show, so pay particular attention that it’s folded neatly and then staple the inside of the side board. If you need to reposition, remove the staple and try again.
  8. Cut excess fabric.
  9. Cut a hole for mounting hardware.
    You now have an upholstered cornice board, but we’re not stopping there. We will create an overlay.

    Cornice Board Front
    Cornice Board Front

    Cornice Board Back
    Cornice Board Back

Create the Overlay

My cornice board was in the shape of a rectangle, but I wanted some curves to add softness. If I added curves to the bottom of the board, it would have blocked some of the light from the window, and since I wanted to maximize my light, a straight bottom is the way to go. But how could I add a more Victorian edge to the steampunk look? I found a picture of this valance on Pinterest:

Valance that Inspired Me
Valance that Inspired Me

Although a completely different style, that became my inspiration for my steampunk cornice board. I would create a separate piece of fabric to drape over the top of the cornice board. Leather straps with buckles would lift the fabric. I drew a picture.

Sketch of Cornice Board to Create
Sketch of Cornice Board

I didn’t exactly know how to do it, but I was on a mission.

Solid fabric long enough to cover the whole board in one piece would work for the overlay. At first, I thought straps could hold the fabric up, but later realized the look I was really going for was similar to the steampunk bustles and skirts. I was going to have to learn to do a basting stitch to get ruching.

Luckily, there’s YouTube.

Prepare the Overlay Fabric and Ruche

  1. Mark the middle of your fabric near the top with a pencil.

    Measuring Overlay
    Measuring Overlay
  2. Place it over the cornice board and line it up with the middle seam.
  3. Drape it over two-thirds of the board until it is situated where you want it.

    Test Fit Overlay
    Test Fit Overlay
  4. Decide where to place the straps on each side.
  5. Measure to ensure the straps will be are equidistant from each edge of the board.
  6. Place a small mark near the the top where the basting stitch should go to gather the fabric.
  7. Remove the fabric from the board.
  8. Using a ruler or tape measure, draw a straight line with a dark pencil from top (where your first mark was) to the bottom of the fabric.

    Mark Fabric for Basting Stitch
    Mark Location of Basting Stitch
  9. Adjust your sewing machine to get a basting stitch and change your thread to match the fabric.
  10. Sew a straight line down each of these lines without reversing your stitch and leave a couple of inches of thread on both ends.
  11. Pull the thread to ruche the fabric as shown in this video.

Add Tulle Ruffles

With the fabric draped over the board, it seemed like something was missing. I needed something to bring everything together. Black lace or ruffles seemed like just the thing.

Black Tulle Brings it Together
Black Tulle Brings it Together

I sewed straight down the tulle ribbon with a basting stitch, but after that, I was tired of sewing. I used double-sided fabric tape to attach the ruffle to the fabric overlay. If you like to sew, I recommend sewing for a sturdier finish.

Create Black Tulle Ruffles

  1. Estimate the length of tulle you’ll need for the board, realizing that as you ruche, it will draw up the length considerably.
  2. Sew the length of the tulle using a basting stitch on your sewing machine.

    Basting Stitch on Tulle Ribbon
    Basting Stitch on Tulle Ribbon
  3. Pull the thread on either side and move the fabric down the thread, ruching.
    Note: It’s a fine balance between ruching too much and too little. Too little, and you won’t see much black or ruffles. Ruching too much may make it look too heavy and “hairy.”

    Pull Thread to Ruche
    Pull Thread to Ruche
  4. Fold it over so that your stitches are on top and you have two layers of ruffles.

    Black Tulle Ruffles
    Black Tulle Ruffles

Attach Black Tulle Ruffles to Inside Bottom of Overlay Fabric

  1. Remove the backing on one side of the double-sided fabric tape.
  2. Attach the double-sided tape to the inside of the bottom of your overlay fabric.
  3. Remove the backing on the other side of the double-stick tape and attach the ruffled ruching.

    Attach Ruffles to Overlay Fabric
    Attach Ruffles to Overlay Fabric
  4. Continue going down the edge of the fabric for the length of the fabric that will come into contact with the board.
    Note: I left gaps between some of the pieces and did not attach it to where the ruching of the overlay fabric was.

    Continue Attaching Ruffles to Length of Overlay
    Continue Attaching Ruffles to Length of Overlay

Staple Overlay to Back of Cornice Board

  1. Arrange the fabric back over the cornice board and situate it to where you want it to go.
  2. Staple the top of the fabric to the back of the board, letting the fabric fold over the front of the board.
  3. Continue stapling along the back of the main board.
  4. Drape the sides toward the back, getting the drape and ruching that you’re happy with.
  5. Staple to the back side of the cornice board.
  6. Cut excess fabric.

Create Straps

I bought fabric that looks like leather, but you could also use leather straps. If you do, you can skip this section.

  1. Cut two 2” strips of fabric.
  2. Pin a half inch on each side.
  3. Hem using a normal stitch on one side.

    Sew Faux Leather Strap
    Sew Faux Leather Strap
  4. Repeat for the other side.
  5. Hem both sides of the other strap.
  6. Loop the strap into the adjustable slide buckle.

Attach Straps to Cornice Board

  1. Place one end of the strap on the top of the cornice board, and loop around the fabric and place the opposite end of the fabric strap on the back of the cornice board.
  2. Adjust placement as needed so the straps cover the ruching of the overlay fabric.
  3. Staple the strap to the back of the cornice board on both ends.
  4. Slide the buckles to where you’d like them to sit.

Add Brads to Straps

The brads I had were bright and shiny. If you have antiqued brads, use those. If not, you can follow the steps I took to age them.

Antique Shiny Brads

  1. Lightly and briefly sand the top.
  2. Add a small amount of vinegar to a bottle to barely cover the bottom of the jar.
  3. Add a small amount of salt.
  4. Place the brads in the solution.
  5. Screw the lid on loosely.
  6. Leave them for a day or two.
  7. Remove them after they have turned more of a copper color.
  8. Using watered down black acrylic paint, paint the tops of the brads.
  9. Let it dry.

    Antiqued Brads
    Antiqued Brads

Attach Brads to Straps

You can attach the brads to the straps a couple of ways:

  • Cut off the bottom of the brads and hot glue it to the strap.
  • Puncture the strap with a hole and insert the brad through it and bend the bottom part to secure it.

I chose to glue mine on. To play with the placement, fold painter’s tape so both sides are sticky, and attach to the brad. You can adjust the spacing between the brads to see what you like best and then measure the space.

Tape to Experiment with Spacing
Tape Brads to Experiment with Spacing

Attach Hardware and Hang

  1. Remove any excess fabric from the mounting area.

    Cut Excess Fabric
    Cut Excess Fabric
  2. Screw the mounting hardware where you created the crevice in the wood.
    This should be towards the top of the cornice board.

    Attach Mounting Hardware
    Attach Mounting Hardware
  3. Hang the cornice board!
Completed Steampunk-Inspired Cornice Board
Completed Steampunk-Inspired Cornice Board
Cornice Board Closeup
Cornice Board Closeup
Side of Hung Cornice Board
Side of Hung Cornice Board
Steampunk-Inspired Cornice Board Mounted Flush with Wall
Steampunk-Inspired Cornice Board Mounted Flush with Wall

Is this a project you would take on yourself? If you decide to try this, let me know how it turns out!