DIY How to make roman shades
We had a little bobble when Kathleen (of Kathleen Mapson & Company) suggested roman shades for my two corner windows. Too many of the DIY links we found were for non-operational shades. So here’s my version of what works!
Kathleen chose a coral-red fabric with no pattern. So we did not have to worry about a repeat. Other supplies I needed were 1×2 pieces of wood for each window, 2 flat wood pieces for bottom of shade (1 x ¼ inch), 2 L-brackets for each window with screws, electric screwdriver or drill, electric staple gun, blackout curtain lining, roman shade tape with rings, cord for the rings, cord condensers, cord cleats, new size-18 machine needle, and 1 spool of thread to match the fabric. [I just love that the thread for this project was “Flamingo”!]
First, you need to decide if the shade will cover the window molding or not. I wanted the molding to show, but covering the molding is the much easier choice. My windows were each 27 inches wide. With side hems, I needed 31 inches of width. The fabric was 58 inches wide, so I had to buy two lengths (two shades would not sit side-by-side on 58 inches). Before buying and cutting, I like to sketch dimensions out on graph paper to make sure I’ve really thought it all through. The window height was 60 inches. When I added 6 inches for the top and bottom hems, I needed 132 inches of fabric, or 3 ¾ yards. I also needed 1 ¾ yard blackout lining (54 inches wide, so I could fit two shades on one length), 11 yards of roman shade ring tape, and 22 ½ yards of nylon cord.
- Cut two pieces of fabric 31 inches wide and 66 inches long.
- Cut two pieces of lining 27 inches wide and 63 inches long. You will not need the side and bottom hem.
- Note: the “soft” side of the blackout lining is the right side. I got this at the fabric store and I had to ask for help. It is normally kept in the drapery lining section, but it is so popular that it hardly ever stays on the shelf. If you can’t find it, be sure to ask at the cutting table.
- With your iron, press up 3 inches on the bottom of the shade fabric. Press ½ inch on the raw edge. Press in 2 inches on each side, then press in 1 inch to make a double thick hem. At the bottom, where the two hems meet, miter the corners. Open out the two hems and fold the fabric in diagonally. Press. The hems should lie down flat when refolded and meet in a diagonal. Pin this.
- Lay the blackout lining on the back of the drape. The wrong sides should be together. Insert the edges of the lining under the hems to the edges and pin.
- Sew the two side hems with a straight stitch ¾ inch from the edge.
- Sew the folded edge of the bottom hem, beginning and ending at the diagonal fold. The lining should now be caught in the hems, and the top of the shade and lining should be even.
- I needed 3 lengths of ring tape for each shade. The number is a judgment call based on the width of your window. The rule of thumb is 10 inches between ring tapes. A window 32 to 42 inches wide would need 4 rows of tape. You will want the first ring to be placed at the stitching on the bottom hem. The last ring should be about 3 inches from the top edge of the shade. The rings are 6 inches apart on the roman shade tape. I started by cutting between two rings, so I had a 3-inch tail of tape. My shades were 60 inches in finished length, so I cut 66 inches of tape: 10 rings and 3-inch tails at each end.
- Pin the first ring just above the stitching on the bottom hem. The stitching line on the side of the tape should be lined up with the stitching on the side hem. Fold under the tail so that the raw edge will be caught when you stitch. Pin the tape in a straight line on the shade. Fold under the raw edge of the tape at the top. Starting at the top, sew a straight stitch through all layers down one side of the tape, across the bottom, and back up the other side. This will be easier with a zipper foot.
- Place the second tape in the center of the shade, and the third tape on the hem stitching of the other side. (If you are using 4 rows of tape, evenly space the two in the middle.) Make sure the rings are lined up horizontally before stitching. I found I had to hand-sew some rings onto the tape to make sure they were tight. Sew carefully because all this stitching will show on the right side of the shade (this is why you want your thread to match the fabric as closely as possible.)
- Wrap the top of the shade across the width of the 1×2 board and down the 1-inch side. Use a staple gun to attach the shade to the short side of the board. Carefully mark the 2-inch bottom side for screw eyes. Each one should line up with the rings on the tape. We attached the L-brackets to the board first, so we could see where the screw eye had room to go.
- Decide which way your shade cord is going to go. Which side are you attaching the cleat? This is another step where I kept going over it before I cut, because the shade on the floor is backward of how it will be in the window. Tie the nylon cording to the bottom ring on the shade farthest from the cleat. Thread the cord through the rings up to the one that is 2nd from the top (probably 6 inches down from the board). Now go through the screw eye and over through all the screw eyes. Cut the cord 60 inches from the last screw eye. Repeat for the middle tape, going through 2 screw eyes on the board. Repeat for the tape closest to the cleat, going through only one screw eye. You can tie an overhand knot with all the cords near the screw eye with the shade extended.
- Attach the shade to the top of the window with the L-bracket. This part takes two people! Slide the thin wood piece into the bottom hem. Carefully pull up the shade, folding the pleats as you go. Attach the cleats to the window frame or wall. Wrap the draw cord around the cleat to hold the shade up. You can use a cord condenser to collect the cords, knot and cut all but one, so that you are dealing with less cord.
As I mentioned before, this project is somewhat easier if you decide to cover your window molding. The L-brackets are easier to attach to the wall than the inside of the window frame. Also, you can decide how high you want the top of the shade, it could even go up to the ceiling. If you are concerned about sewing straight, choose a print for this project, to hide your stitching. Just remember to keep the repeat of the pattern in mind when measuring.
Roman shades give a nice crisp look and pulled up they look like a pleated valence. I’m loving that during the hot summer I can cool off my office by closing the shades.
I’ll look for questions in Comments or lisa[at]thecasabouquet[dot]com. If you have a sewing machine and would like to try making fabric items for your home, check out my “Home-making”posts here!
Stay tuned for the reveal post for this project. Kathleen will be posting over on her blog Kathleen Mapson & Co. You don’t want to miss it!