Roman Shades 101

 I’ve been planning on making Roman Shades for my new master bathroom for 2 years now.  I’ve had the fabric for that long as well.  I don’t know why a procrastinated so long on making these.  Probably because they are an ALL day job.  My husband and my neighbors are very happy that I finally made these. 

Ok, this is going to be a long post with lots of pictures.  I am going to attempt to give you instructions on how to make Roman Shades.  I’m a very visual learner and need pictures and diagrams.  So, let’s see if I can describe the steps well enough for you to understand.

Start with measuring the inside of your window.  I draw a little diagram with all the measurements.

You are going to need fabric for the front of the shade and then blackout fabric for the back.  My bathroom doesn’t really need to be blackout, but the blackout fabric has a great weight to it and it helps the shade hang nicely.  You will just add and subtract a few inches to the width and length of your window size for the pattern.  Here is my formula:

Top Fabric Width = Width + 5 inches
Top Fabric Length = Length + 12 inches

Lining Fabric Width = Width – 3 inches
Lining Fabric Length = Length + 12 inches

(You are making the top fabric 2 inches wider on each side so that the fabric wraps around to the back of the curtain.  Oh, and you are allowing for a seam allowance.)

Next you will want to cut the piece of wood that the shade will attach to and hang in the window.  I use a
1 1/2″ by 3/4″ piece of wood.  Cut it to the exact width of the window.

Sand the ends so they are splinter free.

Ok, now you are going to sew the good sides of the fabric together down the length of each side.  The good side of the blackout fabric is the side that doesn’t feel rubbery.

You are actually going to give a 3/8″ seam allowance (just shy of 1/2″ because the shades always shrink up in the window and this gives less of a gap on either side).

Then you will turn the shade right side out and iron it flat.  Try to center the lining fabric by making sure that the front fabric folds over 2″ on both sides.

Oh, I should tell you that I cut my two shades to match.  Because I used a damask, I wanted the patterns to line up and be the same on both shades.  Now you need to pick the top of your shade and you are going to just stitch across the top to hole the two pieces of fabric together.

Ok, believe it or not, but you are ready to staple or tack the shade to the board.  I wrap that fabric around the board once and then starting in the center I tack toward the outside, pulling the fabric tight as a go.

I hope the pictures show what I mean here.  Then to make it pretty, I hot glue on a piece of ribbon to hide the tacks or staples.

Now you can attach the L brackets, I use 2″ brackets.  Screw these into the center of the board on either end of the board.

This is how the curtain will hang in the window, if that helps.  The bracket will be screwed into the sides of the window frame.

Next you will screw 3 eyes into the board.  One in the middle and two directly above the seam.

Back to the sewing machine, now you are going to hem the bottom of the shade.  Measure the length of the shade starting from the top side of the wood and then pin it to the length of the window.

Then you will turn the bottom hem under.  The hem will be 6″ wide.

You will need to sew 3/4″ pocket at the hem line.  This will be the pocket for the metal rod that will weigh down the shade.

I use a 1/4″ zinc coated rode that I get at home depot of $3. Cut the rode to about 1″ short then the width of the window.

Starting at the top of the hem, you are going to mark where the rings will be sewn on.  There will be 3 rows of rings.  One row in the center and two along the seam between the lining and top fabric (lined up with the eyes).  The rings need to be put every 6 ” up the shade (this distance determines the folds or pleats).

Start a good movie, because now you are going to sewing on the rings by hand.  This will take a while.  The plastic rings should be sewn on with clear thread.  Make sure to stitch through both the lining and the top fabric when sewing on the rings. 

You are now on the home stretch, it’s time to thread the cord.  I will do my best to explain.  Hopefully the pictures will help.  Start at the top right hand eye, thread through the eye and down the first row of rings.  Tie off the cord.  Now go back to the first eye, thread through that eye and the middle eye and then down the middle row.  Tie off the second cord.  Do the same with the last row of rings.  The three cords should come out the right side.

You did it! Hang your shade.  Just screw the bracket into the side of the window frame.  You will want to add a tie back on the side of the window and a pull to the cords. 

I love having my shades, they make the room cozy and just dress it up.  Let me know if you have made or will make a Roman Shade.  I hope these directions help.

12 thoughts on “Roman Shades 101

  1. Anonymous

    I LOVE them, the shades turned out fabulous, very cozy, warm and inviting.
    Thanks for explaining how to make them.

  2. Penny

    Well, I finally did some of my own. Using your tips and tactics I turned one too big store bought blind into two smaller, custom window width, ones. If you hadn't posted this blog I wouldn't have had the confidence to even give it a go. Thanks. 🙂

  3. June Arras

    Hello, Thank you for the great instructions. I plan on attempting this soon and am trying to get my materials together. One quick question is when you add 5 inches to the width for the top fabric and subtract 3 inches for the lining I end up getting 4 inches on each side of the lining before any sewing. Once I sew the fabric and lining together should the finished dimensions be more than the width of the actual window width? Thank you in advance!

  4. Living Healthy

    Awesome post! My friend and i are going to attempt this. I have one question. Do you leave excess sting to open the shade? I am very visual and I just can't figure it out. Thanks!

  5. Tammy Camp

    Just a couple of questions on your other supplies.. the cording – is that like a blind cording? What kinds of shops carry it, and about how much did you need for both of these windows? and is there a good diameter of the screw eye to get to accommodate all that cording going through it? Thanks – your instructions are incredibly clear and I can't WAIT to try this!!

  6. Tammy Camp

    The blackout fabric- is it a fabric? I've seen a Roc lon branded version and am wondering if that is what you used, since you said it has a rubbery side? Thanks again…

    1. Jeran Post author

      You know, I don't know the brand. It is rubber backed. Sorry, that probably doesn't really help I'm sure.

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