DIY Roman Shade

You guys… this post has been a LONG TIME in the making!!  The last time I brought this project up was back in October (original post here).  
After months and months, I finally get to share with you this DIY for making your own Roman Shade!  This project took me somewhere in the ballpark of 8-10 hours in total, however, it’s important to remember that I’ve never sewn anything in my life before, so the learning curve for me was pretty steep!! While this project took mere hours, it’s taken me over 4 months to complete, photograph, and post!  Without further delay, let’s get to it.  
Here she is… my DIY roman shade… and she’s hanging like a champ in our hallway!
I really tried my best to document every single stage of the project, but it got way more difficult in the last few steps since Kris and I were both standing on chairs, trying to hang this sucker… 
Step one: find fabric.  I ended up ordering a bit over two yards of Secret Gate from Lewis and Sheron Fabrics (online)… remember this post  from way back in September??  That’s how long this has been in motion…
Ok anyway, the FABULOUS fabric arrived, and after dawdling a bit, I decided to tackle this project.  That was step two. Easy peasy.
Step three: iron the fabric – trying to tackle measurements on wrinkled fabric is a big no-no (or so my mama told me)… and so I ironed away!

And then I ironed some more….

And some more… until it was perfectly smooth (side note, that’s not my beautiful kitchen in the below photograph… ours is perhaps the ugliest room you’ve ever seen.  These beautiful cabinets are at my parents house – jealous?)

Once the fabric is ironed, it’s time to do some math.  This was by far my least favorite part of this project, and the part I was definitely the worst at.  Thank god for my mom!  She corrected it several times, but let me see if I can recap how you need to measure.

Write down the length and width of the window.  Once you have that, decide if you want your shade to be the exact length and width, or how much wider than the window you want your shade to be.  If you want the shade to be wider than the window, add on the amount you want it to be wider to each side (for example, if the window is 40″ wide, and you want an additional inch on each side, add two inches, for a total shade width of 42 inches).

If you are lining this, it gets a bit more complicated.  You’ll want your printed fabric to wrap around to the back side of the shade, and the lining to be less wide, so add on additional width for the fabric to wrap around to width you’ve already estimated (if you want the printed fabric to wrap around 2″ on each side, add an additional 4″.  Make sense??

Finally, keep about 5 extra inches of “front side” fabric for wrapping around the piece of wood for mounting – no lining fabric needed here.  You can cut off extra fabric later if you don’t end up needing it, but you can’t really add more on if you are short!

Ok, once the measurements are made, and your fabric is cut, start pinning the lining to the fabric.  As you are pinning, you want the print side of the fabric to be face up, and the lining to be on top.  This way once you sew the seams, and you turn it “inside out” so the seams face in, and the print faces out.

When you have finished pinning, the fabric will look odd – each side sort or folded over – that’s because the lining is more narrow than the front facing fabric for the extra length to wrap around (so you don’t see the seams or lining from the side once the shade is finished).

This picture below is how it should look.

Ok onto sewing.  Set up the sewing machine (I could not help explain this step, but if you sew, just follow the instructions with the bobbin, etc), and sew along the seams, taking the pins out as you go.

Halfway through, I realized my outfit matched the fabric – it was a good omen!!

After both seams are sewn, flip it inside out… or “right side out” I guess, and iron it again, so the fabric edge is even on both sides.

It should look like the below picture from the back side, with the lining not going all the way to the edge.

Next step is to get out the measuring tape again, and start marking off where the rings will go.  Ignore the wrinkles in this photo, it started out ironed, but got wrinkled after sitting folded on the table for three months.

I wanted fewer, larger folds, so I pinned every 17″ or so for a 70″ window, I got 4 pleats.

A note I left out above was that at the bottom of the shade, I inserted a wooden dowel cut down to the width of the window, and sewed it in.  This rod inside the bottom of the shade acts as a weight so that when the shade is pulled up, it hangs properly.  You can kind of see the rod in the above picture.  Some people put these dowels up the entire length where each fold will be, but I didn’t find it was necessary.  My shade pulls up just fine – perhaps my fabric is heavy enough (and I ironed the folds in, so it has the memory).

Anyways, getting back to the point… sew three vertical rows of these rings onto the shade.  One on each side, and one in the middle.

Be sure these rings are really secured on there – they are what is supporting the shade when it’s pulled up and down – I used a drop of super glue to make sure the rings and thread were super secure.  I’m not sure this is necessary, but I feel better about it.

So this is the part where photo documentation became shoddy, so I apologize.
The final steps here are super simple.
Prepare your mount – I used a piece of wood 1″x2″ and started by stapling the shade onto the wood, wrapping it around, to cover all sides.  Once the fabric was stapled, I screwed in single hook screws into the wood (through the fabric).  These look like a more sturdy eye hook.  With that prepped, it’s time to thread the shade.
This below picture, pretty much illustrates everything more clearly than I can put into words.
Tie the cord to the bottom rings, and make sure the knot is really tight (I also used superglue here so the knots won’t come undone).  The cord furthest from where you will pull the shade up should be longest, the one in the middle the second longest, and the cord on the side with the pulley should be shortest.  Thread each cord up through the loops on the shade, and then through the eye hooks screwed into the mount on the top.
Final stage mounting – I used L shaped brackets, and some super long screws to get this up.  Once it was secured above the window we were ready to test out the shade, and praise the lord, it WORKS!  
That moment, seeing the shade go up and down was really cool, to see that after all that measuring, sewing, and installing, that it actually worked.  I was half waiting for it to collapse, pull up crooked, or whatever, but it was super simple, and dare I say it, foolproof!

And here it is from the side.. pretty awesome…

And the pleats from the front – this was completely accidental, but the pattern is perfectly lined up – cause I’m a ballerrrrrrr!!

Here is a close up of the pulley system in action, along with the mounts… 

And a final glory shot of the curtain, hanging in the hallway – it’s so pretty, although in these pictures, I am completely realizing that I forgot to wrap the side of the wood mount.  I painted it white, but I’m not loving that unfinished edge.  I’ll have to go back in with a little hot glue gun, and swatch of fabric to finish off the ends!

If you are thinking of attempting a roman shade of your own and have some questions, just shoot me an email!  I could NOT have done this without my mama’s help!


33 thoughts on “DIY Roman Shade

  1. No matter much you tug, it’s tough to get the motorized shades fort worth into the exact position you want. By motorizing them, they can move in one fluid movement to the right spot. If you have a bank of windows, every shade can move in perfect alignment. As for draperies, you no longer need to use those unsightly rope pull cords.


  2. I may be tired and just not getting it, but I can't tell how your cord system stays in place after pulling it up. Are you just wrapping it around a bracket on the wall once the cords are pulled up, or is there a locking system you bought that's attached? By the way thank you for your blog. I have a 15 in window, and you can't buy blinds for them without it being ridiculously expensive. Even the cheep slat kind everyone is using to make the roman blinds. Thanks for another option 🙂
    Leslie McKnight


  3. It's not just you! Take a look at the second to last photo – this is really the only one that shows how the pully's work.

    I used eye hooks, and screwed them into the wood, aligned with the rows of rings that went up the back of the curtain. The cords thread through the rings, and finally up through the eye hooks – be sure the cords are long enough to thread across, and drop down so they hang down even when the curtain is lowered fully. The purple circles in my illustration (with the multi colored threads) are where the eye hooks are anchored.

    Once everything is threaded, and the wood / curtain is mounted on the wall, the shade stays up with a cleat screwed into the wall – there is no mechanism to “hold the shade up” other than tying it to the cleat, which works just fine for us!

    Hope this helps!


  4. Your roman shade is definitely hanging pretty, Becky! Reading about how much you worked to get this project done, I feel somewhat proud that you finally finished it! Haha! Anyway, blinds and shades, with their main purpose of controlling the amount of light that comes into our house, can also accentuate our windows. So thinking about the make of the window before deciding on the style and design of the curtain to put up should be greatly considered too. Good luck on your future projects!
    Rene @ Beltway Blinds


  5. Hey Becky, thanks for putting this tutorial together. I really like the way your roman shades turned out. One quick question – when you attached the rings to the back – did you only sew this through the lining or did you tack it through both layers into the main fabric too?


  6. Hey there! When I attached the rings, I actually sewed them all the way through both the lining and the main fabric, and you can't see the stitches at at all. I think part of this is because I used a patterned fabric, and part of it is because it's a looser woven linen, so they really blend in. If you're using a plain fabric, or a fabric with a tight flat weave, you may be able to see it when the shade is down, but most of the time the shades are pulled up!

    Good luck! Would love to hear how it turns out!


  7. That looks really lovely. Thank you so much for providing such simple instructions with corresponding detailed graphics on how to sew it. I also think that the fabric is really simple, yet very stylish, which really brings out the beauty of the sunlight on a window. 
    Greg Arnett


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