I’ve been making roman shades for at least 7 years now. I started making them for my own house and then started making them for clients. (Gave that up a while ago.) Truly, they are my favorite way to dress a window. I’m not a big fan of mini blinds, so to me, roman shades are the answer whenever possible. (I do have just one set of mini blinds in my home because the window is gigantic and it has a southern exposure that without diffused light would easily sun bleach all my furniture and carpet.)
Over the years, I’ve made plenty. Here’s a sample of different roman shades:
These were the first ones I ever made. This is my old house back in 2005. They are white canvas with a green border around the entire shade. Gotta love the tacky swing set pictured in our back yard. (I made those slipcovers as well on the chairs and ottomon…those items are now off to a better life with someone else.)
The side curtains in the picture below are inside mount on the side windows and the french doors (which are magnetic) also have roman shades…although you gotta get creative with those. See part 2 of this post for modifications for magnetic doors.) Sadly, I decided I didn’t love the traditional floral and those are now gone and replaced with simple white ones again. I guess I like what I like. And that traditional light fixture? Gone, thank goodness.
These are also inside mount ones I made for my sister law when she lived in Spokane. She lived there maybe 5 minutes so who knows if these are still alive and kicking. (Name that song.) We put crystal trim along the bottom. Yummy.
More shades with pink crystal trim:
These (below) are pom-pom trimmed (hard to see in the light). I made these back in 2005, sadly my sweet little girl is growing up and is no longer this adorable 4 year old. (She’s an adorable 10 year old now.)
For the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to show you how to make an outside mount roman shade. Outside mount means that it is mounted on the outside of the window (as opposed to inside the frame of the window, which would be inside mount) The fabric is from Ikea and the lining is just come leftover white poly-cotton canvas. Ok, everything is from Ikea—the sofa is from their Karlstad line with a $20 blue slipcover (clearance) and the matching Karlstad ottoman also has a clearance $9 cover. Score. The side lamp is Ikea and the white x-back chair.
Here’s the hardware you will need: staple gun, 2 1/2” screws, nylon cording, screw eyes, plastic rings (I recommend using copper or metal rings if your window faces west as the sun will surely rot the plastic rings…ask me how I know), window cleat, and wall anchors (if you can’t drill into the studs). Not pictured: a wooden dowel is also needed.
Wall anchors are neeed as well. (I mounted my shade into my ceiling, so I had to use anchors.)
Cutting your fabric and lining: Measure the inside of your window and add 4 inches. This will give you a nice 2-inch over hang on the sides of the window. I forgot to do this for this project and only added 2” (dumb Cynthia), but they still worked. My window is 41” so the width I should’ve cut is 45”. As for the length, measure where the shade will be mounted down to the window apron and add 2”. I need 90” of length so I cut the fabric and lining 92”.
Sew around the two sides and bottom with a 1/2” to 1” seam allowance, turn right sides out, gently push out seams, and press. How happy do I look ironing? Good grief.
At this point the top is still open and raw, that’s fine for now. Next step is to fold the sides over to the back 1” and pin in place and sew, as seen below.
Now you are going to fold up the bottom for the dowel pocket about 1”, and iron in place. Do not sew yet!! It’s better to sew on the rings and then sew the hem in place after. This is where your dowel will be inserted so it has to remain ‘free’ of stitching on the inside.
Now you are ready to do the layout for the rings. I like large pleats so I space my rows 10” apart, lengthwise. As for how many rows you’ll need, that’s up to you. For narrow curtains like my french doors seen at the top of this post, I use 3 columns. For these shades I did 5 columns, evenly spaced across.
Using a water soluble marker, make a dot everywhere you’ll need to sew a ring. Your first row of rings will go on the bottom inch that you just ironed. You can see that I used a safety pin near each blue dot. This is essential! When you go to sew on your rings your lining and main fabric will shift. The safety pin ensures that your rings will be sewn at just the right spot. You’ll see that my rings don’t go all the way to the top (raw edge) of my curtain. (In picture below the shade is upside down.) I like to leave 12-18” free at the top without rings. That’s about as high as I’d ever pull up these shades for such a loooong window. But if you want to pull up your shades higher, extend the rings almost to the top, within 6 inches maybe.
Now you are ready to either sew on your rings by hand or machine. I choose to do this by machine. Lower your feed dogs and choose a narrow satin stitch with a length of nearly zero. If you have an open embroidery foot, use that. I am using a button sew on foot, but that’s optional. (On my Bernina 830 there is a button sew on program so I didn’t have to lower the feed dogs or choose a satin stitch. The machine automatically does that when I choose to sew on the buttons. Loooove that!)
Beginning at the bottom, unfold the hem you ironed in space, and sew on your rings. The bottom row is the only row that will have the rings sewn to the right side of the fabric.
Thre rest of the rings will be sewn on the wrong side, lining side up. Go slowly….sewing on all these blasted rings takes a while, probably an hour. A real snoozer, but it’s better than doing it by hand. Remove the safety pins as you go along.
Bring threads to the back and knot if desired. Sometimes I even put a dot of Fray Check on the inside threads of each ring, just to make sure nothing unravels.
Fold back up the 1” hem on the bottom and sew in place with a straight stitch, see below. If you have a walking foot (or dual feed like on the Bernina 830), use that. Huh? What’s a walking foot you ask? Nevermind, you’ll be fine with out it.
Now you can sew shut the top either with a serger or a regular sewing machine. Nobody will see this part so it doesn’t need to be pretty. Alright, you are done with the sewing part. So turn off your machine!
Cut a 1”x2” pine board to 1” shorter than your shade. My shade is now 42” so I cut my pine board 41”. (The hardware store can do this for you if needed.) Staple leftover fabric around you board. This step is optional for inside mount but essential for outside mount because you will see the edges of the board! Attach screw eyes to bottom of board by first drilling pilot holes then screw in the little screw eyes. You might have to snip the fabric to drill the holes.
Staple the top of your shade to the top of your board, wrapping it around about 1” to the top of the board. (You might want to remove the screw eyes if this is difficult for you.) Notice how lazy I was and used the burgandy thread that was already in my serger to finish off the top? But guess what…nobody will see!
Decide if you want your shade strings to pull up on the right side or the left side of the window. I wanted the right side, so I inserted all my strings to the left. Make sense? Tie your first nylon cord to the bottom most ring (see black arrow below), string up to the top through each ring, then through the screw eyes going to the left. Sorry, the cording is white, the lining is white, lousy photo so I drew in the black lines to represent the cording.
Now your shade is all ‘strung’ up and probably seems like a mess. We’ll fix that later.
Here is a close up of how it will look. All of the cording will be strung through the upper left screw eye as the final step in ‘threading’ the shade..
Ok, now we are on the home stretch. Insert your dowel in the bottom, no picture of that, sorry.
I am mounting my shade in the ceiling. Why? Because this window is northern facing and I want as much sun in here as possible. So…when my shade is pulled up I want it to barely cover my window. If this was a really sunny room I would mountain inside because diffusing light might be a good thing. Does that make sense? Mounting shades all the way to the ceiling also gives the illusion of taller windows. :)
Here I am installing the anchors. If you are drilling into the wall, just use a stud finder, drill your board into the studs with 2-3 screws, and skip this step. (Argh…I still gotta putty those holes leftover from my old drapes.)
Using a cordless drill, attach your board to the wall/ceiling/window frame! You’ll need a second pair of hands to hold the shade away from you.
Pull up your cording to make sure everything works. I like to make a series of knots, tieing all 5 cords together once they exit the last screw eye. This keeps then from tangling and it’s safer if you have small children in the house. (In this photo below I am beginning to wonder why I chose to mount all the way to my 9-ft ceilings. I feel like I’m gonna fall off the ladder this high up!)
Attach your wall cleat.
Enjoy your roman shade for years to come!
I hope you found this helpful. Stay tuned for part 2 which will have variations for inside mount as well as french door roman shades.
I also like my new pillows….so fresh and spring-like. Dang that stupid snow still on the front lawn. Curse evil snow!
Stay tuned for part 2 where I will talk about the other variations for french doors and inside mount.