Monday, February 14, 2011

How to Make Roman Shades part 1

roman shades 2 (8) copy 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.)
bay windows in old house
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.
bay windows roman shades
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.)
french doors in 2005
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.
roman shades 2 (6) copy
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.
roman shades 1 (12)
Wall anchors are neeed as well. (I mounted my shade into my ceiling, so I had to use anchors.)
roman shades 4 (10)
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”.
roman shades 1 (3)
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.
roman shades 1 (5)
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.
roman shades 1 (10)
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.
roman shades 1 (11)
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.
roman shades 1 (13) copy
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.
roman shades 1 (16) copy
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.
roman shades 1 (17)
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.
roman shades 1 (18)
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.
roman shades 4 (3) copy
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!
roman shades 4 (4)
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.
roman shades 4 (6) copy
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..
roman shades 4 (8)
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.)
roman shades 4 (9)
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!)
roman shades 4 (1) 
Attach your wall cleat.
roman shades 3
Enjoy your roman shade for years to come!
roman shades 2 (8) copy
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!
roman shades 2 (7)
Stay tuned for part 2 where I will talk about the other variations for french doors and inside mount.


Tiffany said...

You're my hero. :)

I cannot wait to make these.

And I always love seeing your home.

Ana @ Don't Fear the Ripper said...

Great post! I've been making roman shades for a while now but it's always nice to see how someone else makes them.

Carry Grace said...

I am SO HAPPY that you posted this! We just moved into a rental that has mini blinds everywhere, and I plan to slowly change them out. Good timing!

Aubri said...

I paid some big bucks for the roman shades I have...7 years ago. They're starting to look worn. I'm scared of making roman shades, but it would be nice to have some new ones! And, you made it look pretty easy! Too bad I have a hate hate relationship with my sewing machine :( I'll have to think about this. Your beautiful big girl sure was a cute 4 year old :)

Mary said...

I cannot believe I know this! "Alive and Kicking" by Simple Minds, right?! I am NOT a music connoissuer by any stretch, but Simple Minds is one of the few concerts I have been to. Do I win a free Roman shade for knowing that?! ;o)

Great shades, BTW. I also love the gray pillow with the turquoise patterned band. It's funky in a subtle way.

j. said...

Hi Cynthia-I made my shade last night and am going to resume today with covering my 1x2. I am mounting on the wall just below my crown molding for the tall window effect. I'm assuming that my eye screws will be on the bottom (1" side) of the board and i'll screw my board to the wall on the 2" side? Does that make sense? If I can get this finished successfully, I will definitely do more! Thanks for the great tutorial!

Cynthia said...

jeanne--i think with what you are doing (mouting to the wall, not the ceiling or the top of a window frame) sounds right--screwing the eyes into the 1" side and attaching the 2" side to the board. If you do it the other way around, the way I do it in the post, then you will probably need L-brackets to hold the board to the wall. So yup, I think what you're doing is right!

The Sassy Closet said...

OMGosh, I'm SO going to try these. I started a blog about things I want to make for myself & I'm so adding these to the list. I'll definitely give you props so anyone reading it can stalk all the fabulous things you make. LOVE everything you do!

Kristin said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I just found this recently and just finished making a set of three roman shades. The only problem I have run into is that when I pull the cord, the fabric just bunches up rather than forming nice pleats. Any ideas why this happens?

Cynthia said...

kristin, the fabric will, over time, develop folds/creases and that shouldn't happen anymore. If your lining is a heavy black out though it may always happen.

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