How to Make Roman Shades for a Custom Look on a DIY Budget
Roman shades are ideal window treatments for adding both style and function and offer more privacy and light-blocking capabilities than standard blinds. Without spaces between slots, these shades cover windows completely and can be made with your fabric of choice. In a colorful, patterned fabric, Roman shades can instantly add personality to windows in your kitchen, bedroom, or living area. To make one of these gorgeous window treatments yourself, you can either use a set of deconstructed blinds or make a Roman shade from scratch using wooden dowel rods. Learn how to make a DIY Roman shade using our step-by-step instructions below.
How to Make DIY Roman Shades with Blinds
Starting with a mini blind ($9, The Home Depot) helps structure your DIY Roman shade. When selecting fabric, choose one that will hold the folds nicely and filter sunlight while providing privacy. Look for a fabric in the home decor section of a fabric store, which tends to stock these heavier fabrics. Gather the fabric about a yard from the end and let it fall to see how it drapes. Look for slightly billowy folds for the best Roman shades.
What You Need
- Mini blind to fit the window
- Midweight upholstery fabric cut 6 inches wider than the window and 12 inches longer
- Measuring tape
- Decoupage medium
- Foam paintbrush
Step 1: Set Length of Blind
Lay the blind on your work surface with the front facing down. Measure the window to determine how long your Roman shade needs to be. Pull the blinds out to your desired length.
Step 2: Remove Extra Blind Slats
Snip away only the thicker strings that connect the slats on both the front and the back. Don't cut the string in the middle of the slats, which is what pulls the shade up and down. Measure how long the shade will hang over the window and divide the measurement in inches by seven. This is how many slats you will need to leave on the blind strings. Snap off and remove the rest.
Step 3: Arrange Slats on Fabric
Place fabric facedown under the blind. Lay out the slats in 7-inch intervals, accounting for the fabric that will be wrapped around the top of the blind. Mark the fabric where it folds at the sides, top, and bottom of slats, allowing about 2 inches of fabric on all sides. Cut away any excess fabric. Press the fabric folds with an iron to create crisp hems.
Step 4: Attach Fabric Around Bracket
To cover the blind with fabric, pop out the stopper on each end of the top bracket. Cut a small notch in the fabric so it wraps nicely around the end. Using a foam brush, coat the bracket and fabric with decoupage medium and press to secure, using clothespins to clamp until dry.
Step 5: Secure Fabric to Blind
Brush decoupage medium onto the front side of the slats and the edges of the fabric where you marked the slat placement. You only need to glue the ends of the slat, not the entire length. Secure into place at the marked 7-inch intervals, tucking the ends of the slats beneath the folded edges. Use clothespins to hold the fabric in place while the glue dries.
Step 6: Attach Bottom of the Roman Shade
Fold over the bottom edge of the fabric slightly to form a clean edge. Wrap the fabric around the bottom bar of the blind and secure in place with decoupage medium. Use clothespins to clamp as it dries. Install your DIY Roman shade as you would a regular mini blind.
How to Sew a DIY Roman Shade with a Lining
You can also make a Roman shade using fabric and wooden dowel rods. This DIY window treatment includes double-layered fabric for extra light-blocking and privacy.
What You Need
- Measuring tape
- Lining fabric
- 1x2-inch pine board
- Two screw eyes
- Quilter's ruler
- Fabric marking pen
- Five 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowels
- Ten small cabone rings
- Shade-and-blind cord
- Cleat (with fasteners) to wrap cord at desired pleating
- #8 wood screws
Note: Quantities specified are for 52/54-inch wide decorator fabrics. All measurements include 1/2-inch seam allowances unless otherwise noted. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.
Step 1: Determine Measurements for Shade Fabric
Measure the height and width of the window inside the window recess or frame. To determine the size to cut the shade fabric, use this formula: cut length of shade = window height + 6 inches for mounting onto board + 6 or 8 inches drop from mounting board + 8 inches for each fold + 1 1/2-inch for each dowel casing. For the fabric width, the cut length should equal the width of the window plus 2 inches.
Note: Our shade has four folds with five dowel casings. From the shade fabric, cut one panel to this measurement.
Step 2: Cut Lining Fabric to Size
Cut the lining fabric to the same length as your shade fabric. The lining's width should equal the width of window inside the window recess or frame. You'll need one panel of lining fabric in this measurement.
Step 3: Cut and Prepare Mounting Board
Cut the 1x2-inch pine board to the measured window width. Mark points 4 inches from each end of the board for screw eyes. (For wide windows, measure even segments and mark two more points along the board for screw eyes.) Drill shallow pilot holes. Set the board aside.
Step 4: Attach Lining Fabric
With right sides facing, sew the lining panel to the shade panel along the side edges. Turn to the right side; press so the lining is centered on the back of the shade.
Step 5: Add Dowel Casings
Using a quilter's ruler, measuring tape, and a washable fabric marking pen ($6, Joann), measure and mark the placement of the 1-1/2-inch wide dowel casings. Stitch the dowel casings exactly on these lines. Turn the bottom edge of the shade under 1/2-inch, then turn it under an additional 7/8-inch and press. Stitch just inside the folded edge to make a bottom dowel casing.
Step 6: Assemble Roman Shade
Place the mounting board 6 inches below the top edge on the lining side of the shade. Fold the raw edge of the shade over the top of the mounting board. Check the fit to the window and adjust the fabric on the mounting board if necessary. Staple the shade to the back of the board. Insert the dowels in the casings. Hand-stitch a small cabone ring ($2, Micheals) 4 inches inside each side edge on each dowel casing.
Step 7: Mount a Cleat for Cords
To hold the cords taut, place a cleat ($2, The Home Depot) on the right side of the window frame about midway between top and bottom. If you have small children in your home, place the cleat closer to the top of the frame, lowering the risk of possible entanglement. Drill pilot holes in the frame. Mount the cleat.
Step 8: Add Cords to the Shade
For the left cords, cut a length two times the measured window length plus the measured width. Tie one end of the cord to the lowest rings on the left side of the blind. For the right cord, halve the remaining length. Tie one end of the cord to the lowest rings on the right side of the shade. Thread the cords through the column of rings and through the screw at the top. Thread all cords through the far right screw eye. Pull the cords to take up the slack and trim the cord ends even. To raise the shade, gently pull the cords, causing the fabric to pleat. At the desired height, secure the cords to the cleat with a figure-eight motion.
Step 9: Attach Roman Shade to Window
Insert two #8 wood screws through the bottom of the mounting board to attach the shade to the inside of the window. To set the pleats, raise the shade to the highest position and secure the cords to the cleat. Arrange the pleats by hand and leave in place for one week.