How to Make Roman Shades

Roman shades are a stylish option for windows but often come with a custom price tag. Dress up the windows in your home with these two options for making your own DIY shades.

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Roman shades are ideal window treatments if you want both function and style. Made with your choice of fabric, these shades don't have space between slots like standard blinds do, making them the go-to treatment for privacy concerns. If Roman shades are the right choice for your home, you can make them yourself! With our steps below, we show you two ways to make the shades; one with deconstructed blinds, and one with dowel rods. Check it out to see which is best for you. 

5 Roman Shades for a DIY Window Makeover

DIY Roman Shades Made With Blinds

What You Need

  • Miniblind to fit the window
  • Midweight upholstery fabric cut 6 inches wider than the window and 12 inches longer
  • Fabric glue
  • Flat artist's paintbrush

Fabric tip: A fabric with some body 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 shades.

Step 1: Set Length

Lay the blind on your work surface with the front facing down. To set the length you want the shade to be, follow package instructions to adjust the plug underneath the thick bottom slat.

Step 2: Remove and Set 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 by seven. This is how many slats you will need to leave on the blind strings. Snap off and remove the rest.

Place fabric facedown under the blind. Account for the fabric that will be wrapped around the top of the blind and lay out the slats in 7-inch intervals. Mark these placements on the blinds. Mark the fabric where it folds at the sides, top, and bottom of slats. Remove the shade and press the fabric folds to create the hems.

Step 3: Secure Fabric

Place the fabric under the shade and use the paintbrush to brush glue onto the front side of the slats. 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.

DIY Sewn Roman Shade With Lining

What You Need

  • Fabric 
  • Lining fabric
  • 1x2-inch pine board
  • Two screw eyes
  • Five 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowels
  • Ten small cabone rings
  • Shade-and-blind cord
  • Cleat (with fasteners) to wrap cord at desired pleating

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: Cut Fabrics and Mounting Board

Measure the height and width of the window inside the window recess or frame. 

Determine the size to cut the shade fabric. (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. Cut width of shade = window width + 2-inch.) Note: Our shade has four folds with five dowel casings. From the shade fabric, cut one panel to this measurement.

Determine the size to cut the lining fabric. (Cut length of lining = cut length of shade. Cut width of lining = measured width of window inside the window recess or frame.) From the lining fabric, cut one panel to this measurement.

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 2: Assemble Shade

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.

Using a quilter's ruler, measuring tape, and an air-soluble fabric marking pen, 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, turn it under an additional 7/8-inch; press. Stitch just inside the folded edge to make a bottom dowel casing.

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 4 inches inside each side edge on each dowel casing.

Step 3: Mount Shade

Place the cleat on the right side of the window frame about midway between top and bottom. The cleat holds the cords taut. 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.

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.

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.

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