Wednesday, June 22, 2011

DIY Roman Shades - A Few Variations

If you're not a DIYer... sorry for this lengthy/wordy post... please accept this eye candy as my apology!

Christopher Maya via House Beautiful

Following up on yesterday's DIY Roman Shades post, today, I'm sharing some details of how I made the shades in our bedroom (using existing roman shade hardward/cords) and in the girls' bathroom (using existing hardware/cords from mini-blinds).  I can't promise that these methods will save THAT much time or effort... but, they provide some alternatives... and could save you a few dollars on supplies.
Work with what you've got (i.e., repurpose your existing shades/blinds):

Master Bedroom Shades:

In our bedroom, we had white JC Penney roman shades on the windows before I launched the makeover. 

For a true short-cut, you could simply attach your new shade fabric on the front of the existing shade.  I've read that this is possible and works well... but, alas, I didn't try this.  First, because I chose a relatively heavy-weight fabric (Tala Bluemarine) and thought it might be too bulky with the existing shade.  Second, I did not want those dark horizontal lines (wooden dowels) to show through. 

So, instead of using the existing shade fabric, I simply un-knotted the lift cords from the lift rings, snipped off the shade fabric, and left the mounting board/bracket and lift cords intact.  Oops - forgot to photograph this step (bad blogger!).

Girls' Bathroom Shade:

In the girls' bathroom - we had white vinyl mini-blinds on the window pre-renovation.

The lift/lower mechanism on blinds is essentially the same as that on a roman shade.  So, rather than ditch the perfectly good mounting hardware... I decided to repurpose it. 

For a true short-cut - have a look at Jenny's ingenious tutorial on how to make roman shades from mini-blinds (gluing the fabric to the actual slats).  I opted for the traditional lift rings approach (something about spending a ridiculous sum on this single yard of fabric made me feel like I needed to be a purist of sorts and sew - rather than glue - the shade).  So, I pulled off all the slats and ladder strings...

and was left with this.  By the way, this is essentially what the JC Penney white roman shade looked like sans white fabric (except without the clear plastic stick used for opening/closing blinds - which is removed for this project). 

Note that the positioning of these cords (several inches in from the ends) is not ideal... it's better for the cords to be as close to the ends of the mounting board as possible (leaving room for the cord lock mechanism).

Making the fabric shade:

In yesterday's post, I showed how I sewed the front fabric to the liner - using a pillowcase-like design. 

Master Bedroom Shades:

For the bedroom shades, I followed a different approach.  My lovely Tala fabric has a very loose weave, and I was concerned that it would lose shape over time if it was not stabilized.

To attach the drapery lining to the Tala fabric, I fused them by ironing them together with No Sew HeatNBond (I bought it at my local fabric shop by the bolt).  This definitely stabilized the Tala fabric... in fact, it made it pretty stiff, which worked to my advantage, since I was not planning to use plastic battens. The stiffness of the fabric makes the folds very crisp (although they do require a little "training" to go up neatly). 

Rather than fusing all the way to the edges, I cut the HeatNBond and drapery lining to the width of the finished shade, and left about an inch of Tala on either side.  In the photo above, you can see the HeatNBond being ironed onto the Tala fabric first.  Next, I peeled off the paper backing, placed the white drapery lining over the ironed-on HeatNBond, and then ironed over that to fuse them together.

Next, I folded over the edges - ironed - folded again - and ironed again - to hem the sides. 

To secure the hems, I cut strips of HeatNBond - but - given the many layers of fabric - the "bond" was not very strong... so I just stitched a line up each side of the shade as reinforcement.

Sewing the top and bottom hems is basically the same process used for our master bathroom shade (yesterday's post).  Once the fabric shades were all stitched and ready for assembly, I laid the mounting boards with lift cords at the top of each shade to identify the distance from the edge for the lift rings.  Next, I performed my little eyeballing pinch method of creating the folds...

With pencil markings for the lift rings, I got to work on sewing them in place, and then laying the mounting boards with lift cords back on the shades - and putting it all together.

 And, eventually I hung them back up - on their existing brackets.

I like that these are more substantial and interesting than the white JC Penney shades, but that they also let in a good bit of light.

Girls' Bathroom Shade:

For the girls' bathroom shade, I followed the same general approach as above, but without fusing the front and liner fabrics together.

I measured the lining to be the same as the width of the finished shade, with just over an inch of front fabric on either side for hems.

This time I pinned, rather than fused the hems (which did not work well the first time around).

Once the shade was sewn, I played with the trim to see where/how it would look best.  I pinned the corners for mitering, and got to work...

But, unfortunatley, I must not have measured QUITE right... b/c I ended up with an imperfect rectangle.  I pulled and pulled, and forced that thing to fit (sewing in place, rather than gluing this time), but what it ended up doing was cause the fabric to pucker...

and, by that point - I was totally burned out - and had used up every last shred of the hot pink cotton webbing.  So, I gave myself a little pep talk (imperfections add character, right?)...

sewed on the lift rings, attached the lift cords and mounting hardware and put it up - flaws and all.

Oh well!  It's still cheerful and functional.  A little puckered window shade is certainly not going to bother these clients (my 2 and 4 year old girls)!

Note about placement of lift cords:  I mentioned above that the placement of the lift cords on the blinds was less than ideal (not close enough to the edges).  Since this is such a tiny shade (24" width), and because the cotton webbing trim gives it some stability... it didn't really matter here.  If it were a wider shade, or a flimsier fabric, it would likely have caused the sides of the shade to droop down when raised (opposite of my master bathroom shade, which droops in the middle).  You could try to counteract this by inserting a wooden dowel inside the bottom hem. 

Whew - that's a lot of words!  Hope this is helpful if you're tackling your own roman shade project. 


  1. Alicia,

    I wish I was as brave of a DIYer as you are. This is a great tutorial. You make me feel like I can handle it....

    Oksana @

  2. You can do it! Let me know if you decide to try one!

  3. WOW! Impressive. I saved this in Evernote. Great work. They look amazing.

  4. Great post on how to make these shades! I linked this to my roman shades project post too, for inspiration!

  5. Your window treatments are gorgeous! What a great idea!

  6. can anyone help with a window covering I saw on DIY Bath Crashers?? It was on Saturday am, Feb 4/12 It was a makeover of a pink and tourquoise bath. When they had the reveal, I saw the prettiest wide puckery shade over the window...where can I get onformation about where to find that shade??? I have been on the DIY site and there is no place to ask questions about products. Thanks for any help!


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