How to Make DIY Roman Shades

After my first attempt (DIY Bamboo Shades) at window treatments for my bedroom completely failed, I tried a slightly simpler version: DIY Roman Shades. The technique for operating the shades is pretty similar, but the fabric used in the DIY Roman Shades is lighter and less bulky than the bamboo, meaning the shades would actually function correctly.

Turns out, I love how they look in the window, so I can't be too sad that my bamboo shades failed and led me to this. Unfortunately, the DIY Roman Shades involved a significant amount of sewing, which is not my favorite type of DIY, but they look so good I think I can forgive them for forcing me to haul out the sewing machine.

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments

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DIY Roman Shades

Materials
  • Fabric - You'll need enough fabric to cover your window, plus at least 7 inches for mounting the fabric and making pockets for the dowel rods. I used a Waverly Inspirations fabric that I found for $5 a yard at Walmart - I'd link too it, but I can't find it on their website.
  • Blackout Lining - Optional, same amount as the fabric.
  • (4) 1/4" Dowel Rods
  • Nylon Twine - I've tried cotton before, and it broke after a couple months of use. Stick with the nylon.
  • Plastic Rings
  • 1" x 2" Furring Strip - Cut to the width of your window. If you don't have a saw, have this done at the home improvement store. 
  • (2) 1/2" Angle Brackets
  • (2) Screw Eyes
  • Sewing Machine and Thread - I've seen lots of sewing projects that can be done with iron-on hem tape instead. This is not one of them. A sewing machine is required.
  • Staple Gun and Staples
Get Started!

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Step 1: Cut Fabric and Lining to Size

Important Note: All the dimensions I'm providing are assuming an inside mount. If you plan to mount the shade outside the window, you'll need larger pieces of fabric.

At minimum, your fabric needs to be 7" longer than the length of your window. I typically add a couple extra inches just in case - I don't mind if the fabric pools on the windowsill when the shade is down. In my case, my window was 64" long, and I'd purchased 2 yards (72") of fabric, so I didn't trim the length.

The width of the primary fabric should be 1" wider than the width of the window. This allows you to hem the fabric so that it wont unravel. In my case, My window was 33" wide, so I cut my fabric to be 34" wide. As for the lining, since I was using blackout lining (which doesn't unravel after being cut,) I cut it to be the width of my window, 33". If you're using a lining that could unravel, it might be best to cut it to the width of your window, and hem that as well. 

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments
Step 2: Hem Sides of Shades

Lay out the fabric and blackout lining. The lining should be 1/2" smaller than primary fabric on either side. Fold the primary fabric over the blackout lining on either side, and pin in place. Sew to secure. 

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments
Step 3: Make Dowel Pockets

First, determine and mark where your dowel pockets will be. To do this, take your fabric length, subtract 3 inches, and divide by four. This is how far apart each dowel rod will be placed.

(Fabric Length - 3) / 4 = Distance Between Each Dowel Rod

For example, my fabric was 72" long. (72-3)/4 = 17 1/4. My dowel rods were 17 1/4" apart.

The first dowel rod always goes at the very bottom of the shade. Then each rod goes the determined distance above the lower rod. In my case, given that the bottom of the shade is at 0", my dowel rods were placed at 0", 17 1/4", 34 1/2", and 51 3/4".  I marked these places on the shade before doing any sewing.

Once the placement of the dowel pockets were marked, I sewed them in place. I started with the lowest pocket, folding the bottom of the fabric up 3/4" to create a pocket. 

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments

For the other three pockets, I folded the shade along the mark I'd made. Then I sewed the pocket using a 1/2" seam allotment. Be careful here that both the primary fabric and lining have at least a 1/2" seam allotment. Otherwise, the dowel rod may not fit into the pocket.

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments
These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments
These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments
Step 4: Add Plastic Rings

On each dowel rod pocket, 3-4 inches in from the edge of the shade, hand sew a plastic ring to the pocket. These will ultimately hold the nylon twine that works the shade.

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments
Step 5: Make Mounting Bracket

Cut the 1x2 to the width of your shade, and add an angle bracket to either end of the shade. I was mounting my shade on the window frame, so my angle brackets were on the ends of the board. You can also mount the shade on the wall or back of the window frame; to do that just move the angle brackets so they're against the back of the board.

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments

Then, 3-4 inches in from either side, add a screw eye to the mounting board. 

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments
Step 6: Attach Shade to Mounting Board

Using a staple gun, staple the fabric to the top of the mounting board. Use multiple staples across the entire board to make sure the shade is secure.

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments
Step 7: Add Nylon String 

The nylon string is what raises and lowers the shade. Tie one end of the sting to the plastic ring on the lower right hand side of the shade using a bowline knot. Then weave the string through each plastic ring, up through both screw eyes, and back down on the left side, as shown in the photo below. Leave the left end of the string loose, with 6-10 inches of extra string available.

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments

Then add a second nylon string on the left side of the shade. Tie this string to the bottom left ring, then thread it up through all rings on the left side, through the screw eye at the top of the left side of the shade, and back down through the left side rings. 

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments

At this point, there should be two loose strings on the left side of the shade. Tie these strings together using a double fisherman's knot.

Step 8: Install the Shade

Secure the shade to your frame using the two angle brackets on the mounting board. Admire your new DIY Roman Shade!

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments

I'm a little obsessed with the fabric I used - it fits the color scheme of my bedroom perfectly!

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments

I also love the combination of the shades and curtains. It allows me to have total privacy when I want it, but also filtered light during the day!

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments

If you love these shades too, or think you might make your own DIY Roman Shade someday, be sure to save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again later!

These DIY Roman Shades are an easy afternoon sewing project that are the perfect covering for your window! #Shades #WindowTreatments

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