How to Make DIY Roman Shades
Learn how to make DIY Roman Shades with this in-depth video and photo tutorial. It's an easy afternoon sewing project perfect for your home!
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.
P.S - If you also hate sewing, check out our FREE list of High Quality Budget Roman Shades! Avoid the sewing machine and still get great roman shades!
Ideas and Planning
Given you've already decided on a roman shade (oh, you haven't? Check out my post of 15 Gorgeous DIY Curtain Ideas,) there's really only one thing you need to know before you start.
Do you want to mount your shade inside the window frame or outside of it?
I knew I wanted a double-layer look with both roman shades and curtains, which means I had to do an inside mount for my roman shade. If that's not your plan, an outside mount is a nice option as well.
Since I did an inside mount, the instructions you see below are written for an inside mount.
If you choose to do an outside mount, you'll need to cut your fabric slightly wider so that it covers the entire window and frame. Other than that, the process is the same!
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- 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.
- 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
DIY Roman Shades
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then, 3-4 inches in from either side, add a screw eye to the mounting board.
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.
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.
Then add a second nylon string on the right side of the shade. Tie this string to the bottom right ring, then thread it up through all rings on the right side, through the screw eye at the top of the right side of the shade, and back down through the right side rings.
At this point, there should be two loose strings on the right 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!
I have young kids. Is there a lot of string that could be dangerous?
Yes. When the shades are in the "up" position, there's a ton of extra string. Therefore, these shades are probably not the best option if you have young kids, unless you can come up with a string-less version. Check out our FREE list of Budget Roman Shades for other options!
What fabric/curtains did you use?
The fabric on my DIY roman shades is "Jacobean Blue" by Waverly Inspirations. I found it at Walmart.
The curtains are from Ikea. I think they're gorgeous, especially for the price!
Still not sold on roman shades. Do you have any other DIY shade ideas?
I've put a ton of thought into covering my windows, if you can't tell!
I'm a little obsessed with the fabric I used - it fits the color scheme of my bedroom perfectly!
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!
If you like it too, be sure to grab our Budget Curtain Cheat Sheet, which gives you five high-quality curtain options under $30!
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!