Sewing Roman Shades

Learn how to sew your own Roman Shades window treatments.

To begin sewing your own roman shade measure the window to be covered. A basic formula for figuring fabric yardage for both inside or outside mounting is: length of window divided by five plus length of window plus one inch. This equation will help you determine the length your fabric needs to be cut to. To determine the how wide your fabric should be, measure the width of your window and add two inches, to allow for one inch seams on each side. Once you have determined how much fabric you will need to create your roman shade, it is time to select the fabric and lining that best suits the style, décor and function of the room.

Roman shades can be made from all weights of fabric and in a variety of styles. Whether you prefer soft and simple, technical and geometric, or crisp and sophisticated, roman shades work well with any décor. There is a wide selection of linings available. You can choose room-darkening linings, climate-control linings, or non-staining linings and all types are available in different weights and textures. Choose fabric that will match the décor of the room. Choose a lining that best matches the function of the room.

The following materials are necessary to complete the roman shade:

Thin cording

Cord cleat

Plastic rings

Tape measure

Staple Gun



Cloth Pencil


A one-inch by two-inch thick board cut to fit the window width (this will become the mounting board which is used to attach the shade to the window frame)

Hook and Loop Tape or Designer Pins (necessary for attaching the shade to the mounting board)

One-fourth inch thick wood dowel or dowels (necessary for weighting the shade at the bottom, however several dowels may be used depending on shade design)

Eye hooks (these will be attached to the mounting board to thread the cording through at the top of the shade)

L-brackets or screws (L-brackets are necessary if the shade is intended to be hung on the outside of the window frame. Hanging the shade on the inside of the window frame only requires screws.)

Optional Materials:

Template (for cutting optional shapes and designs along the shade's bottom edge)

Pullies (for threading the cord to raise and lower the shade)

Cord lock and screws

Cord condenser

These supplies should be available at your local craft or sewing supply shop.

Lay fabric flat. The fabric and the lining should be pinned together facing with their insides out. If you haven't already done so, cut the fabric and lining according to the window measurement formula. If desired make a template and add a special edging such as scalloping by tracing the pattern along the bottom edge of the shade. Mark a six to seven inch line using your cloth pencil. This line will mark the opening you will leave along the top seam for turning the curtain right side out. Begin at one side of the opening; sew a one-inch seam around the pinned fabric and lining.

Tidy the seams and clip any curves. Iron. For a crisp effect iron the seams flat. Turn right side out. Sew the opening closed. Iron. If using hook and loop tape, on the lining side sew one side of the hook and loop tape to the top edge of the shade.

Next create the one-half inch horizontal pockets that will house the dowels. To get the measurements for the pockets begin at the top edge, on the lining side of the roman shade, measure and mark the left and right edges every five inches, then one inch, then five, then one; continuing to the bottom of the shade. Fold and pin the one-inch marks creating one-half inch pockets. Sew the pockets in place. The lining side of the shade should have horizontal pockets running from left to right and spaced five inches apart running vertically from top to bottom. To create a tailored appearance a dowel can be slipped into each pocket, accenting the lines. To create a softer appearance, slip one dowel into the pocket along the bottom edge. Stitch pockets on each side to keep dowels in place.

Next you will need to attach the rings and thread the cording through the shade. On the lining side of the shade mark the pockets from left edge to right edge every six to eight inches depending on the width of the shade. Attach a ring at each mark. Count the number of rings along one fold. This is how many cords need to be cut. The length of each cord is determined by doubling the shade length plus one shade width. Weave the cording through the rings beginning at the bottom edge and working upward to the top. Knot the bottom to prevent the cord from running through.

To create the header cut the mounting board the width of the window frame. Measure inner window frame if the shade is intended to be hung inside the frame and measure from outer left edge to outer right edge of window frame if the shade is intended to be hung outside of the frame. If using hook and loop method staple the other strip of hook and loop tape to one of the thin edges of the board. On the wide side of the board line up eye hooks with cording on shade and attach to board accordingly either by combining hook and loop or by tacking the shade to the header with designer pins. With lining side up string the end of each row of cording through it's corresponding eye hook and every eye hook to the right thereafter until the cording gathers into one group at the far right edge of the shade. Tie the cords together at one end or use a cord condenser for added safety, convenience and manageability. Cord condensers gather multiple cords and transform them into one.

Screw the header board into the window frame.

Attach a cord cleat to the window frame. Raise or lower the shade to desired position and wrap the cord around the cleat to lock the position in place.

Pulley's and cord locks are optional and may be added if desired.

Making Roman style shades are easy once you have mastered a few basic techniques. Experiment with different fabrics and try adding embellishments such as beads, lace or fabric stencils.

© High Speed Ventures 2011