Do It Yourself: How To Make Roman Shades

The Roman shade is a simple yet elegant window treatment. With the following instructions, you will use a special ring tape that greatly simplifies the process of making your own Roman shades.

The traditional Roman shade is a simple, tailored window treatment, constructed from comparatively little fabric. When raised, this shade folds into neat horizontal pleats. When lowered, it lies flat against the window. The Roman shade hangs from a mounting board installed inside or outside of the window frame.

The instructions below are for construction of one Roman Shade.

Step One - Construct the Mounting Board

In order to measure for the amount of fabric you will use, you must first determine how the mounting board will be installed. If installed inside the window recess, the shade will fit snugly against the windowpane and inside the window frame. If installed outside of the window frame, the shade will cover the entire window opening and frame when lowered, using more fabric in its construction.

The mounting board should measure one inch thick x two inches deep x the length required for mounting the shade. For an inside mounting board, this measurement is the width of the window between the side moldings. For an outside mounting board, measure the width between the outside edges of the window frame. After cutting the mounting board, you may cover it with the fabric or lining be used in the shade, or you may paint it.

Install metal screw eyes every 10 to 12 inches along the underside of the board, placing the outer rings approximately 1/2 inch from each end of the board. Make sure that the intervals between the screw eyes are equal in length. These rings will be used to thread the pull cords, so they must correspond with the rows of rings that will be sewn along the backside of the shade.

After attaching the finished shade to the mounting board (see Step 5), install the mounting board with "L" brackets at the ends inside the window molding for an inside mount. To mount on the outside of the window, place the "L" brackets along the bottom of the mounting board and mount just above the window. Do not install the mounting board until after the finished shade is attached.

Step Two - Measure for Materials

Fabric: The fabric will be cut 1 ¼ inch wider than the length of the mounting board and six inches longer than the measurement from the mounting board to the lower windowsill. Find this measurement then divide by 36 inches for yardage. Fabric or lining remnants can be used to cover mounting board.

Cotton Lining: The cotton lining will be cut to the same measurements as the fabric, so purchase an equal amount of yardage.

Roman Shade Ring Tape: For yardage, add five inches to the cutting length of the shade and multiply by the number of rows needed (as determined by the number of screw eyes installed in the mounting board). Divide by 36 inches to find the ring tape yardage needed.

Polyester Cord: Purchase 2.5 times the measurement of the ring tape (dividing by 36" for the yardage needed), or purchase pre-threaded ring tape.



Metal or Wooden Dowel: Will be ½ inch shorter than finished width of shade. A ½ to one-inch wide slat may be used.

Decorative Trim or Ribbon (attached along bottom of shade): Optional, measure width of lower edge of shade, divide by 36" for yardage.

Step 3 - Assemble Supplies and Tools

Matching thread

Metal T-Square

Staple gun and staples, or tacks, or heavy-duty glue

Brass cleat with screws

Decorative cord toggle

Measuring tape

Scissors

Pins

Sewing machine

Step 4 - Construct Shade

Cut fabric and lining as directed in Step 2. Both should be equal in length and width. Place right sides together and pin along edges. To ensure that the shade is a perfect rectangle, use the T-square to make sure that all corners are square. Stitch along top and sides, leaving a 5/8-inch seam allowance. Press seams open. Stitch the bottom seam, leaving a small opening for turning. Turn and press. Slipstitch opening closed.

Turn bottom edge up two inches to the back of the shade and press. On back of shade, pin ring tape vertically to each side edge, positioning the bottom ring of each tape 3 to 3 ½ inches above the bottom of the shade. Cut the tape leaving enough tape below bottom ring so that excess can be pinned under the folded bottom edge of shade. You should position additional lengths of ring tape to line up vertically with the metal hook eyes in the mounting board. Make sure that all horizontal rows of hooks are parallel to one another, using the T-square.

Once all of the ring tape has been pinned into position, stitch all ring tape edges through lining and fabric using a zipper foot. Remember that the bobbin thread will appear on the right side of the shade, so be sure to match the thread carefully to the fabric color(s). Stitch the folded bottom edge to the lining side of the shade, stitching over the excess ring tape. Insert the dowel or slat and mark to form a pocket. Remove the dowel and stitch a second row where marked. Insert the dowel and slip stitch the casing ends closed.

Step 5 - Attach to Mounting Board

Attach the shade to the top side of the mounting board using staples, tacks, or glue, allowing it to hang down over the front edge of the board. Make sure when attaching the shade that it will remain the correct length when the board is installed above the window.

Mount the board inside or above the window frame as described in Step 1.

Step 6 - Thread the Pull Cords

Determine which side the pull cord will be on. Thread the polyester cord through each vertical row of rings, first tying a long length of cord to the bottom ring of the ring tape, threading up though each ring, through the screw eye at the top of the row, and through the screw eyes to the chosen side. Repeat with each row of ring tape. All cords should be strung through the last screw eye on the side chosen for the pull cord to hang.

Close the shade so it is flat, and knot all cords just outside the last screw eye. Pass all of the cord ends through the toggle and tie a knot about ¾ down the length of the shade. Trim away the excess cord, and pull the toggle down to cover the knot. Screw the cleat to the window frame approximately ¾ or more of the distance down the length of the shade. Pull the cord to open your new Roman Shade and wind the pull cord around the cleat to fix the height.

© High Speed Ventures 2011