Written Instructions: How to Make Roman Shades

Since releasing our How to Make Roman Shades Videos, we’ve received many requests for written instructions to accompany the video. Well, we heard you and today we’re sharing our step-by-step instructions. We love Roman shades for their clean lines and classic look. Not only do they look great, they are also fully functional and can take the place of your mini-blinds. It’s no wonder they are such popular window treatments!

These instructions follow the method outlined in our How to Make Roman Shades Using Iron-On Roman Rib Tape video. We think this method is a little bit easier than our original tutorial.

Materials List:

How to Make a Roman Shade

Measure the height and width of your window. If you want space on either side of the shade, determine how much room you want to have and subtract that from your width. These will be your finished shade dimensions.

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Pattern your fabric. For the decorative fabric, measure a length equal to your desired finished length plus 8” and a width equal to the finished width plus 3”. Pattern the drapery lining so the length is equal to the finished length and the width is the finished width minus 1”.

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Lay out the decorative fabric with the right side facing up. Lay the drapery lining on top of it with the right side facing down. Line up the drapery lining’s edges with the edges of the decorative fabric on 3 sides. The decorative fabric should be wider than the lining. Pin the lining to the decorative fabric along one long side.

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Sew a row of stitches 1/2” away from the raw edge of the fabric down the side of the fabric you just pinned. Turn the panel around and line up the opposite side of the lining to the edge of the drapery fabric so the two fabrics are flush. Sew a row of stitches 1/2” away from the raw edge to secure.

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Center the lining fabric on the back of the decorative fabric. With the lining properly arranged, sew closed the bottom edge of the fabric, stitching 1/2” away from the raw edge.

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Turn the assembly right side out and lay it out with the lining facing up. At the bottom (the closed end) of the shade, fold the fabric up approximately 3 inches and pin in place.

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Carefully iron the crease along the bottom edge. Sew a row of stitches close to the raw edge. This bottom hem will hold the weighted rod. Sew up the sides of the fold about 1”, leaving an opening for the rod to be inserted.

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To create the panels, determine how high you want each fabric stack to be (12” is a fairly standard stack height). To find your divider number (D), take the stack height minus four. Then, divide your overall length by D. The quotient, rounded to the nearest whole number, is your number of segments (E). To find the height of the main segments, take the overall length and subtract 3. Divide the solution by E. Finally, to calculate the height of the lowest segment, take the height of the main segments and add 1.5. Note: To make your shade safety compliant, the lift rings must be no father apart than 4”. To accomplish this, the stack height should be 6”. This will, however, result in less visible fabric when the shade is fully open.

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Determine where your dowels should be placed. Starting at the top of the bottom hem measure up to the height of the lowest segment and make a mark. Then measure up from your mark the height of the main segment and make another mark. Continue this until you have marked out all of your segments.

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Fold the assembly in half lengthwise and use the marks you made to mark the opposite side of the fabric in the same location.

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Take the Iron-On Roman Rib Tape and cut it to size. The tape should be long enough to just overlap the decorative fabric on each side.

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Line up the tape with the marks you made on either side of the shade and iron it in place.

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To finish the top, measure the length of your shade starting at the bottom. Make a mark on the shade when you reach your desired finished length. Strike a line. If you have excess fabric, cut of the excess about 1/2” above the marked line.

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Create a 1/2-inch single hem at the top of the shade. On top of the hem, sew on a strip of 1” loop Velcro.

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Next, attach the lift rings. Starting at the bottom rib tape, hand-sew rings across every other rib pocket. The rings should be spaced 15” apart from each other.

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To create a headrail for your shade, cut a 1” x 2” board to the width of your finished shade. Then upholster the board using scrap fabric from the shade, either the decorative fabric or the lining. Staple a strip of 1” hook Velcro to the side of the board that will face into the room. Be sure the top of the Velcro is flush with the top of the board.

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Velcro the board to the top of the curtain. Mark on the board the location of the rings across the width of the shade. Attach a screw eye at each of those locations.

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Feed your leechline cords through the cord lock. Install the cord lock directly into the headrail on either the right or the left side, depending on where you want the lift cord (small hole facing out). Position it as close to the outside screw eye as possible. You may need to un-Velcro the board from the shade to install the cord lock. Then feed the cords through the eyes, making sure each screw eye has a cord hanging down from it.

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Velcro the board to the shade and feed the cord through the lift rings on the back of the shade. Only tie the cord to the last ring.

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Install one plastic rib into the rib tape and mark the needed length. Use scissors to cut off the excess. Repeat for each rib. Insert the bottom weight in the pocket at the bottom of the shade. Use a hacksaw to cut the weight if needed. If ribs or the weight need to be longer, use a splice to connect two pieces.

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Install a cord condenser and a wooden tassel to the cords if desired. Always be sure to secure your cords to a cleat on the wall when not in use for safety.

Install your blinds in your window and enjoy your handiwork!

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We used Sew-On Rings for our lift cords in this tutorial, but we also carry new Sure-Shade Encased Lift Cord Shroud Tape that is great for safety and replaces the need to use rings. Here are instructions for using the shroud tape.

These instructions are intended for personal use. If making shades to sell or gift, they must comply with the latest safety regulations. To make your shades safety compliant, the lift rings must be no farther apart than 4 inches. To accomplish this, the stack height should be 6 inches. This will result in less visible fabric when the shade is fully open, but will prevent the formation of a hazardous loop.

Warning: Cords can be hazardous, even fatal, to young children. Keep cords out of reach of children. Keep cribs, playpens, and other furniture away from cords. Do not tie cords together or allow cords to twist or loop together.

To help you easily figure out how much fabric you’ll need for your shade project, use Sailrite’s Fabric Calculator. If you want to delve deeper into the art of making Roman Shades try Sailrite founder Jim Grant’s new in-depth app: Roman Shade Fabrication Pro. Available now in the App Store!

All of the Roman Shade hardware used in this tutorial (along with other options) are available at Sailrite.com.

Have you made Roman Shades using our fabric & hardware? Share your experiences in the comments below.

6 comments
  1. Steeve Juneau said:

    I really like that. I think I even prefer the written instructions with the above pictures rather than the video. Having both is just perfect.

    • Nikki said:

      Thanks, Steeve! Glad these are helpful!

  2. Henri seefeld said:

    Using the shroud Tate does that make it cordless

    • Nikki said:

      Hi Henri,

      The shroud tape does not make the shade cordless, but it does attach the cords to the back of the shade to prevent the formation of loops that could be hazardous to kids and pets.

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