May 9, 2012

DIY Roman Shade

I've got a great DIY project for you- make your own roman shade! Making your own shade is great because:

1. When curtain panels won't work in a space, a fabric shade beats mini blinds every time.
2. Having a custom shade made professionally cost anywhere between $65 (for really ugly ones with only a few fabric color choices) to the upwards of $1000.

Everything included, my shade came in at $50, and I was able to pick fabric that I loved.

Here's what you need:
  • Cheap, plastic mini blinds the size of your window (make sure the width matches, if the mini blinds are too long they can easily be shortened)
  • Fabric (how much depends on the size of the shade you're making)
  • Fabric glue
That's it! No sewing required if you don't want to or don't have a machine. Three side comments and then we'll get going.

1. If you do anything, make sure, and then doubly sure, and then triply sure that every single stinking part of your shade is square. No eyeballing things.
2. Don't use thick or heavy fabric.
3. Make sure your fabric is cut square. Wait, I already said that.

I say these things because this is the second roman shade that I made. The first one:

1. Wasn't cut square
2. Was made up of thick indoor/outdoor fabric

It hung all wonky and looked very homemade. After numerous attempts to fix it, I threw in the towel and started over.

Okay, enough ranting. But really, please do learn from my mistakes.

Start by letting out your mini blind and laying it out on the floor.

Carefully, locate and cut out all of the ladder cords. Do NOT cut the lift cord. The lift cord is what pulls the blinds up and down, and the ladder cord is what holds all of the slats in place. The ladder cord is thinner than the lift cord and resembles a ladder. Duh.

I was super paranoid about cutting the WRONG cord (cue horror music). This link (which I used as a tutorial) has more pictures of said cord, and could be helpful as well if you're OCD and paranoid about this like I was.

Pull off all of the slats except five (more or less depending on how many lifts you'll want in your shade).

Set your jumbled mess of deconstructed mini blinds aside, and get out your ironed, cut to size fabric. That's right, I'm assuming you've already done this.

*A side note: the width of your shade will be pretty standard (whatever the width of the mini blind you bough). The height is negotiable: I mounted my roman shade about six inches above my window to give the illusion of height. Add whatever inchage (like my new word?) you need. Of course, add an additional 2"-4" of fabric both height wise and width wise to your entire piece to incorporate a hem (I had a 2" hem on each side).

Here's my hemmed fabric.

You can either sew your hem in place, or you can use fabric glue. I sewed mine.

Now pull your deconstructed mini blinds back out, and glue the mechanical top to the top of your fabric, making sure the lift cords are hanging down. Make sense?

Evenly space out your slats on the fabric, and glue them down. Make sure that the holes in the slats are lined up with each other vertically, and thread the lift cord through.

Now get out the heavy bottom slat. Thread the ends of the lift cord into the holes in this slat, and tie a knot in each cord to secure it in place. The knot should hold the heavy slat in place. I totally forgot to take a picture of this. Whoops!

Glue the heavy slat one to two inches from the bottom (depending on how much you allocated for your hem). I obviously left too much fabric here.

And then glue the excess fabric up to hem.

You're shade is almost done! Now let it dry for at least 12 hours.

Follow the instructions that came with the cheap mini blinds for attaching it to the wall, and you've got yourself a custom roman shade.


Here's my shade closed:

But mostly, it will be open.

There you have it!


  1. Beautiful! I can't wait to try this for our basement!

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