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DIY Roman shade tutorial (no sewing required)

April 29, 2013

Before this weekend, I had naked windows. It was kind of embarrassing, because our 96-year-old condo has absolutely stunning window moldings and details, but they were bare and sad.

Much of the issue was related to cost. I couldn’t stand to spend $200+ per window for custom shades, and blinds, even nice ones, just don’t do these windows justice. Here’s the before so you can get a feel for what we’re working with:

living room bay window

Bay window in our living room

kitchen window

Tall window in our kitchen

I’d been considering Roman shades for both of these areas because I didn’t want to lose any of the natural light and also wanted something that looked a bit more timeless and tasteful.

So off I went to Pinterest! I used these three blogs as the guide for the project. In all I made four shades for approximately $135 total. That comes out to about $34 per window!

Supply list:

  • Fabric: Measure your windows to determine how much you will need. I ended up using a fairly light cotton canvas because again, I didn’t want too much light to be blocked out. For the four windows, I used 6 yards at $7.99/yard. For those in Chicago, I purchased the fabric from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston.
  • Cheap mini-blinds: I purchased vinyl blinds from Home Depot. I was able to use the “Grab-N-Go” style for 2 of my windows, at $4.50 each. Because our condo is so old, the other two windows are not close to a standard size, so I had to purchase the cut-to-size vinyl blinds at about $18/each.
  • Glue: I used Alene’s tacky glue at $2.85 for the bottle
  • Drill/screwdriver to mount the blinds
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Any additional trim: I did a ribbon border on each of my shades. The ribbon cost was about $20, but I bet you could find it cheaper if you looked for a deal.
  • Optional: A meter stick or some sort of straight edge

Step 1

Based on the size of your window and whether you’re doing an inside or outside mount, add at least 1 inch to your measurements for the hem and cut the fabric to size. Iron the entire piece of fabric, and then measure off your hem.

cut fabric to size

Cut fabric to size, leaving room for a 1-inch hem

Iron fabric

Iron your fabric to get any wrinkles out

Iron and glue hem

Iron your hem on all sides, then glue with your fabric glue.

Step 2

Once you have your fabric hemmed and ironed, attach any trim or embellishments you’d like. At this point, I did a ribbon border on my shades. I simply used a straight edge to glue the ribbon at 4″ in from the edges all the way around. I chose a gray ribbon for the living room shades, and navy blue for the kitchen window.

Attach trim to Roman shade

You can use a straight edge to attach any trim. This is the gray ribbon I used.

Step 3

Open up your mini blinds and expand them to the full length. Lay out your shade fabric face down on the floor, and place the blinds on top of the fabric. Cut the ladder cord (horizontal cord) in between each blind, being very careful to not cut the thicker pull cord!

(I’m sorry for the lack of pictures for this step–I totally neglected to take pics. But this post has a really good visual.)

Remove the plastic stoppers at the bottom of the blind and begin to take off the slats.

Step 4

Determine how many “folds” you want in your Roman shade. I decided I wanted my first slat to be about 20 inches down from the mounting gear, and I liked the look of the “cascading” folds, so I decided to make the spacing between the bottom slats longer than the upper slats. So basically from top to bottom my layout was: mounting gear – 20″ space – first slat – 10″ space – 2nd slat – 12″ space – 3rd slat – 14″ space – bottom of the blinds.

I hope that makes sense. You’ll just have to do some math to determine the length of your shade and the spacing of the slats or folds.

Discard all the slats you won’t need, then re-attach the bottom bar of the blinds.

glue blinds to roman shade

Glue your slats onto your shade.

Step 5

Glue the mounting gear, slats, and bottom of the blind to your shade, making sure NOT to glue the pull cords.

Let the glue dry and you’re ready to hang!

Step 6

Admire your work. Here’s the after photos of my shades:

I love how the light still comes through the canvas!

I love how the light still comes through the canvas!

After photo of living room bay window

Pardon the ugly cooler/box in the upper left!

Pardon the ugly cooler/box in the upper left!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Tatyana permalink
    May 30, 2013 11:22 pm

    Super ! Thank you !

  2. July 30, 2013 9:01 pm

    I have been looking at the tutorials for these. Does the glue really work? Do you feel like you could open and close the shades daily without ruining the shade?

    • July 31, 2013 1:00 pm

      Hi Amanda, yes and yes! The glue works great. The middle shade in my bay window is quite wide, which renders it pretty heavy and it’s still going strong! And you can absolutely open and close with the shade remaining in tact.

  3. Lori permalink
    September 20, 2013 6:57 am

    Can this be done by someone with little craft skill? I love it but am not the handiest!

  4. October 21, 2013 8:22 pm

    Hey! I tried your fantastic plans! Everything worked out great but I had issues with the fabric over the mounting gear. I wasn’t able to lock the mini blinds in place because the fabric wouldn’t let the locks slip into place. How did you address this issue?

  5. February 7, 2014 6:36 am

    Looks GREAT!!!! I would recommend you use some blockout material next time.

  6. Kristin permalink
    April 14, 2014 5:39 am

    Beautiful window treatment thanks for posting. What are the rough measurements of your bay window? I need to replace an old picture window in my house

  7. July 22, 2014 6:39 am

    Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful.
    Thanks for sharing!

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