Monday, March 7, 2011

Roman Shade Tutorial Part 1

Supply List:
Fabric {I used an Ikea panel}
brass rings
1/4" ribs
nylon lift cord
screw eyes
lath {1" x 2" pine board - must be straight}
staple gun
ribbon trim {optional}
fabric pen
drop weight
metal weight
measuring tape

1. Measure the width of your window in 3 places - use the smallest number if there is any variation.
2. Decide whether you want an inside mount or an outside mount.  Standard for an outside mount is 2" wider than your window on each side.  The first shade I made was an outside mount but I didn't love the way it looked when it was closed, though it definitely kept more light out.  The second shade I made is sort of a hybrid mount.  I couldn't mount the lath inside my window because I have a cellular shade there, but I wanted the width to fall inside the window so we can put decorative trim around the window out later on.
3.  Determine the size your shade needs to be when finished {mine is 46" x 60"}.
4.  Before you can figure the cut measurements for you fabric, you have to decide how many pleats you want your shade to have.  A pleat every 6" to 10" is normal. Your pleat depth is half of your pleat spacing.  My pleats are 8" apart, therefore the pleat depth is 4" {pleat depth is a personal preference}.

5.  Draw out the measurements of your shade on paper like I did below.  It's a great guide as you work.  My shade is 60" high and I wanted pleats every 8", so I will have a total of 7 pleats.  Your bottom pleat is a half pleat and is generally half the width of the rest.  I wanted a "tail" so my ribbon would be visible when the shade was up, so I added an extra 1.5" {we'll go over that more tomorrow}.  Depending on the height of your shade, your top spacing may not be the same as the rest.  As long as it's within 2" - that's fine.  There are some great pleat calculators on the internet that can help if you're not sure how to figure this out on your own.
6.   Now determine how far apart your rings will be spaced.  If you're using ribs, they can be as far as 12-14" apart.  Without ribs, you don't want your rings any further than 10" apart, or you'll get a swag in between.  My finished shade is 46" and I used ribs, so I spaced my rings 14 2/3" apart.  Rings will always be placed on either side 1" in.  So take your width and subtract 2", then figure how far apart your rings need to be.

7.  Now that you've figured your pleats and rings, you can determine what size to cut your fabric and lining. 
Main fabric = finished width + 3" x window height + 6" {for the hem} + 1" for every pleat {in my case, 7} + 8" {for attaching the top to the lath}.  So I cut my main fabric 49" x 81".
Lining = finished width - 1" x same as main fabric.  I cut my lining, 45" x 81".
8. Now we can sew our side seams.  Lay your fabric right sides together.  Align one side and sew a 1/2" seam.

9.  Pull the lining over to align with the other edge and sew a 1/2" seam.

10.  Press your seam toward the main fabric.  
11.  Flip right side out.
12.  Center the lining so that there is an even amount of main fabric on either side.  
13.  Press.

{This is Colby threading the bobbin.  Nothing, truly nothing, makes him happier.  I'm convinced he's going to be a mechanical engineer :)}

13.  Before you go any further, you need to measure the width of your shade after you've sewn the side seams to make sure it's correct.  Measure it at the top, bottom and middle.  If it's off, now is the time to start pickin' stitches and try again.

14.  Sewing the bottom 3" double hem.  Lay your shade lining side up, fold 3" and press. 
15.  Sew a straight stitch across your shade 1 1/2" from the bottom.  This is to hold your weight.
16.  Fold up another 3" and sew a straight stitch across with your blind hem foot or slip stitch by hand.

I'm pooped, we'll go over Part 2 in the tutorial tomorrow :)



  1. This looks sooo easy - want to make me one? then you can do another tutorial??

  2. look at you!!! I love your little notes on the pictures sooo fancy.

    I am so glad that Colby loves his new shirt.

  3. This looks sooo easy - want to make me one? then you can do another tutorial??

  4. I just found your blog and am your newest follower. I've always loved the look of Roman Shades and you actually make them look doable. Thanks for the tutorial and inspiration!!

  5. What a great tutorial! It looks very professionally done. I'm going to check out your other roman shade posts!

  6. Where do you get the ribs from?

    1. I've ordered ribs and lots of other great roman shade supplies from

  7. Lovely! (And Colby is so cute!) I'm keeping this in mind...I know there's a DIY Roman shade in my future. :)


  8. Fantastic! Found you from TT&J. I really needed this right now! My girls need some shades and what I was trying to do wasn't working!

    Filed at Thanks for sharing!

  9. Love your blog. I have one question, I have sewn curtains before and find that making the hems straight on long lengths of fabric is very challenging. Do you have any tips?

  10. I am very happy to read this article..thanks for giving us this useful information. anti viral Read a useful article about tramadol tramadol

  11. Those engineer types never grow out of it. To this day, my husband is still enthralled with the automatic button hole-er! He wants me to add button holes to everything!

    Great tutorial. I'll be making a dozen or so roman shades for my new house once the construction phase is done! I'll be sure to link this tutorial on my blog, once I get a couple shades made!

    - Sarah

  12. so easy...You make it so easy to follow...

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  13. The Post is atutorial on roman shades. You can leran ftom it

  14. Love the Roman Shades! So happy we can get them for much less than Calico. :)

  15. LOVE your tutorial. Thank you so much for the awesome instructions. My husband and I are laughing our heads off about your mechanical engineer comment. He is also a mechanical engineer who as a boy spent countless hours taking apart and putting together his seamstress mothers many machines. It's where it all started.

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