Friday, November 9, 2012

INSTRUCTIONS: No-Sew (Pinkie Swear!) Roman Shades

You can find my post with more photos of the finished roman shade (and a few muffin top mentions) here.

Instructions for the No-Sew (Pinkie Swear!) Roman Shades

Conceptualizing the Roman Shade

If you're like me and need to wrap your head around the "how it works" before you start snipping and ironing, this little blurb is for you.  If you prefer to just follow the directions, skip to the next section. 

In a nutshell, what's appealing about and characteristic of a roman shade is that when they are pulled upwards or open, the fabric gathers in lovely, even horizontal pleats. What accomplishes these pleats are a series of parallel, horizontal rods installed along the fabric, just like the horizontal rungs on a ladder.  For our purposes, we will be ironing rod sleeves onto the fabric to act as pockets for our rods. (Professionals will typically sew a pocket into the fabric itself. Guess what. I don't sew, I iron.)  Because I wanted to hide these hardworking rods and sleeves from view, I used a second, plain white piece of fabric as a backing to my "pretty" fabric and basically made a rod sleeve sandwich in between my two fabrics.  This is optional but highly suggested.  This is also how the instructions below are written. 

In addition, a series of rings are installed, one at each end of each rod, on the back of the fabric (I attached this to the back of my liner fabric, not inside the sandwich).  Nylon cord is then tied to the bottom ring on each side and threaded through the remaining rings above it, so that when the cords are pulled at the same time, the rods stack on top of one another in the back, and your pretty fabric falls nicely on top of itself in pretty, even pleats in the front.  The rings are typically plastic and pre-sewn onto twill tape, and this is called ring tape.  The rest is small potatoes, but that's our Bill Nye the Science Guy-esque take on the workings of a roman shade.  Are you asleep yet?

First Things First - Measuring:

1. Measure the inside of your window casing. (Mine were 56" h x 33" w)
2. Add 6" to the height and 2" to the width to account for seams.  This will be the measurement you cut for both your pretty fabric and your liner fabric, if using, which I suggest (so, for example, mine becomes 62" h x 35" w)
3. Next we will determine how many horizontal rods we'll use per shade.  Typical ring tape has 10" between each ring.  I like to make life (and math) easy, so I used 10" as the distance between each rod, since the rods and ring tape are used together.  Your first rod will be 5" above the bottom of the shade, so being sure to leave a 5" margin at the bottom of the shade, calculate how many rods can fit.  Assuming you're working with 10" ring tape like I did, start with your original window height (mine was 56").  Subtract 5" for the bottom of the shade (so 51") and divide this by 10 (giving me 5 rods total).  Now you may be asking yourself, what about the extra inch?  You may also be making an "extra inch" joke in your head.  Or maybe that's just me.  Either way, it's okay if you can't divide your shade's dimensions perfectly by 10".  If you have a few extra inches to account for, you can simply have a few extra inches of fabric above the last rod.  If that freaks you out too much, then you can select a number that divides easily into your dimensions, but then you'll have to individually attach each ring.  Your pick.

Now that you have the dimensions of your shades and the number of rods you need for each you can put together your shopping list.  Below I've included a formula to determine about how much you'll need of each item that requires measurements.  Ring tape and rod sleeves are sold by the yard. 

What You'll Need:

The Tools for Cutting + Prep:

- a ruler of some sort (measuring tape, yard stick, rotary cutting mat, etc.)
- scissors or rotary cutter
- an iron
- an ironing board or surface

Supplies for your Drapes Available at most Fabric Stores (I went to Jo-Ann):

- fabric of your choice (see your measurements from above)
- liner fabric, optional (see your measurements from above)
- ring tape (sold by the yard. For each shade, the amount needed = window height x 2)
- rod sleeve (sold by the yard. For each shade, subtract one inch from the window width and then multiply by the number of rods you need. Click here to see a photo and/or order rod sleeves)
- pins
- 5/8" Stitch Witchery (I bought four packs but used two for two windows.)
- nylon cord (for each shade, amount needed = (window height x 4) + window width.  I bought one pack and had plenty left over.)
- Weld-Bond glue

Supplies for your Drapes Available at most Hardware Stores (I went to Home Depot and had them cut all the wood listed below to size):

- 1/4" dowels, cut one inch shorter than your window width (quantity determined above)
- one 1" or 1 1/4" dowel, cut to one inch shorter than your window width (one per shade)
- one rectangular wood scrap per window, approx 1/2" x 1 1/2" x window width.  You will use this to attach the shade to the window, so there's some flexibility with the size here depending on your window casing.  I bought a piece of 3/8" rectangular dowel for just under $1, but you could use any scrap wood so long as it's cut to length and fits inside your window casing.
- 3 eye hooks per blind
- one rope cleat per blind 

Supplies for Hanging your Drapes to Wood Window Casings:

- drill (& bit for pilot holes)
- two screws long enough to go through your scrap wood and securely into your window casing for each window

Cut + hem your fabric.
1. Carefully cut your fabric to size.  Following the ironing instructions on your package of Stitch Witchery, hem the two vertical sides of your fabric to match the width of your window (one inch hem on each side).  I first pinned and lightly pressed the sides.  I also got smart and used the vertical stripe from the fabric as my guide so that it was idiot proof, given that my baby-induced sleep deprivation causes frequent bouts of idiocy.

2. SW (meaning "stitch witch", or the verb I just made up) a 3" hem at the bottom, creating a future pocket for your bottom rod.

Hem your fabric liner.
3. SW all four sides of your liner fabric so that it matches the dimensions of your window minus three inches.  Once this is done, I would take a quick moment to line up both fabrics back to back to ensure there's no mistake in your measuring and hemming. 

Attach the ring tape to your liner.
A little more math and measuring here.  Eventually we are going to attach the liner to the back of the fabric at the top of the 3" pocket you just made on your pretty fabric.  Because we want the ring tape (and therefore the rods) to start 5" from the bottom of the shade, that means that the first ring should be 2" from the bottom of your liner fabric.  So with that said, we are going to first… 

4. On the left and right side of the liner fabric, pin the ring tape in place on both sides so that the first pin is 2" from the bottom of your liner fabric.

5. SW ring tape in place on both sides.

Make a rod sleeve and rod "sandwich" + adhere the liner fabric to the pretty fabric.
I drew you a picture to help describe the next few steps.  Don't judge my crummy art skills or uneven handwriting.  I'm only posting this marginally passable rendering here because we're friends and I like you and I want you to have pretty window treatments.  

6. Follow the instructions on the rendering below:

Install hardware and finish the shade.
7. Measuring the height of the blind, find the location on your fabric that matches your window height.  (We added 6" to the height and used 3" for the bottom seam, so it should be around 3" from the top).

8. On the backside of your fabric, line up the corner of your rectangular wood scrap with your fabric.  Using your Weld-Bond, glue the fabric onto the wood so that the shorter side of the wood lays flush behind the  fabric and the wider side is affixed to your extra fabric.  
9. Once the glue is dry, drill three pilot holes into the underside of the wood for your eye hooks - one each directly above your ring tape on each side and one in the middle.  Screw in eye hooks.

Here's a shot of the top of my shade after completing through step 9.

Here's the back of my completed shade before installing the nylon cord.

10. Cut two long pieces of nylon cord, no shorter than twice the height of your shade plus the width of your shade.  

11.  Determine whether you want the pulley for your shade to be to the left or the right of your shade.  For the next step, the side next to your pulley will be called the short side, and the side farther from your pulley will be called the long side.

12. Starting on the long side, securely knot your nylon cord to the bottom ring of your ring tape and then thread your nylon cord through all the rings above them.  Then thread the cord through the eye hook at the top of the rings, through the eye hook in the middle, and finally through the eye hook above the other set of rings.

13.  On the shorter side, securely knot your nylon cord to the bottom ring of your ring tape, and thread the cord through all the rings above them.  Then thread the cord only through the eye hook directly above these rings.

14. Insert the remaining (and largest) rod into the pocket at the bottom of your shade.

Install your completed shade.
15. Holding your shade in its desired position in the window, mark where you will screw in the shade both on the wood/shade and on the window casing. 

16. Drill pilot holes for your screws into the wood, then drill the screws into the wood.

17.  (At this point I double checked that my marks on the window lined up with the screws before I...) Drill pilot holes for your screws into the window.  Screw the shade into the window.

18.  You're (almost) done!  All that's left is installing your rope cleat inside the window casing so that you can tie up the nylon cord and open the blinds whenever you so choose.  Determine the placement of your cleat, screw into place, and then give your shade a go!  I tied the two cords together once I had them even to prevent future lopsided pulls.  I have yet to purchase a doodad for the bottom of the cord.  It's on my (very long and often neglected) list of to do's. 

If you decide to tackle this project too, a few, good for you.  Buy yourself a nice pair of shoes with the money you save from having someone else do it for you.  And two, please share pictures of your finished projects (I can't wait to see what fabric you use)! 


  1. This is THEE best blogged tutorial I have ever read. Thank goodness someone pinned this. I've been looking for a well defined method of making roman shades. You have made my day!

    1. well the feeling is mutual!!!! so glad you found this helpful. you never know whether sharing stuff like this will be of use to others, so glad to hear that it is! :)

  2. How hard was this? Are they holding up without sewing? I've brought home dozens of roman shades, but none of them work because my home is very old and my window is not deep enough to do an indoor mount. I figured if i make them I can make it to fit.

    1. Not hard. They take some time but it's mostly measuring and ironing, which you can do in front of the tv. They have held up great. The only issue I've seen is that I didn't fuse the two sides well enough next to a few of the rods, so they try to poke out.

    2. Thank you. Looking forward to my next crafting day.

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