when in rome.. make roman shades!

June 14 2012

This past weekend I helped one of my e-design clients with the progress of her guest room. After priming and painting all of the walls, shelving, doors, and trim the next project she wanted to tackle was a window covering. Together we decided on a roman shade so that she could block out light for when guests are sleeping over, but have ample light for her sewing projects, something utilitarian and less fussy than normal drapery.

We decided to go with a basic white linen because it felt nice and airy when the sun was out, yet still had a tight enough weave to block a lot of light when the shade would be fully closed. I left the option to add a black out lining at a later time, if she decides it doesn’t get dark enough. She picked up a set of mini blinds wide enough to fit inside the window frame [you could definitely use your existing mini blinds if you are okay with ruining them, her's were black though so we knew they'd show through the linen and bought a new set.] They’re only about $4 at Target. You will also need Fabritac glue, scissors, measuring tape, yard stick, pencil, and any trim of your choice. We went with a simple 1.5″ wide grosgrain ribbon for a little pop of color.

To figure out how much fabric you’ll need, first you’ll want to measure your windows and then add 2.5″ on each side [or 5" total to your measurements] this will allow you to have enough fabric to wrap around your blinds.

This window was 32″ wide x 45″ high so our fabric needed to be 37″ wide x 50″ high, meaning we only needed 1.5 yards of material. And I planned on making two vertical stripes with the trim so we only needed 2 yards of ribbon.

Once you have all your materials gathered it’s time to get a little destructive with your blinds. First you want to lay them out and make sure they’re open all the way at their fullest length. Be sure to have everything laid out on a flat surface.

Carefully cut all of the ladder like strings that are used to hold each blind in place. Be very sure NOT to cut the thicker lift cord, or you’ll have to buy new blinds. Just cut and remove the thinner strings.

Once both sides are removed your blinds should all shift down to the bottom [since there aren't any ladders there to hold them in place anymore].

Next remove the larger weighted anchor of the blinds by removing the plug caps, untying the string, and slipping the anchor piece off of the two lift strings.

Once this is removed all of your blinds will easily slip off your lift cords, and you should be left with the mechanism part of the blinds, the pull cord, and the two lift cords. Now it’s time for a little math. Decide on how many folds you want your roman shade to have. I like to have a fold every 9″ so after dividing 9 into 45, I knew I needed 5 folds, which meant I needed to put 5 blinds back onto my lift cords. Make sure they’re all facing the same direction [convex side up] then carefully adjust your blind length to the length of your measured window. Ours was 45″ so I measured from the top of the blind mechanism to 45″ down the lift cord. Mark this spot on both lift cords and this is where you’ll slide your anchor piece back on.

Once it’s where you want it, go ahead and tie off our lift cord string, shove it back inside the anchor and cap it off with your plugs. Your blinds should now include the mechanism piece, two lift cords, a pull cord, x number of blinds, and the anchor piece. Yay the hard part is over!

Now lay your fabric face down leaving a 2.5″ border of fabric, and lay your blinds on top of it spacing out your blinds however you want them. Make sure that they are level vertically as well as horizontally.

At the top of your blinds, fold your fabric 1″ over itself and glue to create a nice top “seam”. This will end up being the top of your roman shade, so you want it to look nice and “finished”.

Next dab on a strip of glue along the front of the top mechanism peice leaving 1″ without glue at each end so that you can still snap it into the wall mounts easily.

Then add a strip of glue to the CONVEX [bump facing up] side of your blind, flip it over onto the fabric and press firmly. Do this for each blind, all while keeping everything level and spaced perfectly.

Now fold over your excess fabric around to the concave side of the blind and iron a nice straight fold into the fabric. This will help to keep the fabric from wanting to unfold in the open space between the blinds. Be careful not to iron your blinds, they are vinyl you know! Once you’ve made a crease on both the right and left side, fold your fabric around to the concave side of the blind and glue. Don’t pull it super tight when you wrap, otherwise you’ll see each blind sort of bulge out on the sides of your roman shade. Just keep it all in line with the crease you made.

Do the left and right sides first before moving onto the bottom anchor. For this part I sort of wrapped the anchor like a present, folding the fabric around the front and bottom of it and ending at the back. All while folding in the sides and glueing. You’ll have to play with this, but as long as you keep your fabric straight and glued it should turn out fine. You just don’t want any of the anchor showing.

For the top mechanism part of the blinds you’ll just fold over the fabric and tuck it under the mechanism, so that nothing is glued down and you can still snap the mechanism into the mounting hardware later on. If it really bothers you that the fabric is not connected you can glue the fabric to the front of the mechanism once it’s hung up.

At this point your fabric should be fully attached to each blind, the mechanism piece, and the bottom anchor. Now it’s time to add your trim! You can do this however you want, all you need is a trim of your choice and some Fabritac glue. My client wanted two simple vertical lines so I laid those out and measured to make sure they were evenly spaced, and simply glued them in place.

I left a little excess trim at the top and bottom to wrap around to the other side of the fabric, glued it, then cut the remaining trim. And that’s it! You can now install your blinds just as you would before. Your pull cord will work the same as it used to, and will help lift your fabric to create beautiful folds every time.

We were both very please with how it turned out, it really just makes the windows look finished and having a roman shade looks lavish without forking over the serious dough that you would for custom roman shades.


blinds – $4

1.5 yds linen – $8 [with 50% off coupon]

ribbon – $3

Fabritac – $4

TOTAL – $19

You can’t beat that total! If you have any questions about the process or if I was unclear about anything please ask away! I’m here to help :) I’m currently in the process of making two smaller shades for our living room windows that like to blind you whenever you watch TV. We’ve learned how to sit awkwardly on the couch to avoid the solar eclipse outside, but we’ve had enough! I’ll share those next week!

PS: we’re having a pretty stencil-rific giveaway tomorrow! :)

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8 thoughts on “when in rome.. make roman shades!

  1. crystal-FRESH

    This is so clever! I love that you can turn existing blinds into something way more stylish! I also had no idea those blinds were only $4.00! cray!


    the girl Reply:

    I know right? But don’t buy them at the dollar store because they’re $8 there! I have to take my sets back :/


  2. AmandaG

    Does the glue hold up well even here in Texas? Since it gets so hot, I’m wondering if the heat would un-stick the glue? I have curtains that I’ve hemmed using heavy duty fuse tape and it still comes undone.


    the girl Reply:

    Ohhh that is a good point! I didn’t even think of that. It’s been up for a couple of weeks on a high sun intensity window and it’s still okay. But it’s also barely 100 out, so in August I’ll probably have to redo it :/


  3. Wilks Floor

    Creative , consistent, persuasive, talented , dedicated , convenient and resourceful! You got all the economical traits which I adore on humanitarian existence. You are magnificent!


  4. Jenny Cathy

    Once again feeling happy and proud to say that this is one of my favorite Blogs. The postings are very unique and also outstanding with the new creativity and knowledge and with the new different ideas and concepts.


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