Sewing 101: Roman Shades

I’m a big fan of Roman shades and their clean, modern look, but custom ones can be tres pricey. I’ve modified this pattern by Carol Zentgraf (originally featured in the no-longer-in-print sewing magazine Cutting Edge) to make shades for my San Francisco apartment shown here.

Sewing 101 Roman Shades

There are many different types of Roman shades; this one is an outside-mount shade; that is, one that you install outside the window opening. Before you start, make sure to work on a large, flat surface, such as a rectangular dining or craft table. It’s also a good idea to have pen and paper to write down all of your measurements.

Note: Although pretty straightforward, this pattern is not for beginners. To advance to an intermediate skill level, take my Sewing 101 class (available for only $45 on Brickyard Buffalo for 2 more days!).

What You Need:
[Makes up to a 36”-wide shade.]

Sewing 101 Roman Shades

54”-inch wide home decorating fabric (see step 1 for yardage)
54”-inch wide lining fabric (see step 1 for yardage)
Roman shade ring tape (see step 1 for yardage)
¼ yd. of muslin
Drapery cord in yardage 2½ times the ring tape yardage
Cord cleat with mounting screws*
1 pkg. basting tape
1 pkg. hook-and-loop tape (Velcro)
1 x 2 poplar board, to the width of window minus ½” *
3/8”-dia. wood dowel to width of board *
1 screw eye for each row of ring tape *
1½ brackets with mounting screws (use four brackets for three rows of ring tape and three brackets for four rows of ring tape) *
Power drill with 1/8” drill bit *
Staple gun *
Screwdriver *
Sewing kit (sewing machine, thread, scissors, straight pins, rulers, etc.)
*found at the hardware store

Step 1
For an outside-mount shade, make the shade at least 1½” wider on each side of window opening. This measurement will be the finished width of the shade. Then determine where the shade will be mounted and measure from this point to the windowsill. This will be the finished length of the shade.

To determine the shade yardage, add 4” to the finished width and 6” to the finished length. This is your cut size of the shade.

You’ll sew rows of ring tape along both side edges of the shade as well as spaced about 7” to 11” apart between the outer rows. Use three rows of tape for 21” to 28”-wide shades and four rows for 29” to 36”-wide shades.

Step 2
Cut one rectangle from the decorator fabric to the cut size of the shade. Cut one rectangle from the lining to the finished size of the shade.

Step 3
Fold both long edges of the shade fabric 1” to the Wrong side twice and press. With Wrong sides together, layer the lining on the shade. Have the top short edge of the lining 2” from the top of the shade. Place the long edges of the lining under the folded edges and even with the folds. Pin the side hems.

Step 4
Fold the top edge of the shade 1” to the Wrong side twice and press. Fold the bottom edge of the shade 2” to the Wrong side twice and press. Have the edges of the lining under the folded edges and even with the folds. Pin the hems.

Step 5
Apply basting tape along the center of the Wrong side of the ring tape. Remove the paper backing as you’re applying the tape.

With the Wrong side of the shade face up, apply the ring tape centered over each side hem. Have the first ring of every row of tape 1” above the upper edge of the bottom hem. Have the tape ends extend into the top and bottom hems.

Step 6
Add evenly spaced rows of ring tape between side rows, spacing them 7” to 11” apart. The lower ring on each row should be 1” above the hem. Check to make sure the rings are even and the rows are parallel.

Step 7
Edgestitch ring tape rows through all layers. Stitch upper and lower hems ¼” from inner folds. Insert the dowel into the bottom hem and hand-stitch the hem ends closed.

Step 8
Stitch the loop side of the Velcro to the Wrong side of the top hem.

Step 9
Cover the board with muslin fabric, overlapping and stapling the edges on top of the board. Remove the paper backing from the hook side of the Velcro tape and apply to the front (narrow) edge of the board. Secure the shade to the board with the Velcro.

Step 10
On the bottom (wide) edge of the board, secure a screw eye, centered on the board and above each row of ring tape. Have the screw eye openings parallel with the ends of the board.

Cut cord for each row long enough to thread through the rings and screw eyes and hang down half the shade length. Begin on the side where you want to lift cord. Tie a cord to the bottom ring and thread it through all rings in the row and the screw eye above the rings, and then through the screw eye on the lift cord side. Repeat for the rest of the rows. Temporarily tie the cords together.

Step 11
Install the board above the window using brackets with screws. Adjust cord lengths evenly and trim as desired. Attach cleat to window frame or wall.

Step 12
To use the shade, pull the drawstring and wrap around the cleat to secure.

And now you have chic window treatments for less! Again, if you want to up your sewing skills to be able to tackle this project, enroll in my Sewing 101 class starting next Monday (only $45 via Brickyard Buffalo through Thursday)!

Want to see what our classes are really like? Try a free mini course!