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Making a Classic Shade




  • Shade and lining fabric
  • Sewing kit or sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Scissors


  1. Step 1

    Determine the size you want the shade to be; add 4 inches to width and 8 1/2 inches to length. Cut shade and lining fabric to size.

  2. Step 2

    Lay fabric right side down. Fold and press 2-inch hems on long sides and base. Unfold. Fold bottom corners; press. Refold hems. Slip-stitch corners, mitering them and leaving a 1/4-inch opening on one side for a dowel. Hem sides and base by hand (or by machine if you don't mind visible stitches).

  3. Step 3

    Lay lining right side down. Fold and press 2 3/8-inch hems on long sides and base. Place lining on shade, wrong sides facing, so shade shows on long sides and base. Slip-stitch lining to shade on hemmed sides.

  4. Step 4

    Determine positions of dowel pockets, and mark them on back of shade with a disappearing-ink pen. Pockets should be evenly spaced at intervals of 8 to 12 inches (depending on how wide you want the pleats to be). To determine position of bottom pocket, divide size of intervals by 2, and add 1 (for example, if you're spacing dowels 12 inches apart, the bottom pocket should be 7 inches from the bottom of the shade). The top pocket should be at least 10 inches from the top. Begin measuring and marking your intervals from the bottom, and don't worry about the precise size of the top interval. Sew cotton strips as shown: Fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together; press. Machine-stitch a 3/8-inch double hem on the long edge. At one end, fold, press, and machine-stitch a 3/8-inch double hem.

  5. Step 5

    Pin folded long edges of pockets along pen marks; machine-stitch. Insert dowels in pockets, and slip-stitch a 3/8-inch double hem. Insert bottom dowel into the mitered corner's opening. Close with a slip stitch.

  6. Step 6

    Draw a line 6 1/2 inches below top of shade. Wrap batten ends in fabric swatches, and staple. Position batten as pictured; staple in place. Roll and staple batten until edge covers marker line.

  7. Step 7

    Stitch rings to hemmed edge of pockets, forming 3 columns: one up center and one 2 inches from each long side. Attach cord lock (to merge cords) to batten 1/4 inch in from its edge on side where strings will fall. Attach a screw eye to batten at top of remaining ring rows. In each row, starting at bottom of shade, tie the end of a length of cord to lowest ring. Thread cord through rings in that row, through screw eyes at top, then through cord lock. Thread loose ends through cord condenser; knot below, trim 2 of the cords, and pull condenser down to cover knot. Cut remaining cord so that it hangs 2/3 of the way down the shade. Thread through tassel and tie knot to secure. Mount shade with appropriate hardware.

Martha Stewart Living, June 2006



Reviews (26)

  • BuildingHugger 28 Apr, 2014

    I bought a DIY kit at a big fabric store that included instructions and most of the materials you would need for this project. You could use that in combination with this technique. I have a problem with all the hand-sewing in this tutorial. Seems like it would take forever. If I were to try this one, I'd cut the lining 2" shorter on bottom and sides, lay it on the shade fabric, THEN do a rolled/mitered hem by machine on the shade fabric (fold in 1", then another 1") to capture the lining.

  • mcdantnj 6 Jan, 2014

    I was looking for more detail on constructing a roman shade. I think it would really make your site more helpful to do-it-yourselfers like me if you put more diagrams and pictures to show how to do it and how it should look. A picture is worth a 1000 words. thanks.

  • JillyPie78 16 Oct, 2013

    To print the instructions I highlighted and copied from the website and pasted into a Word document. Not as convenient as printing from the site but it did work.

  • Snoots 28 Sep, 2013

    Does anyone have suggestions on how to print these instructions?

  • janvangun 2 Sep, 2013

    Unbelievable took at least a half of hour to get directions to print will never use this sight again

  • Sheryll 1 Feb, 2013

    First time folks that have never made curtains or any window treatments, be careful. There is a lot more to this than you think. Easier to do an inside mount (to me), but if you want more sunlight, then outside & high, you get into window trim & flat or projected mounting board. Battens are thin wood or plastic for making the folds. If you have a long window with many folds, the 1/4 in dowels might be too thick when fully raised, also thinner might break if heavy fabric on long shade. etc.

  • mary615 30 Aug, 2012

    I made the Roman shade several years ago. Now I want to hang it again. I have forgotten how to hang it using the screw eyes I attached to the wood. I can't remember how to string the cord. Help.

  • trouble 6 Aug, 2012

    There used to be more step by step pictures for making this shade. What happened? I know this because I printed the instructions a few years back and now needed a new copy.

  • trouble 6 Aug, 2012

    I made a shade using these directions, was a little complicated but will be easier next time. Had trouble finding proper hardware. The shade turned out amazing.

  • michellekoza 24 Jul, 2012

    I found this outline on how to make a Roman shade helpful. However, I would suggest adding photos at each stage.

  • Makaeya 23 Jun, 2012

    Would be much easier to make with diagrams or pictures Mine turned out OK but would have gone much faster with help from pics

  • Susan_Espi 27 May, 2012

    These instructions are too advanced for me. Pictures and more specific steps (plus materials list) would be helpful. I think only a seamstress would understand how to do this.

  • girlfromthetick 10 May, 2012

    if my window is 48" wide (interior dimension), what is the recommended finished width for the shade? should I allow something like a quarter inch on either side for ease of operation? So my finished shade would be 47 1/2 inches? Thanks for your help!

  • olivel1 15 Oct, 2011

    A list of needed items, such as batten, cord, rings, diameter of dowel, etc. would be helpful on all such projects, much like you list ingredients on recipes. Thaks

  • abanta 4 Dec, 2010

    What a great how to on how to make roman shades.

    What size rings and cord did you all use? Thank you for the size of dowel and batten.

    I will say these instructions are a bit advanced. Those that were successful in making the shade with these instructions how long have you been sewing?

  • tslusser 23 Nov, 2010

    Would it be possible to use burlap?

  • walilkoa 23 Sep, 2010

    cost would depend on the size of your window how much fabric you would have to get, but guessing about 2yd for most windows, you can estimate at least $20 just for the fabric, possibly more if you desire fancier home decor fabric. the cord lock is about $8, and the other hardware pieces you would need come to another $20 or so. all in all, around $50. really a huge savings from custom!

    google 'drapery sewing supplies' to search for hardware kits you can buy online. just add fabric!

  • Jennyraed 9 Sep, 2010

    How much would this cost in material (on average). Is it worth the time to make these myself or purchase. Thanks...

  • between3sistersdotcom 28 Jul, 2010

    I used wooden dowls that are 1/4" in diamters and also the wooden batten is a 1"x2" board. I did several windows, so just purchased a long board from Lowe's.

  • LynetteShantz 26 Feb, 2010

    Are the wooden dowels supposed to be 1/4" diameter? I can't see anywhere in the directions where it says what size.

  • karlamaye 18 May, 2009

    In regards to " wooden batten", what exactly is this? As you can probably tell, I am not an experienced sewer, so any input is very much appreciated.

  • SUELEE2070 29 Nov, 2008


  • zatorskijoan 20 Sep, 2008

    I've searched for clearly worded directions with accompanying photos explaining how to make Roman Shades with no success! Finally, I've found the answer on Martha Stewart's Website! So fantastically superior to anything else available on
    line, I MUST assign you my Golden Tape Measure Award-- for creating the standard to which all other shade instructions shall henceforth be compared!

  • zatorskijoan 20 Sep, 2008

    I have searched long and hard on-line for clearly worded directions

  • clarkie 11 Aug, 2008

    Yes it can be any wood. I'm sure you could buy something specific, but there are other websites that suggest using old mini-blinds or anything fairly stiff that you have laying around.

  • desertbrat4u 21 Apr, 2008

    I am going to make a roman shades for all my windows and was wondering where does get the 'wooden batten'??? can it be any 1"x1" wood? thanks so much in advance. Sherry