Make Your Own Roman Shades

Martha Stewart Living, June 2006

Smart, tailored panels combine the softness of curtains with the functionality of blinds, and they work almost anywhere. Their lines are perfect for small windows, in which elaborate treatments might be too busy, and for large ones, in which they can complement a room without overpowering it.

When lowered, the shades fit snugly in a window frame, almost flush against the glass; when raised, their fabric hangs in neat symmetrical folds.

There are three basic styles: classic, casual, and formal. The choice of fabric will influence the final effect (toile, for instance, tends to look more formal than gingham, regardless of the shade's shape). We installed the panels inside window frames; they can also be mounted to the front casing.

You can dress up your shade with stripes or trim, but its beauty lies in its simplicity: a single length of finished cloth fit with a system of cords. Lighting and privacy needs will determine when the shade should be raised or lowered.

Tools and Materials for Making Your Own Roman Shade

Needle and thread
Disappearing-ink pen
Cotton strips (shade's width plus 3/4 inch by 4 3/4 inches)
1/4-inch dowels
2-by-1-inch wooden batten (cut to width of shade)
Two 2-by-3-inch swatches of fabric
Staple gun
Brass rings
Cord lock
Screw eyes
Shade lift cord
Cord condenser
Cord tassel


Making a Classic Shade

To make a classic Roman shade, you'll need:

Shade and lining fabric

Sewing kit or sewing machine




Making a classic shade requires cutting and lining fabric to size. You'll have to fold and re-fold hems (ironing will be involved) and sew either by hand or by machine. Dowel pockets will need to be made, and this is an intricate process. Click below for the full step-by-step on making a classic shade.

Making a Classic Shade


Making a Casual Sheer Shade

A translucent fabric is less formal, especially when it's in a cheery color. This free-flowing linen shade is perfect over a kitchen sink, where it filters sunlight while preserving the view.

Casual Shade How-To
This shade has no lining and calls for just a single dowel in the bottom hem, so you won't need to make pockets. The folds in the shade are formed by cords threaded through brass rings, which are stitched directly to the fabric. Use a disappearing-ink pen to mark rows every eight to 12 inches, as you would for a Classic Shade. Stitch brass rings to shade in four columns. Thread cord through rings, lock, and tassel, and knot before mounting the shade.


Making a Formal Shade

Deep bottom pleats and a patterned fabric give this shade traditional elegance. It's designed to remain raised partially; this accentuates its lovely form. A lightweight cotton liner instead of blackout fabric lets the floral design seen in the link below sparkle in the sunlight.


Click through for a full step-by-step on making a formal shade.


Making a Formal Shade 



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