Smart, tailored panels combine the softness of curtains with the functionality of blinds, and they work almost anywhere.

When it comes to roman shades, 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. 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. 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. Either way, you get a room with a whole new view.

Making a Classic Shade

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.

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. 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.

Determine the size you want the shade to be; add 16 inches to the width and 18 1/2 inches to the length. Cut fabric and lining to size. Complete steps 1 and 2 as described in tutorial for the classic shade below. Fold fabric to create a 3-inch-wide pleat along each long side of fabric; iron and pin. Cut a dowel long enough to fit between pleats. Insert dowel through opening in bottom hem, slide between pleats, and sew a running stitch around it to keep it in place. Hand-stitch rings in 4-inch intervals along the rear fold of each pleat. Attach batten and cording as described in tutorial for the classic shade below. Pull cords so bottom 10 inches of shade are gathered (the bottom hem will be drawn up the back side, thus concealing it). Slide cords through lock and condenser. Tie a knot, trim 2 cords, and slide condenser over knot. Take out pins (the pleats will be held in place by batten and dowel). Attach tassel, mount shade, and arrange gathers.

Comments (6)

Martha Stewart Member
March 7, 2021
Am I missing something? Where is the tutorial for the classic Roman Shade??
Martha Stewart Member
January 6, 2019
My baby never slept well (especially through the night) until I started using the website >>SLEEPBABY.ORG<< - that website has been by far one of the best things I've ever got my hands on to get him to fall asleep quickly. Best time is 45 seconds from awake to asleep! Can’t imagine life without it! I heard about it through a kindergarten teacher who uses it to put to sleep a group of 30 children. Check it out! >>SLEEPBABY.ORG<< - sorry, you can't post links here so you'll have to turn it into a normal link :) Best of luck to you and your family!
Martha Stewart Member
March 26, 2017
I love this site. I live in a senior community where everyone looks in one another's windows. I love the sunshine streaming though my little abode, but because of the nosey neighbors I keep my curtains drawn all day long. So I decided to make my own shade using the gifts of creativity the God gave me. I look forward to trying or should I say creating my own.
Martha Stewart Member
February 20, 2016
I'm making a few of these shades for my dining room, and love the trim in the pictured shade. What did you use? Would you give any pointers in adding it (where in the process of sewing, etc.)?
Martha Stewart Member
April 3, 2015
I am a beginner and with that said, I believe the comments that I have read are valid. I came to the Martha Stewart article because I am following the Baking series. In the series, The text that goes with the PBS series is wonderful and very detailed. I was disappointed when I couldn't figure out how to copy the diagram under the tools and materials (set 1 under Classic Roman Shades). Please consider reworking the article. The experiences I have had in Martha's articles/videos are wonderful.
Martha Stewart Member
September 2, 2013
unbelievable what you have to do to get a printed copy not worth it