Welcome to Flawed yet Functional! I like to get my hands dirty making my home beautiful, and my next area to tackle is window treatments for my living room and dining room windows. Roman shades are my latest obsession for window coverings. Full length curtains are my first love, but sometimes curtains are just not right for the window or space. Roman shades are great for blocking light and adding privacy while adding a splash of color to a room. Form and function, that’s really what I’m all about!
I would prefer full-length drapes on all the windows on my main floor, but the location of the fireplace prevents that. The fireplace was installed by the previous owners after the house was built. They did not leave enough space between the window and the fireplace mantle for drapes to fit without covering part of the window. Roman shades will provide the privacy and light protection needed without encroaching on the fireplace (“Need”, if life has gone on 5 years without it, is it a need? Ha!).
Even though these windows are in separate rooms, they are almost always visible together. My plan is to make matching Roman shades for these windows, and eventually, make coordinating full length drapes for the front window and back sliding door.
Full disclosure: I’m totally second guessing this decision of matching Roman shades. Just so you know, I’m ok with making decor mistakes in my house. If you read this and think, “What are you doing, Emily? That is all wrong!”, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments! I’m ok with learning through my mistakes and other’s wisdom. I hope to inspire you to take risks too!
Style of Roman Shade
Since the options are limited as far as style of drapery for these two windows, the only options I needed to consider were style of Roman shade and inside or outside mount. Before we explore the styles of Roman shades, let’s talk briefly about inside or outside mount.
The two classic Roman shades I’ve made so far were both inside mount. An inside mount shade is mounted inside of the window casing, so the shade is the same size as the glass part of the window. An inside mount still gives plenty of privacy, but there is a sliver of light that shines through on the sides between the shade and the window casing/trim.
In the dining room, the shade is desperately needed because the evening sun is blinding during dinner. I would hate to go through all the effort to make a beautiful shade only to have that sliver of light still land in someone’s eye still resulting in shifting back and forth throughout dinner. For that reason, I will be hanging these shades outside and above the window casing, even with the drapery rod over the front window and slider door. I’m hoping having all the window treatments hung the same height in these two rooms will make them look more cohesive and intentional.
Flat Roman Shade
The flat Roman shade is just that, flat from the top of the mounting hardware to the bottom of the shade. It raises in neat folds but does not use dowel rods to help create the folds. Since no dowel rod is used, this eliminates the horizontal sew lines. The flat Roman shade has the cleanest, simplest lines of all the Roman shades.
Relaxed Roman Shades
Relaxed Roman shades have a dramatic droop in the middle. It is made with one dowel rod at the bottom of the shade to control the swoop, making it look intentional not sloppy. This shade does not have a dowel rod at each fold or drapery rings in the middle of the shade. Leaving these two pieces out allows the shade to droop gracefully. Relaxed Roman shades are lovely and more elegant, in my opinion.
Classic Roman Shades
The classic Roman shade has a sewn seam to make the rod pocket for the boning/dowel rod at even intervals up the shade. The look is crisp and clean with evenly spaced horizontal seams the entire length of the shade.This is the one type of roman shade I have made personally. I have a classic roman shade in the basement bathroom (second picture below) and the laundry room.
Source: Basement Bathroom
For the living room and dining room windows, I’ve decided to make a flat Roman shade with an outside mount. I love the clean lines. It’s simple and sophisticated, and in a space that is often messy, loud, with lots of activity, I think simple shades would be best. Not having sew lines through the fabric is also a plus. It kind of irked me that the floral pattern in my basement bathroom no longer lined up once the pockets were sewn in.
Fabric for Roman Shade
There are so many fabric options for curtains! It’s hard to choose! I like using sturdy decorator fabric, usually made of cotton. It is thick and doesn’t move around too much, making sewing much easier!
Field’s Fabric is a local fabric store chain in West Michigan, and while their regular selection is good and fairly priced, the clearance section is awesome. Everything in the clearance section is $3.97 per yard. That is a killer price for decorator fabric!
I went into the store just to scope out the new fabrics, and I happened on a fairly large piece of this fabric in the clearance section. Crossing my fingers, I took it to the counter to have it measured. I needed 2, 3-yard sections for my curtain, 6 yards total. It was 4.5 yards. Bummer!
The lovely saleslady said she would send out a request to the other stores to see if they had any remnants. About a week later, one more section was found, but it was only 1.5 yards. Rats! They reassured me to hold out because the request had not made it through all the stores yet.
A few days later, another 3.5 yards was found!
I ended up buying two lengths of 3 yards each plus the 1.5 yard piece for a grand total of $30. Yes, I got 7.5 yards of decorator fabric for $4/yard. Isn’t that incredible? At the time, the cheapest I could find online was $26.99/yard. These windows would have cost over $200! (Now it looks like the price has come down to $10/yard online, but it’s still a significant savings!)
So I’ve got my lovely fabric, and I know the style of Roman shade. Now how to make it best.
Method for Sewing the Roman Shade
Since Pinterest was giving me too many hacks, I wasn’t trusting the information I found. I want to make a flat Roman shade the RIGHT way: no hacks, mini blinds, fabric glue, or iron-on hem tape! I want to use an actual sewing machine to make them legit.
Where do you turn when you don’t know how to do something??? Old school, folks, the library. Say what??
I know this is such a crazy suggestion given our technological age, but let me give a plug for the library. It is a WEALTH of information. The books are free (unless you don’t return on time!). The information is (likely) more sound. I say that with some hesitation, but I believe fewer people publish untruth in a book than a blog. A book is so much more difficult to accomplish. The library is a great resource. Use yours!
There were four shelves dedicated entire to sewing curtains and pillows for the home. So. Many. Books. I narrowed down my selection to three books that specifically talked about flat Roman shades. They each have detailed instructions and pictures which should prove very helpful. Each has a slightly different method, so I plan to compile what I read into a method that works for me and my windows.
If you are curious about my research, below is a list of resources that I plan to use to figure out how to best make my Roman shades.
- The Complete Photo Guide to Window Treatments by Linda Neubauer
- Waverly at Home: Windows by Waverly and Vicki L. Ingham
- Curtains, Draperies, & Shades by Editors of Sunset Books
- Addicted 2 Decorating – Blogger Kristi who rocks at many home decor things but especially window treatments
I think I’m ready to start cutting my fabric! I feel confident that an outside mount, flat Roman shade is the best for my windows. The Kelly Ripa Flying Colors Pool fabric is so pretty, not too loud, and most importantly, I’ve learned the best method for sewing my shades. Here we go!
When’s the last time you ventured into your library? Are you a book lover too? What project are you inspired by that you want to tackle the right way?