staple shade to board
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Window Treatment DIY | Flat Roman Shade Tutorial

Do you have an area in your home that needs some functional and pretty window treatments? I’d like to offer an outside mount, flat Roman shade for your consideration. Our living room and dining room were in bad need of some protection from the evening sun (see my planning and thoughts on why I made these in this post and the before and after here). Today I thought I’d share how I made these flat Roman shades. Warning: this is a long step-by-step post! If you’d like to make a fully functional, flat Roman shade, read on!


DIY Flat Roman Shade Tutorial

Measure the Window

The first step is always to measure the window accurately. You need to know two things before you measure: (1) inside or outside mount and (2) style of Roman shade desired. This tutorial is for an outside mount, flat Roman shade.

Measure the width of the window, from outside trim to side outside trim, at the top, middle, and bottom of the window. Take the widest measurement and add 1/4″. This is the finished width.

Example: The widest measurement was 39 3/4″ for my window so my finished width was 39 3/4″ + 1/4″ = 40″. I chose to make my shade just as wide as the window casing. Feel free to add more width if you want the casing covered more.

Measure the height of the window, from the top outside trim to the sill, at the far left, middle, and far right of the window. Take the longest measurement and add any additional height to mount above the window. This is the finished height.

Example: The longest measurement for my window was 65 1/2″ and I wanted the shade mounted 6 1/2″ above the window so my finished length was 65 1/2″ + 6 1/2″ = 72″.

Calculate Cut Lengths

The cut length and width for the face fabric and the lining will be different. I recommend drawing each out on a piece of paper to avoid confusion.

Face Fabric

Cut length: Finished length + 4″ for hem + 3″ for mounting room

Example: My window is 65 1/2″ high, and I’m mounting it 6 1/2″ above the window. So for my shade I cut the face fabric 65 1/2″ + 6 1/2″ + 4″ + 3″ = 79″

Cut width: Finished width + 6″ for side hems

Example: My window is 40″ wide. So I cut my face fabric 40″ + 6″ = 46″ wide.

Lining

Cut length: Finished length + 3″ for mounting room

Example: My window is 65 1/2″ high, and I’m mounting it 6 1/2″ above the window. So for my shade I cut the lining fabric 65 1/2″ + 6 1/2″ + 3″ = 75″

Cut width:  Finished width

Example: My window is 40″ wide, so I cut the lining 40″ wide.

Iron Fabric and Lining

The fabric and lining should be as flat and smooth as possible before cutting. If possible, wash, dry, and iron the fabric to eliminate any shrinkage. The fabric I chose is dry clean only, so I ironed it and the lining then proceeded to cutting.

Roman Shade_Tutorial_Iron

Cut Fabric and Lining

After ironing, lay the fabric out on a flat work surface. For me, that was my living room floor. My fabric had an obvious pattern repeat so I chose to center the roman shade on the pattern. This decision made cutting my fabric much harder, but I think the final result is more professional this way.

Quick side note: When making multiple shades for side-by-side windows, make sure to match the patterns. I laid the fabric for the second shade on the floor, right side down then laid my finished shade on top, right side down.

Matching Patterns

Then I carefully tweaked the position of the finished shade to match the pattern with the uncut fabric then I marked the top line of the shade. The sides and bottom will still need to be measured to allow for seam and hem allowance, but you can use the top line from the finished shade as your starting point.

Matching Patterns

Now back to measuring and drawing the rectangle for your shade!

Draw a Straight Line Parallel to the Salvage

Calculate how much excess to trim from the edges of the face fabric by subtracting the cut width from the width of the fabric. (Example: 54″ – 46″ = 8″) Divide the answer by two to get the amount of excess to trim off each side (Example: 8″ ÷ 2 = 4″). For my shade, I wanted to draw two lines 4″ from the salvage (the finished edge of the fabric).

Measure 4″ from the salvage and make a dot. Move down the fabric about 3 feet and make another dot 4″ from the salvage. Using a long straightedge or level, connect the dots to draw a straight line.

Move down the fabric another 3 feet or so, make another dot 4″ from the salvage. Using the second dot and this new, third dot, draw a straight line. Continue until you’ve made a line the cut length of your shade.

Repeat on the other side of the fabric.

Draw a Straight Line Perpendicular to the Salvage

Now you need to make the top and bottom lines to complete the rectangle shape of your shade. Begin with the top of the shade.

Using a T-square, line up one edge with the drawn line on one side of the fabric. Be very precise, make sure the entire edge of the T-square lines up with your drawn line. Make a hash mark/dot along the perpendicular side.

Repeat on the other side of the fabric.

Using the long straightedge/level, draw a straight line between the hash marks, making the top edge of the rectangle.

Draw a Straight Line for the Cut Length

With a straight top line, creating the bottom line for the final cut length should be fairly simple. Using a tape measure, measure the final cut length from the top line and make a dot. Move to the other side of the fabric, measure the final cut length and make another dot. Use the long straightedge/level to connect the dots, making a straight line to complete the rectangle.

Re-Measure the Length and Width Before Cutting

Have you heard the phrase, “measure twice, cut once?” Take it to heart when sewing! Double and triple check your measurements before cutting the shade out.

I usually check the width and length the same way I measured the window in the first step. Measure the width at the top, middle, and bottom. Then I measure the length at the left, middle, and right. If everything is the width and length you were aiming for, cut away! If not, go back to each of your drawn lines to look for the discrepancy.

Repeat for the lining fabric according to the cut length and widths already measured. **Be very careful when switching to the lining. Double check your measurements to make sure you don’t cut out the lining the same size as the face fabric!**

Sew the Side Seams

With the face fabric lying right side up, line up the lining with right side down along the left side of the shade. The lining should be 6″ narrower and 4″ shorter than the face fabric. Leave the 4″ gap at the bottom of the shade (this room is for the hem), line up the tops and the left side (Note in my picture below the tops do not line up. I cut this lining too long. Too long is better than too short! I just trimmed the extra length after sewing the sides).

Roman Shade_Tutorial_SewLeftSide

Roman Shade_Tutorial_HemLength

Pin and sew a 1.5″ seam along the left side.

Lay the shade back on the ground and line up the right sides and top. Since the lining is narrower than the face fabric, the fabric will bunch up. Don’t worry. It will all work out in the next step. Make sure there is a 4″ gap for the hem at the bottom of the shade.

Roman Shade Sew Right Side

Pin and sew a 1.5″ seam along the right side.

Turn the shade inside out so the right side of the lining and the face fabric are facing out. Lay the shade on the floor, smoothing out the seams and iron.

Roman Shade

Hem the Shade

With the shade face fabric down, turn up the face fabric 1/2″ and press. Then turn up 3.5″ and press. Pin and sew the hem using a blind hem stitch.

Roman Shade Hem

Roman Shade Hem

I’ve heard that the method to do a blind hem stitch varies by sewing machine. I recommend looking up a video of your specific machine on YouTube.

The basics are this: put on the blind hem stitch pressure foot and select the appropriate blind hem stitch. Fold the hem under so that about 1/4″ of the face fabric is showing next to the lining. Then carefully sew along the folded edge.

Blind Hem Stitch

The finished hem on the wrong side looks like this:

Blind Hem Stitch_Back

The finished hem on the right side of the shade should look like this:

Blind Hem Stitch_Front

Measure and Sew on Rings

Before making the grid to sew on the rings, calculate the spacing of your rings. I wanted my horizontal folds to be fairly thin, so I chose 6″ vertical spacing of my rows (6″-12″ is standard). I also didn’t want any sagging in between the rings, so I chose 9″ horizontal spacing (8″-10″ is standard).

Based on those measurements, I took the time to draw it all out to figure out how many rows of rings I would need. For this shade, I needed 10 rows with 5 rings each row for a total of 50 rings per shade. The measurements of my shade are charted out for reference in the figure below. Make sure to chart out yours with your specific measurements.

Roman Shade Ring Guide

Lay the shade out on a flat work surface with the lining up.

Beginning at the edge of the hem, mark the position of the rings along the row. I placed the first and last rings 2″ from the edge of the fabric.

mark ring placement

Then mark the placement of the remaining middle rings, spacing them evenly across the shade. The space between my middle three rings was just over 9″.

mark ring placement

Next mark the rows for the remaining rings. My rows were 6″ apart. To do this, measure 6″ above the hem on the left and right side of the shade then use a straightedge or long level to draw a straight line between those marks. Add dots where each ring should go on each line.

roman shade ring rows

Before sewing the rings on, I pinned one pin above each ring dot. I wanted to avoid any shifting of the fabric as I moved it to the sewing machine.

roman shade rings

Then I used my sewing machine to tack each ring in place. This can be done by hand, but it is quick and easy with a sewing machine. Set the stitch to zigzag with the stitch length at 0 and stitch width wide enough to pass over the ring without nicking it.

roman shade sew rings

The result is a clean, neat tack.

roman shade rings tacked

Repeat to attach all of the rings to the shade.

Insert Dowel Rod

Cut a 1/4″ dowel rod to the finished width of the shade minus 1/2″. The finished width of my shade was 40″ so I cut my dowel rod to 39 1/2″. Insert the rod into the pocket of the hem and sew the sides shut using a slip stitch.

Roman Shade_Tutorial_Dowel Rod

Mark Finish Length and Finish Top Edge

Next lay the shade out, right side down. Measure from the bottom hem and mark the finished length across the top. Mark another line 2-3″ above the finished length line.

roman shade finish top edge

Trim the remaining fabric at the top line. Finish the top edge with a zigzag stitch.

roman shade finish top edge

Cut and Cover Mounting Board

Cut a 1″x3″ board to the finished width of the shade. Cover the board in matching fabric, being careful to match patterns so the edges look seamless.

For a flat mount, add screw eyes along the narrow edge of the board, lining up with each cord/vertical ring column. Mount the cord lock on the right side of the board with the brass roller to the outside edge (you can install it the other way, but you’ll be confused each time you try to lock/unlock the shade…ask me how I know…).

roman shade cordlock

Be sure to have a screw eye for the cord closest to the cord lock. Do not just thread the cord into the cord lock. It will fray quickly with the friction caused by the weight of the shade (again, ask me how I know…).

roman shade screw eye cord lock

roman shade mounting board

Pre-Mount the Board

Hang the board with two long screws and drywall anchors. To accomplish this, drill the two screws into the board so they protrude 1/2″ or so out the back of the board. The screws were placed approximately 8″ from each end.

roman shade mounting screw

Mark the bottom line of the mounting board on the wall and use a level to line up the mounting board. Use the bottom of the mounting board because you likely won’t be able to see the stop of the board! Once the board is level and flush with the sides of the window trim, push the board into the wall a bit to mark where the drywall anchors should go.

roman shade level

Insert drywall anchors at the marked spots.

Attach Shade and Cords

Next staple the shade to the mounting board.

staple shade to board

Now thread the cording through the shade. I somehow missed pictures of this step, but hopefully you can figure it out! There should be one cord for each vertical column of rings. Tie the cord securely to the bottom ring and feed the rest of the cord up through the rest of the rings, over through the screw eyes and through the cord lock.

Hang the Shade

The last step is to screw the shade into the drywall anchors.

mounting roman shade

Admire Your Finished Flat Roman Shade

You did it! Step back and admire your handiwork!

flat roman shade

There are many steps to sewing a flat Roman shade, but none of them are terribly difficult. Take it one step at a time. You can do it!


DIY Flat Roman Shade Tutorial

Finished flat Roman shade
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Window Treatment DIY | Flat Roman Shade Reveal

Showing off my new flat Roman shades is what I hoped to post last week, but due to other priorities, that was not possible. I’m happy to report one of my two Roman shades is finished! Underestimating the time needed to complete any DIY project is definitely a problem for me. Even when I’m trying to be very realistic, I tend to be way off. I thought I could get two shades finished in one week. Well, it looks like I can only get one done in that period of time!

As mentioned in this post, these shades are for function and beauty. The dining room window faces west, and the sun in the spring and summer is brutal for the lucky people seated facing the window. The sunshine is downright blinding. For that reason, oh and privacy and needing window treatments in general, I decided to make a flat Roman shade for this window and the corresponding window in the living room.

flat roman shade

Dining Room Window Before

The dining room is not a room I’ve shared on the blog yet, mostly because so much of it is incomplete. Maybe this summer I’ll finish it? Here is a look at my naked window. This poor window has looked like this for five whole years. Five! I’ve never put any curtains, shade, or blinds on it; I guess you get used to things and they seem normal after a while. Right?

window without shade

Dining Room Window After

And now looking much more finished! The folds have not been trained yet, so those will be flatter and more even in time, but I’m so happy with how it turned out! Window treatments add so much to a window and room! As I’m typing this, I keep peaking over at the dining room window to check out the view, and it looks good!

Finished flat Roman shade

Even though the shade is fully operational, it will be open most of the day and likely night. It will only be closed to hide that blasting evening sun during dinner time.

Although perhaps we will start shutting the shade at night. We’ve lived with bare, open windows for so long, I don’t know that I’ll remember to shut them at night! Do you shut your curtains/shades every night? I leave everything wide open on our main floor. Am I the odd ball here?

functional roman shade

To optimize the light from this large window and to match the height of the curtains over the sliding door also in this room, I opted for an outside mount and hung it about 6 inches above the window trim. Hanging window treatments higher and wider than your windows is always a good idea though. It helps the windows look larger and blocks less light when the shades are open, and it tricks the eye into seeing uniformity between all the windows and doors in a room, even if they are all different heights.

For the most part, these flat Roman shades are straightforward to make. It’s just a rectangle with rings attached, no pleats or anything fancy to factor in. However, it challenged my ability to draw a straight line. Who knew it could be so difficult? I drew the rectangle for the face fabric at least 3 times, and I don’t mean a tweak here or there 3 times, erasing-the-whole-thing-and-starting-all-over 3 times. Dan finally helped me see the pattern was printed on the fabric crooked. Ah! Sanity restored! I’m planning to share a tutorial once I get the other shade done, and I think a bit on how to draw a straight line might be helpful. Anyone else struggle with this? Am I alone in this struggle?

One more house project, done! One step closer to a more finished, functional, and beautiful home. Flat Roman shades are a relatively easy DIY project to add color and interest to your room. They block the sun, provide privacy, and add a structured splash of color to liven up your home.


What beauty and function have you added to your home lately, DIY or not? Do you have any Roman shades in your home? Love them or leave them?

flat roman shade

roman shade books
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Roman Shades | Planning and Inspiration

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!

Planning a Roman ShadeMy living room and dining room have been sporting naked windows since we moved into the house 5 years ago! I think it’s time to make some window coverings!

Roman shades beforeI 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.

simple roman shade, love the fabric

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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.

{Inspired By} Fabric Roman Shades

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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.

how to make Roman shades -44 - finished Roman shade

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Classic Roman Shade with Pattern

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!)

Fabric for Roman Shades

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??

Roman Shades Books

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.

  1. The Complete Photo Guide to Window Treatments by Linda Neubauer
  2. Waverly at Home: Windows by Waverly and Vicki L. Ingham
  3. Curtains, Draperies, & Shades by Editors of Sunset Books
  4. 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?

Roman Shade Planning