How to Make Roman Shades Two Ways for Custom Window Treatments

Roman shades are a stylish option for window treatments but often come with a custom price tag. Dress up your windows with these DIY options.

Roman shades are ideal window treatments for adding style and function, so if you know how to make Roman shades, you can beautifully create privacy and block light. Without spaces between slats, they cover windows entirely and can be made with your fabric of choice. In a colorful pattern, Roman shades can instantly add personality to your kitchen, bedroom, or living area windows. To make one of these gorgeous window treatments yourself, use a set of deconstructed blinds or make a Roman shade from scratch using wooden dowel rods. Learn how to make Roman shades using our step-by-step DIY instructions below.

floral patterned window treatment
Adam Albright

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

How to Make DIY Roman Shades with Blinds

  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Iron
  • Foam paintbrush
  • Clothespins

How to Sew a DIY Roman Shade with a Lining

  • Measuring tape
  • Quilter's ruler
  • Fabric marking pen


How to Make DIY Roman Shades with Blinds

  • Mini blind to fit the window
  • Midweight upholstery fabric cut 6 inches wider than the window and 12 inches longer
  • Decoupage medium

How to Sew a DIY Roman Shade with a Lining

  • Fabric
  • Lining fabric
  • 1x2 pine board
  • Two screw eyes
  • Five 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowels
  • Ten small cabone rings
  • Shade-and-blind cord
  • Cleat (with fasteners) to wrap cord at desired pleating
  • #8 wood screws


How to Make Roman Shades with Blinds

Starting with a mini blind ($13, The Home Depot) helps structure your DIY Roman shade. When selecting fabric, choose one that will hold the folds nicely and filter sunlight while providing privacy. Look for fabric in the home decor section of a fabric store that stocks these heavier fabrics. Gather the fabric about a yard from the end and let it fall to see how it drapes. Look for slightly billowy folds for the best Roman shades.

  1. window blinds
    Kritsada Panichgul

    Set Length of Blind

    Lay the blind on your work surface with the front facing down. Measure the window to determine how long your Roman shade needs to be. Pull the blinds out to your desired length.

  2. Remove Extra Blind Slats

    Snip away only the thicker strings that connect the slats on both the front and the back. Don't cut the string in the middle of the slats, which is what pulls the shade up and down. Measure how long the shade will hang over the window and divide the measurement in inches by seven. This is how many slats you will need to leave on the blind strings. Snap off and remove the rest.

  3. place fabric under blind
    Kritsada Panichgul

    Arrange Slats on Fabric

    Place fabric facedown under the blind. Lay out the slats in 7-inch intervals, accounting for the fabric that will be wrapped around the top of the blind. Mark the fabric where it folds at the slats' sides, top, and bottom, allowing about 2 inches of fabric on either side.

  4. Attach Fabric Around Bracket

    To cover the blind with fabric, pop out the stopper on each end of the top bracket. Cut a small notch in the fabric so it wraps nicely around the end. Using a foam brush, coat the bracket and fabric with decoupage medium and press to secure, using clothespins to clamp until dry.

  5. brush glue on blinds
    Kritsada Panichgul

    Secure Fabric to Blind

    Brush decoupage medium onto the front side of the slats and the edges of the fabric where you marked the slat placement. You only need to glue the ends of the slat, not the entire length. Secure into place at the marked 7-inch intervals, tucking the ends of the slats beneath the folded edges. Use clothespins to hold the fabric in place while the glue dries.

  6. Attach Bottom of the Roman Shade

    Fold over the bottom edge of the fabric slightly to form a clean edge. Wrap the fabric around the bottom bar of the blind and secure in place with decoupage medium. Use clothespins to clamp as it dries. Install your DIY Roman shade as you would a regular mini blind.

Close up of Curtain Roller
Peter Krumhardt

How to Make Roman Shades with a Lining

You can also make a Roman shade using fabric and wooden dowel rods. This DIY window treatment includes double-layered fabric for extra light-blocking and privacy.

  1. Determine Measurements for Shade Fabric

    Measure the height and width of the window inside the window recess or frame. To determine the size to cut the shade fabric, use this formula: cut length of shade = window height + 6 inches for mounting onto board + 6 or 8 inches drop from mounting board + 8 inches for each fold + 1 1/2-inch for each dowel casing. For the fabric width, the cut length should equal the width of the window plus 2 inches.

    Editor's Tip

    Our shade has four folds with five dowel casings. From the shade fabric, cut one panel to this measurement.

  2. Cut Lining Fabric to Size

    Cut the lining fabric to the same length as your shade fabric. The lining's width should equal the width of window inside the window recess or frame. You'll need one panel of lining fabric in this measurement.

  3. Cut and Prepare Mounting Board

    Cut the 1x2-inch pine board to the measured window width. Mark points 4 inches from each end of the board for screw eyes. (For wide windows, measure even segments and mark two more points along the board for screw eyes.) Drill shallow pilot holes. Set the board aside.

  4. Attach Lining Fabric

    With right sides facing, sew the lining panel to the shade panel along the side edges. Turn to the right side; press so the lining is centered on the back of the shade.

  5. Add Dowel Casings

    Using a quilter's ruler, measuring tape, and a washable fabric marking pen ($4, Joann), measure and mark the placement of the 1-1/2-inch wide dowel casings. Stitch the dowel casings exactly on these lines. Turn the shade's bottom edge under 1/2-inch, then turn it under an additional 7/8-inch and press. Stitch just inside the folded edge to make a bottom dowel casing.

  6. Assemble Roman Shade

    Place the mounting board 6 inches below the top edge on the lining side of the shade. Fold the raw edge of the shade over the top of the mounting board. Check the fit to the window and adjust the fabric on the mounting board if necessary. Staple the shade to the back of the board. Insert the dowels in the casings. Hand-stitch a small cabone ring ($3, Michaels) 4 inches inside each side edge on each dowel casing.

  7. Mount a Cleat for Cords

    To hold the cords taut, place a cleat on the right side of the window frame about midway between the top and bottom. If you have small children in your home, place the cleat closer to the top of the frame, lowering the risk of possible entanglement. Drill pilot holes in the frame. Mount the cleat.

  8. Add Cords to the Shade

    For the left cords, cut a length two times the measured window length plus the measured width. Tie one end of the cord to the lowest rings on the left side of the blind. For the right cord, halve the remaining length. Tie one end of the cord to the lowest rings on the right side of the shade.

    Thread the cords through the column of rings and the screw at the top. Thread all cords through the far right screw eye. Pull the cords to take up the slack and trim the cord ends even. To raise the shade, gently pull the cords, causing the fabric to pleat. Secure the cords to the cleat at the desired height with a figure-eight motion.

  9. Attach Roman Shade to Window

    Insert two #8 wood screws through the bottom of the mounting board to attach the shade to the inside of the window. To set the pleats, raise the shade to the highest position and secure the cords to the cleat. Arrange the pleats by hand and leave them in place for one week.

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