How to Make a Roman Shade

Eric: This video’s brought to you by Sailrite. In this video, we’re going to show you from beginning to end how to build a standard Roman Shade. These Roman Shades are four panels that cover the windows in this home. We’re going to show you how to measure, how to sew them up, how to attach rings, how to attach the hardware, and then finally how to install them in your window. Let’s get started and show you how it’s done. Here’s Matt Grant from Sailrite to show us how to take measurements for your particular Roman Shades.

We’re going to measure for the Roman Shades that we’re going to install in these four windows. Before we start those measurements, I want to just talk about the fact that you can do these as an inside or an outside mount. We’re going to do an inside mount because we have enough depth in the window framing here. We’ve got just right at about 3” and a little bit more after the final trim. We need about 2” of depth to fully conceal the headboard of our Roman Shade so we’ll be in great shape here. So because we’re going to go inside mount, we really only need to get the height, or the length, of the Roman Shade and then we need to get the finished width of each shade.

I’m going to measure here and I am getting 51 3/8”. So we’ll confirm that measurement somewhere in the center here and I’ll do it here, and 51 3/8” again. We’ll confirm it over here at the edge, maybe both edges just to make sure everything’s square. Here I’m noticing I’ve got some handle hardware so I’m going to write down 51” for my height. I don’t want the bottom weighted bar in my Roman Shades crashing down on the window sill so I’d like to be just a little short and that certainly covers all of the exposed window glass.

Once we have the height, we’re going to get the width of each of the Roman Shades. I’m not going to take any reduction out for gaps between shades at this point. I just want to figure out what the maximum finished width of each shade can be. If I measure from the inside trim to the center of our molding here, I’m at 29”. So this first window I’m going to call 29”. Then I’m going to find the center of the trim and measure over and I’m at 30” here, and we’re 30” here, and we’re 29” over here. So we basically got two slightly narrower windows on the sides and then two slightly wider ones in the center.

I like to see the width of the finished Roman Shade panels be at least ¼” short on each side. In some cases a ½” less on each side, especially for larger window assemblies. So in this case we’re going to cut this one down by ¼” on each side so we’ll be at 28 ½”, and instead of our 30” here we’re going to be at 29 ½”, and then we’ll do likewise for these two. Eric: The first step in creating your Roman Shade is to cut the fabric to size. We’re going to take those measurements we just made and calculate what size fabric to cut.

We’re going to use a decorative fabric and a lining fabric on the backside. Using the measurements we just made, we need to add these to those measurements to determine the appropriate size fabric to cut. We’ve made those calculations and are now marking the fabric with a pencil, and we’ll cut it out with scissors. When using a pattern with a repeat, you need to take into consideration where the repeat will fall for your Roman Shades, especially if you have multiple shades. Here’s a look ahead at the four Roman Shades that we’re making. As you can see by the yellow boxes, we’ve considered where the repeat will fall.

Notice that we staggered it so that it looks pleasing to the eye and also centered it. Again, if your fabric has a repeat, it’s completely up to the end user where they want the repeat to fall. Since we’re building four Roman Shades, we’re going to need four panels of the decorative fabric and four panels of the lining fabric. We’re using that first fabric- the good fabric that we cut to size- and we’re placing it on top of the next run of fabric so we can determine the length of that as well, and also consider the pattern repeat (if that is important to you).

Now we’ll concentrate on the width of the face fabric. We’re going to place that pattern repeat- the large pattern- in the center. So we’ll take the calculations we made earlier to determine the appropriate width to cut, and we’ll strike lines on the fabric and cut it out with scissors. We cut our fabric from both sides so that our pattern- our large image in the center- was centered between the width. Now we have our one face fabric. Now we need to concentrate on cutting out the lining fabric. At the Sailrite website, you’ll find multiple choices for drapery and lining material, including blackout material. So be sure to visit the Sailrite website to pick yours today. We’ve marked the drapery lining material to the correct size for our window and are cutting it out with scissors. Now both the lining and the decorative fabric we did earlier is cut to the appropriate size.

Now all we need to do is sew those pieces together. We’ll lay the lining on top of the decorative fabric so the outside surfaces are facing each other. You’ll notice that our decorative fabric is actually too long. That’s because we calculated for the repeat in that. If you cut both your decorative fabric and lining fabric out to the correct length, yours will be even. Notice that the width of our decorative fabric is much wider than the lining fabric and that is intentional. The length is not. Your length may be exactly the same as your lining fabric. Starting from the bottom here, our pattern repeat will be perfect for our application. We’ll pin along the length of the fabric where the lining is lined up with the decorative fabric on the underside. We’ll use pins about every 6”-12” to be sure that our fabrics stay in the appropriate position as we take them to the sewing machine and sew. We’ll be using the Deluxe Magnetic Guide and ensure that we get a ½” stitch.

It’s very important that you stitch a ½” away from the raw edge of the fabric. The decorative fabric you see at the top when we first started this stitch is excess, mainly used to match up the pattern repeat. Yours may not have that. Sew all the way down its length and remove the pins as you approach them with the sewing machine. We’re using the Sailrite 111 Sewing Machine. This is a compound walking foot sewing machine, and this sewing machine has the MC-SCR Power System. Phenomenal sewing machine! When you get to the end, as you did at the beginning, reverse to lock your stitch in place. Now that the lining has been sewn to our decorative fabric, we’ll turn the panel around and line up the lining to the opposite edge of the decorative fabric. So now our lining will be pulled over so the decorative fabric actually folds at the other end. Match it up so the edges are exactly flush and then sew a ½” down that length as well.

You can sew these Roman Shades with a V-30 thread or home sewing machine thread. These are light fabrics and Sailrite stocks a plethora of great fabrics for Roman Shades. Brands like: Braemore, Brisa, Dena Home, Geobella, P/K Lifestyles, P/Kaufmann, Softline, Sunbrella, Tommy Bahama, and Waverly. Check them out at the Sailrite website and pick your favorite today. As discussed earlier, we’re going to trim off this excess fabric that is at the top, which was used to match up our pattern repeat. Angela’s now going to ensure that the fabric is laying nice and flat and that the lining fabric is centered on the backside of our fabric. The fabric is still turned wrong side out. She’s going to pin the bottom portion here. This is the bottom of our Roman Shade because we’re going to sew that shut.

She’s going to make sure that the sides are exactly the same so she’s measuring the seam here to be sure that it is exactly the same as the other side. Then she’ll take it to the sewing machine and sew a ½” from the raw edge of the fabric- reversing at the beginning- sewing all the way along its length to the other side.

Sewing shut this bottom edge, it would now be called a pillow case cover- one open end. Alright, when we get all the way to the end, we are now ready for the next step, and that is the placement of the dowels. That’s coming up in the next chapter. Angela’s now working from the top of the Roman Shade, and she’s going to ensure that the lining is positioned, or centered, along the backside of the fabric. To do that, she’ll measure the edges and be sure they’re equal from left side to right side, and then pin them in position along the top edge. So she’s going to take her ruler and measure this side as well and pin it in place. As she pins the sides, she is not pinning through the lining fabric. She’s only pinning through the decorative fabric. Angela is not going to place anymore pins in it right now until she ensures that it is centered. So she’s going to take measurements at several locations and she’ll place her pins to secure it in place as she positions each one of the dowels at its appropriate position.

So she’s just making sure the fold is right where it should be. Once you’re happy with where the seam lies, you could take it to an iron and iron it so it has a nice crease. But we’re not going to do that. We’re going to talk about the positioning of the dowels next. At the time when we were creating this video, Sailrite was in the process of creating a fabric calculator for Roman Shades. You may want to check that out at the Sailrite website. In lieu of that calculator, you can use the calculations here for the placement of each one of your dowels on your Roman Shade. Let’s calculate the measurements for our particular Roman Shade. You can see here, segments required are 7. The height of the main segments is 6.85” and the height of the lowest segment is 8.35”.

Those measurements will be the placement for the dowels. So these dash lines represent the dowels. However, for the lowest segment, we need to add 3” because we will be creating a hem there in a later step. Next we’ll measure up from the lower edge of our shade at the stitch line. That’s the stitch line that she just pointed to. We need to measure up our measurement for the lowest segment. Ours is 8.35”, but we need to add 3” to whatever your lowest segment measurement is for a hem that will created later on. That leaves our measurement at 11.35” for the lowest segment. Angela has marked that location with a pin. Now she measures up for the main segments.

Ours is 6.85” so she measures up to that location from that lower segment that we just marked on the fabric. Places a pin there as well. She’ll continue to measure up from each one of those pin locations until she’s done with the main segments. Angela has marked each one of the segment positions with a push pin. You can also use a pencil.

Now she’ll fold the material in half along its length to determine where the location should be placed on the opposite side of the fabric. This is an easy way to do it so you don’t have to measure all over again for the opposite side. Then she sticks the pushpins in that side as well. Or you can mark it with a pencil. Now we can unfold the shade and we can place wood dowels on top to determine how long they should be cut. We’re using a 3/16” wood dowel, though plastic dowels can be used as well. We want them about a ½” shorter than the width of the shade. Then we’ll cut them all to size. Again we’re using 3/16” wood dowels. We’ll be using Tear Mender that’s available from Sailrite to glue these dowels to the decorative fabric. Notice the decorative fabric backside, or inside, is facing up.

Gem-Tac may also be used. It’s typically used for gluing gem stones to fabric. You do not need to glue all the way across. Just a few dabs every 4”-5”. Notice how Angela has placed the dowel at her pushpin location and then dropped a few drips of the glue at the location on the backside of the good fabric and holds it in place. It does take a while for this to dry so be careful. Then she comes to the next location. The batten is about a ¼” underneath the pushpins, places a few drops there as well, and then rolls the wood dowel over the center of the drops. Our shades have 7 segments, which equal 6 wood dowels. They’ve all been glued in place. Now Angela places a few yardsticks on top to help hold the dowels down onto the glue while it dries. We’ve also placed a few of these shades in front of a fan to accelerate the glue dry time. Next we’ll concentrate on creating a hem at the bottom edge of the shade.

First remove all of the pushpins, if you used those to position the dowels, and we’ll need to turn the pillow case right side out. So even though there are dowels that are glued to the fabric, it is still not a very difficult process. It easily turns right side out. We’ll speed up the video here showing the process, but we don’t want to bore you with the process either (laughs). The bottom edge of our shade has already been sewn together. So we need to make sure that the corners are pushed out all the way. Once we’re happy the fabric is laying nice and flat, we’ll take it over to an ironing board and use an iron set on the appropriate setting for the fabric of your choice, and we’re going to create creases at the bottom edge and the sides of our shade. Using an iron to create the creases will give a beautiful appearance to your Roman Shade.

At the bottom edge of our shade, we’re going to fold the fabric up to approximately 3”. However, we’re going to measure where that fold should be located by using the lowest segment measurement. For us, it was 8 3/8” from the lowest dowel. So we’re ensuring that the lowest segment is our lowest segment measurement. Then we’ll pin the fabric at that location using the pushpins. Once it’s pinned in the appropriate position, we’ll take it over to the ironing board and iron the crease along the bottom edge. Now we’re going to use the sewing machine and place a straight stitch along the inner portion of that fold pulling the pins as we come upon them.

We’ll keep this stitch very close to the raw edge of that fabric, which is no longer really raw because it is a finished edge. So all the way to the other side, and as normal, do some reverse stitching at the beginning and do some reverse stitching at the end. This hem that we’ve just created will also serve as a sleeve for a heavier dowel rod. So we’ll sew from the bottom edge up approximately 1”, reversing there, and that will allow us to have an opening at the top that will be used to push the rod into the sleeve. We want to do that same procedure on the opposite side. We’ve purchased a metal rod at a hardware store, cut it to size, and we’ll push it into that sleeve that we created. The sewing at the ends will keep the rod from coming out. Now that the hem has been created at the bottom, we can measure up and cut our Roman Shade to the appropriate length.

For us, our length was 51”. So we’ll measure from that bottom edge up 51” and mark the fabric with a pencil. We’ll do that on both sides and then strike a straight line across the fabric. Do not cut on this line. We’ll be cutting above the line. This is where we want the actual finished edge to lay. Once the line is struck, we’ll cut approximately 1” up from the line. We are not cutting on the line.

We are cutting 1” up from the line, and we’re removing the excess fabric. Now we’re going to install a looped Velcro and fold the lining and the decorative fabric in to give it a finished appearance. We’re going to pin all that in place. Notice here Angela’s folding the lining fabric in and she’ll fold the decorative fabric in along the line that she struck along the lining so that that line is our top edge. Take your time and then pin the fabric in place. Sailrite strongly recommends using Velcro along the top edge of your Roman Shade. Using Velcro, you can make adjustments to how the Roman Shade actually sits in the window. We’ll be attaching a hooked Velcro to the headrail in a future step. For now, attach the loop Velcro to the top of the Roman Shade, as shown here.

Take your time and be sure that you fold the fabric along the line that you struck down so that your Roman Shade is the appropriate length when complete. We’ll then take it over to the sewing machine and sew the Velcro down the two long legs, reversing at the beginning to lock our stitch. When we come upon each one of the pushpins, we’ll remove the pins ensuring the fabric is still nice and flat, and sew all the way down the other side. We’ll do that same procedure to the other side of the Velcro. We’ll next be installing rings for lift lines.

Rings should be installed starting at the lowest dowel and then skipping every other dowel. Rings are typically spaced about 15” apart. Our shade will require 3 lift lines. Angela’s marking the position at the center of our shade every other dowel starting at the bottom. Now she’ll take some thread and feed it through a needle eye, and she will prepare to hand sew the rings in place at each location. Angela’s measured a length of thread that is almost the length of the entire shade curtain. She ties a knot at the end- a double knot- and cuts off the excess thread. We’re going to run this needle all the way down the length of the curtain. We’ll start here at the lowest dowel, push the needle through the fabric including the decorative fabric on the underside, around the dowel, and up through the fabric.

Then she’ll run the thread through the metal ring (that’s available from Sailrite), and back into the fabric through the ring, tie a few knots. You want to make sure that this ring is secured in position. You do not want your rings falling off. Because we’ve chosen to use metal rings from Sailrite, we don’t have to worry about those plastic rings that often are affected by the UV, become hard/brittle, and then eventually break. So we highly recommend ordering your sew on rings for Roman Shades from Sailrite. Either available in a brass or nickel finish. Once Angela is satisfied that the ring will not fall off, which she’s done a good job here, she’s sewn it to death, she will pass her needle in between the two fabrics and come out of the next dowel so she can get some breath, and then pass it down to the next dowel. So this way she doesn’t have to cut her thread and create knots again. This is a preference, not necessarily required.

So notice that she’ll come out here at that dowel that we want to skip- in other words, we do not want to install rings at this dowel- and then she’ll go back into the fabric and pass the needle between the two fabrics (the lining and the decorative fabric), coming to the next dowel and then inserting the ring at that location as well, just as we did previously.

So here she is, she skipped that one dowel and has come to the next dowel which does require a ring. You notice that we are installing the rings along the seam where the decorative fabric was sewn to the lining fabric. Not a bad idea. So she goes into the fabric, comes around the dowel, out through the fabric, and she’ll secure a ring just as she did previously here as well. We will not show all of this. Now that you know how to install the rings at each of the appropriate locations, you can do that for your shade. We also do want to show what it looks like from the surface, or the decorative fabric side.

We’re using a thread that is almost the same color, but as you can see here, it’s barely noticeable. So you don’t have to worry too much. We try to match the color if possible. Now we need to concentrate on making a headrail. We’re going to use some of the excess lining material. Fold it in half so that we have two layers, and we’re going to fold into the board. We’re using a 2” x 2” board, which actually measures 1 ½” x 1 ½” that we picked up at a hardware store and we cut it to size.

I like to cut the length of the headrail to the exact width of the finished shade. However, some people cut it ¼” smaller. Now we’ll wrap that fabric around the board, as shown here in the video, and staple it in place along the top edge. For our Roman Shade, we’ll be installing the headrail along the inner frame of the window. So the edge that we’re stapling will not be visible.

It will actually be screwed up against the ceiling at that location. We’re using a very nice Duo-Fast Electric Stapler, available from Sailrite. However, a simple Arrow Stapler that you may already have will work just as well. When we come to the end, we’ll cut off the excess fabric and we’ll wrap it as we do a Christmas present. You may want to use the end of a screwdriver to perfect how the tucks of the fabric look. Once you’re happy, you’ll staple the top side- the side that will be up against the ceiling. Now that our lining fabric has been secured all around the board, we want to turn the board so that the Velcro will be facing out. We’ll secure it in place with the stapler. You can use this great Duo-Fast Stapler, but it is rather expensive. You can also just use an Arrow Stapler that you may already have in your possession. Be sure to attach the hook side of the Velcro here since the loop has been attached to the curtain.

Now attach the curtain to the Velcro, make sure it’s centered and looks nice, roll the board around so that you’ll be working from the underside of the board, and that’s where we’ll be attaching our hardware for the lift lines. With a pencil, Angela is marking the center location above the ring and the side locations above the rings. Yours may have more or fewer. Then you can remove the actual curtain. Now we’ll attach screw eyes that we purchased from a hardware store at all three of those locations. For our Roman Shade, we’ve chosen to use a cord lock that we purchased from Sailrite. Let’s take a look at this cord lock.

On this end there’s a small opening. Then on the other, there’s a larger opening. The larger opening would go along the length of the headrail that has the majority of the cords. On the underside, you have a two wire system for our cord lock. We’re going to use some leechline here and cut it with a hotknife so we have a sealed edge and we’re going to run it through the large opening of the cord lock and down through the center of the actual lock system. Sailrite recommends installing the line through the cord lock prior to installing the lock to the actual headrail. At the bottom opening of the cord lock, there are wires to separate each one of the cords.

This cord lock will accommodate up to 6 cords. We need only 3 cords for the Roman Shade that this will be installed to. We’ll install the second line through the large opening side and down through the middle. In some situations, you may find it a little bit difficult to feed the cord through the middle. In those situations, you can use tweezers on the bottom side to help guide the line. Then our last line will be run through the small side of the cord lock and down through the center just as the other ones were done previously. The calculations for the length of cord to order will actually give you much more line than you need. In this situation, we’re not using tweezers, but a screwdriver to help exit the cord through the bottom of the cord lock. Here we go. The larger hole has the majority of the cords while the smaller hole on the one side only has one cord. We can install this cord lock on our headrail either on the left side or the right side. We’re installing it on our Roman Shade headrail along the left side.

We want that lock system to be screwed as close to that eye along the left side as possible. Just use screws that you can pick up at a hardware store and screw it in position. Now we’ll feed the cords that are coming out of the large hole of the cord lock through our eyes, as shown here in the video. On ours, we have three so this cord will run through the last screw eye. Then all the way to the left, in this situation it’s the right, but it will be installed on the left when we have our curtain, we feed it through the last eye. That’s all there is to installing the cord lock and the cords into the headrail system. Now we’ll fasten the fabric onto the headrail system via the Velcro. As you can see, the cord lock is on the right side; though, when you’re looking at the actual Roman Shade, the cord lock will be on the left side, as the outside surface is facing the table.

Now we’ll run the cord through each one of the rings, and we will not tie it to any of the rings except for the last. We’ll follow that same procedure for each one of the rings with each one of the cord locks. Then to keep the cords from unraveling, we’ll use a hotknife to seal the ends. Next we’re going to use the plastic lift cord condenser that you can purchase from Sailrite. With the curtain fully open and the cords being fairly taut, cut all of the cords at once so there’s about 6” of cord hanging below the cord lock. This condenser condenses the multiple curtain lift cords into one cord. For our curtain, we’re using fairly large line here so it’s a little bit difficult to squeeze it through the top of the condenser. So we’re pushing all 3 cords into the condenser and then being sure that they are all pulled evenly so that it’ll pull up the Roman Shade at the same rate, and we’ll tie a knot in the end of them. They will be contained inside the bell shape of the condenser.

The condenser should be approximately 2”-3” underneath the cord lock. If it’s not, reposition the knot. Now push the condenser over the knot and trim the cords at the bottom of the condenser. Now the knot is hidden. Now we’ll insert a length of cord through the condenser bottom, tie a knot in that- here we’re going to tie a double knot to be sure that it won’t come through- and then we’ll screw that onto the larger condenser top. Now we have 3 cords that transition into a single cord. If we were using smaller cord line, we would use this O-ring to keep the knot from pulling out of any one of the condenser ends.

Now we’ll install a tassel that we’ve picked for our shade, and we’ll tie a knot in the end of the cord, fastening it somewhere close to the middle of the shade. And that’s all there is to building a Roman Shade. Now all we need to do is install the headrail, or head rod. We’re back at the home now and we’ll drill a hole directly through the head rod board, all the way through the fabric, all the way to the other side. We’re going to be installing it in a wood molding so there’s no reason to use anchors for our application.

We’ll pull the curtain Velcro from the actual board and lower the curtain so that we have more room to insert our screws and work with the hardware up in the window. We’re going to insert some wood screws through the board so they just start to protrude through the underside of the board, which will be fastened to the ceiling. We’ve already installed 3 of our Roman Shade curtains. This is the last. With the curtain down, as you see here in the video, we can easily install the board, or headrail, into our window without the fabric getting in the way. Another advantage of using the Velcro. Be sure the board is positioned right where you want it and then screw it into place.

Then simply reattach the Velcro to the headrail. If necessary, position until everything is nice and straight and positioned perfectly. That’s all it takes to build a Roman Shade. You’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of fabrics at the Sailrite website that are perfect for Roman Shades, including the lining fabric and even blackout fabrics. Be sure to visit the Sailrite website today. Coming up next is a detailed material list of all the supplies and tools that are required to build your very own Roman Shade.

To pick your decorative fabric and to pick your drapery lining fabric, be sure to visit the Sailrite website. Many of these items can be purchased at Sailrite. Some will have to be purchased at a hardware store or craft store. Here are the tools that are required or possibly helpful to help you build your very own Roman Shades. For more free videos like this, be sure to check out the Sailrite website or subscribe to the Sailrite YouTube channel today. It’s your loyal patronage to Sailrite that makes these free videos possible. Thanks for your support. .