Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Simple Outside Mount Roman Shade Tutorial

Green paint is up. I love. And oops, purple screwdriver on window ;)
It's May!  That time of year when all of a sudden my calendar starts to become ineligible because it is over flowing with activities (baseball, golf, play practice, award ceremonies, teacher appreciation, end of year picnics, etc.)  Things like blogging take a back seat, probably for you too, so if you are reading, I thank you!!  In anticipation of the craziness of this month, I kept my consulting calendar pretty light, which has allowed me some extra time to work on projects in my own home, mainly the office.

I have a pretty modest budget for the office, so when the workroom quotes for roman shades came in, I was a bit stumped by the high cost of labor.  I did a little research, found a plethora of online tutorials, inspected my girlfriend's shades and decided to attempt to sew my own. I am not an experienced seamstress at all.  My skill set is just just beyond threading the machine and winding a bobbin, so when these turned out so beautiful, I knew I would want to share my process.  If I can do it, you can too.  I did make a test run shade that I hung in our powder room with some spare fabric before I cut into office shade fabric.  I'm not totally crazy.

First, these shades are a bit of cross between a relaxed and flat roman. If I had used dowel rods at every pleat they would have the very tailored and structured look of a flat roman.  I didn't want that in this space, but I also didn't want a completely relaxed and flouncy roman either.  These are sort of in between, lots of stacked pleats like a flat but with a bit of the movement and casualness of a relaxed roman.

Supplies Needed:
3/8" dowel rods cut to size (one per shade)
shade fabric
lining fabric (I used white cotton muslin bought at Joann's)
roman shade string 
sew on rings for roman shades (I used brass, but plastic would be fine too)
cord cleat
1x2" board cut to size of shade
3 small metal eye hooks
L brackets (the number you need will depend on the size of your shade.  1 used 2 per shade)
plaster or dry wall screws to mount the brackets
sewing machine
needle and thread

Step One: Measure Shade Size
Measure desired shade size, length and width.  Have 1x2" board + dowel rod cut to size.

Step Two: Cut and Pin Fabric
Shade Fabric: Add 4 inches to width and 6.5 inches to length
Lining Fabric: Add 1/2 inch to width and 6.5 inches to length

Place right sides of fabric facing each other.  Line up edge of lining fabric with edge of shade fabric and pin on one side.

Step Three: Sew In Lining
Sew a 1/4 inch hem along the pinned side of the fabric.  Remove from machine and pull the lining across to the non-hemmed side of the shade fabric and pin.  Sew a 1/4 inch hem on the other side.  Turn fabric right side out.

Step 4: Press and Sew Top and Bottom Hem
Iron the shade. Double check that it is the correct width for the finished shade. Then fold top of shade over twice, an inch each time, and press.  Sew top hem. For the bottom hem you are going to create a pocket for the only dowel rod you will use for this shade.  Sew a 1/2" hem and then fold over 1.5" and sew another leaving an opening for the rod.

small 1/2" seam, then fold again and sew in pocket

That's it for the sewing machine!

Step 5:  Measure, Mark and Sew Rings
I used a yard stick and a pencil. You will make three columns of rings on the back of the shade.

Spacing: Place pleats 8-12 inches apart. I did mine 8 inches.
Starting Point: Take your desired spacing and divide by 2, then add one inch.  This is your where your first row of rings will be.  For example, my pleat spacing is 8 inches, so my first row of rings was placed 5 inches from the bottom of my shade. (8 divided by 2 plus 1 = 5).  Hand sew the rings in place. I folded the shade in half to find my middle and then marked it lightly with a pencil so my center column of rings would be straight.  Keep measuring up 8 inches from the last row to sew your next row.  I stopped 20 inches from the top of the shade.
This was the step I dreaded the most and it wasn't that bad.  I sewed each ring about 5-6 times and then tied in about 3-4 knots.  Each shade took about 20-30 minutes to measure + sew on the rings.

I laid the shades side by side to get a sense of how finished shade would look.  You can see here how the fabric repeat that is showing on each shade differs.  I love this fabric so much and since it will be in the up position most of the time, I like being able to see the two different views.  If I wanted them identical I would have needed more yardage.  

Should have ironed a bit better. 

Step 6: Screw Eye Hooks to Board + Attach Mounting Hardware
I lined up the board with the shade and marked where eye hooks should go. I pre-drilled holes and then screwed them in.  Attach L brackets, pre-drill holes and them screw in.

Step 7: Add String
See diagram for how the string flows through the hooks.  The string farthest away from where you will pull and lower will be the longest and go through all three hooks on the board, the middle string will go through two and the side where you will lift and lower, only one.  Attach the string to the bottom ring with a few knots and then thread it up through the ones above.

Step 8:  Attach Fabric to Board
I used velcro instead of staples.  That way you can easily adjust the shade position if you need to.  My shade weight was very light with a linen fabric and a muslin lining.  If you have a heavier shade, you might prefer staples. (*note: I made my shades 1 inch wider than my boards for just the slightest fabric overhang.  This isn't necessary, but you see in in the photos so I wanted to mention it*)

note here where I placed the velcro on the board and the fabric

Step 9: Hang Up Your Shade + Give it a Test Run
Once up, insert the dowel rod in the bottom pocket and slowly raise your shade, helping the pleats along as needed.  Add the cord cleat to the wall and wrap three strings around it to secure the shade in place.  Marvel at all the money you just saved.  :)

The desk will go right in front of this window.  Not sure why I didn't place it here before, but as soon as I did it made such a big difference in the room.

**Please let me know if you have questions.  Tutorials aren't really my expertise, I find it difficult to stop and take proper pictures when I get into the flow of a project.  I also did all my sewing at night or early in the morning over a rainy weekend so the light was non existent, hopefully it all still makes sense. ** 


  1. This looks so nice! Thank you for the instructions! I am definitely going to give this a try!

  2. Great tutorial and beautiful result! I'm definitely adding this to my favourite creative project file for later! :-)

  3. So beautiful. I would love to have one over my kitchen sink.

  4. Making this tutorial was probably as hard as making the actual shade!! My mom taught me to sew as a child and in my first home after marriage, I made all my own window treatments. It was such a labor of love. You did a great job!!! Kudos Tessa!! :-)

  5. Thank for this step by step tutorial! I'm definitely pinning this to come back to later because I have been wanting to make roman shades our home!

  6. This is so pretty. Love the fabric and the inspiration to try something like this myself. I can sew a straight line and follow directions...fingers crossed it will work! Congratulations, it's really nice.

  7. Tessa, I am getting ready to use your tutorial to make some shades for my kitchen. Can I ask you a question about the size of the fabric pieces needed? You say to add 4" to the fabric width - I guess part of this is seam allowance? Is it also for the 1" overhang you mentioned? I am measuring my windows to make sure I order enough fabric. Thank you so much!!

    1. Yes. If you want some of the shade fabric to wrap around the lining on the back, make it wider than the lining. You could also make the lining and shade fabric identical width if you like and shade will look the same. I don't trust my cutting and measuring so I made the shade fabric a bit wider just in case. If you look in photos above you can see how shade fabric shows on the back. Please let me know how yours turn out! I'd love to hear. I'm sure they will be gorgeous!! :)

  8. Ok, yes I see what you mean! Thanks so much for the info. I am VERY much a beginner sewer myself! I have two front windows and a bay window in the back of the kitchen that I am doing. I will definitely let you know how they turn out! :)

  9. I so miss you blogging. Come back!