Sunday, 20 June 2010

Avoiding night-time peepery with a roman blind tutorial…

This window needed something to avoid peepery paranoia. I decided to make a blind because I only had one curtain (the other is covering the French doors) and it happened to be only just slightly bigger than the width of the window – certainly not enough to split into two curtains.

You will need:
Upholstery-type fabric
Lining fabric
Screw in eyelets
Strong cord

I don’t have any pictures of the first bit, because it’s yukky measuring :(
The main fabric is going to be flat, but I am using a lining to form the channels for the rods.
First you need to measure your window. You need to cut your main fabric the size of the window plus 10cm all round.
You now need to decide how many rods you are going to use – remember there is one at the very top, but not one at the very bottom. I decided I needed six rods. The dowel I chose was 1cm wide, and when I wrapped the fabric loosely around the dowel then measured it, I needed 5cm of fabric to form a channel for the dowel.
5x6cm = 30cm
My window is 105cm high so…
105cm+30cm = 135cm + hem allowance.
This is the length of my lining fabric. The width needs to be slightly less than the main fabric if you want to hide your cord, so I cut mine 15cm smaller than the main fabric.
Once you’ve cut your two pieces of fabric you need to hem all around the main piece and on three sides of the lining leaving the bottom raw edged. The main piece should have a 5cm hem on each side, you’ll see why later.
Sew top for dowel
Then you need to do the dreaded measuring – for some reason I always do this wrong first time. Now some maths – remember I wanted six rods? Well I also wanted the bottom to have a small overhang of 10cm when the blind was raised. So…
135cm – 10cm = 125cm
125cm – 30cm (excess for the channels) = 95cm
Because one of the rods is at the top, and I have decided on the length of the bottom segment myself, I only need to divide this number by 5.
95cm/5 = 19cm
This will be the distance between the rods.
Phew! I hate maths, even easy maths confusles me.
So, starting from the bottom hem I marked 10cm, then 5cm, then 19cm, then 5, then 19… ending with 5cm at the top. Do the same on both sides.
Now fold the fabric along the middle of each channel so the marks line up and pin like mad.
pin the channels
When you’re happy with your channels, press all the folds.
iron the channels
If you haven’t already, mark the fabric 2.5cm from each fold…
measure your channels and mark
…and sew…
sew channels
…until your lining looks like this: Giant pintucks!
til it looks like this
Press all the channels downwards and lay your lining on your main fabric, making sure the tops are level. See how the lining is smaller on each side? This will hide the cord. The 5cm hem on the main fabric means that you won’t see the back of the fabric.
lay lining on front
Once again pin like mad, especially along the channels.
pin front to backing
Now sew through all the layers, following the channel stitching. Go slowly, you don’t want either of the layers to pucker!
sew through all layers2sew through all layers   
Now is the laborious bit – you need to hand sew the bottom hem and tack around all the sides, including the top. You can do this with your machine, but it’s a lot of stopping and starting (you don’t want to sew those channels shut!) and I wanted to keep the visible stitches to a minimum on the front.
Now measure the width of you lining again (just to be on the safe side), and cut five lengths of dowel. The sixth (top) dowel should be the width of the whole blind for hanging.
saw dowels to length
Round the ends of your dowel, this will make it easier to thread them through your sewn channels.
round your dowels
Screw your eyelets into the ends of all the dowels except the top one…
screw eyelets
…and thread them through your channels.
inset your dowel
Now thread one length of cord through the loops on the right, and another through the loops on the left.
Your cords should be different lengths – one should be twice the height of the blind plus the width of the blind (plus 30cm for luck!) mine was 105cmx2+115cm (+30) = 355cm. The other should be twice the height (+30) = 240cm. Tie the lengths of cord to the eyelets on each bottom dowel.
I screwed two cup hooks (I love cup hooks) into the wood above the window - 1cm in, and 1cm down from the top. Then I hooked the top dowel over the cup hooks. The longer length of cord should be looped through both cup hooks over the top of the blind.
Letting the blind hang loose, tie both cords together at the top and tie something interesting to the bottom.
Screw a cleat to the wall near the window so you have something to tie the cords to (or wrap them around) to keep the blind up, and you’re done!
cleatcleat2 blind
Lawks, that was a lot of steps! But at least now I’m safe from the night-time peepery!


  1. That is so awesome. I think I actually understand how to do this. Fantastic tutorial and it looks really cute in your kitchen.

  2. Haha, thanks Erin :) I think it's easier to make than my tutorial makes it sound. Maths + lots of steps = lookin' tricky.
    It was honestly also easier to make than it was to WRITE the tutorial, not quicker, but easier!

    Give it a go! :)

  3. Pure destiny that I found your post today on -- I woke up this morning deciding THIS is the day I will make new curtains for my sewing room and I'd like to make Roman Shades - and poof! here you are. Thanks for an excellent tutorial! Very easy to understand. I can do this!

  4. Yours look so much easier than the first tutorial I read - at a place that does it professionally. One problem I have with all of them is how to do it with black out fabric - since the needle leaves holes in the fabric. Any ideas? Thanks

    1. Hi, Lori!
      Try using a cloth twill tape as you sew your final seams (that hold the front and lining together) just on one side of shade is ok, you decide if on front to add interest to it or to lining side to keep it out of sight from inside. The first time they are cleaned, the twill tape will felt a bit along the stitched seam and the holes will 'disappear' for you. My dad worked graveyard for years and loved the blackout shades. My mom made his to fit just a bit wider than the windowsill, rather than fitting just inside the windowsill so it blocked out more of the light for him around the top/bottom/sides. Hope this helps you!

    2. Thanks for the help Dani, I didn't have a clue :)

  5. Looking forward to trying these in my kitchen to replace the horrible white aluminum blinds we currently have! Thanks for the step-by-step! Fabulous.

  6. Wow! I am almost done with my first roman blind and it has been easier than I thought it would be! Thanks so much for posting this tutorial and for the thoroughness of your directions!

  7. I liked the way you explained the staps -how ever I don't know my miters can I get the measurements in inches or yardage. Thank You so much.

    1. Hi Skye, the measurements depend on your window size and ptreferences so even if I convert all my measurements it wouldn't help you much.

      For reference though, 4" = 10cm, 1yd = 91cm, 1ft = 30cm (near as not!)

      So, my first measurement:
      my window is 105cm high (41") + 30cm (12") = 53"

      Thanks for your comment :)

  8. I love "AllFreeSewing" because I get to find awesome people like you that take the time to post great tutorials. Thank you lots. <3

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  10. I like the way you explained how to make the dowel pockets. If you don't mind a large-ish screw-eye in the top of your windowsill, you can anchor the shade itself to the bottom of the windowsill, thread your chords through the screw-eyes at the top, and then you can pull the shade up from the bottom, keeping your privacy and still letting light in. Mom did this in our bathroom window. Works like a charm! :)

  11. Thank you for the great directions, yours looks great.

  12. Years ago I made 7 Roman shades with angle tops to place in windows in a vaulted ceiling facing west--every morning we were up at dawn when the sun came in. I used Roman Shade tape. Over time the plastic rings have deteriorated and the shades have become inoperable--I also had a problem with the shades sagging and used wooden lathe to add structure. Your wooden dowels with eye screws-fixes all of this. I wish I had seen this years ago when I made my shades. What an ingenious idea!

  13. Beccy,

    I am buying a condo that needs window treatments really bad -- and who has any money left after buying a place.

    Your tutorial has inspired me to try for the me first time to make my own window treatments.

    Since I live in S Florida, covering the windows to minimize cooling costs is a must; not to mention the privacy factor which is also big on my list.

    Thank you so much for making it sound so simple to do. The next time my local JoAnne's has a sale on their decorator fabric, I'll be first in line.

    Do have a question though -- Has anyone made Roman shades for a patio door and if so any special suggestions or thoughts on how to tackle the bigness, heaviness of the shade would be much appreciated.

    My best to all . . .

  14. Hi Jean! Thanks very much :)

    You could make the blind in several seperate sections - that would minimise the weight and mean that you could use the patio door while keeping most of the window shaded. Much more work to do though!

  15. Thanks for the great directions! I've always wanted a couple of Roman shades. I've looked a lot of other instructions before & I was at a loss as to how to make them. Your directions were simple & very easy to follow!

  16. Thanks for such easy directions. I have some complicated patterns but for small windows your pattern is all I need. I to go into shock when someone gives me numbers:)

    Cheers Bobbie Qld Australia

  17. Hi Beccy
    I have a question about the blind...I was wondering if I could just use same material to do for the lining cause I'm doing it for a business and wanted the material to be on both side...Do you think that would be ok?
    Thanks so for your time..

  18. What is your advice on large windows, i.e 2.3 width. Is it easier to do two blinds on the one window or just one large. Just worrying how to pull the up, will it not be to heavy. Its for the kitchen. Thank you

  19. My son just moved into an old brownstone, with huge windows. I want a roman shade for one window in his bedroom - 84" long by 55" wide. I'm going to give this a shot! I'm a bit concerned about the weight of that size shade with little cup hooks, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thank you so much for this tutorial!

  20. Thanks for such a clear tutorial. I bought a very expensive kit to make a blind for my son's room, and the instructions are so complicated it still hasn't been made! I love how easy it would be to wash too.

  21. Thanks for such a clear tutorial. I bought a very expensive kit to make a blind for my son's room, and the instructions are so complicated it still hasn't been made! I love how easy it would be to wash too.

  22. Pure genius placing the eyelets in the ends of the dowels! I have got to try this. But, rather than all the hand sewing, I think I might try the Stitch Witchery ironed on between the front material and the back lining.

  23. I have been looking for an online tutorial for Roman shades without involving mini blinds or a no-sew method for over a year now. No luck, until I found yours! Thank you for showing how to use the wooden dowels, sewing channels & hems, and the eye hooks for connecting the rods.

    I love that you included the math step-by-step using yours as an example. Examples are always helpful! The writing of it may seem long but the added details more clearly define how to make the product. Now I feel I can go forward with making my own Roman shade! :-) Thanks!

  24. The stunningly beautiful prints, colours and the fabric material of one such kitchen Roman blinds that I bought online from a designer home furnishing store in London was of premium quality and that made the difference to the overall aesthetics and
    ergonomics of my kitchen area which now represents a much more refined, soothing and refreshing look through this beautiful custom Roman blind.

  25. I'm going to try this with magnets instead of dowel rods and strings. Thank you for the clear instructions.

  26. Yours is a very different approach from others I have seen. I like the dowels with eyelets. Seems like a great solution to floppy, uneven shades. Thank you.

  27. Hi Beccy,
    Thank you very much for this quick and easy tutorial, only question I have is, when you rig the cords do they pass thru the same cup hooks as the top of the blind is resting on? I'll appreciate your reply. Thanks again.