A Cost Efficient Project: DIY Roman Shades

I’m learning a lot of things on the road of life, and one of those things is that some children will not sleep past 6AM unless they are sealed in a pitch black chamber. There’s one thing I do know, as much as I love the white faux-wood blinds that I installed in almost every window of my home, they do not block light completely, especially those thrilling morning sunbeams. To remedy this morning light leakage situation, I decided to give the whole blackout curtain theory a try, and when I started looking into them ($$$) I realized that making my own could be a much more cost effective alternative.

Install a DIY blackout roman shade. This is a no-sew tutorial and reuses a bed sheet for the fabric!

For just about $20/each, I created a set of DIY blackout roman shades that, get this, actually function with a string for a nice, minimal window treatment look that lots of people gravitate to these days. I’m pretty excited about them, especially considering that it was a more complex undertaking than if I were to create long hanging blackout shades or curtains.

I’m even more excited to show you what I used to make this project happen.

When I factored in a radiator placement, the concept of a roman shade worked best in this kid’s room where I could pull them up and away from the ground to let light in. It’s not the first time I made a roman shade and showcased its design for DIY Network–see this roman shade tutorial that uses metal chain and felt to cover a whole doorway–but this one was concepted a little differently.

I thought a lot about materials from which I could make curtains after finding that most stores sold blackout panels at about $30/window at the size I needed. Turns out, you can buy yardage of blackout fabric right at the craft store, and with an almost-always-available-coupon you can get your fabric at <$4/yard. When it came time to pick a fabric, I thought a lot about getting a common fabric from the same craft store, but the options neither matched her bedroom especially well (this being quilting fabric), or were cost prohibitive (this being the home decor-weight fabric), but I had a last ditch effort kind of idea: use a flat sheet from a bedroom sheet set

All materials used:

  • Blackout fabric (I used 2 yards, $7.50 total)
  • Full-sized bed sheet (a flat sheet provides a large area, and as it turns out, it’s quite trendy to use a common sheet for DIY curtains. I bought a set at Target priced at $25)
  • Plastic rings (used for tiebacks and various kinds of shades, $3)
  • One 1′x2′x6′ board ($3)
  • Two 5/8″x48″ dowels ($2)
  • Stitch Witchery Bonding to eliminate the need for machine sewing (10 yards, $2)
  • Needle and thread

Use a bed sheet to make a roman shade.

A few bonus tips for consideration:

  • Top to bottom, I only needed a 50″ length for each window, and the bolt of blackout fabric measured 54″ wide, so I was essentially able to buy two yards of fabric (totalled $7.50!) and cut it width-wise to fit both windows. Had I not realized this at the store, I would have brought home fabric to length (almost 4 yards) and had a lot leftover.
  • Even though I didn’t need a whole sheet set, we now have a matching fitted sheet to use on her mattress to “coordinate” her room at no extra cost!

Our dining room table provides the best fabric cutting area in the house, so that’s where I did most of the work. All of my measurements will vary from yours, because mine are made straight to the size of the bedroom window, but this concept can be carried out in almost any size.

I started by spreading the fabric out, cutting the flat sheet cleanly in half lengthwise. If you’re using a plain sheet and want to add a personal touch, consider stenciling for added appeal. Here’s a DIY stenciling tutorial to show you how Ellen tackled her window treatments.

Cut a bed sheet and make a DIY roman shade for the bedroom.

On top of that, I overlaid a yard of the blackout curtain (I had the store cut my two yards into two pieces for convenience).

Use black out fabric to make DIY roman shades.

I was left with some scraps when I cut off the excess sheet fabric, but I have a project in mind for those, so, waste not.

Cut black out fabric for custom roman blinds.

I used the miter saw to cut the 6-foot board in half; I sized my curtains to be 36″ in width, and each one would require a header board that could support the weight of the curtain, and be attached easily to the wall. As shown on one curtain here, I used the electric staple gun to attach both layers of fabric directly to the board.

Staple your roman shade to a piece of wood to easily hang it.

It’s not going to be immediately apparent at how a roman shade comes together, at least the photos I snapped don’t quite tell the story I hoped for, so reference this really unprofessionally designed sketch instead:

Design for a roman shade.

I sewed plastic rings up and down both sides of the shade and along the top beneath the wooden header, spacing them about 15″ apart.

Sew plastic rings to attach the string to your roman shade.

To give the curtain a finished look, I used Stitch Witchery (the common 5/8″ wide variety) to fuse the two fabrics together.

Use no sew binding to make a DIY roman shade.

I ironed it directly on the table, a total no-no if you know anything about how steam will destroy a wooden tabletop, but the dining room table is old and junky anyways. Not shown but eluded to in the previous drawing, I also used the Stitch Witchery to seal in a dowel at the bottom of the curtain to give the base a little weight and help it to hang evenly.

Make a black out bedroom roman shade.

To finish the design, I threaded a thin but strong nylon rope through the rings as planned, and then took each panel to be fit on each window. The easiest and safest installation we brainstormed was to screw the wooden header directly into the window frame, but we did so by hiding the screws beneath the fabric layers so that it retained its finished appearance.

How to install a DIY roman shade in the bedroom.

I added a little hook to the wall to anchor the weight of the curtain when it’s raised, and it’s high enough off the ground where there’s no worry about a kid accidentally tangling themselves in it.

Raised, they look great. There is a little sag in the middle of the shade, for which I may or may not add an additional row of plastic rings down the middle of the shade to guide a third string (I imagine that if you are covering a window any wider than 36″ you will want to take this into consideration upfront).

Lowered, the room is so dark that I can’t take photos that aren’t completely useless to you. Hopefully this means a better night’s sleep will be had.

How to make a no sew DIY roman shade using blackout fabric.

If you like this idea for no-sew roman shades, I think you’ll also enjoy this how-to video on how to make your own roller shades from DIYNetwork.com.

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Fazio is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

18 Responses

  1. Gary cpb says:

    Apologies it's http://www.curtainspolesblinds.com and like you we make up and give tips on install! Gary :)

  2. Gary cpb says:

    Hi Emily, Great post . Easy to follow and effective. Thought I'd add that Child safe rules are now stating the distance from the floor with cleats should be 1500mm. I have some fitting resources and fabrics on my website http://www.curtainspolesblinds.com, Loving your blog and keep I touch!

  3. mama says:

    Hi

    I'm glad to read your post. i must be thank you.

    I wanted to decor my bedroom window covers with a different look and feel. That should be quit & worm but wind should come into here.

    More resource going to help people: http://www.diyromanshades.org

    Cheers.

  4. Kathy Winemiller says:

    Hi Emily,
    I recently voluntered my services to our local older adult center. I saw your blog a couple months ago, and remembered your blog on roman shades. I will be creating these wonderfully simple and great looking roman shades for the center and wanted to thank you so very very much for having such a great place to come for someone like me. It's our little secret, and I don't have to charge very much only for materials and a little of my time. What a godsend. Can't thank you enough Emily. Bless you.
    Kathy Winemiller

  5. Barbara Carlock says:

    The rings have to be sewn all the way rhrough to the face fabric or only the lining will be drawn up , you just have to barely catch the front fabric. There is also a small gun available that shoots rings through the fabric from the back to the front,much faster than hand sewing, I own an upholstery shop and have been doing window treatments for 40 years.

  6. Evolet0680 says:

    Awe.Some. Your "totally non professional drawing" is exactly what I needed. I saw a curtain with 3 pulls and needed someone's brilliant visual to make it happen. With your drawing, I'm making curtains. THANK YOU!!!

  7. Amber99 says:

    Nice! This is by far the easiest diy Roman shades I've seen! Some I've looked at on Pinterest can be a bit complicated. But these are very doable! Thank you! :)

  8. latarki says:

    excellent points altogether, you simply received a brand new reader. What might you suggest in regards to your post that you just made a few days in the past? Any certain? latarki

  9. Joe G says:

    I think you mean a 1" x 2" x 6' board.

  10. acne cyst says:

    acne cyst…

    I’ve done extensive study on this topic, and agree completely using the way this was written. I only want I had the eloquence to put it into quality writing….

  11. Daisy K says:

    Hi There, these are the eaiest instructions I've seen to follow. One question: When you sew the rings on the back, I assume you sew a couple of loops. When you do this, do you sew all the way through the front so that you see a little stitch or do you keep the loops just on the backing? If the second, doesn't the front tend to drag?

    Thanks!

  12. Heather says:

    Excited to try this! I have found numerous variations but none seemed as secure and may last through our forever watchful dog bounding to the windows. She does squirrel patrol and I've been nervous to create a Roman Shade that may not be able to adjust easily.

  13. Rishia O'Neill says:

    BRAVO! Great SIMPLE directions and appreciated tips re:fabric choices. I have read many directions on how to make roman shades, yours is by far the SIMPLEST and photos cinch it.

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  15. mlw says:

    Great idea to make the room dark.

  16. Moodyvega says:

    Nice idea for the bedroom windows making it match the bed sheets.

    • KAMS says:

      You can also use these for privacy and let in light on the top. You just anchor the screws to the bottom of the window frame and put loops in the top of the window frame for your string. This way you can pull the shade up to close and lower to let in some light, all while keeping privacy. In this case a small valance hides the screws at the top.

  17. [...] I’m still wavering about a little bit) you’re going to learn two awesome things in today’s post on DIY Network, and then maybe you’ll turn into me and start scheming all kinds of ways you can add [...]

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About Emily Fazio 

188Posts

I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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