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Friday, February 17, 2012

DIY Roman Shades, The Nitty-Gritty

*The site where I learned how to make these is no longer available, so I've written my own directions for stringing a top down/bottom up roman shade. If you'd like to see how that works click here! Also, I'm working on some more detailed posts and videos. Once I get those up, I'll announce on my Facebook page.

Let me start by saying that I learned everything I know about making Roman shades from this fabulous site called Terrell Designs. I highly recommend following Terrell's instructions if you plan to make these. I searched several blogs and sites on the topic and found that her shades were the best looking. She also has video clips, detailed instructions on different types of Roman shades and a very handy calculator that tells you the exact hardware you need, how to cut your fabric and where to place the battens.

The second thing I want to say is that the shades are not 100% complete. They're about 90% complete. I still have to attach the cord drops (handles at the end of the cords) and, more importantly, I have to complete a valance to hide the hardware on the headrail. Right now, it's exposed. They'll look a lot prettier when that's done.

So now here's a rundown of my first-time-ever, Roman-shade-making experience:

After buying my hardware (from Terrell Designs with the exception of some wood I got at Home Depot) and fabric (see my post about that), I got started. See bottom of this post to find out where I'm getting my hardware now. 

The most nail-biting step was cutting the fabric. I took my time and managed not to make any major mistakes this time. Except for cutting my 108" lining the wrong way. Oops.
The sewing instructions are pretty straightforward. This is only maybe the second time I've followed detailed instructions on a sewing project, so I was a little stressed in the beginning. By my second shade, I was feeling much more confident. 
Here's a picture of the pocket for the stiffener board. This is a board that goes on the top of your Top Down/Bottom Up shade so it doesn't sag. This was the only sewing step I had trouble with. I gave up following instructions and kind of winged it and it turned out OK.
Some wood pieces I bought at Home Depot for the stiffener board and weight rod, although it's recommended that you use a metal weight rod at the bottom of your shade. I was just trying to save some money and someday I may replace the light wood with a heavier metal rod. 
The battens are glued on and I'm ready for a coffee break. Please don't judge me for my magazine to book ratio. Since having children, I've found it incredibly difficult to get through a novel, but now that my 19-month-old is sleeping through the night, I'm starting to see the light. 

Will I be able to wait the recommended 4 hours drying time?
Of course not. Luckily (maybe because it's so dry this time of year) I was able to get the shade turned right side out after only 3 hours without any battens popping off. Then I moved on to sewing the lift rings on. Time consuming, but I'm getting closer to seeing my shades on the window!
The lift rings are on, the cord is run through the rings and I'm ready to hang! Finally.  The first shade took about 6 hours active time plus glue-drying time. The second shade took about half the time, because I wasn't second-guessing every single step. I started with my two 25" width shades and saved the 54-incher for last. Making a wider shade is not that much more difficult than a skinnier one. There are just more lift rings to sew on and more cords to thread.
Here's what my headrail looks like. You'll need a drill to get the hardware on. If you order your hardware from Terrell's site, it'll come with screws. Making the headrail was very simple. There's a piece of window trim molding attached to the front. I thought I'd experiment with something other than a valance to hide the hardware on the headrail. 

*I wasn't able to use angle irons to mount the headrail. Instead, I used inch-and-half wood screws and screwed through the headrail and into the window trim. *Update: The screws started coming loose, so I took another look at the angle irons and figure out that I could put them on either end of the wood board mounting piece. Now things look nice and sturdy.
Here's a shot of the window before. The old curtains offered absolutely no privacy. They were hung on a tension rod that the girls kept pulling off the window, too. But most of all, I just didn't like the way they looked. I was ready for some color.

Disclosure: My camera settings are off in the before picture, so things look a little gloomier than they really were. Hey, at least I admit I'm using a little camera trickery to make my after look even more spectacular by comparison. 

Now are you ready to see my shades? Remember, they're not complete. A valance will hide that hardware at the top. And two of them still need a weight rod at the bottom.
Here they are pulled all the way up. I haven't decided if I'll use a valance or a piece of window trim to hide hardware. The window on the left has a temporary piece of window trim attached to it. There's a little gap between the window trim and the headrail because my drill battery died halfway through installing this one. I'll tighten things up later.
Here they are lowered a bit. Later today, I'll attach the cord drops which are handles that attach to the end of those cords. 
Fully extended. 

But wait! There's more...
This is why they're called Top Down/Bottom Up Shades. The tops come down to let in light, but still give some privacy. Pretty cool, huh? 

I'm completely happy with the results and won't hesitate to make these again. In fact, I have supplies to make two more shades for the windows on either side of the fireplace. 

Next week, I plan to finish the valance, so check back for a 100% Complete Picture.

Click here if you'd like to see more diagrams and instructions on making an unlined Roman shade. 

Materials: Since Terrell's site closed, I've been buying most of my supplies like flat pulleys here.

Wood for mounting board, dowels and stiffener board can be purchased from home improvement stores like Lowe's and Home Depot. 
 
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