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. 
Vanessa Tsumura


Anonymous said…
Vanessa, these are wonderful. I am so impressed you did that all by yourself. And it is so cool they roll up and down! The fabric is beautiful and I bet it will make you happy every time you look at it.
Vanessa said…
thanks Hoss! yes, they make me very happy.
Anonymous said…
can you buy the hardware at any local sewing craft store? what is it called? the hardware at the top..
Vanessa said…
No, you can't get the hardware (besides the wood boards) at the hardware store. At least not where I shop. The cord lock pulley and flat pulley that you see on my mounting board are from Terrell's site. I put the link in my post. She also carries stuff like lift rings, cord, cord drops and other items that you may be able to find at a craft store, but not to the extent that you'll find on her site.
Anonymous said…
I love this ! I love your fabric too. I hope I can do as well as you did!
Vanessa said…
Thanks! Take your time and you should do great! A nice big space to lay out your fabric also helps. Good luck.
Anonymous said…
Hi! They are beautiful! Where can I find the detailed pattern and directions on how to make these? I see that you have the link for the "unlined Roman shade", but that does not look like that it has the "bottom up" feature. That is what I'm looking for! Thanks!
Anonymous said…
Oh, I also did try the "Terrell Designs" link and it is not currently working...
Vanessa said…
Hi. Your comment got stuck in spam. Sorry for the late reply. You can visit this link for tons of patterns
Vanessa said…
Yes, I just noticed that. I hope she's still in business. Great place for info on making shades and ordering supplies.
Unknown said…
Hello Vanessa, I'm very impressed with your td/bu Roman shades and would love to make some. Unfortunately, the Terrell site is still down and I fear it won't be coming back up. Do you happen to have written step-by-step instructions and diagrams you'd be willing to share? I'd be immensely grateful. Thank you.
Kelly Smith said…
Your shades are stunning Vanessa! I hope you will excuse my possibly slightly daft question. I want to make some top down, bottom up Roman shades for myself, but I'm struggling to get my head round part of it - unfortunately Terrell has retired, and taken down her website, so all that useful information on there is no longer available :( yours is the best description of Roman blinds that I can find, but there's just one bit I don't get...what is supporting the top of the blinds when the top is down? Is it attached to something on the window frames, or suspended from strings, or something else? I can't make it out from your pictures. Any guidance you could give would be much appreciated - it's driving me crazy not being able to find any instructions on how it's done! Thanks very much!
Vanessa said…
Hi Kelly. I heard the bad news about Terrell's site. I loved all her instructions and calculator. One day I'll get around to doing a more detailed post.

So if you look at the 5th picture from the top of this post you'll see some wood rods for the stiffener boards. That is what gives the top of the shade structure. You sew a pocket for them and slide them in. But the shade suspends from cord that is attached to lift rings that are sewn on right behind the pocket for the rod. I know, it sounds so complicated but it's really simple. The cords that lower and lift the top of the shade thread through pulleys drilled to the mounting board. The cords for lifting/lowering the top of shade come out the opposite end of mounting board as the cords that lower and lift the bottom of the shade.

Hope that makes sense.
Unknown said…
HI Vanessa I was so happy to find another Terrell Design fan, I was 11 windows into a 13 window project when Terrell retired, I followed her advise and printed out all the instructions and calculated all my hardware requirements before the site went dark, with the exception of the top up/bottom down shade (tu/bd). When I began this project I was afraid the tu/bd would be to complicated but have decided that design is best for two of my remaining windows, I am hoping you have a printed version of those instructions, I have watched Terrell's videos and that may be enough but would have a level of confidence if I had the printed ones in hand. Thank you for your time, I have enjoyed your site very much.
Vanessa said…
Hi! Another Terrell fan! It seems there are a lot of us. I did not print out the directions. I did just repair one of my top down bottom up shades, so if you are stuck on one step I may be able to answer a question. I think I'll write up a post with more specifics on a td/bu shades this weekend. It's such a simple process, but until you do one it's very mysterious. –Vanessa
Lauren said…
Oh how I am wishing I had printed out the instructions when I made roman shades for my french doors a couple years ago. But (like a fool) I assumed the internet would always be there to back me up. I'm hoping I can find enough info around here to feel confident enough to try another project, but if anyone did happen to print out the instructions for internal mount shades, I'd be eternally grateful to be able to get a copy.

Oh - and thanks so much for the link on purchasing flat pulleys - I remember searching before and not being able to find them anywhere else!
zaroon shah said…
I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post. Roller blinds online

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