How to String Top Down/Bottom Up Roman Shade

Finally I found a moment to write some notes about how to string a top down/bottom up roman shade. A few readers have asked me questions about this and there don't seem to be any good tips online. Besides, I need to jot this down so I don't forget myself!

This illustration I just made doesn't read as clear as I thought it would. The orange lines represent the cords that lower the top down. The gold lines are the ones that pull the bottom up. Green dots are where you would put the lift rings for the top down cord. Blue dots are lift rings for bottom up cord. 

To measure the amount of cord you need. 

Use this diagram when measuring the length of cord needed for your shade. Measure cord after you have sewn on the lift rings. 

For the cord that pulls the bottom up: run cord from the lowest lift ring up to the top of the shade, then across the top to the right upper corner of shade, then extend the cord as long as you would like to have it hanging when the shade is fully lowered. Repeat this step with any additional cording you will need (the wider the shade, the more rows of cord you will need). The cord will be shorter the closer the row of lift rings is to the left edge of the shade, because it does not need to travel as far across the top of the shade. 

To measure the cord that lowers the top up and down: Run cord from the very top lift rings that will only attach to the top down cords. Then run the cord across the top of the shade to the upper left corner. Extend the cord all the way down to the bottom of the shade, then for the additional length that you want your cord to dangle when the top of your shade is fully lowered. Repeat this step with any additional cording you will need (the wider the shade, the more rows of cord you will need). The cord will be shorter the closer the row of lift rings is to the left edge of the shade, because it does not need to travel as far across the top of the shade. 

Of course, you can choose which side you would like to have your cord handle run out from the shade. For this tutorial, I have the top down cords running out to the left and the bottom up cords running out to the right. Another thing to remember: this diagram shows the back of the shade. Once the shade is mounted. The cords that lift the top down will hang on the right side and, you guessed it, the cords that lift the bottom of the shade will hang on the left side. 

To string the shade.

For bottom up cords: Knot the end of cord to the lowest lift ring. Run the cord up through the lift rings directly above the bottom lift ring. Do not run it through the very top lift ring (the green ones in the diagram). You will then run the cord through the pulleys that were drilled into the mounting board. One row will be for the bottom up cords, the other is for the top down cords. Continue running the cord across the mounting board pulleys and then through the cord lock (if you are using one). Running string through a cord lock takes a little practice. I'll try and get more details up about that later. 

Continue stringing the other rows the same way. All cords should run through the same pulleys and cord lock. Once all your cords have been run through, you can attach a cord handle and knot the cords so the handle stays in place. 

You may find it easier to run the cords through the pulleys and cord lock after you have drilled the mounting board onto the window, but I prefer to do it while everything is laying down flat on the floor or table. 

For the top down cords: Knot the end of the cord to those lift rings at the very top of the shade (marked green on the diagram). The lift rings should be sewn on securely just below the top seam of the stiffener board. Run them through the other set of pulleys and cord lock just as you did with the bottom up cords. Attach the cord handle just as you did with the other set of cords. 

Hope this helps some of you out! 


Loo said…
Hi vanessa
I really loved your shades, and even I never sewed a roman blind, I wan't to do a "upside down" for my bottom-top window (
But now I realized, how the cords get hide? Or they cross the window until the top?

(sorry my bad english)
Vanessa said…
Hi Loo. So I think you are asking about how the cords on a top down/bottom up shade are visible in the window. When you lower the top of the shade down, the cords will be visible. They don't bother me at all though. The cord is thin and white and I hardly notice it at all. When the bottom of the shade is pulled up the cords do not hang down (except for the cords that hold the handles which hang on the side.) Does that help?
Vanessa said…
Hi Loo. My reply is in the comment below!
Loo said…
Yeap, thank you!
P.Hoyt said…
Two questions for clarity...First, do the top down and bottom up cords run through the same pulleys? For instance, in your example stringing diagram would you have 4 pulleys or 2? Secondly, if I'm planning to use a cord lock, do I need 1 or 2?
Vanessa said…
Sorry, this must have gotten stuck in my spam folder. Re TDBU: No, the cords run through separate pulleys. Re locks: You will need 2 locks. One for the top down cords and one for the bottom up cords. The locks will be on opposite sides of the mounting bar. 1 set of pulleys will be placed in the front of the mounting board, the other set will be placed behind them.

Hope that helps!
Barb- NICUGypsy said…
Hey Vanessa- this is such a great idea but do you know if this could be done with matchstick/bamboo blinds? Would I just take them off the hardware and redo or do you think I could add the extra rollers and locks? Thanks for your input!
Vanessa said…
Hi Barb. I think you would need to take off the hardware and redo. You may need to make a new mounting board that's wide enough to accommodate 2 rows of pulleys (1 row to pull up the bottom and another to let down the top). It's hard to say without looking at the shade. Then you'd have to remove the shade from the existing mounting board and size it just as you would a fabric shade. I've considered giving it a try myself. I love matchstick shades. Let me know how it works out.
Signreader said…
I have made upside down roller shades before, and traditional Roman shades. I'd like to try to incorporate both styles. I have a few questions:

1. Does it have to be rigged both top down and bottom up, or can the cording be just for top down?
2. Do you have to hand reposition the folds every time you lower it?
3. Is there a trick to getting it horizontally even?
Vanessa said…
Hi Mary. Here are some answers to your questions.
1. No, you can make a regular flat roman shade that is bottom up only. You can see this post for more details on how to construct:
2. No, you you do not have to reposition each time. If made properly, the dowels will ensure that the shade folds as it should without any help from your hands.
3. Not sure if I understand the question, but I'll guess... It's important the bottom (and top if a TDBU) is perfectly horizontal at the time that you knot the cord for the tassel (cord handle) (this is the last step in making the shade). If you are pulling too much on one string, the shade will not roll up evenly. Get the tension right first, slide on the tassel and knot the cord.
Hope that helps!
Unknown said…
would this work for mini blinds?

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