DIY: Roman Shade

By Kate Riley September 21, 2009

Since we finally tiled our master shower a few short weeks ago, I was determined this past weekend to finally put some finishing touches on the master bathroom.  You regular readers know that since our remodel of 2006, our master bathroom has been nothing more than a storage closet, until about ten months ago.  We’ve slowly been finishing out the space.  First the tile floor, then the cabinets and countertops, and lately, the finish tile for the master bathtub and shower.

Over the weekend, I spent most of my free time doing mundane and completely non-postworthy tasks like trimming, caulking and painting baseboards.  But I also took on a project that I’ve been wanting to finish for years.

Way back in 2006, I found a floor sample window panel at Bombay Company that I fell in love with.  I didn’t care that it was the last one left.  I wanted the fabric to someday make a roman shade for my master bathroom.

At last, I was able to finally create it this past weekend.  Here she is, in all her glory, with her new best friend, silver chandy:

shade and new chandy final

I learned that with some concentration and a little effort, I could make a roman shade all on my own without turning to those expensive window treatment companies.

Here’s how.

I had a roman shade from Calico Corners leftover from my country kitchen phase of 1997.  The decor in my kitchen has definitely changed over the years.  But because this shade was so well made, I kept it all this time in the hopes that someday I would reuse the hardware.

old new fabric

A roman shade is constructed pretty simply.  It’s the pulley system and the loops that allow the fabric to gather so beautifully.  Here’s my own diagram of the underbelly.

shade diagram

If you want to make your own Outside Mount Roman Shade at home, gather these supplies:

  1. Fabric of choice in requisite width and height of window
  2. 1/2 inch (or 1 inch) by 2 inch by ___ width mounting wood from home improvement store.  (Fill in the blank for your total width measurement for your roman shade.)
  3. Screw (hook) eyes for every 12 –15 inches of width
  4. Thin lift cord
  5. Cord pull
  6. Cord pulley or cord lock
  7. Cord cleat (without a cord lock)
  8. Small loops to attach to fabric
  9. Dowel rod
  10. “L” brackets to mount to wall
  11. Stitch witchery fusible web bonding

Tools:  screwdriver, staple gun, scissors, iron, needle & coordinating thread.

Step One:  Trim your fabric to the width of your mounting wood, plus enough fabric to wrap around, and use the fusible web bonding together with a hot iron to seam the edges.

trim curtain

iron fusible webbing

Step Two:  Staple the fabric to the top of your mounting wood, then wrap the corners, and staple them on the back.

staple fabric to top

staple corners

Insert dowel rod in the bottom seam of your roman shade.  Mine was a metal rod leftover from the previously constructed shade, but a wood dowel rod will work just fine.

insert dowel rod

Step Three:  Attach your pulley underneath, and to the far left or far right of your mounting board, depending on your side preference (see also above diagram).

reattach pulley

Step Four:  Determine where you want your fabric to be pulled up to gather (mine was 6 inches from the edge).  Attach your screw (hook) eyes to the underside of your mounting board at that point, and every 12 to 15 inches in between (see also above diagram).  Then run the cord through the screw eyes, allowing for plenty of cord on both sides.

Here’s how mine looks from the left:

after pulley left

And from the right:

after pulley right

Step Five:  Secure your loops to your fabric every six inches with a needle and thread, directly underneath the screw eyes mounted on farthest edges (see also above diagram).  Make sure your loops are straight both horizontally and vertically to ensure proper and even gathering of your fabric.

sew loops

Run your lift cord through the loops, pulley, and screw eyes, then attach the ends of your cord to the cord pull.

Step Six:  Attach “L” brackets to the underside of your roman shade and mount to the wall.

reattach l brackets

Determine the placement for your cord cleat and attach to wall. Pull shade to desired height, and secure with cord cleat.

Step back and admire your homemade roman shade.

shade final from below

When I say that I really love this fabric, I mean I really love this fabric.  Shimmery taupe.  Subtle spa blue.  Jacquard swirl pattern.  So very me.

love this fabric

Can’t you feel it?  Don’t you love it too ?  It was only $15 for the entire window panel.

really love this fabric

Ooooh la la, she’s so purty.

shade final

I’m patting myself on the back today.  Not bad for a recycled roman shade and fifteen bucks.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about the other upgrades I’ve made to the bathroom space.

Have a great Monday !


  1. Beautiful! And since I am in the middle of planning new shades for several rooms, I’d like to ask you something about the bottom of your shade: if you inserted that dowel rod in the bottom seam… why does it hang in a curve? Or is it that the bottom hangs straight but the rest of the fabric covers it? Thanks!

  2. I love the fabric, and the shade…you did a beautiful job. I don’t sew, don’t want to sew, will never sew. But, I still enjoyed your success.


  3. Beautiful! I too have held on to some fabrics that I just had to have for future use…just need to get busy working on them. Can’t wait to see the rest of your bathroom! And I love the silver chandy, very chi-chi.

  4. great diy! i want to make the pully system roman shades. but its prob just cheaper to go buy it… hmmm i think that should be your next diy project! i need to make one for my back door, it has a small window.

  5. That fabric is gorgeous, Kate! Love the way it turned out in your project and the way it looks with your chandelier. I have some old romans not in use and I’m wondering if you use fusible web on the back of your fabric and attach it to the existing old roman shade {fabric & all} if that would work. You’ve given me a thought here and I think I’m going to experiment on those old shades.

  6. Holy wow, I love it. I have four little awkward windows along my hallway that need somthing, and I’ve been wanting to do roman shades too.

  7. A Roman shade is a good D-I-Y project because you’re not handling yards and yards of fabric as with drapery panels–and it’s easier to manipulate on a tabletop and under a sewing machine. FYI, for the NON-sewers in the group, Calico Corners is having a sale through October 3 on both decorative fabrics AND the custom labor to make them up–20% off all custom window treatments. They also have professional installers which saves many marriages!

  8. Hi Kate,

    I LOVE your blog. You have wonderful taste and great DIY ideas. I want to copy so many of the things you’ve done. My favorite by far has been your banister re-do. It was amazing. I have an oak banister and I hate oak. It’s debatable on how long we’ll continue to live here so I can’t paint it right now. But this gives me such a great idea for our future home. I can save lots of money by getting the standard banister and re-doing it myself.
    I’m not a bathtub type of gal. Probably because I’ve never had one worth soaking it. Your bathroom looks relaxing and peaceful. :)

    – Sarah

  9. I love the bathroom! It looks so refreshing and relaxing. I too am a bath kind of girl. There is nothing like some bubbles and a good book at the end of the day.

  10. It is lovely! It adds so much elegance to your bathroom. Thanks for the great tutorial. I have some windows that need dressed, so I just might be trying it out!

  11. I can’t thank you enough…I have been wanting to do this and now after seeing how you made yours…off to the store I go! You did a wonderful job…they look stunning!Come by for a visit and look around, thanks.


  12. My first time ever leaving a comment on any blog site…BUT,
    I was looking for inspiration and I found you and your absolutely
    beautiful peaceful bedroom. Very tranquil. Thanks for the directions.
    Right now, I am looking to trim out some bamboo roman shades that
    are in my kitchen.

  13. Thank you so much for posting pictures of the whole process. I’ve been wanting to make some roman shades myself, but I wasn’t sure if I was up to the task. You have made it look easy though, and I’m looking forward to tackling a project. I’m helping my mom redecorate her office space. She has enormous picture windows that would be ridiculously expensive to cover, but I think a couple of elegant roman shades will be just perfect and affordable.

  14. Beautiful, this is my next DIY project. Is it possible to hang such a shade without screwing anything to the wall?

  15. Absolutely inspiring! I love the way the curve in the fabric mirrors the curved ceiling. I was so inspired infact that I found myself turning the car around today when I saw 50% off at the fabric store. Happily I now have a nice little roman shade of my own in the guest bath. Thanks forthe great inspiration and easy to understand tutorial!

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