How to Make a Roman Shade

Roman shades give windows a clean look that goes well with many styles from traditional to modern. There are many ways to make roman shades. With the method shown here, there’s minimal stitching visible on the front. If you’re going to be raising and lowering the shade a lot, it’s worth using a cord lock and pulleys so it operates smoothly.

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How to Make a Roman Shade - Materials



Step 1: Measure & cut the materials

Cut the 1 x 2 or a board of a similar size so it will fit inside the window frame. This will be the finished width of the roman shade. I also painted the wood to match my trim, but you could leave it unfinished or wrap it in the lining fabric instead.

The dowels should be 1” shorter than the board. These are 3/8” dowels, but 5/16” work well too.

The bottom of the shade needs to be weighted so it can be lowered easily. Use a thicker dowel, a slat of wood, or a metal rod cut to the same width as the dowels.

To be safe, you can add another couple of inches to the height because any extra fabric can be trimmed off at the end.

Cut the drapery fabric to be 3” wider than the finished width of the roman shade and 5” longer. My shade will be 37” wide and 44” tall when finished, so I’m cutting the drapery fabric to be 40” x 49”.

Cut the drapery lining 1” shorter than the finished width and the same height as the drapery fabric.

Step 2: Sew the fabric together

With right sides facing, pin one side of the drapery fabric and lining together. Sew down the length with ½” seam allowance.

Line up the other side, pin, and sew.

Center the lining on the back so that there’s an inch of the drapery fabric on either side and pin the bottom. Sew across again with ½” seam allowance.

Center the drapery lining again on the top and pin down the sides.

Step 3: Calculate the spacing of the dowels

Next, figure out the spacing for the dowels. This will differ based on the height of your window, but generally 8 -12” between the dowels works well. The amount below the bottom dowel should be half of the distance between dowels plus 1”. The amount above the top dowel isn’t as important, but it should be at least as much as the spacing between dowels.

My window is 44” high, so I decided to space out the dowels 9”, which leaves 5.5” at the bottom and 11.5” at the top.

With the wrong side of the drapery fabric facing up, measure up from the bottom for the location of the first dowel. After the dowels are added, the bottom will be hemmed up 2.5”, so add that amount to the bottom plus the seam allowance. For me that’s a total of 8.5”. Measure and mark the distance for the rest of the dowels. Fold the fabric in half and mark the other side as well.

Step 4: Make pockets for the dowels

To make pockets for the dowels, cut 2” strips of the lining that are the width of your shade. Cut enough for each dowel. Fold the pieces in half and iron. Then sew the raw edges together with a ¼” seam allowance.

Take the stitch witchery and lay it on top of the strip. With the iron on the steam setting, hold it above the stitch witchery so it melts slightly and sticks to the fabric.

Extend the markings for the dowels to the edges. Lay the strip across the fabric so the area between the fold and seam is centered on the markings. You can use a straight edge to straighten the strip before pinning it in a couple of places.

By using stitch witchery instead of sewing, there won’t be any visible stitches on the front.

Iron to bond the stitch witchery to the fabric. Repeat for the rest of the strips.

Next, insert the dowels.

Remove the pins, clip the bottom corners, and turn the shade right side out. Starting with the bottom, carefully pull the dowels up through the top opening.

Poke out the corners and iron the edges.

Step 5: Hem the bottom

Fold the bottom up 2.5”, and iron. You can sew across with a regular straight stitch, but if you don’t want the thread to be visible on the front, use the blind hem stitch on your machine if possible. Pin so that the sharp ends are facing down and the other end is overhanging the edge. Fold the hem under so the end of the fabric is showing about ¼”.

Attach the blind hem foot, which has an extra dividing piece to guide the fabric. Position the fabric so the fold is against the left side of the guide. Find the blind hem stitch on your machine. There may be several variations. I’m using #11 on this machine.

When you start sewing, it will stitch on the right side for a number of stitches and then jump over to the left side for one stitch. This way most of the stitches will be hidden on the back and the few that are on the front won’t be noticeable as long as the thread matches.

Step 6: Sew on the rings & insert the dowel

Next I’m going to sew on the rings that will guide the cord. There will be a ring near the ends of each dowel. You’ll need to leave enough room on the edges so the last cord can go through the pulley and cord lock, if you’re using them.

If the shade is wider, you may need more rings per dowel.

Put the pulley and cord lock together so they share a screw hole. Measure from the where the cord will come up through the pulley to the end of the cord lock base. This is 2.5” for me, so mark this distance from the edge of the shade on both sides.

For most width shades, you’ll also need a ring in the center, so mark that. Repeat this for all the dowels.

Thread a hand stitching needle and go through the lining fabric and ring a couple of times. Then you’ll want to attach the ring to the dowel and drapery fabric, not just the lining. Bring the needle out the front and back in on the other side of the dowel, then through the ring.

Go around the dowel like this once more. Tie it off and repeat for the rest of the rings.

Sew the sides of the hem either by machine or by hand. Leave a small opening at the top of one of the sides. Slide the metal rod or heavier piece of wood through the gap and finish stitching.

Step 7: Attach the board

Next, attach the mechanisms to the bottom of the board. Place the board near the top dowel and mark where the rings are. Position the first pulley so the cord will come through where the mark is, which is a little off the center of the pulley. Mark where the screws will go and repeat for the middle pulley.

Place the cord lock at the end of the board. Make sure it’s facing the right direction. On this lock, the straight side should be facing in. Mark the holes, then place the final pulley so it’s overlapping the cord lock and mark.

Alternatively, you could use eye screws instead of pulleys and a cord cleat instead of a cord lock.

Drill pilot holes at each of the marks. Also drill all the way through the board in at least 2 places. This is where you will attach it to the window later.

Screw all the pulleys and the cord lock to the board.

Measure up from the bottom of the shade and mark the height of the window. Line up the top of the board with the marks. Wrap the fabric around to the back and staple it to the board.

Cut off any extra fabric and hammer any staples that didn’t go in all the way.

Step 8: Thread the cord

Starting at the bottom of the shade at the opposite end from the cord lock, string the cord up through the rings and across through the pulleys. Pull enough cord through so there’s a couple of extra feet after the cord lock. Cut and tie the cord to the bottom ring.

Repeat for the middle rings and the rings at the other side. Now there’s 2 cords running through the 2nd pulley and 3 through the pulley next to the cord lock.

If you’re using eye screws instead, thread the cord the same way, just through the eye screws instead of the pulleys.

On the cord lock, the cords will go between the attached roller and the loose roller. Tilt the cord lock so the loose roller is away from the other, creating a gap.

Thread one cord through the gap and through one of the slots at the bottom. Do the same for the other cords so they each go through a different slot.


If you’re not using a cord lock, you’ll need to attach a cord cleat to the side of the window to tie the cords to.

Trim the cord to a length that you will be able to comfortably reach once installed. You can either knot the ends together or use a pull end. You can also use a cord condenser to combine the 3 cords into 1.

Hold the board under the top of the window frame. Screw up into the window frame (using the holes drilled earlier). The cord lock and pulleys should be hanging down.

You may have to train the fabric to create neat folds the first couple of times you raise it. If you leave the shade folded in the up position for about 24 hours, the shade should “remember” how to fold after that, and you’ll have a professional looking custom Roman shade!

Ready to make a custom roman shade for your home? Browse our selection of drapery fabric!

Questions & Comments

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Browse 22 questions Browse 22 questions and 20 answers
I am making a shade that is 56” wide. How many pull cords should I use on the back? Thank uou for your help.
KAREN R on Nov 4, 2017
BEST ANSWER: 4 cords should work well for that width shade.
I so hope someone is still monitoring this video. I found this instruction so well done but I have a question regarding the end of step 2. When I turned the project lining side up to center and measure sides to show one inch of fabric on either side I did not have this. my finished shade is to be 30 wide x 37 long. My fabric cut was 33 wide and lining cut was 32 wide. Seems like the lining should have been maybe more than one inch less in width. So I folded in the bottom to go ahead and show an inch of fabric on either side, hemmed the bottom as instructed, kept the sides to the top pinned and placed to dowels in pockets as instructed but when I turned right side out the sides were too wide and dowels not flush to sides. What did I do wrong?
A shopper on Sep 24, 2017
BEST ANSWER: The drapery fabric should be cut 3" wider than the desired finished shade width, as you did. But the lining should be cut 1" smaller than the finished width, rather than 1" smaller than the drapery fabric. So in your case, the lining should be cut to be 29" wide.
I'm looking to hang the roman blind to the outside of the mount window. 43 inch height and 43 inch width. What modifications should I do ?
A shopper on Jun 16, 2019
BEST ANSWER: You would just have to mount it differently. Use L brackets below the board and attach to the wall or trim. If you need the shade to come out further from the wall, you can use a wider board and attach the cord lock and pulleys at the outer edge of the bottom of the board.
For the rod pockets on the roman shades, I cannot get the stitch witchery to stick to my fabric. It melts when I hold the iron over it, but does not adhere. My fabric is polyester. Any tips to suggest?
Susan P on Jan 22, 2019
BEST ANSWER: Stitch Witchery can sometimes be difficult with polyester. You can use a fabric glue instead to avoid seeing stitches, or if they stitching will blend in well enough, you can sew them on.

This glue is recommended for Roman shades, though you would need to test it to make sure your particular fabric adheres properly:
I don’t understand why the lining fabric should be cut wider than the drapery fabric. Can you clarify that part?
A shopper on Apr 14, 2019
BEST ANSWER: The drapery fabric should be a total of 4" wider than the lining. Cut the drapery fabric to be 3” wider than the finished width of the roman shade. Cut the drapery lining 1” less than the finished width. This extra width is to create a 1" border of the drapery fabric on the sides of the lining.
My window is 33 1/2 in wide. I cut the drapery fabric to 36 1/2 and the lining to 35 1/2. With it just pinned together ( I don't want to see it yet) it is still too wide for my window. Is that supposed to happen? Do You eventually fold the sides in again? Otherwise how does it end up the size of your window?
A shopper on Apr 6, 2019
BEST ANSWER: The drapery fabric width is correct, but cut the drapery lining 1” shorter than the FINISHED width, so 32 1/2" for your window.
When mounting shade to inside mount with L bracket- I’m going to make a hole in the fabric too?
A shopper on Nov 28, 2018
BEST ANSWER: You shouldn't have to make a hole in the fabric. We'd suggest using a wider board if using L brackets so the cord lock and bracket can fit side by side.
My fabric is 54in wide yet the window is 59 1/2 in what’re is the best place to seam together for a Roman shade.?
A shopper on Oct 11, 2018
BEST ANSWER: It looks best to make it symmetrical with two seams on the sides and the full width piece in the center. Or you could do 3 equal sections. For some reason, 3 sections tends to look better than 2 sections with the seam in the center.
I am ready to order supplies in order to make Roman blinds but an tentative because I am not sure how to hang them to an inside mount window ? Once they are made how are they attached?
A shopper on Jun 29, 2018
BEST ANSWER: For most inside mounts, you can simply screw through the holes pre-drilled in the tutorial straight into the top frame (head jam) of the window.
I could only find a 1x1" board at Home Depot instead of a 1x2". Will this work fine?
Also, can you give any information on hanging the final piece to the wal since those pictures aren't included? I assume I place the bracket with the one side of the L facing down and the other side on the bottom of the board like it's sitting on a ledge, correct (outside mount)? Finally, do you have a suggestion on how many L brackets one should use to hang it (I'm doing an outside mount)?
A shopper on Aug 14, 2019
Does this work with blackout lining, the machine sewing method and the Stitch Witchery, in particular?
A shopper on Apr 29, 2019
My window width is 30, I cut the fabric to 33, and the lining to 29. At step 2 I have 2 inches of fabric on each of the sides, not 1 inch?
A shopper on Apr 6, 2019
BEST ANSWER: Hmm, I'm not sure why. This is after you've sewn the sides of the drapery fabric and lining together? You're using 1/2 seam allowances?

If you subtract 1 inch from the width of each fabric to take the seam allowances out of the equation for a second, you have 32 inches for the drapery fabric and 28 for the lining. 28 is 2 inches narrower than the window, which leaves you with an inch on each side which is correct. The drapery fabric doubles back on itself 1 inch on each side so it needs to be a total of 2 inches wider than the window, so 32 is correct. Does that make sense?
Hi! My roman shade will be 33" wide by 68" long. Can you please let me know how many pull cord you would recommend? Thank you!
A shopper on Mar 29, 2019
BEST ANSWER: 3 cords would work the best.
I am making a roman shade that is 32 3/4" wide. Are 2 pull cords ok or do I need 3? Thank you.
A shopper on Mar 27, 2019
BEST ANSWER: We would recommend 3 pull cords.
Hi, I hope you can help me. I am up to step 6 - sewing the rings. However, my lining is white and my drapery fabric is dark green. You say to sew through the lining and drapery fabric but if I use white thread it will show on the drapery fabric and if I use green thread it will show on the lining. What should I do? Use green and not worry as the lining will only be seen from outside? Thank you!
A shopper on Mar 20, 2019
BEST ANSWER: Yeah, I'd use green. You'd have to be standing very close to notice it from the outside. Sorry this response was delayed!
My window opening is 75" width x 63" high. I saw another question about a 79" blind being too large. Would you recommend making two blinds for my window even though it is only a single window? My fabric is rather heavy.
A shopper on Mar 5, 2019
BEST ANSWER: Yes, a single blind would be too difficult to raise so 2 would be best.
Is a blind of 79 inches too wide, to go across two windows? (and if not how many rows of rings should I have) or would I be better to do each window separately (each window is approx 36 inches)
ANN B on Jan 23, 2019
BEST ANSWER: It would be better to do each separately. The blind would be too heavy to raise if it's too long a distance. The shade in the tutorial is 37" so you can do 3 sets of rings per window.
I like the dowels for a cleaner look but how can I get a slight curve at the bottom instead of a straight across look?
A shopper on Aug 4, 2018
BEST ANSWER: You may be able to find a plastic dowel or rib that's flexible enough to give you a little curve at the bottom. We don't have a specific suggestion but there's got to be something like that out there!
My window width is 36” how many rings should I need going across? 3 or 4?
A shopper on Mar 27, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Three works great for my 37" wide shade.
I am making a roman shade valance (non-working) for a 12 ft. wide window. Do I need dowels in it to keep it from sagging in the middle?
A shopper on Feb 22, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Yes, the dowels will keep it from sagging in the middle.
Does a roman shade really need the wood dowels? I've made them both ways and really don't see the point in having them.
A shopper on Feb 6, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Relaxed Roman shades don't have the dowels, so no, they're not necessary, but the look is different. The fabric will droop in the middle without dowels and it also may not fold up as nicely. Both ways work, so it's just a matter of which look you prefer.
My bathroom window is 21 1/2 inches in length. I am wondering about making the spacing 6" top, two 6 inch dowel spacings, and bottom 4 inches. Will this work? Since I will fasten the drape to the top trim board rather than inside the window which will be PVC, I can raise it 1/2 an inch.
A shopper on Nov 14, 2017
BEST ANSWER: Yes, sounds like those measurements will work well!