I want you to have success making your Roman shades, and I hope this comprehensive tutorial gives you the full instructions you need. My goal here is one-stop-shopping for all your DIY Roman Shade from Mini-blind needs!
The internet is thick with tutorials for making Roman shades. I have seen some that tie-up, some that use dowels and pockets, and some that, like mine, use mini-blinds. I studied several before deciding to try the mini-blind method on fabric shades for my dining room. They were a success, but a learning process to complete.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I helped a friend with a Roman shade for her kitchen. As we worked, I decided I would make another Roman shade for my kitchen, and document the process along the way in hopes of making a more thorough set of instructions than many we found.
Here is one of my dining room shades. I was happy with how they turned out, but the learning curve was a bit steep. The tutorials got me on the right path, but they also left some steps out. I will try to address every step of the process for you.
No tutorial is complete without the "Before" picture. Clearly, my window needed dressing. We live a few feet from our neighbors (who we love, thankfully!), but I'm sure they don't want to see me washing dishes every time they glance in our direction!
How to Make Roman Shades with Mini Blinds
1. Measure. You will need to measure your window's height and width. You also need to decide if you want the shades to be hung inside the window frame, or above and outside the frame. After doing both (my dining room shades are mounted inside the frame; the kitchen shade is outside), I prefer the look of the outside mount.
2. Choose fabric. Using those measurements, purchase fabric that is the dimensions of the window's area, plus at least 2 inches per dimension to allow for hemming. Home decorator fabric is ideal for this because it is heavier than quilting cotton, but not as heavy as an upholstery. If the window gets an abundance of sun, consider a decorator fabric that is made to not fade in sunlight, like Waverly Sun 'n Shade. I love Fabric.com, but you can also find good decorator fabrics at JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, and even Walmart.
3. Purchase mini blinds. Using your measurements, choose a blind that is the width of the window plus 2-4 inches, if you are doing an outside mount; or choose a blind that is the width minus 1-2 inches if you are doing an inside-mount. The height of the blinds doesn't have to be exact, but it needs to be at least as long as your window. They can't be too long, just too short.
- Fabric (see #2 above)
- Mini Blinds (see #3 above)
- Good scissors (not pictured)
- Needle nose pliers (not pictured)
- Hemming tape and/or Sewing Machine and thread
- Measuring tape, rulers, and/or yard stick
- Hot glue gun + hot glue sticks
5. Prep your blinds for surgery. When you remove your blinds from the box, they will look like this. Find the release cord and pull it out to the side to release the pulley so the blind can be spread out.
I cut along the horizontal "rungs" of the ladder cord (as shown in the picture above), and then at the top and bottom to separate them from the top and base of the blinds.
9. Remove excess slats and size blinds. Remove slats by untying the lift cords and pulling the slats off the bottom. Leave 1 less blind slats than the number of sections/folds you will have in your blind. If your Roman shade will have 6 sections, you should remove all but 5 slats, not counting the top and base.
I used my sewing machine for some hems, and I also tried the iron on hemming tape. Both worked well, so it is really a matter of preference.
Move the slats along the lift cords so they are equal distance apart from each other. You may want to use chalk to mark their spots so you can easily re-place them if they move.
**Remember as you are measuring, that the vertical width of the slats is part of your section width; so if each section is supposed to be 9 inches, you need to include the slat in that measurement. Don't just measure the distance between the slats.
Begin by gluing the top of the blinds to the top of the fabric, making sure everything is super straight and even. I was especially generous with the glue here since the top is heavier than the slats.
Next, lift small (6-8 inch) sections of slat and lay hot glue directly underneath. Then immediately press the slat in place.
On my first Roman shades, I glued the fabric to the bottom of the base, so the fabric was covering the little plugs. The shades still function fine, but when they are let all the way down, the edge is curled under. Gluing to the front of the base, even though it is a smaller surface area, allows the fabric to lay flat at the bottom.
14. Hang the shades. Use the hardware and directions that came with the blinds to hang your new shade. Be sure to use all the center braces possible, since the fabric may be heavier than the slats you removed.
You are done!!! To operate the shade, use the pull strings the same way you would raise and lower blinds. Sometimes I have to manually smooth the folds a bit, but nothing major. I have been super pleased with the finished product on all my homemade Roman shades!