Monday, December 2, 2013

When in Rome: The Saga of the Roman Shades

Ever since moving into our new house,
we knew we needed to deal with the issue of the 
large south-facing windows along the whole back 
wall of the house.

In the summer, the heat was simply sweltering, and seeing
that we don't have air-conditioning, the sun streaming in through
all of those huge windows certainly didn't help. In the winter,
it was a funny mix between too-cold and too-hot as the windows
both leaked cold air and let in the winter sunshine.

So, we came up with a temporary solution:

Nail in the moulding+some sheets=a little bit better!
Although the sheets did help a bit, they certainly weren't
valid as a long-term solution. We wanted to put up shades at some
point, and knowing how expensive it would be to purchase them,
Mom and Dad asked me (Grace) to make the shades for our dining
room. Here's how I did it.

Step 1: Find instructions! I used the instructions on Terrell Designs
to make our Roman Shades.

[Note: Terrell Designs is going out of business in a few weeks,
and then the website will no longer be available]

Step 2: Find fabric. We purchased our fabric from Joann
(strategically couponing, of course!). For the front fabric we used the
Clermont Jewel pattern by Richloom, and for the lining we used
Econosheen by Roc-Lon (both in the Home Decor fabric).

Initial mock-up of the shades to test sizing
 Step 3: Cut fabric. We decided to go with three separate shades for
each set of windows - one shade for the middle pane, and a shade
for each of the side windows that open on their own.

Mom and Dad helped tremendously with cutting the fabric.
Working with such large pieces can be pretty tricky!
Step 4: Hem both the lining and front fabric, and sew them together.

I was blessed to be able to use my wonderful grandmother's wonderful
sewing machine!

It's hard to tell here, but the front fabric and the lining have been
sewn together.
Step 5: Glue battens (plastic dowels) to the inside of the shades.
They help the shade to fold properly when it is pulled up
(you'll see how nicely the shade folds up at the end of the post).

Using all manner of books to weight down
the battens as the glue dries :)
Step 6: Make headrail. The headrail is just a 1x2 board, covered
with muslin, with velcro stapled to the front and pulleys screwed
into the bottom side.

Installing the pulleys.
 Step 7: Sew on the lift rings.

Using the pulleys to mark the location of the lift rings.
In order to be able to access both the front and back of the shades
when sewing on the lift rings, we hung the shades in the basement.

Quite a production! Roman shades hanging up for sewing, peppers
hanging up for drying, hickory nuts and more peppers drying
on the ping-pong table.

This step was definitely a group effort - here is Mary sewing away!

The young men even pitched in!

From the back....

From the front.... We had to be careful to use thread that matched
the front fabric at each specific lift ring location.

Sometimes you have to get creative :)
Step 8: Install the shades. After stringing the lift cord through
the lift rings, we brought the headrail upstairs to screw it into the
window frame.


After! One set of shades,

Two sets of shades,

All three sets of shades!

Ready to hang the second set
So, for those of you who are interested in how the hanging
process works, here are a few more pictures:

The top of the shade is "closed" using the soft side of the velcro.

The "rough" side of the velcro is stapled to the front of the headrail

After the shade is partially attached with the velcro, I thread the lift
cord through the pulleys and through a special piece of hardware
called a cord lock pulley, which keeps the shade raised when the
cord is pulled.

Braiding the extra length of cord

The cords are finished off with these stylish
cord drops

Here they are when raised!

And here is a quick demo of the shades in action!

Hope you enjoyed this little walk-through! 


  1. Wow that looks great! And quite an accomplishment that you all did it together!

  2. The finished project looks so awesome, Grace! =) Love the fabric you chose and thank you for sharing the instructions in case I need to refer to them someday. =) I'm sure your family is really blessed by your diligence and I loved seeing the pictures of the project - Blessings! ~elizabeth.

  3. Grace, what a fabulous job you did! Loved seeing the whole family working on it together!

  4. Looks amazing! I love the colors of the fabric, it all goes together so nicely!