Roman Shades on-the-cheap

A few weeks ago I was on a lunch-run with my friend Stephanie and she mentioned that our mutual friend Erin had the most amazing roman shades in her house that her mom had DIY-ed.  I have to admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of roman shades, but I firmly believe it’s because they’re always in heavy floral print that I just can’t stomach.  Give me a roman shade in a fun geometric pattern and I’m sure I’d heart it.  So sure that I decided to try my hand at making one.

Erin had told Stephanie that her mom just used a regular-old mini blind to accomplish the task, and it just so happens that we have one of those hanging around (pun intended).  You see, when the-then-fiance’ and I purchased new blinds for our house, we forgot about a tiny window in the upstairs bathroom (which was soooo annoying).  See it here?

If you don't have the luxury of pre-owned mini-blinds, you can pick some up for about $3 at Target.

So that’s right…you guessed it Erin…the roman shade project is yet another bathroom post.  Erin mentioned to me once that I do a lot of posts/projects about bathrooms..haha.  I guess I do.  Remember the frosted windowVanity organization?  And framed mirror?  Sigh.  Alas it is true.  Upon further reflection I think it’s because bathrooms are “safe.”  If I mess it up, who cares?!  Right?  It’s just a bathroom!  It’s not like messing up the living room where everyone is going to notice.

But I digress…I just thought Erin of all people would love to know that a project inspired by her was going to happen in la bano.

So first thing I did was Google-around a bit until I found an online tutorial for “mini-blind roman shades.”  Turns out this little project hit blogland hard awhile back (it seems like everyone has made these).  So I settled on a tutorial from Newlywed Diaries that was closest to what I envisioned.

Next order of business was to pick a fabric.  Typically this decision-point would be where I lose motivation….”what, I’ll actually have to pick a color?!”  But not this time.  I marched into the fabric store with a color in mind (green) and had it picked within twenty minutes.  I’m trying to be more decisive…because what’s the big deal?  If I hate it I can change it.

Here’s the fabric I picked (sorry, I forgot to write down the pattern).

I also decided that the shade should be lined, for a couple of reasons.  One, I didn’t want it to be completely see-through and cheap looking;  a liner would give it some necessary weight and hopefully the appearance of quality.  Two, I thought it should actually function somewhat as a shade…The Hubs is always on-my-case about making sure things are functional, not just pretty.  So I wanted the shade to actually have a purpose and do what it was supposed to.  So I picked up a yard of heavier canvas fabric as well.

Here are the steps I used to create the roman shade…if something doesn’t make sense, feel free to hop on over to Newlywed Diaries for further clarification.  Oh.  Yeah.  Or ask me.

First, I cut my liner to the exact size I wanted the shade to end up.  In my case this was 10.5″x40″.  Then, I placed it on top of my patterned fabric and cut it about 1″ wider ( for seam allowance).

Many of the tutorials I read didn’t require any sewing at all – they just used fabric glue to hem the curtain.  It may be a bit more work, but I do prefer the look of a stitched border, so I was fully prepared to sew this thing by folding/ironing the patterned fabric once, then again over the top of the liner and sewing it in place.

It’s tempting to complete this step without pining the fabric down, but trust me.  You want to. It will save you a lot of cuss words.

Sorry about the harsh flash here. That's what I get for doing sewing projects at 10:00 at night.

Once I sewed the patterned fabric to the liner, I had a piece that looked like this:

Apparently the shade-part was done and ready.  Now I just needed to prepare the blinds!  Mini-blinds are easily removed from their wall brackets, so once that was done I expanded the blinds to lay it flat on the floor like so.

These things are heinous, no?

The next step had me worried…”remove ladder string without cutting the lifter string.  It is very important not to cut the lifter string!”  I thought for sure this was going to be the step I messed up on….cuz, you know.  I mess up a lot.   But thankfully once I examined the intricate workings of a mini-blind I realized they aren’t really rocket science.  Please don’t mess up, please don’t mess up.  I just said this was easy.

Next, remove the plugs from the bottom of the blind and slide off all of the unwanted slats.  I wanted my slats about 10″ apart from one another.  Remember the length of my desired shade was 40″, so I needed to leave three slats (because the bottom would be re-attached and act as the “fourth”).

Here’s what this looked like:

Next, adjust the length of your lifter strings if needed, and put the plugs back in the bottom slat.  I adjusted mine so the bottom slat sat….wait for it….40″ from the top of the blinds.

Just for fun, here’s what the pile of cut ladder string and extra slats looked like.  I tried to think of a good use for these, but I must not have been thinking very creatively.  I think this shot is just more to show you what has become of my brian.  I now take pictures of useless waste in case I need it for the blog.  Who knows?!  Maybe someone wants to see this….therefore I must document it.

So my fabric shade is ready.  My blind is ready.  Next up, lay the fabric on the ground (patterned side down) and place the blinds face down on top of it.  When I say “face down” for the blinds, I mean so that the lifter string is facing the liner of the fabric.

At this point, the slats are still all loosey-goosey.   Don’t worry, that’s how they should be because the final step is to just glue those suckers down.  Yep, using fabric glue (I used Fabri-Tac clear fabric glue) to secure the top of the blind to the top of the fabric shade.  Then measure down (10″ for me) to place the first slat and glue in place.  Continue down the shade until you glue the bottom part of the blind to the bottom of the shade.

Note:  it’s super important that you don’t glue the lifter string to the fabric, otherwise your shade will not operate correctly and many cuss words will ensue.

Note also:  it’s even MORE important that you do not glue fabric to the outer two inches of the first (top) blind section.  Remember how easily you removed those blinds from the bracket?  You’re going to want to have the same luxury when re-mounting them.  So leave the outermost two inches of fabric free.

Once your fabric glue dries (or immediately after glueing if it’s 11:00 and you’re tired), re-mount your shade to the original bracket…and voila!

A fancy little roman shade.

You may need to practice rising/lowering the shade a few times for the fabric to fold exactly how you want it to.  It only took a few times for me and now it goes up and down perfectly.

Notice it didn’t get any easier to photograph this darn window, but I think you get the idea.  I love how it turned out, and in reality it was super easy.  After purchasing the supplies, it probably took me two hours from start-to-finish.   I love how it adds a pop of color to the window, and also ties in nicely with the canvas print I have hanging.  It’s almost as if someone planned that….

Anyhoo, on to the money side of things.  Here’s how she looks:

  • Mini-blind for window.  $0.  Unfortunately Fortunately already-owned.
  • 1/2 Yard of patterned fabric.  $5
  • 1/2 Yard of canvas fabric.  $5
  • Fabric glue.  $6 (but I’ll have plenty more for future projects).

Grand total for the window update:  $16.00.  Not too shabby if you ask me.

And guess what?  Turns out I do like roman shades.

Thanks Stephanie and Erin for the inspiration!



  1. Love it! It turned out so good. Really like the fabric. Now I need lessons! Maybe you and Erin can do a lesson for all your not so craft friends!

  2. Seriously! You are making me feel like a slacker over here! It looks great and apparently I like Roman shades as well now thanks to your nifty project. When you come visit next time I will have to put you to work.:) Keep inspiring me by your projects, it turned out great!

    1. Hey, I happen to have the same fabric but in red. The pattern is The Darcey Collection by Anna Griffin. Just incase any of your readers are interested.:)

    2. Yes, you are a total slacker….I can’t imagine what a new mom does all day. hahaha. Just live vicariously through me for awhile, ok? Ok!

  3. That is GREAT! I need to make a roman shade for my laundry room. I may actually make it a fake shade though because I don’t care about privacy in there :)

    1. Hi Meghan! I’m not sure that I listed the measurements….but yes! I essentially just measured the window and then added seam allowance. If you make one be sure to let me know so I can check it out! :) good luck!

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