How to make no sew roman shades

January 10, 2010

DIY roman shades green orange fabric

Did you know you can make your own pleated roman shades at home...with no sewing machine needed at all?

I first showed you my DIY roman shades here and they are one of my all time favorite projects and are SO easy to do it’s just silly. They drape perfectly and look like a much more expensive and custom fabric roman shade. 

These easy roman shades only need a few hand stitches -- otherwise no sewing. You just need to start with piece of fabric that fits the width and length of your window:

make your own roman shades

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The length doesn’t have to be exact unless you want to be able to lower them for privacy or light control. I hemmed these with hemming tape. All you need is the tape and a hot iron.

Next up, you’ll need some cup hooks. I only use two hooks per window (one on each side). The example I took this from used them down the window instead, but I think my way is easier. And a teensy bit less work!

For my shades I put the cup hooks down from the top of the window about five or six inches. The placement really doesn’t matter too much, you just don’t want them too low or the shade will hang too low on the window:


Once you have the fabric hemmed, add a little tab top on the top by folding over the fabric and making a slot for your hardware. 

I use tension rods and simple cafe rods for mine – about $2 each. (You don’t see much if any of them when you are done.)


Then, you’ll need some ribbon. It doesn’t even have to match the fabric – you won’t see it. The ribbon is how you create the folds, or pleats, in the shade. If you want three folds like I have, you’ll need three strips of ribbon for each side. I made the ribbon for the top fold the shortest – I think it was about two inches. Cut it to the length you want, and hand sew it on at the exact same spot on both sides of the fabric.

OK, OK – so there is SOME sewing. But no one will see the back, so it doesn't have to be pretty. 

For my lower pleats, I made the ribbon a bit longer, I think three inches for the next, then four inches for the last one. I used a button on the front to give the thread something to really grab on to, and it's decorative – although again, you really can't see the button when done. Here is is from the front and the back:


You need to make sure both your cup hooks and the ribbons are placed at the exact same spot on each side of both the window and the fabric – otherwise you will have lopsided roman shades.

I added the ribbon with the fabric hanging – so I could pull them up and see how each pleat would hang and where I wanted the ribbon. It’s much easier this way then putting the shade up and down a million times. Or if you have someone hold them up for you, you can determine where you want the ribbons to go and then sew them on with the shade off the window.

When your ribbons are attached, you just take the top set of ribbons up from behind (the ribbon goes on the back of the fabric) and hang them on the hook, one by one:




Taaa daaaa! That’s it! You’re done!:      


Unless you're like me, then you have to add some trim to the bottom:


When I first hung these, the fabric was so thick the top folds were kind of poofing out too much, so I did sew a few stitches so they would lay flat, but now that’s not needed. 

And if you get a ton of light, you may want to line them. I didn’t need to because I kept our shades behind them:

032  034 

That’s another bonus to these – if you don’t want to have to mess with raising and lowering them for privacy, you can still keep shades or blinds behind them – you won’t even see them!

I get a lot of questions about the treatments on our back door:


This door was a toughie – I love the light coming in but only a few months into living in our house, but we wanted privacy. 

This was a perfect solution -- these magnetic drapery rods are made for doors like this. 

I plan to spray paint these, as there aren’t many options for the finish, but they work really well:


To make the treatments, I just measured the length between the top and bottom magnetic rods and made the panels accordingly (all with hemming tape!). 

Because we get so much light coming in our back door, I lined this silk fabric with heavy duty lining:041

When I did that, I just left the top and bottoms open for the rod:


Add a strip of the roman shades fabric for a tie in the middle and yer done!:


These are easily opened up for privacy, which is always a nice option. If you are worried about losing light, you could use a lighter fabric that would allow more sun to get through.

I love how they all tie together in our kitchen! I have the two shades on the bay windows, and one above the kitchen sink as well.


These were a great option for me because a.) they were cheap, b.) they were cheap and c.) they were easy.  :)  

Oh yeah, and they are a custom fit for reeeeeally skinny windows, which is impossible to find ready made:

  DIY window treatments for bay window

I bought the fabric at the design shop where I used to work for insanely less than what they are sold for by the yard. The owner carried “short ends” of fabulous fabric so this was sold at a deep discount. 

I found the fabric later in a fabric book and I believe it was around $70 a yard. (I think it is Kravet?) It is heavy, thick upholstery fabric.

I know many of you have tried these out yourself! If you have tried it and have a picture somewhere, let me know or link to it here in the comments.

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  1. ooohh... i love it and "almost" no sew is perfect for an anti~sewer like me!!!

  2. i remember these shades and they are on my list of like top 10 things from your blog that i need to do!! totally beats the make-shift curtain i've got going on in my kitchen right now. thanks for the info!!!


  3. I didn't make this, but I have a different version of a no sew roman shade...

  4. I love any no-sew project - especially one for windows, which I find especially difficult to figure out!

  5. Your windows look fabulous!!! Thanks for sharing all the info!

  6. Love it! I can't wait to do a few for my kitchen! :)

  7. If the thought of using a needle and thread makes you pass out, you can staple the ribbon loops onto the Roman shade.

    It's not as sturdy, but it's not sewing either.

  8. Love this! Fantastic tutorial!
    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Thanks for the re-post. I have this project on my to-do list. I will link when I'm done.

  10. You read my mind! I spent an hour last night looking for a how-to on easy roman shades!

  11. Great tutorial. Your window treatments look just gorgeous. Hugs, Marty

  12. I have made a few of these shades based on your tutorial and it is awesome!!! ALSO A PERK... I believe roman shades were recalled recently b/c they pose a strangulation hazard and the fix a lot of companies are coming up with is sort of similiar to your DIY shades. (Don't quote me on this though... I have a baby at home and my brain can be mush sometimes!)

  13. WOW! Great shades! I love this idea! Thanks!

  14. I never would have thought of the cup holders and ribbons! Wow! I have contemplated trying to face making Roman shade with the little plastic rings, wood strips, strings - whatever! Your method is something that I can actually accomplish AND have the hang evenly!

  15. One of my favorite posts of yours so far! I luuuuuurrrve them! All of the windows in my house are either nekkid or have not so nice curtains on them. I'm definately trying these soon! Thanks!

  16. this is a great post and diy. i need roman shades for my back door window. been looking for the right size but its hard to find it when you are looking for sale items... anyways i will just have to make them ;) thanks for posting!

  17. Sarah, I love this tutorial. :) I was looking at my windows in my Family room and Kitchen and thinking about ways I could do new treatments. I love Roman shades, but didn't have a clue as to how seamstresses add the cords and stuff. This is a perfect solution!! :)

    If you have a chance, maybe you can add this as a SOLUTION to my Decorating Dilemmas Party on Wed. (I'll post it tomorrow night after 10). :)

    I can't believe fabric can get up to $70 a yard....I must be super-cheap. :s

  18. I must say that I just discovered your site last week and I have not been able to stop thinking about these shades as well as the light in your kitchen...Both projects are at the top of my to do list! THANKS!!!

  19. I was so inspired by this original post, that I bought the fabric before the holidays (on sale at Joann's!) Wanted to wait for the holidays to clear out before attempting. Maybe over this long weekend :-\ Thanks again for the inspiration. (If they look as good as I hope when I'm done, I'll post a pic.)

  20. That looks even an non sewer of buttons could conquer. Thanks for the fab directions. I have your button on my your ideas.
    smiles, alice

  21. I am planning some MAJOR window treatment festivities soon. I LOVE these! I am wondering if I could do some like this by more like a valance. I will have to play with it. but I would LOVE to do these in my kitchen nook like you did!
    Love your ideas!!

  22. Oh, yes, I've done this! I used your faux Roman shade method for the window treatment in my wide kitchen window. Here's a tip for extra-wide windows: the cup hooks on each side may not provide as much support across the window as you'd like. If this happens (as it did to me), simply buy a cheap skinny tension rod and place it under the fold. It will keep the fold in place all the way across the window.

    Here's a link in case anyone would like to see my version of Sarah's famous window treatment:


  23. My new house is in SERIOUS need of some drapery!! I just need to finish unpacking first!

    I hope all is well with you!!!

  24. i love no sew! i use that amazing stuff as much as i can :)

    i have made several curtains with it and it holds!


  25. I can't wait to do this!!! Thanks so much for re-posting this, I can't tell you how awesome it is to have such incredibly detailed instructions. Thank you!

  26. Love the shades, especially teh no-sew part. The door curtains are a wonderful idea, I didn't know they sold magnetic curtain rods.

  27. Just the other day I was thinking of Roman shades for my kitchen windows for the winter. You must have been reading my mind!!

  28. This is a great tuturial! Wow what a great job you did! I am going to have to make a roman shade for my front bathroom.

  29. Thanks, thanks, thanks! I have this same set up in my kitchen, and love the light, but want to block out the gardener once a week ;) Now I just have to find fabric!!

  30. your shades look fabulous ... you make it look so easy!

  31. Hey Sarah! Thanks so much for the tutorial. I just did this and I love them (and their price tag). Thanks again!


  32. I've made similar shades, but used grommets along the top and sides to hold the shades up. And since I was using thinner linen-look fabric, I did use two layers, but it was still easy sewing, just cut two rectangles and sew all the way around, leaving a small opening for turning right-side-out. Mine looks more casual, I like that your hooks are hidden by the thick fabric.

  33. You know sometimes you look at something so cute yet easy and wonder why you didn' think of it. My hat is off to you. Great idea.

  34. Thank you very much! I'm off to copy this! I sew like a crazy person, but I LOVE that these are no sew valances!

  35. I love the curtains! I plan to do that in my kitchen soon...I'm also in love with the paint color. Do you know the brand/name of the color?

  36. found these on Pinterest...just what I needed-thanks!

  37. Thanks for great directions, it looks easy to do.


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