DIY Roman Shades for Oversized Windows

You guessed this day would never come, amirite?  You thought I might not EVER finish my family room window project.  Or share it with you.

To be perfectly honest…ME TOO!  Looks like I surprised BOTH of us!

These are the original Roman Shades I made more than 10 years ago:
shaped valance, trimmed valance, monkey print, red valance, pleated valance, window treatments, tall windows, window wall

Solid fabric, trimmed with a contrast band of decorator print,

roman shade with border print with three matching, pleated, shaped, and trimmed valances for the lower bank of windows.

shaped valance, trimmed valance, monkey print, red valance, pleated valance, window treatments

Making those treatments was a large job, but not complex.  I even pattern-matched the contrast banding, but it wasn’t really difficult.

Once we changed the colors in the room it was time for new window treatments! (And actually, I should’ve ditched the dated valance a long time ago, but I tend to develop an emotional attachment to anything I make.)


Design Variables

This time around, it would have been nice to do something completely different, like floor to ceiling draperies… isn’t this a beautiful look?


But… we have wood posts projecting from the wall to hide steel reinforcements for the windows… To properly hang drapes, the rods would have to come out pretty far into the room to clear the posts…or would have to be mounted between the posts.

That’s why we originally chose Roman Shades.

One really important thing for us…they have to be room darkening.  Hey, we TV… ALOT!!!

Another variable was that decorator fabric tends to come in widths, generally, of about 54″… our windows are 57.5″ wide and about 70″ deep.  I know it’s done often, but I didn’t want to piece the fabric for the extra width on this particular set of windows  My solution is to add a border.

Since I chose a busy print for the shades, I selected a subtle herringbone pattern for the contrast trim.  The herringbone fabric was a little weighty for a roman shade, so I had to be careful to minimize the bulk.

Without border trim….Roman Shades are a fairly easy sewing project.  But I also complicated things this time by choosing a large print for the main fabric.  With three columns of upper and lower windows, I had to be very careful with my measurements to pattern match when cutting the fabric, and later with sewing the rows.  If I was off, it would be noticeable…so the print had to match horizontally and vertically.

(Okay…enough whining!)

I’ve made Roman Shades for other windows in our house and have used different techniques each time.  If you’re looking for a tutorial, my favorites are from Sailrite (although I would be reluctant to use glue as they do); design blogger Laurel Bern, who recommends this one; and Kristi at Addicted 2 Decorating, who posts one as well.  There are many more…including a popular Pinterest shortcut that repurposes mini blinds.

Having made plenty of shades, I kind of did my own thing.  If you have questions, I’ll be happy to answer them, but I’ll spare you my step-by-step and get on with it.  I’ve listed pros and cons about the process below for anyone who likes to read lugubrious prose or wants to know the deets.  (Number 5 is the most important one.)

(And sorry for the Christmas Decor…I finished hanging these the day before Thanksgiving… I’ll add other photos after the holidays are over.)

Ready?  You have been VERY patient!  Here we go:

two-story window, window wall, roman shade, window treatments, blackout shades, DIY custom window treatment

two-story window treatments, custom roman shades, mushroom gray, grey in family room

gray window treatments, roman shades, banded shades, window wall, two story windows, DIY window treatments, custom roman shades



Lessons Learned, Pros, and Cons (in no particular order)

1.  Two to six thousand dollars.  That’s an estimate of what I saved by making these myself.  I’ve been sewing for nearly 40 years, and while I am not a window treatment professional, I think I’m fairly competent behind a sewing machine.


DIY Window Treatments

Putting the same variables into this on-line estimator for custom Roman Shades, I saved almost $6,000 (with coupon code).

I am NOT dismissing the value of professional training, equipment, adherence to industry standards, safety details and the skill of an experienced workroom staff…those are important ingredients to the to the outcome of a beautiful and safe window treatment.  But I know our budget priorities…and that was NOT going to happen. (Mr. D&D still wonders why I “don’t just pick up some curtains at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.”)

2.  One of the reasons I really like using Roman Shades for this room is because I can draw them waaaaay up and hide most of the fabric behind the top row so it looks more like a valance and I can see more of the yard in the prettier months.  I don’t actually like leaving them down AT ALL…but it does keep the glare off the television (….priorities 😂).

grey window treatments, roman shades, banded shades, window wall, two story windows, DIY window treatments, custom roman shades


3.  Remember above when I mentioned the thickness of the herringbone fabric?  Mitering the border corners was beastly!  In fact, I tried several different techniques with different results.

mitered corners

Truth be told, I prooooobably could have gotten away with them and hung them as is. But when it comes to those details, I am a perfectionist and it would have been all I saw every time I looked at them.  So I gave my seam ripper a very big workout and redid each one.  Aren’t you proud of me?

4.  Most workrooms install their valances and Roman Shades using velcro at the top of the heading.  I have never done this because I think stapling the shade directly to the top of the board gives a cleaner look.

velcro header, custom window treatments

HOWEVER…I did use velcro this time and while I stand by my earlier statement, the velcro makes them much (much, much) easier to hang and adjust.

5.  I tried a new product this time…well, it was new to me.  For the Roman Shades I made before, I sewed rows of one inch twill tape across the back of the shade to form a pocket, inserted acrylic dowels in each pocket, and hand sewed brass rings to each row to raise and lower the shade.

Hand. Sewed. Thirty. Rings. Per shade. Times six.

This time I used roman shade tube tape.

roman shade rings

It’s a sew-on tape with a ready-made pocket for the dowels…so I only had to sew it across the top…AAAANNNDD…it has little loops sewn in at regular intervals across the tape, so instead of hand-sewing rings, you just thread the cord right through the loops as needed to raise and lower the shade.  What a timesaver!!!

roman shade tube tape, threading roman shades, diy roman shades

The fabric stores I shop at do not always stock the tape, FYI.  Since I wanted a LOT of it, I ordered it online.

6. Speaking of raising and lowering the shade…for mine that’s done by hand using cords.  To hold them in place I wrap the cords around a cleat on the side of the window trim.  (Actually, I use a decorative drawer-pull instead of an actual cleat.)

window cleat, decorative cleat, roman shade cleat

Having automated shades would be BOSS!!!  No lift cords on the side of the window…just press a button and raise three at a time…. I spend way too much time on the Somfy website dreaming about their motorized lift systems (which now include wireless and voice-controlled options).  I called a rep once, but they wanted to sell me custom shades in addition to the system.  SO…no.  And there’s also the cha-ching factor.

But I hope to someday find a nice DIY option that I could try. What a convenience THAT would be!

7. And now, true confession time.  I love this fabric…close up.  The colors are perfect for the room. I chose it because I thought it had a modern feel and looked a little like a grayish batik print.

I do think they look nice, but I find the print to be a little “meh” when I stand across the room and see it on all the windows.  Pretty enough, but not the modern vibe I was hoping to achieve.  Am I severely disappointed that I chose it…no.  But, just a little.

But guess what…that feeling is completely drowned out by the fact that these freakers are FINALLY done, installed, hanging and functional (and do still look kinda pretty).

I have cut the cord from this millstone around my neck and can MOVE ON to the next thing on my list…for now there are three priorities…living room window treatments, recovering our kitchen chairs, and redoing the cushions in the back hallway.  But I’m also anxious to make some jewelry/accessory organizers, sew new throw pillows for the family room…redo some closets….

I am also considering a whole new bank of reasons for procrastinating, because it’s a new year.   Besides, you are SO nice to visit and read my posts–you deserve new excuses (wink wink).















  • mommyhon333

    Yay for the big reveal. Absolutely worth waiting for. Your original blinds were just lovely and I can understand why parting with them would be difficult. I feel that way about things I’ve made, too, although I have never made anything anywhere nearly as involved as your blinds.

    What a clean look you’ve achieved with the new blinds. Love how you can open them so completely that it is almost as if your room is an extension of the yard. Oh, that snowy view!! Your mitered corners look fabulous. Very professionally done, and having to match the pattern, line up the herringbone trim! Yikes. My mother sewed and she always said that someone who doesn’t sew has no idea what is involved in sewing.

    Well done, sweet friend. So proud of your hard work…absolutely worth it!

    • Thank you, Leslie! If I worked as hard as I complain and procrastinate, I’d have ALL new window treatments and nothing on my to do list.

      I think when you make something, you definitely scrutinize it more. (Like when I sew a dress I’m super critical about my zippers, when I buy one, I never even look at them.)

      I was so weird about them that before I posted this, I screen shot dozens of “custom” shades to see if they hung 2000 percent perfectly. When I looked very critically at the pics, I thought mine passed the test…but it was dumb that I had to compare to see. 🙃

  • Jodie

    OMG, girl!! Those are amazing!!
    I have to comment on a couple of things…..first, I can’t believe you ripped out those corners. I mean, I get it….I rip out my knitting all the time, but I might rationalize with those corners that if you put them on the upper windows, that no one in their right mind would ever notice.
    I absolutely love that you use a drawer pull for the cords. So the upper shade has a way longer cord??? I couldn’t see them, so I was wondering if you put those down??

    • EmDirr

      Thank you, my true blue friend! Believe me, I did hear those same words in my head! I’m sure you already know the answer to your own question…part of making something yourself includes proving to yourself that it doesn’t “look” homemade (which connotates a bad thing unless you’re cooking).

      And yes, the uppers have a long, but fairly hidden cord. An easy reach. But we must have darkness or the battle of Helms Deep will be lost in the light of day. (It’s “Lord of the Rings” binge season…regular versions, extended versions, commentaries…the TV gets a workout.)

Anything you'd like to add? I'd love to know what YOU think!!