A little over 5 years ago we had a family room added to the house and I knew I wanted roman blinds on the windows. I went in to the local decorator's studio and asked how much she'd charge me for labor only if I were to bring in the fabrics (that I'd bought with a 40% coupon at JoAnn's, of course!) After much calculating she finally said something...oh; so shocking that I've forgotten, but I think it was right around $4000 for five windows. My mom and her sister happened to be up here visiting at the time and when they heard that they both turned on their heels at the same time and walked right out of the store saying, "Jennifer, you can do that yourself!" I guess I just needed that little vote of confidence, because I took a peek at the sample they had hanging in the store and by golly, went home and made them myself! Have been doing them both here and for family members near and far since. I recently thought "I should do a tutorial with pictures when I make one for the upstairs landing". I alluded to that thought in my last post, thinking it would hurry me along. Well, let's just say I finally did get to it today!
Here's the look we're going for. And you don't have to be a seamstress at all. Yesterday I googled "roman blind tutorial" thinking, "Why bother will all the photos and typing if it's already been done?" I quite honestly didn't find anything out there that I liked as well as mine. After seeing what's out there I almost feel I should apologize for waiting so long! For a few reasons, which I'll mention as I go along (if I can remember.)
Here's everything I need for a window with inside measurements of 20.5 inches by 36 inches long. Your measurements will likely be different. I prefer an inside mount because it looks more professional and it's also more private (outside mounts can sometimes have a gap that you could see through from outdoors). Under the decorative fabric is a piece of sunblock curtain lining (on the long 54" rolls at JoAnn's) and both pieces are cut 21.5 inches by 40 inches (half inch seam allowances on the two sides and four inches longer than needed). Also brass rings and nylon cord (from the JoAnn's curtain making section), a 1/4 inch thick piece of wood cut 20.5 inches (exact inside window size). A half inch wide metal bar cut 20 inches (half an inch less than width of the blind). Staple gun, screwdriver, two eyelet screws, two regular screws. You'll also need a needle and white thread.
A note on the metal bar.
Down one of the hardware aisles in your neighborhood hardware store they'll have these standing boxes full of all sorts of 3 and 4 foot long metal bars. Round, flat, L-shaped. Buy a half inch wide flat one. If your window is wider than 48 inches then ask, or you may actually need to go to a bigger store. Anyway, above is pictured the ONLY saw I had for the first few years of being a homeowner, and it's all you need to cut these metal bars. fyi.
OH. And a note on the brass rings. When I first made them 5+ years ago I unknowingly used plastic rings as the cord guides. When I recently took down the originals to build new ones the plastic rings were so brittle from sun and time they just crumbled. Use brass! Also, when you look at the pic in the link I just mentioned, you'll notice that the two side windows, which measure 22" across, are slightly sagging in the middle. You can tell that the 60" wide blind in the center has a third cord run down the center. Do use a third cord in the center for anything much wider than 22" if you don't like that softer look. Here's a diagram just in case I'm not being clear:
Back on task; sew the decorative fabric and the white lining right sides together with half inch seams up both sides and across the bottom . That's three straight seams and the sewing is over. Do-able, right? The above pic is my tip(s) for getting a nice sharp corner. Clip the edge as shown and always have a nice fattish knitting needle on hand for gently poking the corner out from the inside. Now turn it inside out, poke the corners out to look like corners with your big knitting needle, and iron the three sides down nice and flat.
Now we'll measure where to sew our brass rings.
This quilter's rule is useful...as I'm measuring the distance between rings it's also keeping me a straight two inches off the side.
Here's the measurements I used.
If you keep reducing the distance between rings as I have above you will get a much nicer layer upon layer pleating effect. (it took me a while to figure this out). I started the first ring five inches up from the bottom. Then just started tacking them on like this THROUGH BOTH LAYERS OF FABRIC.
Now I measure the 36 inch height up from the bottom edge
and lay the 1/4 inch thick wood piece along the line. I wrapped the extra fabric over it (not necessary, just did it this time) and staple gunned it near each end.
This pin shows you where my 36 inch mark is... which will be at the top of the inside window frame.
We are getting very close to hanging this. Above you see the two eyelet screws ready to receive the cording, and the two screws pre-started to attach inside the wood window frame.
Now we will insert the cord. I simply tie a knot at the bottom rings, burn the raw edge of the knot a little (only if it's nylon cord, as it melts), then run it up through the rings and across through the eyelet screws as shown here: (REMEMBER THAT THIRD CORD UP THE CENTER IF IT'S MUCH WIDER THAN 22")
A closer view;
It doesn't matter if the cords lead to the right edge or to the left. Where ever it is you want to be pulling up and down. Now; it used to be because I forgot, but now it's just because it's easiest, but here is when I cut open the edge on one side just enough to insert the weight bar.
The bar really is key to a nice hang. Try pulling one of these blinds up without it...you'll laugh! Today I decided at the last minute to attach the pompom trim so it would match the bedskirt I did in this little alcove a few months ago...no problem, as long as I left enough width for the bar to slide in.
Now you just throw the whole thing over your head (behind you)
and finish driving in those two screws you pre-started.
ooohh! Initially, these will NOT just pull up and lay beautifully flat on their own. They may very well bunch up and scare the heck out of you, as if you've done something wrong. You merely need to help the folds to be folds the first few times they are pulled up, until they develop their own 'fold memory'. Promise! We are getting very close to voila! Well, really we are already there, but I have a couple more things to mention.
Not sure if this fits in here but it's in the order I took the pics. After years of not dropping down the measurements as I measured up (7, 6, 5, 4, ) I still am really appreciating this stepped pleat look. Not nearly as bunched up as it would be if all the rings were the same widths apart.
This is a called a cleat. It's what you need to wrap the cord around when the shade is pulled up.
The main reason I like these blinds is it's the quickest, cheapest, easiest way to add dimension, personality and a custom look to a room. But almost as importantly it also satisfies my need for a uniform "all white window coverings" look on the outside of my home.
The view from outside.
I tried very hard to be super specific in this post so that even the most novice home decorator/crafter could complete the task with satisfaction. Please drop me a comment here and let me know how it worked for you!
PS: check here for an easy and CHEAP tip on hanging sheers underneath these blinds!
January 31, 2012 update. YES! I finally thought of how to do an outside mount! See here.
July 7, 2012. Check out Kathy's fab results at Cornerstone Confessions :-)
August 12, 2012 JoAnn with no blog sent me pics of her awesomely happy results:
My results are amazing. I could not have done it without your tutorial. I have many, many books of instructions, plus I have been looking on YouTube, but I never felt confident enough to get started. I printed your instructions and then found this wonderful fabric at Hancock. My total cost, including fabric (a markdown, plus 40% off), wood, iron, the quilting ruler, all the hardware, cording, etc., was $100; $20 per window. Thank you so much for your help. You are a wonderful teacher.
Thanks for sharing JoAnn! I couldn't be more proud :-)
April 3, 2013 Here is Kristen's results. She says she is such a NON sewer, that she had to borrow a friend's machine for the sides and bottom. Didn't she do a great job!?
April 3, 2013 : As I just sifted through the 10 current pages of comments and questions, I thought I should assure you that yes, I still get notified by email and I always answer questions within reason :-)