Operable Roman Shades: More Tips!

I’ve been a Roman-shade-making fool over the past few days.  Total Roman shade count is now up to 3 in our house, with at least 2 more to go.  What I love most about using mini blinds to create these Roman shades is that 1) it’s easy 2) it’s cheap: only $4-$5 per mini blind and 3) you can actually raise and lower the shades when you’re done!

Mini Blinds

Last week, I showed you how I made the Roman shades for Stephen’s studio with step-by-step instructions.  I’ve learned a few things since then, so today I thought I’d share some more tips with you all.

The next victim to get the mini blind treatment was our kitchen window.  I showed you how I made this faux Roman shade awhile back, and while I loved how it looked, I hated having to manually raise and lower it.

Old Roman Shade

Not to mention the fact that the shade looked pretty sketchy when it was down.  The edges were ripply and the fabric just sort of hung there with no real structure.

Old Roman down

Whenever we wanted privacy in the kitchen (at night), we’d have to grab a bar stool and unhook all these little loops of string off the hooks on either side of the window.  It was getting to be a pain.  Don’t get me wrong, the faux shade is great for windows where privacy isn’t an issue, but it wasn’t cutting the mustard in our kitchen.

Tacky ties

So I measured the window and my fabric, decided to make these Roman shades “outside mount” and got to work.

Tip 1: Use hem-tape instead of a sewing machine for the side, top and bottom hems.

I decided to redo the hems on the sides of my shade fabric before gluing on the mini blinds, and I’m so glad I did!  The hem tape creates much cleaner, sharper edges and helps the shade keep its structure as you lift and lower it.  No more ripply sewn edges for me!

Laying out fabric

Tip 2: Just go ahead and break off that little piece.

You know that piece that sticks out from the top bar of mini blinds?  The one you connect the wand to – to turn the mini blinds for light control?

Top Bar removing

Just get rid of it.  You don’t need it and it messes with the drape of the fabric off the top bar if you leave it on.

Top Bar fixed

Tip 3: I mentioned this during the original tutorial, but you should hem all 4 edges of your fabric before attaching the blinds.

Length isn’t as important as you might think (that’s what she said).  If you make your Roman shades an inch or two too long, that’s ok.  Go ahead and hem those edges so everything’s nice and neat when it’s time to glue.

Hemmed bottom

Tip 4: Glue the bottom hem to the bottom of that weighted bar.

Here are some visuals I didn’t really show in the original tutorial.  Gluing that bottom hem under the weighted bar ensures that the shade will look good from the front and the back.

Showing where to glue Demonstrating bottom glue Bottom Glued 2

Tip 5: For outside mounted shades (shades wider than the frame of the window – mounted to the wall), glue the fabric to the front of the top bar, leaving the sides un-glued and about 1″ extra overlap on the top edge.

When I installed the brackets up above my window frame, I velcroed the extra 1″ of fabric on the top of the shade to the top of the brackets for a more seamless look. (Tabs of velcro were attached where my thumb is in the photo below.)

Outside mount top gluing

Tip 6: Cut a small slit in the fabric just in front of the mechanism for your lift strings.

If you want your lift strings to hang in front of the shade, you have to create a hole and pull them through.  I went back and did this on the shades in Stephen’s studio.  It would be really rad to create a button hole in the fabric right here before attaching the shades for a super professional look!

Button hole

Tip 7: It really is true.  The heavier the fabric, the better the shade.

This was a tip that was shared on some of the tutorials I referenced when making my first Roman shade, and it’s totally true.  The shades I made for Stephen’s studio were constructed from a pretty heavy-weight, durable cotton fabric from Ikea.  In contrast, this kitchen shade was made from a super light-weight sheet material.  I can definitely tell a difference when raising and lowering the shades.  You have to “coach” the lighter-weight material much more to get it to fold and fall correctly.

That being said, I love how this Roman shade turned out!  It looks so much more polished in the “down” position than it did before, don’t you think?

Old Roman down Shade down right

Shade down left

Having a shade that is easy to operate has made life so much easier.  No more climbing on chairs to lift and lower this puppy.  It’s just a click and a pull of the lift strings and we have total control over light and privacy in our kitchen.

Shade up right

What do you think of the new and improved shade?  Do you think you’ll use our original tutorial now that we’ve shared a few more tips on getting that seamless look?

Shade up left

Thanks for reading!

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