Custom Roman Shade - DIY

While I was in the middle of our master bathroom’s mini-makeover about a month ago, I got this (what I thought was a) great idea about how I could easily make a custom roman shade to liven up the window in there without any sewing.  Fast forward to one morning last week, when I got around to tackling that idea.  All was going swimmingly and I took a ton of pictures to show you and then I hung it up the finished shade and, well, if there was a soundtrack to go with my life, the sound bite at that moment would go something like *womp womp*.  Let me tell ya, it’s one thing when your plan fails halfway through the process and you can just ditch it for Plan B or just ditch it all together.  But when you complete the whole process AND THEN at the very end, when you’re expecting a firework of good emotions, things don’t pan out, it’s heart-breaking (in the most superficial way possible, of course).

Le sigh.

But, there is a good ending at the end of this even though my sorry roman shade had to be jimmy-rigged.  I’ll explain later.

Here’s that finished roman shade:

It looks real good in pictures but as we all know, pictures can lie in a social media world.  #amiright  #oramiright

The window in our master bathroom is frosted and our backyard is large and very private so there’s really no need for curtains or shades or anything like that except for aesthetic reasons.  And I like aesthetics so I decided on a shade.  After hunting around on some secondhand sites and online for a small, bamboo shade and coming up empty, I found this little guy* on Amazon Warehouse.  I was trying to find something under $10 and he rang in $3 over so not too bad but the magnetic feature was super cool, I thought, especially since this shade wouldn’t need to function.  The magnetic feature assured there wouldn’t be any strings to hide so I was sold.  Plus, I had further plans for it.  Read on.

One way I like to add color and pattern to a space is in the window treatments.  When you get tired of the current pattern you can swap them out pretty easily and somewhat affordably (especially if you’re talking sewing your own or using no-sew hem tape to make some).  I wanted to add some fun to our bathroom and the magnetic shade wasn’t going to do that on it’s own.  Nope.  It needed a little help. 
After a little bit of a search, I found this fabric and knew it would be the perfect match to our new shade.

A little bit of hot glue later and BAM, pattern right where we needed it.


Let me go into the process of how I went from plain to patterned because the process is gold, and then I’ll dive into where it all went wrong and how you can take the successful route instead.




First, I cut my fabric so that it was two inches wider than the width of the shade.  (Note:  the shade I bought is pretty long and would require a long piece of fabric, which can get pricey if you’re buying fabric at $15 a yard like mine was.  Luckily, my shade was a little under half as wide as the fabric width so I cut my yard and a half of fabric in half length-wise and sewed the ends together to make one, long, continuous piece of fabric that was slightly wider and longer than my shade.)  In the cutting part of this process, I also made sure the top of my fabric was cut perfectly square (I’ve rarely encountered a piece of purchased fabric that was cut perfectly in-store so make sure you check this).  A quilting square or even a piece of paper is a good guide to help you cut square.

Then, I ironed my entire piece of fabric to make sure it was nice and wrinkle-free, laid it out onto our table wrong-side up, and laid the longest part of roman shade, front side facing facing the fabric and fully-extended, on top of it.  I write the ‘longest part’ because this shade has a small valance that hangs in the front.  That got covered later.  I lined the top of my fabric up with the very top of the longest part of the shade – where making sure that the top of your fabric is cut perfectly square is important.

I ran an iron real quick like (so as not to damage our table or the shade) over the shade to flatten it out as well as I could in preparation for what was next – recovering! 

You need to make sure that the fabric and shade are lined up perfectly all the way down because if you start this without them lined up, you’ll realize it when you’re working your way down…things might not line up and hot glue is a wretch to undo.  Believe me.

So, line it up alllll the way down and make sure it stays that way.


Next, starting a few inches from the top (a few inches because the very top of the shade is raised when it’s laying upside down like this because of the wood topper so it’s best to do that last), I started laying some hot glue down and folding the fabric over onto it.  I worked in six-eight inch sections because if there were a race between drying hot glue and me in a long distance run, I’d lose big. 

If you need a visual, I gotcha covered.  Blue symbolizes hot glue (because I can’t win a race and I definitely can’t win it if I have to take pictures too).  Run a line…


…and fold the fabric over onto it.


I did this all the way down one side and then all the way down the other.  I stopped gluing a few inches before the bottom too so that I could trim off the excess fabric and get nicer corners.
NOW, I took lots of pictures explaining this next part BUT, in light of the failure that was coming, it might not apply to you.  But, here it is either way.

On the magnetic shade there’s a plastic handle located in the middle of the shade towards the bottom.  It’s not really necessary, nice to have maybe, but not necessary. 


Because it would have messed with the fabric I was covering the shade in, I took it off.  It’s held onto the shade with four tiny screws located directly behind it on the back of the shade.
Unscrew them and the whole handle just comes right off.


The holes remain however, not noticeable because fabric covers them but, if you wanted to reinstall the handle post-covering, all you would have to do was simply screw it back on.

Back to regular programming.  At this point, I had glued and folded over both sides of the fabric onto the shade.  Now I just had to trim off the extra at the bottom.
I cut the fabric so that there was about an inch and a half of fabric left along the bottom to be folded over.

Starting a little ways in from the corner, I glued and folded just like I had along the sides of the shade.



When all was glued, I still had the corners to work on.


Since my shade would be seen mostly from the side (the window is on a side wall vs. the far wall like our old bathroom), I wanted to make sure I folded the bottom up first and then folded over the side so that, when viewing from the side, all you see is a continuous line of fabric and not a fold.  Hopefully that makes sense.

To get a cleaner corner, I first snipped off the a little bit of fabric at the corner to make the bottom go in at more of a diagonal than a sharp angle.

Then I tucked that bottom piece in as far as I could under the side piece and then folded that side piece down on top of some glue.  The same process followed with the other corner.


After the entire bottom of the shade was finished, I went back up and glued those top few inches I had left earlier.

Once those were done, I grabbed the extra fabric that I had just cut from the bottom to recover that front, valance piece.  (Note:  if you’re using a patterned fabric, make sure you’re gluing this piece on so that the pattern goes the same way as that on the larger part of the shade – my ‘flames’ were right-side-up on the large part so I needed to make sure I had them going the same way on this part.)
Instead of just covering the just the hanging valance though, I took my fabric and lined it up all the way across the wood part of the shade.  So, pull it all the way up over the top of the shade.


A strip of hot glue (in small sections, of course) along the top will ensure it won’t be going anywhere.

You’ll still want to make sure that your fabric hangs over the edge on each side that extra inch or so.

There are slits in the piece of wood (you can see them above) where the bolt of the hardware slides in to hold the shade in place.  In order to keep that functioning (because it’s very necessary if I wanted to actually hang this thing), I cut slits into the fabric following along with the slits in the wood.


And then I put a little bit more hot glue down along one side of the slit to make sure the fabric didn’t bubble there as it hung.


Now it was time to flip the entire shade over (and behold that glorious recovering job!) so that I could follow the same process to attach the fabric to the valance.

Once I cut off the extra, I started gluing the sides.

Or you can glue the sides first and then cut.  It doesn’t matter with this small piece. 

When I was done gluing the sides down, I planted two beads of glue onto the sides of those slits in the wood and folded the fabric up over them like so:



Thanks to the magical powers of hot glue, I was able to pack that shade under my arm and quickly rush to the bathroom to hang it and behold the beauty.  And I did.  Oh did I.  But here’s where things went south…like, literally, south.  I stuck the shade up with the hardware, raised it so that the magnets stuck…OH, but they didn’t.  They didn’t stick anymore.  I mean, the bottom two stuck to each other great but the weight of the fabric kept the rest from sticking. 

Let’s backtrack for a hot sec.

I had thought about this issue before I started.  I did!  But I thought that if I just grabbed a light-weight fabric, I’d be fine.  Well, apparently my fabric wasn’t light-weight enough.  You would do well and probably succeed with a quilting fabric or something of that weight.  Not the kind of home decor fabric I chose. 

BUT WAIT!  There is still hope for anyone (like me!) who wants a custom roman shade without the custom roman shade price tag.  I mean, you could always follow my tutorial using a miniblind but recovering is just so much easier.  So, instead of grabbing a magnetic shade you could just grab an inexpensive corded roman shade (there’s a a good many like this one* for $10 on Amazon Warehouse) and though you’d have that string, it’s really not a big deal AND it would actually function if you needed it to.

So, after all of that, I know you’re dying to know how my shade is hanging up there so perfectly since I’ve told you the magnets aren’t holding up.  I’ll tell you the secret as long as you don’t tell anyone else, ok?

There are two strategically placed sewing pins up there that no one would ever notice but mwah…and you now with this up-close-and-personal view.

They both go through the front of the shade, through all of the folds, and straight into the wall behind them.

It works.



When we move, this cute little thing will be coming with us so it’s very renter-friendly.  I might even figure out how to stick some stronger magnets on it to make up for the other ones. 

We’re calling this master bath mini-makeover complete so keep your eyes peeled for a full reveal! 

And have a great week!
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