[AD] Like most other people I’ve been spending an unprecedented amount of time at home recently, and it’s been a great opportunity to tick a few things off my job list. We’ve recently put an extension on the house, so the former master bedroom has now become the official spare room and I decided it was time for a mini-makeover to help it settle into its new role. Changing window dressings always has a big impact on a room, so I decided to swap the existing curtains for a new Roman blind.
My house is quite old (around 1900), and the windows are a bit quirky and non-standard! As I was making the blind myself I was hoping to be able to accommodate this without too much trouble. Fortunately I’ve made a few other blinds recently and was hoping I had enough bits and bobs leftover to enable me to make this one without having to buy anything else!
To make your own Roman blind, you’ll need:
- A wooden baton, around 2″ wide by 1″ thick, the same width as you want the finished blind
- Small screw in eyes
- Blind cord
- Blind tape (you can manage without this but it makes life more difficult!)
- Some thin wooden doweling or specialist fibre glass rods
- An ‘acorn’ (toggle to go on the end of the blind cord)
- Fabric – I used Sail stripe fabric in Marine from Terry’s Fabrics
- Lining fabric
- Velcro – ideally sticky backed. You’ll need both sides (hook and loop), the same amount as the length of your baton
- A staple gun (again, not essential but will make life easier)
- Needle and thread
- Sewing machine (you really can’t do this by hand unless you are EXTREMELY patient!!)
- Wall cleat
How to make a roman blind: a step-by-step guide
Making a Roman blind is easier than you may think – you just have to be careful at measuring and be able to do straight sewing.
Step 1 – measure how wide you want the finished Roman blind to be (normally the width of the window plus a couple of inches either side). Cut the wooden baton to this length. (When I took down the existing curtains and curtain rail the plaster looked a bit dodgy so I decided not to risk drilling any more holes for the baton but to use the existing ones! This meant I ended up making the baton a little longer than I would ordinarily have done, but it was the lesser of two evils!)
Step 2 – cut a strip of lining fabric and cover the baton tightly in it using the staple gun (you can sew the fabric on by hand but you need to get it really tight). Set aside.
Step 3 – measure the blind. Normally you’ll need a full width of material. For the length, measure from the point above the window where you’d like the blind to start to the point at which you’d like it to finish below the window, then add 3 inches to that length. Turn in a 1.5 inch hem all round the square of material and iron it into place.
Step 4 – measure and cut the lining material. I find the easiest way is to cut a piece of lining the same size as the main fabric but then turn in a wider hem – you’re looking for the lining to sit inside the main fabric so that it can’t be seen. Hand sew it into place along both sides and along the bottom, leaving the top open for now. (I actually sewed my top and put the Velcro on at this stage, but if you leave it until later it gives you another chance to catch any imperfections!)
Step 5 – now the tricky bit, as you have to measure for the tape! This is the bit that defines how many folds your finished blind will have. I wanted to have one more fold than usual as I wanted the finished blind to stack up tightly at the top of the window to let as much light in as possible, so I put in five. You can work yours out using Terry’s Fabrics online calculator.
Step 6 – once you’ve worked the spacings out, you can sew on the blind tape. I tend to sew on one strip at a time as it allows me to spot any problems before I go to far! It’s essential that the tape is straight, or the finished blind will never fold up neatly. To check, once you’ve sewed the strip on fold the blind edges together and check that both ends of the tape are at the same height. Continue until you have all the tape in place.
Step 7 – Turn the top hem over, and stick the Velcro into place as near to the top of the blind as you can get it. I also sew it into place as otherwise it has a tendency to unpeel in the middle of the night! Finish off all the loose ends by hand and sew up one end of the tape, leaving the other end free.
Step 8 – measure the dowels (they should be the same length as the strips of blind tape so that they sit invisibly behind the blind) and cut them to length. Insert them into the rod pockets on the tape then sew the loose end of the tape up.
Step 9 – second set of measuring! You now need to decide how many blind cords you’d like to raise the blind. For a full width blind, I tend to use either five or six depending on the weight of the material – in this case I decided to use six for strength as it’s a high window and I was picturing guests having to really haul on the cord! Take your baton, and insert an eye in the middle of the bottom side an inch from either end. Then, measure the distance between the two eyes and divide that into the number you need.
For example, my baton measured 55 inches so the distance between my two end eyes was 53 inches. I needed a further four eyes to hold my cords, so I divided 53 by 5 (the number of eyes plus 1) to give me an interval of 10.6 inches. I then measured 10.6 inches along from my first eye at one end and put the second one in, then measured 10.6 inches from the second one to put in the third one (honestly, it’s easier than it sounds!). Once all the eyes were in place, I put my second strip of Velcro on the front face of the baton, as near to the top as possible, and stapled it firmly into place (again, you can sew it but it’s trickier).
Step 10 – On the home straight! I measured and cut my blind cord as follows. Cord one (which in my case was the one on the left of the blind as I was putting the raising mechanism on the right) had to be the width of the blind plus the length of the blind plus a bit, and each successive cord could be a little shorter. I now had to repeat all my eye measurements on the blind itself, so I measured in one inch from the end of the first strip of tape and knotted cord one firmly to the bottom strip. I then passed it up through the successive strips before measuring 10.6 inches along and repeating the process with cord two until they were all in place. (Tip – tie a loose knot in each cord once you’ve passed it through the topmost tape, as they have a tendency to slip through when you try and put the blind in position!)
Step 11 – attach the Roman blind to the baton, marrying the strips of Velcro up as firmly as you can and pressing them together. Then, take the top of cord one, undo the knot and feed it through all the eyes in turn, letting the end dangle free. Repeat the process with cord two (this time you’ll only need to pass it through five eyes not six) and repeat the process until all the cords are threaded.
Step 12 – I like to leave putting the wall cleat in place until now, so that you can be sure it’s in the right place! You might need someone to help at this point as they might need to raise the blind and hold it out of the way for you. Pull the cords taut, making sure they’re straight, and position the cleat where you want it (it needs to be high enough to be out of reach of pets and toddlers). Wrap the cords around the cleat to hold the blind in place, then thread the loose ends through the acorn. Make sure all the cords are correctly tensioned, then cut them off at the length you want, tie them all in a knot and pull the acorn into place to hide them.
I’m really pleased with the finished Roman blind, as it lets a lot more light through into a dark room than the old curtains did.
The fabric used in this roman blinds project was gifted by Terrys Fabrics, a home furnishings retailer who are still open for deliveries throughout this time. The retailer stocks everything you would need to build your own roman blind, including material and an essential kit. If, however, you’d rather buy a readymade blind, the retailer stocks a huge selection of both readymade and made to measure.
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