Decoration

Arlyn’s Under $100 Roman Shade DIY (NO SEWING MACHINE REQUIRED)

Ready for a project you can do in under two hours that costs, oh…90% less than buying it custom-made? Well, I’ve got a good one for you today: my DIY Roman shade using a cordless mini blind. Yeah…those cheapo plastic things in every rental window you’ve ever had? That mini-blind! Pin this one for that dead week between Christmas and New Year’s when you’ve got nothing better to do than eat stale cookies and tinker around the house.

Let me rewind for a second. As I was working on the design of my rental kitchen, I knew immediately upon embarking on my makeover journey that the broken vertical blinds in my breakfast nook were going to have to be replaced. I didn’t want long window panels there, collecting dust and Cheerios crumbs on the daily, so my other option was a Roman shade. The size of my window is 70”x74” so it’s certainly not small or a standard size by any means. I searched all around the internet for something not exceeding $250 or so and it couldn’t be done. Not for that size, at least. I got a quote from a local seamstress that came recommended to me for $600. Then, a designer friend of mine gave me the name of a workroom to call and they quoted me $800.

And the scary part is those prices are actually pretty fair, at least compared to many others I saw upwards of $1,500…or even more. 

So I had to come up with another option. I’m fairly crafty and handy with a sewing machine, so I watched YouTube tutorial after YouTube tutorial on how to make my own. It seemed cumbersome but doable. The only problem was that I needed a cordless system for child safety, and all the cordless lift systems I found for my DIY curtain scenario were going for over $200, each (and I needed two). 

I kind of felt defeated, honestly. Until I found the easiest, cheapest solution of all! 

After deciding that I wanted to do two outside mount Roman shades, I ordered these mini blinds from Bed Bath & Beyond. You can get yours anywhere…Home Depot, Lowe’s, even Amazon. Mine were $35 each (my length is hard to find so it was a bit more “premium”). 

And for anyone reading who’s interested but thinking “Nah, I don’t have a sewing machine,” I’m here to tell you that I did this entirely with glue and iron-on hem tape. If you have an iron and scissors, you can do this DIY. Cross my heart. 

In a very silly move, I didn’t take any progress photos of the Romans I made for my kitchen, but when everyone commented on my reveal that I had to share a tutorial for how I did it, I decided it was for the best. I was a seasoned Roman shade maker at this point. I know all the places I went wrong and would love to redo on my own window coverings, so doing it *again* to show you how to do it was an ideal situation for the Internet at large. So I bought the cheapest mini blind I could find (it was $11 on Amazon), used the leftover sheets I bought for the pendant light in my kitchen as the fabric, bought some more glue, and got to work taking photos this time. 

So, by popular demand, I wrote out my step-by-step instructions for how to make your very own incredibly affordable, renter and homeowner-friendly Roman shades (I did this second take during my daughter’s nap start to finish while stopping to take photos so yeah, it’s easy and fast). 

design by arlyn hernandez | styled by emily edith bowser | photo by veronica crawford | from: arlyn’s rental kitchen reveal Jjust might have you wishing you had brown—or even cherry— cabinets (yes, really)

How To DIY A Roman Shade From Mini Blinds

Project Total Time: ~2 hours

Supplies:

  • Decor-weight fabric
  • Lining fabric (if you plan on lining your Roman shade)
  • Cordless mini blinds (or corded, your choice, sized to fit your window either inside or outside mounted)
  • Fabric glue (I like Fabri-Tac but PLEASE test it out on your fabric beforehand to make sure it’s not visible through it once dry)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil or fabric marker
  • Iron and ironing board

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

First things first – round up your essentials. For the windows in my kitchen, I used lightweight linen from Tonic Living as well as a lining fabric since I wanted to line mine. It’s unnecessary to line your Roman shade depending on how well your fabric filters light. 

Step 2: Set Up Your Workspace

Depending on how large your Roman shade is going to be, you can either work on a table like your dining table, or on the floor. I worked on the floor as each of my shades was 75 inches long. It’s best to lay down either old cardboard, a tarp, or even an old shower curtain liner on the surface in case glue goes awry. 

Step 3: Ready The Fabric

Let’s prep that fabric. Measure your window (in theory, you should have already done this to buy the correct size mini blind) and add 4 inches to the width and 6 inches to the length to allow for a proper hem and seam allowance. Iron your fabric so it’s nice and crisp and mark the width and length you need. Cut fabric. 

Step 4: Iron Your Seams

I prefer the professional look of a double-folded seam. Here’s how you do it: On the vertical parts of your fabric (the left and right side), measure just shy of an inch, fold at that distance and iron. Then fold over another inch and iron again. Repeat that process for the top and bottom, but make your first fold just shy of an inch and a half and your second fold a full inch and a half for a total of 3 inches of fabric. Set your fabric aside.

HOT TIP: Before doing any gluing, lay your ironed fabric over your mini blind to make sure your fabric is wide enough to cover all the slats. If you overshot some of the seam allowances, you can always go back and iron again, but it’s much harder to fix after glue has been applied. 

Step 5: Glue The Seams You Just Created

In my first Roman shade attempt, I used iron-on hem tape for all my seams, but on my second go (here), I decided to just use glue instead. I gotta say, the glue is MUCH better and faster. Depending on the thickness of your fabric, the iron-on hem tape might not be strong enough to hold a double fold and will eventually start coming apart. 

Glue the first fold down, then the second. 

Step 6: Prep The Mini Blind

Now, onto the mini blinds – the unsung heroes of this DIY escapade. Lay them out fully open and pulled down on your work surface. Carefully (and I mean SO carefully), snip the ladder strings of the mini blinds. What you need to avoid is accidentally cutting the center string that operates the blinds. If you cut that, it won’t work. You’ll have to cut the ladder string off at the top and bottom. Discard.

Step 7: Decide On Roman Shade Fold Count

The whole look of a Roman shade is the folds in the fabric. I went with 8 folds for my Romans and think that worked nicely for my length (75”), but it’s totally a preference. Spacing of between 7-10 inches between folds is most common. (If you’re doing this alone, you may need to stack something heavy on the top and bottom of the mini blind otherwise it will try to close itself. Hence my books in the photo.)

Step 8: Remove, Cut, And Knot

The bottom bar of the mini blinds should have two to three plugs depending on the width. Pop those off (Gentle! We’ll be putting them back on) and set them aside. Grab that pull cord and slide off all the extra mini blinds you won’t need for your blind. Then tie a knot on the cord (if your mini blind is too long for your window, you can cut it to your preferred length here) and put back the plugs. 

HOT TIP: One version of the mini blinds I bought didn’t easily let me take the cord out of the plug, so I had to manually cut off every single slat instead. Consider that your Plan B if need be.

Step 9: Fabric And Blinds unite!

It’s time for the grand finale – fusing fabric and blinds. Lay those blinds on the wrong side of your fabric, measure the space between the slats you preselected, flip each slat over, apply a thin squiggly line of fabric glue on the rounded side, flip it back and gently set it into place. I found it helpful to mark the top of where I wanted each slat to sit on my fabric on both the left and right sides since things can easily shift. One sneeze and BOOM, all your measurements are off. Don’t forget to glue the top bar in place too (leave a quarter to half an inch of extra fabric above it for a clean look. 

HOT TIP: I made the bottom bar of my mini blind play the role of the final slat, leaving an additional few inches of fabric underneath it so I could slide a Roman shade weight bar into the bottom seam. For the record, this is the weight I used

Step 10: Let It Dry, Then Install And Marvel At Your Incredibly Budget-Friendly Roman Shade

Fabri-Tac dries very fast so you don’t have to wait long, honestly. From there, just follow the installation instructions that came with your mini blinds (or if you’re covering existing blinds, just pop it back in place!). 

design by arlyn hernandez | styled by emily edith bowser | photo by veronica crawford | from: arlyn’s rental kitchen reveal Jjust might have you wishing you had brown—or even cherry— cabinets (yes, really)

And that’s it! Again, I’d say you could do this in 1-3 hours, depending on the size of your shade, how focused you can be, and how many you are making. We love ours and they made such an enormous visual impact and difference in our kitchen without having to spend big bucks. 

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the steps. Happy to help you troubleshoot anything. Good luck, and don’t forget to share photos of the Roman shades you made on Instagram and tag @em_henderson so we can see, too! 

Your friend in affordable design, 

Arlyn 

Opening Image Credits: Design by Arlyn Hernandez | Styling by Emily Edith Bowser| Photography by Veronica Crawford | From: Arlyn’s Rental Kitchen Reveal Just Might Have You Wishing You Had Brown—Or Even Cherry— Cabinets (Yes, Really)

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