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No Sew Window Treatment: Relaxed Roman Shades

How to Make a No Sew Roman Shade for Any Window in Your Home

I have slowly been giving my mudroom a makeover. I am doing a little bit at a time. I started by painting the jelly cabinet, then painted the walls.  I am most excited by what I am going to do on the floor – more to come on that soon.  The last few days I have been working on a no sew window treatment.  I removed the wood blinds that have been hanging in the room for many years and replaced them with relaxed Roman shades.

Restoration Hardware Relaxed Roman ShadesNo Sew Roman Shade

Restoration Hardware

I was inspired to make them ever since I saw this one at Restoration Hardware.  I would have loved to buy this, but for the size I needed x 2, it would have cost over $500!

I shopped all around to find them for less, but all I could find were traditional Roman shades with the bars on the back and the bottom straight across, not soft and relaxed looking.  I bought and hung them, but did not like how you could see the horizontal bars through the fabric and there were too many cords hanging down that needed a mounted cleat.   I returned them.

I wanted simple, light, and airy.

So what does a DIY’er do when she can’t find what she wants – she makes it.

Overview of How I Made My Own No Sew Roman Shades

(Full tutorial below)

Mudroom showing a no sew Roman Shade on the exterior door

Here is my $15 no-sew version using a vinyl roller shade as the base.   It took some trial and error, but I am extremely happy on how they came out.

To hang the shades so the fabric rolls in front of the roller, I had to do a little hardware tweaking.  Most roller shades roll down with the fabric behind the roller. I didn’t want to see the roller.

DIY-no-sew-window-treatment Roman Shade on a window

On the door I used “outside mounting brackets”. I am going to paint the silver roller brackets to match the door when it gets a new coat of paint soon.

Restoration-Hardware-Knockoff-Relaxed-Roman-Shade on a window in a mudroom

On the window I used “inside mounting brackets”.

no-sew-relaxed-roman-shade hanging on window in a mudroom

To roll them up and down, I simply place my hand under the bottom fold and pull up or down – no cords or cleats needed.

No-sew-Relaxed-Roman-shade-window-treatment hanging from a window

I wanted the light to filter through my shades, but you can buy roller shades that are room darkening. If I was using a colorful fabric or print, I would use room darkening so the light would not change the look of the fabric’s colors.

How to Make a No Sew Roman Shade Using a Roller Shade as the Base

Supplies-needed-to-make-no-sew-relaxed-Roman-Shades

These shades are not hard to make – each step is simple, but there are a lot of steps.

  • Read through the directions first to acquaint yourself with each step.  Now that I have made two – I could whip one up in short order.

supplies needed:

  • Roller shade cut to size
  • Roller shade brackets
  • Roller Shade hem grip
  • Fabric – For length, you will need enough to cover the shade when it is rolled down to the window sill, plus add 18 inches. For width – width measurement of shade, plus at least 1-inch extra so you can turn back 1/2 -inch of fabric onto the back on each side of the shade.  (If using a printed fabric – make sure you center the pattern on the shade before cutting it).
  • Spray glue, hot glue and glue gun or fabric glue, and glue stick.
  • T-square or yardstick
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Pliers if you need to reverse the brackets

How-to-reverse-a-roller-shade-so-the-fabric-hangs-in-front-of-the-roller

Here is what a set of outside mounted hardware looks like.  Reverse hardware is made by a few companies, but I could not find it, so I tweaked the traditional hardware.

The bracket with the hole needs to go on the left ( it is made to go on the right).  Simply turn it upside down to hang on the left side. The bracket with the slot needs to go on the right. I used pliers to bend it the way I needed it.   The top left photo shows the brackets right out of the package. If hanging the roller with the fabric falling behind the roller – use as is.  If hanging with the fabric falling in front of the roller – bend the bracket in the opposite direction. The bottom photo is how it should look.

How-to-make-a-no-sew-relaxed-roman-shade

1. Hang brackets. Hang shade and unroll to the bottom of the window. Measure this open length.  Roll back up and remove shade.

2. Place shade on work surface and unroll making sure the side the fabric is going to be on is face up. Start at the bottom of the shade – measure up from the bottom to the top of the shade and mark where the unrolled length goes to, add 6-inches.

This is how much of the shade you will need to cover with fabric.  Draw a faint straight line with a pencil across the shade. This will act as a guide to keep the fabric even and straight when you glue it to the shade.  There will be 12-inches of fabric that will hang loose from the bottom of the shade when you attach it. This will be hand pleated and glued to create the relaxed bottom edge.

No-sew-window-treatment-tutorial

3. Mask off the bottom 5-inches of the shade with scrap paper and painter’s tape. You don’t want spray glue to get on this section.

4. Go outside to use spray glue. Hold rolled down shade in one hand– to expose the area where the fabric will be adhered.  Spray the glue all over the surface making sure to get edges.

Restoration-Hardware-Knock-off-window-treatment

5. Lay it on the floor and let the glue get tacky – about 2 minutes.   To attach the fabric – start at the top of the shade.   Roll the fabric loosely – so you can un-roll it down the shade as you work to press and adhere it to the shade. Line up the top edge of the fabric on the line you drew. Make sure the fabric is centered.

Start un-rolling the fabric, smoothing with your hands as you unroll the fabric.  When you get to the end – let the excess fabric at the bottom alone for now.

Instructions-for-no-sew-window-roman-shade

6.  Trim excess fabric on sides of shade if needed. (If using a light filtering roller  shade – make sure this cut line is straight and not jagged or you will see it when you hang the shade.)

No-sew-instructions-for-a-roman-shade

7.  Measure 5-inches up from the hem of the shade. Make a cut in the fabric that is to be turned to the back at this 5-inch mark. Repeat on the other side of the shade.

Relaxed-roman-shade-tutorial-no-sew

8. Run a glue stick along the excess fabric along the side of the shade and the edge of the shade. Fold over the fabric above the mark to the back of the shade.  Press with your fingers to make sure it sticks.  Fold the 5 inches below that to meet the edge of the shade, but not around to the back.  (This will create an unattached finished edge for the bottom pleating.)  

9.  Fold the fabric that falls from the bottom over 1/2” on each side and the bottom.  Press with your hands to make a finished edge.  Press with iron if needed.

No-Sew-fabric-window-treatment

It will look like on each side of the bottom of the shade.

window-shades-that-use-hot-glue-instead-of-sewing

9. Attach the bottom corner of the fabric that falls from the bottom of the shade to the bottom corner of the shade. Use a dot of hot glue to attach. (Make sure not to touch the tip of the glue gun to the vinyl or it will melt it.)  

Repeat on the other side.

No-sew-Relaxed-Roman-Shade-how-to-tutorial

10. The excess center fabric will hang from the bottom.  Using your hands – create loose pleats.

No-Sew-Window-Treatment-Ideas

11.  Place a dot of hot glue or fabric glue under each pleat and on top in between each pleat. Gently press into the shade.

Easy-no-sew-window-treatment-ideas

The bottom will look straight, but when it is hung – the center fabric will softly fall to create the relaxed look.

Roller-Shades

Attach the hem grip. This will help keep the shade fingerprint smudge free.

DIY-window-treatment-ideas

It is ready to hang in roller shade brackets.

No-Sew-Roller-Shades-to-look-like-a-relaxed-roman-shade

Once hung – use your fingers to arrange the pleats into soft folds.

Simple-no-sew-window-treatments

I have changed a lot in this mudroom, even the painted rug that you see on the floor in this photo. I painted a new more colorful rug over it. You can see it here –How to Paint a Rug on the Floor

No-Sew-Relaxed-Roman-Shades-made-using-a-vinyl-roller-shade

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55 Comments

  1. You’re brave! I was quoted a price of $675 for two panels for one window! I though I can make these myself! Soo….. I’m going to attempt these and hopefully I can do them! You inspire me! So here goes!!

    1. Hi Evelina – The custom made expense for window treatments is crazy! If you take your time and measure twice before cutting, it should not be too hard to make the shades if it is something you haven’t done before. I was very happy with my outcome.

  2. Cute idea, just remember child safety if using cords. Ring Locks are the least expensive way to protect your kids for shade cords. You can find out about ring locks at Home Sewing Depot

    PS, I also use Sealah tape for my no sew projects, a double sided adhesive that is machine washable. You can even hem you kids pants with it.

  3. I love the way these look! Im going to do this diy project this week. What roller did you buy to hang them?

    1. Hi Sarah – I bought the plain white vinyl roller shade at Lowes in the window treatment aisle. They cut it to size for me in the store. It you want you can remove the vinyl shade and then attach a new piece of fabric that is trimmed/hemmed to size to the metal roller with duct tape. If the roller is wood, you can use a staple gun to attach your DIY fabric to the roller.

  4. Really loved your project! I have tried to cover my roller shades with fabric in the past and couldn’t make the fabric stick to the shade (I have light filtering rolls). Any tip or favorite kind of glue? Did you hold the shade vertically when spraying the glue? Thank you so much

  5. Hi, curious how these are holding up after three years? I’m torn between buying roman shades online or making them myself but this may be a pretty easy solution…my windows are 36 x 72. Please come back to let us know how these are doing!

    1. Hi Jennifer – The Roman Shades have held up fine, even after being moved to three different apartments that my daughter lived in. She used the shades at each place she lived while in med school. She still has the shades now, but they do not fit any of the windows in the house she now lives in.

      If you are torn between buying or making, I would ask yourself… how important function is for you? If you need to open and close the shade daily in the morning and evening, you might want corded Roman shades that make it easy to open and close.

      1. Hi Diane,
        Function is not entirely important…I’d imagine I’d set it to a certain height and then it would probably stay that way. This would be for my formal dining room, so no real privacy necessary. Thanks for the reply!
        -Jennifer

  6. Thank you for this excellent tutorial! I love your blinds! Before I attempt this myself, I’m wondering something. Do the shades actually roll all the way up? I want to be able to see lots of the window and let in maximum light during the day but to close them all the way at night. Are they truly functional? Thank you!

    1. Hi Cindy –

      Yes, the roller shades I made to look like relaxed Roman shades are truly functional. The shades will go up all the way if you set the roller shade mechanism tight. You also have to make sure the fabric is thin cotton and applied very flat to the existing roller shade fabric. To tighten the roller shade mechanism, remove shade from window. With your hands unroll the shade down about 3/4, then roll it back up tightly. Replace on window and see if the mechanism is tight enough to roll the whole shade up. If not, repeat the unrolling and rolling back up process.

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  10. I was really excited to try this with a room in my house! But, I found a few things that may have been good to know before I started because I have never bought fabric before and am ignorant of some basics. Most thin print fabric (I really wanted a print!) only comes in 44″ width. I need 48″ for the windows I am making. At this point, my shades are up and I am still on the hunt for the perfect fabric. I would welcome any suggestions as the pretty fabric I am finding is way too heavy to use. :-(

    1. Hi Diane – Sorry that I did not point out that there are different widths of fabric. I have been DIYing for so long that I sometimes forget to go back to the basics for readers just learning how to do things. Most fabric is 44″- 45″ wide, but “Decorator Fabric” is 54″ – 56″ wide. It is usually, but not always a heavier weight and more expensive. I am always thrilled when I find a nice decorator look fabric in the novelty print or basic fabric selections.

      JoAnn Fabrics has a great selection of both kinds of fabric. It is where I but most of mine. I also like Fabric.com. As a rule of thumb, if you have to seam fabric to get the width you need, you make two seams instead of one. Use the entire width of the fabric and add a piece on to each side to get the width you need. It looks better than having one seam run down the middle of your window.

      I don’t have a post on how to make a no-sew seam, but it is very easy. I will create a post soon about this.

  11. These are absolutely gorgeous and your tutorial is very easy to follow!
    I’m looking for something “natural” for my “dining al fresco” dining room – teak table/chairs, sky blue walls, tree branch as a lamp and string lights for a chandelier – and these will be perfect!

  12. The modification removing the vinyl sounds like a great idea and allow me to use the heavier cotton or linen I am thinking about using. My next problem is that I want to use an outside mount to cover all of the frame, but I have three windows together, one large and two smaller (overall length is 112″) Guess I will have to make a fabric valance to cover all of the mountings and mount the shade, rolled backwards, so it is flush against the frame. Valance will cover the roller. Or is there a better way?

    1. Hi Maggie – I think I would do it the same way you explained. Long windows are always the hardest to figure out since you need to add support in the center for the long valance. I might try making the shades as an outside mount on my bedroom windows so that I don’t have the light coming in on the sides of the shade. They are only 32″ wide. I think I will spray paint the hardware white. If it looks OK, I will leave it alone. IF not, I may try to make a small valance out of wood molding. If it comes out OK, I will post the valance idea when it is completed.

  13. I priced relaxed Roman shades online for my bedroom, with a privacy lining and using a plain cotton fabric – for my 5 windows it was $1700. I want to try this – will they hold up to daily raising and lowering? Widest one is 52″.

    1. Hi Maggie – I have raised and lowered them daily since I made them and they work perfectly. I would like them on every window in my home also. I may try making one using the roller from the cut shade, but take off the vinyl just to see how it would look without the vinyl backing. To do that, I would cut the fabric the size of the vinyl and staple the top edge to the roller. Then pleat the bottom onto soft folds. If I have success, I will post how I did it.

      1. I would love to see it without using the vinyl shade portion. My windowed front door views directly into my living area, so would like something that raises to let daylight in and lowers for privacy. My door is also metal…
        Thank you?

        1. Hi Dawn – You can make it without the vinyl shade. You can remove it from the roller and then simply attach the fabric shade you make to the roller. You will still be able to move it up and down.

  14. Your window covering is so lovely. I’m going to try to make one this weekend. I am not good at DIY projects so I’m a little nervous. Can you tell me what kind of fabric you used for your project?

  15. Thank you so much for posting this. I would need 4 of the restoration hardware shades. Such a money saver!!!

    1. Hi Sarah – I attached the fabric to the shade with spray glue. The fabric is not as long as the entire length of the shade, but only as long as needed when the shade is closed. It is thin fabric and rolls right up with the shade.

  16. I can’t wait to do this in my office! I’ve had the fabric for a year or two but wasn’t sure how to go about creating this look easily – thank you for sharing!

  17. I love your roman shades & need to make some. If i can ask where did you buy roller shades & what brand? Thanks for any help you can give me. :)

    1. Hi Kris – I used cheap-o vinyl ones that I bought at Lowes. Levelor was the brand. Walmart sells another brand that you can size yourself. I really wanted cloth ones , but could not find any without a chin style roll up feature. I wanted simple.

      1. What type of fabric did you use for these no sew relaxed roman shades? I love the light airy feel would like to try copy it. Thanks .LeeAnn.

        1. Hi LeeAnn-

          It is simple white cotton that I bought at JoAnn Fabrics. When you hold it up to the light and move your hand behind it, you should see the shadow of your hand. I hope this helps since it does not have a pattern name. I plan on making a few more soon. They have held up beautifully.

  18. I used to teach folks to make their own custom shades with something like a contact paper thingy…. many years ago at Hancock Fabrics (just part of my job as Drapery and Upholstery department person. And this tutorial of yours is much better and I am going to say much cheaper than buying the ‘stuff’ to put the fabric on with. Wonderful job and so very beautiful.

  19. Hi Diane, I have been admiring your creativity for some time now and finally decided to do this project. The shade came out really nice and I thought my material would be thin enough. Unfortunately, my roll became too large to roll more than half way. This is on a door that is almost all glass. I am now hoping to find brackets that will accommodate a larger roll. Have any ideas? Thank you for being willing to share your many talents!

    1. Hi Evie –
      So happy to hear that you dove in and did this. Just know in the DIY world – there is always a way to get things done, fixed, etc.
      First I would do a Google search for “extended roller shade brackets” and see if you can find ones in the depth you need. These might take your roller shade out too far away from the window though. If this is the case, I think what I would do is take the brackets down and cut out small blocks from wood to the depth needed so the shades will roll up all the way. Mount the wood blocks on the window and then mount the roller shade brackets on top of them. This should give you the depth needed. Paint the blocks the same color as the window trim.

      Another thing that roller shades need every once in awhile when they start to get sluggish or don’t roll up all the way, is to unroll them half way and then roll them up tight again. This will help with the spring mechanism. You will find after doing this – the shades will roll up easily and all the way to the top.

    1. Hi Kelly – Thanks, I am probably going to make more using a colorful fabric next time. I am all about no-sew or easy sew. I once made a window treatment using a M’Fay pattern. Hard! It took me 3 days and looked horrible when I was done :)

  20. I love this project, Diane! I’m normally not a big fan or roman style shades but I sure love the light, airy look of these…and no exposed cords to mess with. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  21. Diane,
    I too love to craft, but this one great idea of your may not work with my windows. Diane, do you know if shades come in 10 foot lengths? I live in a loft and have 10 windows but want to do only 6 windows in my living room/dining room.

  22. Thanks, Diane! This is just what I needed for my back door–soft and light-filtering, but easy to raise. Great job!

  23. Brilliant. I need something to replace expensive custom roman shades that were damaged in a wind storm by a deck umbrella. Long story. LOL Been trying to think of a much cheaper but nice-looking alternative. I think this may be it!!!! Thanks!

  24. Great tutorial, Diane, thank you for sharing! I love the casual, finished look of your final product! My daughter and I just made white roman shades from mini blinds for her room yesterday. I’ll have to remember this tutorial for the next window project.

  25. Love this look, and I have a window door like this in my laundry room that could happily use this treatment. Thank you for your excellent instructions on how to make this shade.

  26. Diane these look really good…the white looks so clean and fresh. I made some for my kitchen just like those except mine are plaid…I have really enjoyed them…I just love all your projects..

  27. Hi! Diane
    Love the look! Your blinds look so clean and fresh, so simple yet so stylish!~
    Love your site! and love all of your style! Thanks so much for sharing.
    Have a good day :)
    Lou