Ask Design Mom: Roman Shades

September 23, 2010

Dear Design Mom. My question is about cafe curtains or roman shades for my kitchen.  I see so many beautiful ones on design blogs that are custom made with beautiful designer fabric, but I can’t spend that much on kitchen curtains.  Is there a good resource for this online.  You have such impeccable taste, I hope you can help me out.  Thanks, Laura

You’re in luck, Laura! Roman shades are actually very simple to put together — fabric, dowels, safety pins, string — put them together and voilá! you’ve got a roman shade. It’s slightly more complicated than that, but not difficult at all. And happily, there are lots of great Roman Shade DIYs on the interwebs. Here’s a good one. And here’s another good one that uses a mini-blind as a base. So my suggestion is to seek out some fabric you love that’s in your price range. I’ve seen roman shades made with simple calicos and heavy upholstery fabric and everything in between — so you have tons of options as far as fabric is concerned and can be sure to find a bargain.

What about you, Dear Readers? Any great sources for roman shades? Have you ever made a set yourself?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jamie September 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I buy roman shades on clearance at JCPenney or Target – doesn’t matter what color they are – and then cover them in great fabric. I’ve done this throughout my entire house and it is so easy! I’m moving into a new home next week and have done shades for the entire house for $450 ($275 for the shades, on clearance at JCPenney, $150 for some great Amy Butler and an Ikat print fabric off of Simply lay out the roman shade, cut your fabric about an inch or two wider for side and bottom seams. Then fold back and press the one-inch give to fit the shade exactly and pin the fabric into place. Then simply stitch the fabric over the pleats, and instead of stitching down the sides, I just fabric glue the ironed seam down.


2 Design Mom September 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

That’s brilliant, Jamie! Simply genius.


3 Michelle September 23, 2010 at 8:25 pm

I also got my roman shades at They’re nice quality and look great, but not super expensive. I got ones with no dangly strings for the nursery.


4 Kelly September 23, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I did a cafe curtain for my kitchen with some plain white twill (really cheap) and then I added green ricrac near the bottom. It looks very fresh yet retro. I just measured the window then cut two pieces of fabric to the correct size adding extra for seam allowance and a pocket for the curtain rod and then sewed it together.


5 Lisa September 23, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I am having a big, operable roman shade made by Tonic Living for my kitchen for right at $200 for the fabric and the shade!


6 Laura September 23, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Thanks for answering my question Design Mom. This is great! I can’t wait to choose some fabric and try one of these DIY options!


7 Susan K September 25, 2010 at 8:30 am

Please be aware that new safety regulations are being put into place right now for roman shades. ALL cords will either need to be concealed or completely removed (regulations are being announced Monday) to prevent strangulation or injury to children. This means the cords that raise and lower the shade as well as the strings typically behind the shade…many children have been severely injured or even died from entanglement. These rules may also be applied to blinds and even traversing draperies. So please consider safety issues along with design issues to protect your children while you are beautifying your home.


8 Torrie @ a place to share... September 25, 2010 at 8:57 am

Thanks for these additional resources and links!

Here is a link for roller blinds, via design*sponge…


9 Jody September 26, 2010 at 12:00 am

My mom and I made a roman shade for my kitchen window. I was able to use the same fabric to make a valance for my breakfast nook. Both were surprisingly easy (although it did take some time to assemble everything) and it was nice to be able to pick out the fabric I wanted to use.


10 Lisa September 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm

I’ve made roman shades. They are easy and fun to make.

However, now that I’m a mother of 5 littles (ages 8 to 21 month old twins), I’d rather spend my spare time playing with my kids than sewing. I found someone on Craigslist that lives near me and sews for $15/hour so I take my projects to her and she appreciates the work. We’ve become friends and it has really worked out. Good luck!


11 Dee Wilcox September 27, 2010 at 7:48 am

Thanks for sharing this! My husband and I were debating over our own blinds-related dilemma this weekend. I think I might just take them down altogether and make up some Roman shades. :) I appreciate the tip!


12 Ashlea Walter September 27, 2010 at 9:33 am

Ditto on the JC Penny ones. We have a house filled with them. And they seem to always be on sale. The Ikea ones are terribly junky, in my humble opinion.


13 annette September 30, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I have done quite a few, and they were very doable, especially since they were my second sewing project after making pillows. I used a great tutorial from a Singer sewing book. I tend towards the balloon bottoms, they are very forgiving.


14 Maria Petrova October 17, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Thank you Gabrielle for this, and thanks everyone for your feedback — I’ll be making these in a couple of weeks! Thanks for your encouragement!


15 Joanne May 28, 2012 at 8:58 am

I want to make roman shades for my kitchen window which is 6 ft. wide. There is no separation in the window by wood, all one window. Is it possible to make them in one piece and still have them roll properly? I plan to put dowels in the pleats.


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