Here’s another tutorial from my Wild & Whimsical Pink Kitchen Makeover, as promised – all the details on how I created this faux Roman shade in the window seat nook:
When I came across this bold and graphic tiger print (Le Tigre Pimento by P. Kaufmann), I knew it had to play a part in my kitchen design! It was the perfect proxy for my inspiration fabric, Scalamandre Zebras – a similar red background and black and white large-scale wild animal design.
A Roman shade seemed like the perfect way to display the pattern, and I loved the idea of juxtaposing such a classic window treatment with this utterly zany fabric.
However, I knew I wasn’t interested in actually figuring out how to concoct a working shade. As you can see in the first two pictures, the window already had white blinds installed, so all I needed was the look of a Roman blind – it could be completely fake and completely stationary.
I came across several tutorials online that I used for reference. I ended up striking out in my own direction, but this post from Kristi at Addicted2Decorating and this post from Beth at Home Stories A to Z were both helpful in figuring out how exactly I wanted to tackle this project. I followed some of Kristi’s tips when it came to sewing the actual shade, but ended up using tension curtain rods like Beth.
I’m not much of a seamstress at all (I actually bought my sewing machine for the purpose of making this shade!), so believe me when I tell you that if I can make this, anyone can!
Step One: Measure Your Window
Measure your window. This faux Roman shade relies on tension curtain rods to create the illusion, so it will be mounted inside your window frame.
Mine is actually a little wider than the window frame, since the window seat walls allowed me to mount the shade just outside the window.
My window seat: 80″ wide by 70″ tall.
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Step Two: Gather Supplies
- Fabric – I purchased 5 yards of fabric. If you have a wide window, you’ll want to take the fabric’s repeat into consideration.
- Matching thread
- 1″ x 2″ x 8′ board – This will help form the top of the shade. I spent a little more for a nice hardwood board, so I could count on it lying flat.
- Contrasting 1″ ribbon – I chose black. I actually wish I had gone with a thicker ribbon, so if you have a wide window, you might want to look at the 2″ ribbons.
- Tension curtain rods x 3 – Purchase one that will work for the width of your window. Mine were 48-84″ rods.
- Sewing gauge
- Sewing machine – this is the one I purchased and I’m really happy with it so far! It was a minimal investment and is pretty straight-forward: exactly what I needed.
Step Three: Cut the fabric
Remember those window measurements? Good. Add 4″ to each measurement.
I needed a piece that was 84″ wide by 74″ tall. Since my upholstery fabric was only 54″ wide, this meant I would need to do some creative piecing. So I started by cutting a piece to the correct length, 74″.
If you’re like me, this is the step that will take the longest. The thought of cutting into my pristine yardage had me procrastinating on this project until the last minute! Just remember: measure twice, cut once.
I used my entryway tile as a cutting surface – the grout line between two tiles served as a nice guide for my scissors.
And of course, Midna was there to lend a helping hand (paw):
If your window is wider than the width of your fabric, like mine was, you will need to do some piecing to add width.
I learned from Kristi’s post not to place the seam in the middle of the shade, but rather to use a full width of fabric in the middle and then match the pattern on either side of it.
When you’re dealing with large pieces of fabric, it’s hard to take photos that make sense, so hopefully the diagram above helps you understand how I matched the pattern on either end of my center piece to get a total width of 84″.
Step Four: Sew the pieces together
Some careful pinning and even more careful stitching, and my pattern matching actually worked! It wasn’t absolutely flawless, but I’d say it was pretty good for an absolute beginning sewer.
This is the sewing machine I purchased on Amazon, the Brother CS6000i. I was intimidated to start sewing, but I pored over the user manual (yep, that’s how I roll!) and have found it incredibly easy to use so far. It has 60 pre-programmed stitches, including some incredibly fun designs like a Greek Key pattern and a daisy chain! And as someone who will use it only occasionally, mainly for home decor projects, the price point made it extremely attractive!
Step Five: Hem
As a brand new baby sewer, I’m extremely grateful to a friend for telling me I absolutely needed a sewing gauge to make my hems.
If you’ve never seen one either, they are super nifty little rulers with a slide. You use them to help you fold over the correct amount of fabric. I used 1″ for the sides of my shade, although really it becomes 2″ on each side because you fold over twice.
Iron the fold.
Fold over again, iron again.
I wanted a heftier hem on the bottom of the shade, so I did a 2″ hem down there. The top does not get hemmed.
Step Five: The top of the Shade
Cut your 1″ x 2″ board to the width of your window, in my case 80″.
Remember how I didn’t hem the top of the shade? That’s because it gets stapled to the top edge of the 1×2, finished side up like this:
Step Six: Mount the shade
First, predrill your 1×2 for the screws. I did the middle and both ends.
Your 1×2 now gets mounted directly to the window well, with the stapled edge of the fabric hidden. Because I was mounting my shade inside the window nook, I screwed my 1×2 to the “ceiling” of the nook using 2″ wood screws into the studs.
Step 7: Add tension rods
The placement of your tension rods is entirely up to you – you’ll want to experiment to find the perfect height for each one. I place my bottom rod at about the 1/3 mark of the window, and then the other rods a few inches above.
At this point, I also added a length of ribbon to cover my seams at each end of the shade. Right now, it’s just pinned at the top of the shade and hanging freely.
You’re going to pull the shade up create a large loop over the 1st tension rod, leaving a 5-6″ tail.
Next, pull a loop of fabric up over the second tension rod, overlapping the first loop.
Finally, pull the rest of the fabric in a loop over the third tension rod. At this point, you can play with each fold to adjust its length, straighten it out, and help smooth it down.
Now, tuck the ribbon through each tension rod and pull it just barely taut. The ribbon will help hold each loop in place, as well as hide the seam. Tuck the ribbon under the bottom hem and safety pin it in place on the back of shade.
Confused? I made a gif so you can see how it works:
If you want, you can glue the ribbon at the top of the shade and even at the bottom edge. I like having it pinned in place so I easily let the shade down if I want (like when I needed to capture some “in-process” photos for this post!) and maybe even switch out my ribbons for some wider ones in the future.
This faux Roman shade really helped transform this window seat into a magical little alcove!
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