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DIY Roman Shades from Mini Blinds

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Turn those old mini blinds into beautiful roman shades with this easy tutorial.

This weekend I got a chance to work on turning my outdated mini blinds into new Roman shades and they look so good. I am mad I didn’t rid myself of the old mini blinds earlier.

The roman shades give our dining room a much more modern look. And it also means no more dusting blinds, a task that is hard and not fun!

DIY roman shades with printed fabric border that was matched up with this easy tutorial.

Roman shades are great because they still filter out light and offer lots of privacy, just like blinds. But they also allow you to add softness and color to your room with fabrics.

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Fabric window treatments allow you to add so much style, personality, and design to any room. These roman shades were made from scraps left over from an upholstered built in bench I made for our dining room.

But since I did not have enough fabric, plus I didn’t want the entire window treatment to be patterned, I paired it with a piece of drop cloth.

The drop cloth fabric holds up to lots of use, resists stains, and is a great neutral color. The mix of drop cloth and patterned fabric border make a custom window treatment that looks expensive, but was inexpensive and easy to make from the mini blinds.

Sew the Roman Shade Fabric

Roman-Shades-before-after

Figure out the Fabric Measurements

I am going to share my measurements for my 3′ x 5′ window, likely your window is a different size, so you will have to tweak the measurements.

Before figuring out your measurements, you will want to determine the following:

  • Width of decorative border
  • Finished size of roman shade

The finished width of your roman shade should be 1/2″ smaller than your inside of your window casing to allow the blinds enough room to move up and down.

I decided on a decorative boarder of 5″ around the perimeter of the drop cloth material with a 1/2″ accent trim on the inside of the border.

I recommend using a 1/4″ seam allowance. It makes it easy to add enough fabric to your pattern without a lot of math. Also, plan for a 1″ hem on the sides and bottom and 2″ to tuck over the top of the mini blinds.

So after I pieced the scraps of my printed fabric together, I cut out all my fabric pieces listed below.

Roman-Shade-Cut-List

Sewing the Trim Piece

The trim piece is does not impact the width of your middle panel or border since it is just a flap of trim in between the seams.

The trim is only attached into the seam, then folded over the middle panel and ironed flat. This gives the roman shades a professional accent that looks amazing.

The easiest option for trim fabric is to use bias tape. If you do not have bias tape, or don’t like the color options, you can learn how to make your own bias tape here.

Cheater Bias Tape Tutorial

Since the trim for the roman shades is a straight line, you can also make a cheater bias tape. Instead of cutting the fabric on a bias, you can just cut straight strips of fabric.

Then when you sew the strips together, sew the edges on a diagonal. This will prevent you from having a bulky seam the seam is harder to see.

After I cut a bunch of 1 1/2″ strips of fabric from my green scrap, I lined them up on the corner perpendicular to each other.  Then using my disappearing ink pen, I drew a quick line between the two outside corners.

Roman-Shades-1

Sew across this line.

Expert Tip:
Don’t bother back-stitching this line since the ends of the seam will be sewn into another seam, it saves a little time and hassle.

Then cut the excess off with scissors. If you have them, use pinking shears to keep your fabric from fraying.

Roman-Shades-2

Next you will want to iron the seam flat.  Don’t skip this step!  Ironing is so important to making an amazing and well sewn project.

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Repeat with all the seams you need to have a long enough “bias” tape piece for your roman shades.

Then iron the long strip in half.  Again, get a nice flat seam.  I love to use lots of steam to help with this.

Roman-Shades-4

Sew together the Roman Shade

Lay out your middle panel fabric, right side up and lay the trim fabric on the edge and then top it off with the border fabric, right side down.  

The border fabric will be longer than the middle panel. You will want to line up the pieces at the top and then leave the extra at the bottom so you can miter the corner at the end.

Pin it all really good to hold it together while sewing.

Roman-Shades-5

Before you start sewing, you will want to pin the trim fabric for the bottom border in under the trim fabric for the side. Then pin down the border.

I forgot to do this and had to unpick it, so don’t forget!

Roman-Shades-8

Now you can sew this seam from the top of the middle panel to the bottom of the panel. Use your 1/4″ seam allowance and back-stitch at the bottom of the panel.

Make sure you don’t sew past the end of the middle panel.

Expert Tip:
Use a 1/4 inch seam foot for sewing home projects with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  It has a little lever at exactly the 1/4 inch seam line when your needle is on center.

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Repeat the exact same thing on the other side.

After sewing both sides, it was time to go back to the iron. I really cannot stress enough how important ironing is! Iron the trim so it lays over the middle panel.

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This is what you will have at this point.  It already looks so pretty!

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Then you are going to lay your bottom border piece over the top of this, right side down. Center the panel so there are equal amounts on either side. 

Pin it real good and then sew from the edge of the middle panel to the edge of the middle panel. Don’t sew past the middle panel edges!

Roman-Shades-10

Now comes the trickiest part, mitering the corner. It really isn’t as hard as it looks, but there are a lot of layers at the corner because of the trim.

Fold over the middle panel at a 45 degree angle. Draw a line that continued from the edge of the middle panel to the corner.  This is the line you will sew along.

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Use lots of pins to hold everything together while sewing. Be careful to sew only from the edge of the middle panel, don’t accidentally sew onto it or you will create a funny tuck in your middle panel.

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Before trimming or ironing, open up your seam to make sure everything looks right.

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Then trim the excess fabric from the back and give it a nice pressing with an iron with lots of steam.  

Oh my goodness, that’s a pretty mitered corner!

Roman-Shades-14

Now you’ve got the beautiful Roman shades all sewn together.  The next part is the easy part, I promise!  

How to Create a Roman Shade from Blinds

To finish off the my Roman shade I used this awesome tutorial from Domestically Speaking. She uses black-out fabric, but I don’t want to black-out all the light so I left that part off.  

If you have a serger, sew around the entire outside to give a nicely finished edge. If you do not, you could fold a 1/4″ seam on the edge and sew it.

Then fold over and pin the 1″ hem that was planned for in when creating the pattern earlier.

Expert Tip:
Use a handy seam gauge to quickly fold over a consistent hem. This inexpensive sewing tool will become a favorite in your sewing room.

Roman-Shades-P2-2

Used fabric glue to glue down the entire hem. I chose to glue the hem instead of sewing it because I didn’t want to see the hem on the front side of the roman shade (and I didn’t want to sew a blind hem).

Plus you need the fabric glue for the rest of the project so it wasn’t an additional cost.

Be careful when you glue it. The glue leaked through the fabric a little and it stuck to my carpet. Oops!

Roman-Shades-P2-3

Once your hem dries fabric is all hemmed, you should head over to Domestically Speaking. She explains how to cut apart your mini blinds so well so I am not going to try to re-explain it.

After they were carefully taken apart, glued the top of the mini blinds about 1 1/2-2″ down from the top of the fabric (I didn’t really measure this out, just eyeballed it).

I was planning about 10 inches between the slats. But I wanted to leave the bottom border so it didn’t fold up in one of the shade’s pleats so I put my last slat just above the border.

Then I measured how much space was left in between and I had 55 inches. This left me with an 11″ space between slats.

Measure where your slats will go and make a mark on each side. The glue the slats so the top of the slat touches the mark.

Be very careful not to get any glue on the mini blind strings.

Roman-Shades-P2-4

Then I put the mini blinds back together.

To finish off the top of the mini blinds I wanted to fold the extra fabric over the top instead of hemming them. It did make it a little hard to clip back into the hardware on the the window, but I liked the way it looked and it didn’t add the bulk of a hem.

So I put a little fabric glue on the extra fabric on the top of the shade and tucked it over the top of the mini blinds. I used paper clips to hold it while it dried (it doesn’t take very long).

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Attach the blinds hardware to your window. I have deep window sills so I placed them close to the front so the Roman shade would be almost flush with the wall.

Roman-Shades-P2-1

Then all you have to do is clip the mini blinds into the hardware and PRESTO!

Roman-Shades-P2-Done

Here’s the before and after one more time.  It looks so great!  I’m very happy I didn’t put the mini blinds back up and just got after this project.

Roman-Shades-before-after

Now I want to turn all the mini blinds in our house into roman shades. They are so much more modern and I love the softness the fabric adds to the room.

DIY-Roman-Shades-from-Mini-Blinds

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