Friday, October 20, 2023

Silly Faux Roman Shades (That Took Years to Make) / Beauties Pageant 233

The usual quilting-related blog post is being preempted today by a rather annoying home dec project. The story is a boring one. The pictures? Not so great. But this has to be done! Because before this blog is a place to connect with other quilters, it is a personal journal of my sewing adventures, and it is better than any of my sewing notebooks, full of sketches and handwritten comments: I can’t misplace my blog, the posts are always legible, and I am able to search through my hundreds of past posts with ease.

Back in 2019—before Covid brought life to a standstill, before the cost of home improvement supplies soared through the roof—my husband and I redid our kitchen. The footprint worked well for us and went unchanged, but we retiled the floor, had the cabinets professionally refinished, and replaced all the appliances, which had already well outlived their projected lifespans.

As far as kitchen renos go, this one was substantial enough to disrupt our lives, and when we reached the fall of 2019, we had had enough. During the demo, we removed the window treatments throughout the first floor, figuring that we would deal with the dilemma in 2020.

None of us could have forecasted what 2020 had in store for the world, and needless to say, there was no sewing window treatments that year. Plus, my husband, boys, and I went months and months (and months!) without family or friends entering our house. Without the promise of visitors in the near future, and without the need for privacy in a house that’s surrounded by trees, the window-treatment project was not a priority. It was the albatross around my neck for years until, finally, I decided that 2023 was the year to address our bare windows.

Words of Wisdom 

Do you, too, have a curtain-less room?  Here are the words of wisdom I approach all window projects with ...

The only thing I hate more than sewing shades is paying someone else to make them. When you hire someone to make shades, the bulk of the bill is the labor, not the fabric. You can often make them for less yourself.

If you can get away with simple off-the-shelf drapery panels, however, buy them instead of sewing them yourself. First, you probably won’t save that much money making them yourself. Second, not sewing panels will free up your schedule for more quilting.

For my living and dining rooms, which function as one big room, I bought six drapery panels from Crate & Barrel. Four of those are used as curtains in the dining room. The remaining two I cut up and sewed into faux Roman shades for the living room. Using the same fabric creates cohesion between the rooms, and using panels in the dining room meant that I had to make three shades instead of five in those two rooms.

Don’t make functioning Roman shades when faux ones (that is, shades that do not raise and lower) will do. Regular Roman shades are more complicated to sew and require more fabric (and, therefore, more money). Originally, we had functioning shades in the kitchen, and they were not necessary. We never adjusted them.

If you have ridiculously large windows, look for home dec fabric that you looks good oriented lengthwise. Doing so will spare you from having to match repeats, which tends to be a cause of frustration and cursing for me. Because I used panels for the living and dining rooms window treatments, I didn’t have this luxury, but I used fabric length-wise throughout my kitchen.

Lessons Learned

The problem I have with window treatments is that I make them very infrequently yet expect my finished products to look professionally made. I know this isn’t reasonable, but it’s the truth. Here are some lessons I learned with my recent foray into home dec sewing ...

Your choice of lining matters. I mentioned that I cut up some panels for my living room. Instead of repurposing the lining from these panels, I bought a heavier product at my local big-box craft store because I think a substantial lining makes shades hang better. The problem was there was a difference in color. The panels had an ivory lining, and I bought a white lining for the coordinating shades. Sunlight makes the panels appear more ivory and the shades more off-white. (Did this mean I ripped the shades apart and remade them? Heck, no!)

Builders do not hang windows with your needs in mind. In my living room, the front two windows sit a little closer to the ceiling that the large picture window on the adjacent wall. I didn’t discover this issue until I had made all the shades the same length. My workaround was that the shade on the picture window has one fewer fold than the two smaller windows; that small tweak (unnoticeable to anyone but me) provided the extra length I needed.

Always buy extra fabric. Matching repeats (when I have to do it) requires extra fabric. So does centering a design on a shade, or in the case of my dinette area, aligning a design horizontally across adjacent windows.


There are bunches of places to buy fabric and window-related notions online. I bought my fabric here and my rings here. The YouTube videos I followed to make faux Roman shades can be found here and here.

If you have window treatments on your to-do list, godspeed to you!

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  1. I have two windows in the kitchen with no window treatments not even blinds - they face the woods and no need - the rest of them all have blinds in a brown wood color that goes with our house - I use to buy drapes, make drapes etc but they collect up so much dust - no more for me!

    1. HA! I hear you, Karen! When we originally took down our old treatments, my husband was lobbying not to replace them. But our house has big windows -- one kitchen window is 65" long, another is 80"! Although we don't need curtains or shades for privacy, we do need them to soften the windows.

      Full disclosure: I don't clean my curtains and shades nearly often enough. When I do, I use the attachment on my vacuum cleaner.

  2. How lovely they look! I can sure understand the angst of going through this process. In fact, I made the real thing - real Roman shades - for seven windows in my house. However, the difference is that we had no trees for privacy, and the windows were leaky - very noticeable in winter. I used a special insulating fabric to make shades that provided a barrier for the cold. They worked well. When we sold our home, those shades were immediately removed by the new owners. Interestingly, even though the house has changed hands twice since we lived there, all the interior pictures are still up on Zillow! Ha! That's where I can go to look at what I made! :-)

  3. “The only thing I hate more than sewing shades is paying someone else to make them.” Yessssss. Me too!!!!!
    “ The problem I have with window treatments is that I make them very infrequently yet expect my finished products to look professionally made. I know this isn’t reasonable, but it’s the truth.” Have you been secretly mining my thoughts?!!!


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