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Roman blinds are incredibly popular at the moment and are a relatively simple blind to sew as long as you follow a few basic rules! But first, make sure that you understand exactly what a roman blind is and how it works! Read on...

A roman blind is a blind without any gathers, that forms soft pleats when raised and falls completely flat when lowered. It is attached to a wooden batten at the top and the pleats are kept in place by dowel rods or slats that are sewn into casings on the lining. A cording mechanism that is attached to the dowel rods or slats on the reverse of the blind enables it to be raised and lowered. See diagram

In this section, we have picked out a few tips from our publication TEACHYourself ROMAN BLINDS which we hope will guide and inspire you as you get started. Once you feel ready to have a go, the full guide will take you through every stage of the design and making-up processes step-by-step.   Remember, if there are any terms that you are not familiar with you can find a simple definition in our glossary.

Consider your design options

Firstly, don't be tempted to make a very wide roman blind. You will be on the way to disaster before you start! It will almost certainly sag in the middle and not draw up and down properly. I always recommend starting with a blind that is no wider than one width of fabric. If you have a very wide window but would still like to use roman blinds, my advice would be to make more than one and place them side by side.

You are probably familiar with a plain roman blind with a straight lower edge. This is the best place to start, as the design is simple and therefore you are more likely to achieve a good result. However, lets assume you have mastered the basic construction techniques and would like to create something more adventurous!
What are your design choices?
  • Shaped bottom fascias
  • Decorative edgings applied to a straight bottom edge
  • Contrasting borders either inset or applied to the outer edges
  • Straight lower edges that are double piped or trimmed with a commercially made trimming
Classic combinations
Roman blinds that are just one part of an overall window dressing can be fabulous! Try putting one underneath a stiff pelmet that is shaped or trimmed in the same way as the blind, as shown in the examples here. Trimmings and co-ordinating borders can be used to great effect on the roman blind to tie it in perfectly with the shape and style of the pelmet.
Roman blind with straight lower edge and co-ordinating piped inset border Stiff pelmet and roman blind - with shaped bottom fascia and co-ordinating trim
Piping along top edge of border section Commercially made trim applied to bottome edge of blind
Stiff pelmet and roman blind both with co-ordinatng straigtht bottom edges and piping Stiff pelmet and roman blind with co-ordinating shaped bottom fascia, border and piping
If you feel the window needs curtains as well, then you may want to go for dress curtains and let your roman blind provide the privacy you need. This is so often a good solution for a problem window that has a radiator underneath. Long curtains look elegant, but working curtains would cut out the heat to the room if constantly drawn. With a roman blind and dress curtains you avoid this problem.
Choose the right face fabric
With roman blinds it is particularly important that you use the right type of fabric. Choose a closely woven fabric that is fairly stiff. Any pattern must be either printed or woven at a true right angle to the selvedge, distorted patterns are a disaster as there is no room for adjustment on a roman blind. Stripes and checks work really well and are always my own personal first choice.
You will probably be picking a fabric that co-ordinates with the rest of the room scheme, so be careful when making your initial choice to ensure that the scale of the pattern is correct for the size of the window and the room setting. A large pattern on a small roman blind may look overpowering and the pattern is likely to lose its affect when the blind is drawn. Small patterns or plain fabrics often work best.
These basic tips should rove invaluable when planning your roman blind designs, take care when selecting fabrics and ensure you have a good set of sewing instructions that set out all the materials you will need as well as detailing the cutting out, construction and hanging stages. Simply Furnishings can help you with these next steps if you are now feeling sufficiently inspired and ready to have a go!
Next Steps
When making roman blinds or any other type of soft furnishing it is important to ensure that you have taken the time to practice some basic sewing techniques first - unless of course you are an accomplished seamstress! Then, make sure that you have all the right sewing tools and materials to hand, for example: a suitably large work surface, a metal ruler and/or L-square for accurate measurement, tailor's shears for cutting out (good quality sharp scissors are a must!), and the correct weight of thread. We have provided a handy check list of basic sewing equipment in our free introductory sewing guide which you can download from SimplyFurnishings.com in just a few seconds. The guide also includes practical instructions on how to achieve a range of basic but essential stitches and seams that you will need when making curtains or other soft furnishings. View and print the 30 page guide now or save it to disc for later, it should prove an invaluable addition to your sewing workroom!
If you would like some help with the more practical aspects of making roman blinds, our two part step-by-step sewing guide is available in print or on a comprehensive CD ROM alongside other soft furnishings projects - it could be just what you're after. TEACHYourself ROMAN BLINDS can be ordered online in just a few minutes and delivered to you anywhere in the world! The guide provides comprehensive, easy to follow instructions and illustrations that will enable you to make your own stunning roman blinds in a range of styles.
One last tip - as with all sewing projects make sure you take your time over the preparation stage and plan thoroughly to avoid mishaps!

Good luck!
Wendy Molnar

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