DIY: Roman Shades From Mini-Blinds

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Ready for another project that turned out WAY better than I thought it would? Take a look:

I’ve been seeing tutorials for roman shades all over Pinterest lately and knew just the place I wanted to try it out. Our brand new and improved Craft Room/Office! I started with mini-blinds that lived in the Office before Mega-Desk was introduced to the space (more on all that over here). We bought the blinds from Home Depot over a year ago and I’m pretty sure they were about $3 each. Add a some fabulous fabric, a sewing machine, glue, some motivation, and voila! Roman shades! :)

I referred to a few tutorials that I found on Pinterest (this one, this one and this one), but added some of my own touches. The first shade took me a bit of time to figure out what I was doing, but the 2nd and 3rd were pretty quick and painless! Only two are hung at the moment because we’re trying to find a replacement bracket for the 3rd blind. To say I surprised myself with this project is an understatement. These things are awesome! Much, much better than I thought they would turn out looking like. Being meticulous definitely paid off in this project. Hope you enjoy this tutorial! :)

Supplies Needed:

  • Cheap mini blinds
  • Fabric you love (I got mine at Hart’s Fabric for $10.99/yard. A stinkin’ DEAL!)
  • Lining fabric (I used cream colored muslin, you could upgrade this to a blackout fabric if you’d like)
  • Fabric Glue (I used Fabri-Tac Permanent Adhesive)
  • A sewing machine & thread to match your top fabric (or iron-on hem tape)
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Iron & ironing board

Step 1: Measure your windows. All of mine ended up being 1/4″ – 1/2″ different (oh the joys of old homes), so measuring each individual window opening proved to be helpful. Cut your top fabric to be 2″ wider than your window and 6″ longer too (my first window opening was 27″ x 45″, so I added 2″ to the width and 6″ to the length and cut my top fabric to 29″ x 51″).

Step 2: Cut out your lining fabric to the exact size of your window (I cut mine out to 27″ x 45″). Flip your top fabric over so it is face down and lay your lining fabric on the back. Adjust the lining fabric so that there is approximately 1″  of space on each side and 3″ on top and bottom.

Step 3: Fold the top fabric over the lining 1″ and pin. (This is where you could use the iron-on hem tape. If you’re going to do that, skip down to Step 6).

Step 4: Iron your folds well.

Step 5: Sew your layers together and set fabric aside for now.

Step 6: Extend your blind out all the way and lay on a flat surface.

Step 7: Cut the string that controls the angle of the blinds. It looks like a ladder. It is VERY important NOT to cut the thicker cord that actually lifts the blinds up and down.

Step 8: Pop off the plugs on the bottom weighted bar of your blinds. A butter knife or screwdriver will help you do this. Pull the string out the bottom and untie (or cut) the knot that keeps the cord from coming out of the bar.

Step 9: Decide how many folds you would like your blind to have. You will need one slat for every fold; your weighted bar will also create a fold, so take that into account (my window was 45″ tall, so I kept 5 slats + the bottom weighted bar equaling 6 folds that were 7 1/2″ apart). Take out the extra slats and throw away. Re-thread your string through the bottom weighted bar and make a temporary knot to keep it in place.

Step 10: Mark your spacing on the back side of your fabric (I marked six lines 7 1/2″ apart from starting from the top of the liner). 

Step 11: Lay your blind on top of your fabric and align the middle of each slat with your markings.

Step 12: Get your glue and carefully begin to glue down your pieces beginning at the top.

Because my blinds slide into a bracket with a small plastic piece that holds it in, I didn’t glue all the way to the edge of my top piece.

Glue on the curved side of your slat. I did a zig-zag pattern with my glue to cover as much area as possible without having to spread it with a brush.

Be VERY careful to not get any glue on your pull cord!

Flip over and firmly press down your slats, making sure that they are centered on your markings.

Step 13: When you get to your bottom piece, glue the front narrow side to the fabric and press firmly to set. Let it dry for a moment and then tie a knot in your strings. Don’t pull the strings too tight, but be sure they are not very loose. Replace the plugs and continue gluing the fabric to each side of the weighted bar.

When you get to the top of the weighted bar, snip a slit in your fabric to go around the pull cords. This is also a great time to trim any excess fabric off of what you have left. Just be sure to leave enough to cover the top of the weighted bar (I cut about 1/2″ excess)

Step 14: Let your finished blind sit for a few hours at least (overnight if you can) to let the glue really set up.

Step 15: Install your brackets on the side of your window frame (not the top!) Be sure to leave a smidge of space between the bracket and the top of your window frame. Take the excess fabric on the top of your blind and tuck over the top of your bracket. A few of the tutorials I looked at recommended using velcro to attach the excess fabric to the back of the bracket, but I haven’t done that yet. The fabric seems to be staying just where it’s at without any assistance, so maybe velcro won’t be needed.

Step 16: Step back and enjoy your finished product! :)

That third window is looking pretty lonely without a matching blind (which is finished, just waiting for a bracket). I’m so impressed with how these turned out! I spent a chunk of time on this project (probably 6ish hours split over 2 days) but the time investment definitely paid off.

This crosses off one to-do item from a list I made over on this original post about Mega-Desk:

  • Turn cheap mini-blinds into roman shades
  • Acquire another office-like chair & two chairmats
  • Create a station with some cork pieces, hanging organizers and a calendar for paying bills (maybe looking something like this, or even this)
  • Add some mason jars, cause you can never have too many (I really like this idea)
  • Add some additional overhead lighting
  • Organize the heck outta that closet. Sheesh, it needs some lovin’.
  • Work on better organizing my craft supplies on the shelves.

Let’s hope that I can keep up this momentum to continue crossing things off this list :)

Feeling accomplished,
Mrs. Edwards

41 Comments

  1. Mrs. Edwards,

    Kudos! Very innovative!

  2. This seems like a project I’d like to try, it sure would dress up any room and have a custom feel without the custom price . Awsome idea thanks for your easy to understand instructions!!!!

    L Krznaric

  3. Thanks for all the great photos and instruction. I made one over the weekend and it turned out perfectly. Everyone is amazed at how professional it looks!

  4. MRS EDWARDS,..I HAVE THE MATERIAL AND EVERTHING TO GET STARTED..MY AREA TO WORK IS 60 INCHES ,SO CAN TO SUGGEST HOW MANY SLATS I WOULD NEED INCLUDING THE BOTTOM…

    • Hi Frances, I would recommend placing your slats 6-8 inches apart. If you did 6 inches apart you could get an even 10 slats, including the bottom weighted portion. Hope this is helpful! Good luck!

      • thanks thats what a would do,the 6-8 is the only way…working with 7 and 3/4 will leave 3 1/4 inches at the bottom,small slat….

  5. Couldn’t wait to try this! My husband actually found this for me. I only wish I had read step 15 because my husband screwed the brackets into the top of the frame while I worked on the fabric. I had to make a few adjustments but it looks great! Thanks for the ingenious idea and instructions!

  6. These look great. I have been looking at these types of tutorials for awhile now but I’m nervous to actually do it! How do the blinds look from outside? I would be making them for my main floor windows, I am concerned about what the back of the blinds looks like from outside of the house.

  7. I don’t supposed you know the name of the fabric that you used. It is the same pattern as my nursery and I’ve been looking for it everywhere!!!

  8. Could you add a blackout piece of fabric or a plain liner to the back to make it look nicer on the back? My windows face my patio where people will be sitting.

    • I think blackout or a plain liner would look great! I didn’t have to worry about the backside of mine since they’re on a second floor window on the back side of our house. Good luck!

      • i have had great success making mine with your help…i want to send you a picture of mine….are you on facebook

  9. I will be making my own after pricing them at a local DIY store. Wow!! $200.00 for a 17×50 and a tad bit more for a 24×50 window!! I couldn’t believe it. Thank you for sharing. I’m off to the fabric store tomorrow:)

  10. I made two black ones with white backing for my kitchen windows, Then I added a valance that can be switched out as I feel like it. They turned out really great and I am now working on the ones in the foyer. My blinds came with the house so they are all mounted very close to the top. i just stitched across the top and only glued the middle on the top bar. seems to be working well and has a nice clean look!

  11. Thank you for this great idea! I have paid over $100 for the blind-type supplies and still never got it to work. Maybe I could do this. Was it hard to remove the blind slats that you didn’t want?

    • Hi Loretta – that was actually one of the easiest parts! Once you get the plugs popped of the bottom weighted bar, it is a breeze to untie the knot and slip off the slats that you don’t want. Let me know if you have any questions throughout the process! Good luck! :)

  12. WHAT A WONDERFUL PROJEST..WHERE CAN I SEN A PHOTO OF THE ONES I DID?

  13. I have micro mini blinds that I would like to repurpose for this project. Do you think I could use them? They are 1/2″ slats.

    • Hi Pam – I’ve never worked with micro blinds, but I think it you left a few more slats on (which would create more folds), that would give the fabric more space to “stick” to. Make sure to use good glue and I think you should be good! Let me know how it turns out!

  14. Thank you so much for such an easy to follow Roman blind editorial. I just made mine using a 20 year old dirty ugly mini blind and converted it to an elegant crisp looking Roman blind. My spare room looks “finished”. I used 100% cotton material and lined it before gluing on the slats. So easy to make. It took me all of 2 1/2 hours on a Wednesday afternoon and installed it this morning. Thank you again.

  15. Great tutorial! LOVING my new shades!!

  16. Thanks for the tutorial! I looked at many of these, but ended up copying you most closely because you had used a liner. My front fabric was ivory/dark cream, and I could only find pure white cut-to-fit mini-blinds (my windows were totally naked–oh my!–before this) so I added a piece of white drapery liner. Something that I did a bit differently was that I used fusible seam tape on the sides, so I only glued the slat to the inside edge of the side seam, and after the glue had dried, I pried up a bit of the side seam, tucked the mini-blind slat inside it and re-ironed. It made the shade look very finished from the back side! I also am thinking, after watching tutorials on making traditional Roman shades, that if the shade starts to sag, you could just hand tack a couple of stitches at each slat where the pull cord goes through–that would make it similar to a traditional shade. Thanks again!

  17. I realize you made these roman shades for your windows last year but I just was sent this article by a friend and its fantastic! I love your very detailed photos and the material you chose is really gorgeous. I definitely plan to try this and make use of the older blinds I still have in my windows. I wonder if it would work with faux wood blinds? :)

  18. I want to make these, but I’m worried about how child safe they are. Are the cords strangulation hazards? could a child “hang” themselves accidently from these?

    One of the other commenters mentioned putting a piece of fabric on the backside too, essentially encasing the cords and slats into a fabric “pocket.” They were wanting to do this for aesthetics, but I wonder if this would eliminate the exposed cords, perhaps making it more childsafe too.

    Has anyone ever tried this?

    • There is no more of a danger with these blinds than there is with normal mini-blinds. As long as you wrap the pull cord around a hook – out of the child’s reach – you should be okay. Great question!

  19. Pingback: Shades of our Lives | Adventures on C Street

  20. What a great idea!! I would never in a hundred years have thought of using my old blinds for this, but now that I’ve seen your tutorial, I can’t wait to try it! Since it’s been almost two years since the original post, I’m wondering how they’ve held up? Have you had good luck with their longevity, or have they started sagging, etc? I’m really keen to make a pair for my daughter’s room, and am hoping to put some initial time into the making-process, then not have to update/touch up the blinds for quite awhile :) Love the site — thanks again for the great tutorial!

    • They’ve held up pretty well for being in harsh, direct sunlight. I do need to re-glue one or two slats on mine. I think I just didn’t get enough coverage the first time around. So, my advice would be to glue really well the first time! Good luck with yours! :)

  21. I want to try for my kitchen but I’m concerned about cleaning them. Any suggestions on how make them so the fabric can be removed and put in the washing machine?

    • Hi Lisa – I suppose you could attach velcro to the slats (maybe with fabric glue or hot glue) and on the fabric too (I would sew it on). That would allow you to pull the fabric off and throw it in the wash. If you do end up doing it, let me know how it turns out!

  22. I love this DIY Roman Shade project and can’t wait to go fabric shopping. I have these aluminum blinds in my kitchen that have to go. We are going to do a whole kitchen renovation anyway, so I want everything new and different. If I can cut some costs that would be great. Your Roman shades will definitely cut some costs. I have a feeling that if this project turns out great, that I will do other windows like the two in my basement, and bathroom and maybe more. Thanks so much for your DIY project. The instructions look pretty clear and easy.

  23. I’ve noticed some sagging in the middle of shades made by others from mini blinds. Have you noticed any sagging on yours? Could the slats be strengthen by glueing two slats together?

  24. Could i stictch and glue and boning slats to the fabric?

  25. Love your tutorial! I didn’t seem to notice you mentioning how many yards of fabric you used? My blinds are 30in x 62in. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  26. I love this idea but, how do you clean them when they get dirty?

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