Turning Drapery Panels into a Faux Roman Shade

After adding a DIY Bookcase and Window Seat in our master bedroom the drapery panels that flanked the window were now too long. I'm not a fan of drapes hemmed short and considering we have blinds on the window for privacy I decided to turn the drapery panels into a faux roman shade.

Faux Roman Shade made from drapery panels

Turning Drapery Panels Into A Faux Roman Shade

Here is what the window looked like with the drapery panels.

Drapery panels to be repurposed into a faux roman shade

...and here it is after we added the built-ins. Do you see what I mean about having nowhere to re-hang the panels?

Repurposing existing drapery panels into a faux roman shade to accommodate new DIY Custom Built-Ins

So here's how I did it...

Supply List
  • 2 drapery panels
  • coordinating color thread
  • 1 pkg. plastic drapery rings
  • polyester drapery cord
  • 3 L-brackets
  • Americana Multi-Surface Paint in the color Turquoise Waters
  • 1 x 2 board
  • 5 Eye hooks

I used the original hemline on the bottom and sides of the drapery panels. This way I knew the shade would be square I like to take the easy route.

Diagram 1 in making a faux roman shade

STEP 1: Measuring the width of the shade
Diagram 2 in making a faux roman shade
  • The window is 74 1/2" wide.  One drapery panel wasn't wide enough so I had to sew both together to get the required width.
  • I strategically placed the seam where the crank out window begins on the left side (see the first two photos of this post).
  • I cut one drapery panel 28 3/4"wide (allowing for a 1/2" seam allowance).  Remember I am using the original hem on both sides of the blind so I didn't need to measure for a seam allowance on the left - only where the two pieces will join.
  • The second drapery panel is cut 46 3/4" wide (again allowing for a 1/2" seam allowance only where the two pieces join).
  • Using a seam ripper I let down enough of the original bottom hem to sew my two panels together and then I reattached the hem.
  • You can see in Diagram 2 that the original hem is 7".

STEP 2: Measuring the length of the Shade
Here's where there is a lot more measuring involved and I hope you can follow my gibberish.
  • In Diagram 2 you can see that I cut the fabric 42 1/2" long from the bottom hem.
  • Here is how I arrived at that magical number.  Each of my folds are going to be 4" long.  In order to do that you need to double the fabric for each fold.  Meaning they each will take 8" of fabric.  Are you with me so far?
  • We have a total of 4 folds so 8 x 4 = 32"
  • From the last fold at the top we have a hem of 8".  So 32" (measurement above) + 8" = 40"
  • You can see in Diagram 3 that the shade gets mounted onto a piece of wood.  We will need an additional 2 1/2" of fabric to wrap around the wood.  So 40" (measurement above) + 2 1/2" = 42 1/2"

STEP 3: Creating a Faux Ribbon Trim
Diagram 3 in making a faux roman shade
  • Attach painter's tape (I prefer using Frog Tape) along the inside of the side hem.  Sorry I forgot to take a picture of this step.
  • Using a small brush paint the left and right hem.  Because the shade will be seen outside I painted mine on both the front and back.  You don't have to do this step but you will get paint bleed underneath so you may as well take the time to do it.
  • Before the paint dries remove the tape.  Tip:  Remove it by pulling at a 45° angle away from the fabric.  It lifts better and you don't risk getting wet paint onto the fabric.  That's just the way I rock 'n roll with the painter's tape!

STEP 4: Attaching Drapery Rings
Diagram 4 in making a faux roman shade
Warning, more creative math about to take place and I hope I don't confuse the heck out of you during this step.

  • Take the width of the shade and divide by 4.  My shade is 74.5" wide ÷ 4 = 18.62 and I rounded it off to 18" because who wants to deal with fractions, right?  Technically if this was a functioning shade you would space your cord rings 8" to 10" apart.
  • Starting on the left side of your shade and 1" to the right of your side hem measure up 8" and mark it with chalk.
  • From that chalk mark measure 18" across and double check that you are still 8" from the hemline and mark the spot with chalk.
  • Repeat the previous step until you get to the right hemline.  Forget about the 18" measurement because this is where we threw the fractions out the window.  Mark the spot 1" from the side hem like you did on the other side.  Still making sense?
  • Now you're going to move up 8" from each of your chalk marks to create the next fold marks.
  • Repeat again exactly as you just did to create the third fold marks.
  • And last but not least do it again creating the forth fold marks.
  • You should now have 20 chalk marks on the back of your shade spaced out evenly and level.
  • Using a needle and thread sew a drapery ring securely onto each chalk mark (see diagram 4).

STEP 5: Attaching a mounting board and eye hooks
Diagram 5 in making a faux roman shade
  • Cut a 1 x 2 board 2" shorter than the width of your shade.  Again my shade is 74 1/2" wide and so I cut the board 72 1/2" wide.
  • Wrap the board with scraps of fabric that you cut off the drapery panel to conceal the wood. Ensure you wrap each end too and staple in place.
  • Center the board onto the back side of your shade.  There should be 1"of fabric extended beyond the wood on either side of the shade.  This way the mounting brackets will be hidden once the shade is installed.
  • With the 1" side of the board facing up line the fabric along the edge.
  • Flip the board onto the 2" side (as seen in diagram 5 & 6) and staple in place.

STEP 6: Securing the folds
Diagram 6 in making a faux roman shade
  • From your last row of drapery rings use a straight edge to line up where the eye hooks should be installed into the board and mark them with chalk.
  • Insert the 5 eye hooks into the board (see diagram 5).
  • Attach drapery cord onto each eye hook using a slip knot.  I'm not going to offer a slip knot tutorial here so if you don't know how to tie one I suggest you Google it.  The cord frays when you cut it so using a lighter melt the end.  Operative word here is "melt" not burn until it catches fire! 
  • Repeat this step on the remaining 4 eye hooks.
  • Run the cord vertically through each drapery ring and secure it in place in the eye hooks once again using a slip knot (see diagram 6).
  • Cut the cord and leave a strand approximately 4 - 6" long. "Melt" the end and be careful not to burn your fabric with the hot end by letting it cool a few seconds before letting it go.
  • Repeat this step across the shade.

STEP 7: Attaching L-Brackets
Diagram 7 in making a faux roman shade
  • Attach L-brackets onto the board (as pictured in Diagram 7).  One on each end and another in the middle.
  • Screw the L-brackets into the window trim for an inside mount.

Close up photo of faux roman shade

There you have it, a Faux Roman Shade.  If you are still reading this after that lengthy tutorial - high five!

Here is another look at the window treatment Before and After...

Drapery Panels Before and Faux Roman Shade After

I love it when I can apply the three R's of DIYing.
REUSE - the drapery panels
REPURPOSE - them into a shade
RECYCLE - the leftover fabric into toss cushions or craft projects

You can see how we made the DIY Custom Bookcase and Window Seat HERE.