How to Make Your Own Roller Shades

To make your own roller shades, especially simple ones, is not that difficult, but besides the necessary tools and materials needed to make them, you will also need patience, consistency and commitment, some expertise in basic sewing and a flair for D.I.Y. projects.

Tools and Material Needed:

(The Kit)

  • Aluminum clutch tubing (this tube houses the clutch)
  • Clutch (this will operate the cord)
  • Mounting brackets
  • Cord or chain
  • Dowel (metal strip for the bottom)

Kits are available from numerous websites online or D.I.Y. centers as complete kits.  

(Other Things You Will Need)

  • Steel tape measure
  • Fabric
  • Screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pencil
  • Hacksaw
  • Masking tape
  • Spray starch

Step 1 - Measuring For Success

Measuring your window accurately is important, if your efforts at making your roller shades are to be rewarded. Decide how you want the shade to hang, either inside or outside mounted. If you want to block all light, measure outside the window trim top to bottom and side to side; if you want an inside mounted shade measure within the trim.

Step 2 – Buying the Fabric

Do not buy fabric on the bias as this will not give a good result when the shade is finished. There is a specially stiffened fabric which can be bought by the meter and can be wiped down and you don’t need to use spray starch for stiffening (stiffening prevents fraying). This material is available in up to 70 inches wide, thus avoiding bulky seams needed for joining fabric pieces, which can impair the function of the shade.

If you buy unstiffened material then you have to stiffen it before it is cut as the starch solution can shrink the material. The spray starch can be ironed in on the wrong side of the fabric. When buying the fabric make sure it is closely woven, lightweight and color fast.

    Step 3 – Installing the Hardware

    Install the brackets where the roller shade is going to hang. Brackets are labeled so you can recognize left from right.  Install the clutch mechanism together with the cord inside the tubing and put the tubing inside the brackets.  Mark the tubing with the pencil, cut it to the required length using the hacksaw and insert the end-plug which comes with the kit. Usually kits come with instructions and diagrams so it won’t be hard to follow through.

    Step 4 -Trimming the Fabric

    To trim the fabric, measure the width of the aluminum clutch tube, which is also going to be the width of the shade. Measure for the desired height and then trim the fabric to about 8 inches longer than the required length.

    Step 5 – Assembling the Shade

    Starting from the bottom of the shade, glue all around the thin strip of metal (dowel) cut to the same width as the fabric, press it on to the wrong side of the material, turning it over on itself.  This will create a perfect bottom edge for your shade and make it sturdier.   Put the shade on a flat surface and affix the masking tape to the edge of the fabric; put in the aluminum tube so that the masking tape will hold it firmly in place.  Roll up the shade and install on the brackets.

    It is time to pat yourself on the back because your patience and determination have pulled you through and you have made your first roller shade.