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Greek Key Roman Shades

November 2, 2011
by thenestinggame

I feel as if this project should have 2 names, a’la Zeus and Jupiter / Hera and Juno. Never knew why mythology had to be so confusing. It was basically a family joke how much I sucked at mythology in 7th grade. That was the same year I totally talked myself into thinking plural verbs should have an “s” like plural nouns do—despite the fact that I could speak English and knew that wasn’t the way it worked. I landed in summer school for that one. But I discovered the joy of Martika’s Toy Soldiers while carpooling that summer, so all was not lost.

Back to the issue at hand. Greek Key Roman Shades. Once upon a time I pinned these on Pinterest:

{Bear Hill Interiors via DecorPad}

And when the blog world announced the fall edition of the Pinterest Challenge, well I knew it was now or … well, later.

{gauntlet thrown by Sherry of Young House Love, Katie of Bower Power,  Ana of & Erin of House of Earnest}

Yep, one of the very first things I bookmarked after becoming a homeowner was this tutorial about making roman shades out of mini-blinds. I even mentioned it in this post about my favorite blogs. And it only took me 2 years to get around to making them. Jenny’s post is pretty good, but there was another one I referred to heavily during this project: this one from 365 Days to Simplicity. Or in my case, 730.

So, if you’re about to embark on this project, I definitely recommend keeping those on standby. I’ll cover the whole thing too, and fill in the gaps where I got confused. Which, if you refer to paragraph 1, you’ll realize is probably because of user error.

1. Start with mini-blinds. Typical, cheap, ordinary mini-blinds. You’ll need fabric too. I just measured the length and width of my window and padded about 6 inches on the length and width. I was lucky enough to find a great remnant of some linen fabric for a tremendous deal at Lewis & Sheron, and while I only needed 3.5/4 yards, I ended up with 6. (This will be key information later in the story.) Here’s the way before. As you may recall, the room’s gotten a Moody Glam coat of Benjamin Moore Hale Navy paint and a new furniture arrangement in the meantime.

2. So, next you measure your window again. Lots of measuring in this here project. Oy.  Determine where you want your slats. This will be where your shades will fold as you raise them. Basically, you are going to remove EVERY SINGLE SLAT and replace only a few. I did not understand this, so I marked every 12th slat—making my folds every 10 inches. I marked them so I would know which ones to keep. Which was…

…completely unnecessary. Just remember how many inches apart you want the slats to be. Because you’re going to take off ALL the slats. This will not be the last time I mention this.

3. I laid out my blinds on the dining room table. I took of the three stoppers at the bottom. And pulled out the strings stuffed inside.

Tweezers came in handy for this part.

4. Snip the bottom off of all strings—just enough to remove the base slat and set it aside. Okay, so now you have 2 strings. The Fat one is the pull cord. You DO NOT want to cut this one. The LADDER string is what you DO want to cut. Take your scissors and run it along the underside of the skinny cord, severing the horizontal ladder cord that supports the slats.

When it’s done you should have severed ladder cords and an intact pull cord.

Snip the ladder cord from the top of the blind and think about DNA.

5. Then pull all the slats off. Even the ones with the green dots. Replace (or don’t take off in the first place) however many you need to make your folds. In my case, that was 4 slats. Pull the pull cords taut and re-thread them through the base slats. Measure (drink!) how far you want them to hang—in my case, I wanted them to rest on the window sill—and re-knot the cords so the base is at the level you want. I rehung each of them in the window just to make sure they were correct.

If you’re cool, then stuff the strings back inside and replug those three holes at the bottom.

6. Now it’s time for fabric. First, I had to snip off the rod that adjusts the angle of the blinds. Taylor helped me out with some wire cutters. I laid the blinds on top of my fabric and gave a couple inches on each side. Then I cut the fabric using a few of the leftover slats as a straight line guide.

7. Then I ironed my fabric. And while I was trying to get my starch spray nozzle unclogged, this happened.

Seriously? I thought this only happened in Bugs Bunny cartoons.

*SIGH* I had to re-cut another piece of fabric, as this new design motif did not work into my master plan. Luckily, I had plenty.

8. Now you’re ready to start gluing. 365Days made a hem on the edges of her shades. LGN and I did not. I really don’t see why you’d HAVE to, but Steve Jobs probably would if that makes any difference to you. I pulled the iron into the dining room and folded over the top of the fabric. I left a 1/4 inch or so peeking out from the top of the rail. Painter’s tape was helpful to secure it temporarily.

I am helpfully pointing to where the edge is so you don’t get confused with all the linen. I used the scorched piece as a barrier between the iron and table pad. Use fabric glue to attach the fabric to the rail. But don’t glue the outermost edges, as you’ll need those free to slide them into the blind’s brackets to hang.

Eventually, I tucked that little flap underneath.

9. Now slats. You’re going to lay your slats out apart the distance you previously measured. (Was that English?) I used not one, but TWO tape measures because I am so not good at the straight line thing. So the top of each slat was at the 10″ inch mark. And then 20″ and 30″ and 40″. There were 12 inches of space between my bottom slat and the base of the shade. Mostly because I didn’t want to deal with fractions and I didn’t think it would look all that weird since the visual weight of the shade would be at the bottom.

Use fabric glue to attach the slats to the fabric. As the other blogs suggested, I put the convex side toward the fabric to give it more real estate to stick to.

Don’t glue the cord to the fabric. It needs to glide freely so that the shades will work. I pressed the slats down, moving my fingers away from either side of the cord.

10. Then, crease the sides with your iron and fold them over the slats and glue. As you can see, the “hem” on my sides was not even, but it turned out not to matter. If I ever did this again I would probably try a little harder to do that.

Set it aside to dry and START ALL OVER AGAIN with the next one. I actually did all the cutting first, then all the glueing second.

I let them dry for about 4 hours, then started with the trim. When I bought the fabric, I bought 10 yards of 1″ black ribbon trim as well. I used almost every last bit.  I knew what pattern I wanted, though I did play around with some other thoughts. Taylor’s vote was for the original plan and I agreed.

11. I first laid out the pattern in a general sort of way—mostly to make sure I would have enough trim. Again the painter’s tape was a huge help in getting my folds to stay.

I used my gift wrapping skillz to make the folds so it was one continuous piece of ribbon.

I figured out what sizes I wanted the boxes to be (4″x5″) and the distance from the edges (2″) and made a handy chart so I’d remember. Kind of like when Kevin Bacon left himself the note not to release the moon lander and Tom Hanks from Apollo 13. Only a little less life-threatening. I used a ruler obsessively while glueing down the trim.

More glue. More drying.


To quote one of the best movies of all time, isn’t it the most fun?

And here’s what they look like open. The greek key detail mostly disappears, but I still like the way they look.

Unlike actual Roman shades (that can cost several hundred dollars apiece) the cords for these are behind the shade. So, not ideal if you are raising and lowering them multiple times a day, but for a room we don’t use on a daily basis, it doesn’t bother me a bit

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. Especially since the blinds came with the house and the fabric and trim ran about $85. Add in a few bucks for glue and each shade ran me about $45.

The project did take about 8 hours, with some drying time factored in there. So, the better part of a Sunday. But totally worth it. I like to think Hestia/Vesta, Goddess of the Hearth and Home would approve.

Did you partake in the Pinterest challenge? I’d love to see what you did! Leave a link in the ol’ comments.

And come back Friday for the full reveal of all the Moody Glam goodness.

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48 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2011 8:49 am

    I’ve had this tutorial pinned for ages, but it always seems daunting. I might just have to get over it and Do It! Since our living room is severely lacking in the curtains/shades department.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 1:56 pm

      You should! It really wasn’t hard—just time consuming.

  2. SarahNadine permalink
    November 2, 2011 9:15 am

    They look pretty amazing. I think I might have to try that for our guest room. Thanks for the tutorial

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 1:57 pm

      Thanks for the compliments! They’re great for a guest room since you don’t have to raise/lower them all the time.

  3. Elaine Smart permalink
    November 2, 2011 9:21 am

    Reminds me of the 60’s when the fad was to cover shades with fabric.
    Am impressed – lots of work, but fabulous results.
    The room is smashing!

  4. Natalie Bailey permalink
    November 2, 2011 10:01 am

    I can’t pretend to think that I could do that, but I can identify that quote – it’s from Shag!

    Gorgeous project, as always. I really need to take some lessons from you!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 1:59 pm

      Shag! Yay!

      You could totally do this. It’s pretty much my motto, “If I can do it, anyone can.”

  5. Taylor permalink
    November 2, 2011 10:09 am

    Ummm…you went to summer school?

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 1:59 pm

      Just 1 class. Made up for the lack of kindergarten.

      • Sadie permalink
        November 6, 2011 7:58 pm

        Husband and Wife should know these things! :O

  6. November 2, 2011 10:14 am

    Looks amazing! All the time spent was definitely worth it!

  7. November 2, 2011 10:22 am

    This was one of my possible projects for the challenge, but I didn’t have 8 hours to tackle it! Yours came out great and I love the trim you added for the greek key. Definitely still on my to-do list!

    ps- my ironing skills are quite like yours… which is why I now stick to the permanent press option on the dryer…

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 2:01 pm

      Thanks, Rebecca. It wasn’t that tough—just took some time. I love your sweet “S”!

      That sounded dirty…sorry. ;)

  8. nic permalink
    November 2, 2011 2:27 pm

    Holy moly, these look amazing! The black ribbon detail totally makes it. I love the way the ribbon detail and the pillow complement each other.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 11:29 pm

      Thanks, Nic. The pillow coordination was a happy accident. I mean, completely well-thought-out and intentional!

  9. November 2, 2011 2:38 pm

    I just love how these turned out! I’ve been wanting to make some roman shades for the office now for quite some time and you’ve given me the inspiration I needed! Thanks! :)

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 11:29 pm

      Go for it! Thanks!

  10. November 2, 2011 3:35 pm

    Your shades turned out so great!!!! Oh my goodness…for real…I love the greek key details! They look so classy and upscale! Great job!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 11:29 pm

      Really appreciate your comment, Jenna!

  11. November 2, 2011 4:12 pm

    I’m doing this! I LOVE how you used the old blinds! I have so many mini blinds in my house that this is going to be absolutely necessary!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 4:31 pm

      Thanks so much, Erin! Your adventures in paper mache looked like a lot of fun and shiiiinnnny. :)

  12. November 2, 2011 4:28 pm

    Wow, they look amazingly custom. I love where you are going with the room as well. Looks good.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 11:27 pm

      Thanks, Marci. I’m hoping to “reveal” the entire room on Friday. Hope you come back!

  13. November 2, 2011 5:42 pm

    These are so beautiful – great job! I put together a little Halloween Spider Web wreath for the challenge. Hooray for staying accountable :)

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 11:27 pm

      I hear ya—last night I was trying to explain the whole challenge thing to my husband and kept insisting I had to finish last night!

  14. November 2, 2011 6:03 pm

    Wow, these turned out great! I have been wanting to make some for a while but just haven’t gotten around to it. I also love the room that you put them in! :)

    Here’s my pinterest project:

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 11:26 pm

      How elegant! I love the last minute plate addition.

  15. Katherine permalink
    November 2, 2011 7:11 pm

    These are gorgeous! (Here from YHL). I pinned it =)

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 11:25 pm

      Hooray pins!

  16. November 2, 2011 9:12 pm

    These are lovely!! I also love that rug. Cute room!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 11:24 pm

      Thanks, Michelle!

  17. November 2, 2011 9:29 pm

    I’ve been wanting to make Roman Blinds for ages, but it’s seemed really daunting. After seeing your DIY, I think I’m going to finally give it a go. Your end result is outstanding!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 11:24 pm

      Tamsyn, it seemed daunting, but I just took it one step at a time and it really wasn’t that hard. If I can do it, ANYONE can. For reals.

  18. November 2, 2011 11:04 pm

    Oh my gosh, your room looks beautiful! I love the roman shades, and why haven’t I seen this done before? Gotta go pin it :) But first I have to browse your blog to see what the name of that beautiful color you painted on your walls. That lamp is to die for as well. It really turned out amazing. I am glad you said what you said about not being very functional for every day pulling up and down, I will have to remember that for where I would do this project. Thanks!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      November 2, 2011 11:24 pm

      Stephanie, the wall color is Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore. And the shades aren’t non-functional, just a smidge less than completely convenient for day in-day out raising and lowering. Thank you for stopping by and all the nice compliments.

  19. Sara permalink
    January 12, 2012 3:32 pm

    I was totally inspired by the color in this room to take the plunge and go bold in my guestroom. I’d been vacillating for months between grey and dark navy. I did it two weeks ago with BM Hale Navy and I’m in love. I want to try out your roman shade tutorial. I was wondering where you got your fabric and ribbon and how much you needed. Thanks so much for all the inspiration.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 12, 2012 4:39 pm

      YAY! Glad there’s more Hale Navy out there in the world.

      I got the fabric from Lewis & Sheron here in Atlanta. I bought a 6 yard roll on clearance, though with my math I’d figured I’d only need 4 yards. I ended up singing one panel with my iron, so I was glad I had a buffer. My windows are 39″ across and I think I measured 50-something long. For trim, I guessed I’d need 10 yards and I used almost every last bit of it.

      Good luck! I’d love to see pictures when you’re done! It’s not hard—just tedious.

  20. April 4, 2012 11:32 pm

    Oh my goodness, this whole room looks so good. I love the wall color, your rug, that lamp, artwork. And, of course, your DIY roman shades. Bravo! So good.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      April 5, 2012 10:17 am

      Thanks, Irene! This is a huge compliment coming from you! I really love your stile. :)

  21. Katie permalink
    July 23, 2014 12:58 am

    Can I ask what colour you used on the walls? I am looking for something just like this for my bedroom?

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      July 23, 2014 1:22 pm

      It’s Benjamin Moore Hale Navy.

  22. Ashley permalink
    August 13, 2015 12:48 pm

    I may attempt these shades in two years as well! Could you share info on the light blue rug? Looks like it is in a living room with the coffee table? It’s beautiful!


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