How to Make a Custom Fabric Roller Shade

Fabric roller shades offer great light control at your windows and work beautifully under valances, cornice boards or draperies.

You know, certain decorative projects that I work on can bring back memories of my past.  This shade project is one of them.  I had those plain old white shades in my bedroom for as long as I can remember. I kept replacing the plastic accessory handle to eliminate fingerprints, and to keep them looking neat. Matt says he had his until they turned “off white” and the wooden rod ripped and finally fell off!

No-Sew Custom Fabric Roller Shade -

Back in those days, I vowed never to use a plain old roller shade again… however; things change, and so have roller shades!  They’re a great way to add privacy and light control to your windows with very little cost to you.  The plain white ones allow you to do something flashy with your draperies, or some of the newer styles are striped or patterned so they have a personality of their own! Today, you can even make them yourself out of beautiful decorator fabrics so they co-ordinate perfectly with your room.  And, all of the parts are available in kits, or by tearing apart old, well worn shades, just like the ones I had!  Here’s what you’ll need.

Materials List:

1. Start by determining whether your shade will be mounted inside the casing (which most roller shades are), or on the casing to cover the trim when extended.  Ours was mounted inside. Begin by measuring the window’s length, inside the casing or outside, which would include the casing, and then add 12″ to your measurement. Next, measure the width in the same fashion and add 2″ to your measurement.  Now, cut the fabric and interfacing to these measurements.

2. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric following the manufacturer’s instructions.  Ours told us to put the coated side of the interfacing down on the wrong side of the fabric.  Then, using a lightweight pressing cloth, start ironing in the center of the interfacing and work out to the edges, with the iron set on the “wool” setting.   Apply steam and pressure in one spot for 10-15 seconds, and then move over, overlapping sections as you press.  Once you’ve completed pressing on the interfacing side, (which will seem like you’ve been ironing forever!) turn the shade over to the fabric side and repeat the same steps…ARGH!!

3. To cut the shade width down to size, measure the barrel from the old shade.  (By the way, when you remove the old shade, mark on the barrel with an arrow, the direction the shade falls, you’ll be glad you did this later!)  Or, measure the barrel from the new shade kit, which you have cut down to the size required for your window. But, do NOT including the pins on the ends in your measurement. Your finished shade width should be 1/8″ shorter than this dimension. Trim the width of your fabric using a straight edge and a matte knife. Then seal the edges with a seam sealant.

4. Turn the bottom edge of the fabric under 1 and 1/2″ and stitch or fuse to form a 1″ casing for the wooden bottom slat. Then, simply staple the top edge to the barrel, keeping in mind the direction the shade should fall.  Next, roll it up, and install it!

You might consider putting your wooden slat up about 4” – 6” from the bottom and creating a scalloped edge to your blind.  Just purchase a decorative edging and hot glue it to the edge of the scallop!

You know, you can still purchase those plastic handles to protect your beautiful shade from fingerprints. You can even add decorative shade pulls that will really dress them up.  This is a great project for anyone with bare windows, unless, like Matt, you really HATE ….. to iron!



  1. Josy says

    Hi — I’m considering a shade like this for my kitchen. Is there any way to coat the fabric with something that makes it washable/cleanable? Or is there another idea for kitchens. It’s a small kitchen with a huge window that is the visual point of the room. Between the dust of New York city and the proximity to cooking, I need to find an easily cleanable solution. Too close to the stove for a fabric curtain. (I’ve kept a hideous white plastic “bamboo” shade, which I’ve kept for way too long, as it can be thrown in the bathtub with some Oxo, and… Poof! Clean as new!). Thanks for any suggestions!

    • Shari Hiller says

      Josy, I do have a shade I’ve used in the past, but it doesn’t really open and close. Do you need privacy? This one is simply two washable fabrics that co-ordinate stitched together in a rectangle and put over a rod. It adds color and style but not privacy, and it could be washed of course if you choose the right fabrics. I’d throw the project up on the site, but all my stuff is in storage while we build our house….Let me know about the privacy issue and I’ll keep thinking.

  2. Karen K says

    The shade kit on amazon is over $30, just bought 2 vinyl roller shades at Lowe’s for $8 each. Took the pin end out and cut the roller tube to size. Brackets and pulls were extra. Using faux suede fabric, have to decide if I want to spray glue it to the vinyl or use fusible. Cost for both shades when done is $30. Did our old 5th wheel with vinyl/polyester fabric from sewing shop when the original shades got “crispy”, inside looks fabric, outside is vinyl. Used the old hardware and added a cute piece of trim. These new ones are only 30″ long so the heavier fabric should work fine.

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