Part 2: Choosing Fabric for a Roman Blind
The fun part of making a blind is selecting your fabric. There isn't one particular type of fabric to choose for a roman blind. Cotton, cotton blends, linen, non stretch polyester, jacquard and faux silks are all suitable and will change the look of the blind. The choice of fabric depends on your own style and requirements of the blind. For example if your preference is for natural fibres, vibrant colour or print then you may prefer cotton, cotton blends or linen. If however you prefer textures that are smooth and shimmer then you may prefer polyester or faux silk.
Important Considerations When Choosing Roman Blind Fabric
The most important factor when choosing any of the above fabrics is weight. Aim to choose a non stretch, medium weight soft furnishing fabric, this weight of fabric is durable, low maintenance and creates neat folds which are the characteristics of a roman blind. The standard width of soft furnishing fabric is 137cm wide which is a good guide when shopping. It is possible to use lightweight or narrower fabric such as a craft weight cotton @ 112cm wide; however, the fabric will not last as long and may fade with sun damage.
All fabrics listed in the ‘soft furnishing’ section of our website are suitable for roman blinds.
Window Size and Room Decor
When choosing a fabric, take some time to consider the size of the window, the style of your room, whether you would like the blind to coordinate or contrast with your existing furniture; are you looking for the blind to bring a splash of colour to a room or to blend into the background? These are important factors that shouldn't be rushed.
The size of the window matters too! A large print on a small window may get lost as only a small amount of the design will be seen. As demonstrated below.
Choose a small to medium size print for a small window so that more of the pattern is on display, listed below are a few suitable fabrics stocked by us. There are many more to choose from in the soft furnishing section.
Cath Kidston Mini Mushroom and Technical Stars Petrol
How to Choose Fabric for Portrait and Landscape Windows
Most often fabric is used in a portrait fashion so that the selvedges run vertically. If however the window is landscape and less than 137cm long then it is possible to turn the fabric on its side, in the trade we call this ‘railroading’. Using this technique allows for the length of the cloth to be used to cover the width of the window negating the need to join three pieces of fabric together to create a wide width. Take care to choose a design that is non directional for example a polka dot or fleck can be used either way; however a flower or elephant would be turned sideways when railroading.
Railroading on a Roman Blind
Suitable Fabric Prints for Railroading
Pattern Placement for a Roman Blind
When purchasing fabric for a blind add an additional 20cm for hems and headings. If choosing a large pictorial print, pattern placement is a consideration, therefore it is advised to purchase an extra pattern repeat.
For example the fabric in the link below has a pattern repeat of 64cm. When making the blind you may like to have the monkey with the umbrella at the top of the blind therefore you will need the extra allowance of the pattern repeat. Total calculation is length of blind + 64cm.
Roman Blind Lining Fabric
The lining that you choose is as important as the main fabric. Don't be tempted to use a calico or light weight cotton as they will easily be damaged by the sun and tear, leaving your blind in tatters within months! No joke! When you’ve worked so hard to create a bespoke item such as a roman blind, longevity is important. Choose a genuine curtain lining or if blocking out light is important to you then choose a blackout lining fabric which can be sewn in the same way as the cotton lining.
Roman Blind Hanging Mechanisms
Which mechanism should you choose to hang your blind? Roman blind headrail system or batten and cleat? A mechanism is how the blind is operated and is the key component when lowering and raising a blind.
The traditional method is to use a wooden batten which is covered in the same fabric as the blind accompanied by a cleat which is attached to the wall. Seen below. To adhere to EU health and safety standards the cleat must be placed at a minimum height of 150cm from the floor. This is to ensure that it is out of reach of small children. If the window is low and the minimum height of the cleat cannot be achieved then you are advised to use a roman blind headrail system discussed below. Additionally you are required by law to use a cord connector which attaches the number of cords used to run up the back of the blind to a single cord used to operate the blind. Traditionally the cords were tied and plaited together but this is no longer acceptable due to choking hazards.
The modern method is to use a purpose made roman blind headrail system with a sidewinder safety chain which will come with a side chain that drops out if there is any excessive weight applied or else it will come with a clip so that the chain is secured to the wall. It is advised to use this modern method for ALL babies and children's windows.
Most roman blind headrail retailers will sell a kit that contains all the hardware needed including the rods and bottom bars. Merrick and Day are a fantastic company for all your hardware needs
List of hardware required to make a roman blind
Rods - cylindrical rods used to run horizontally across the blind within the casings. Avoid using wooden dowel as they are heavy and become brittle over time. Fibreglass is preferable.
Ring clips - used to attach to the casings with the rod inside
Rings - sewn onto the casing in place of a ring clip (rings cannot be sewn onto blinds that hang lower than 150cm from the floor due to safety regulations)
Bottom bar - a thicker cylindrical rod that is installed in the first casing at the bottom of the blind. This casing takes the majority of the weight of the blind.
Flat bar - inserted in the bottom hem so that the bottom of the blind hangs neatly when raised or lowered.
Screw eyes - used to create runners for the strings inserted into the batten when using the traditional method.
Velcro - 25mm stick on hook: attaches to the batten, 25/50mm loop sew in: attaches to the top of the blind. Traditional method only
Screw eyes - inserted at intervals into the batten, to create runners for the vertical strings.
Cord connector - a two piece mechanism used to join multiple cords to one thicker cord.
Acorn - used to weight the end of a thick cord.
Thin blind cord 4 x the length and width of the blind.
Thick blind cord 1 x the length of the blind.
Wooden batten 1 1.4 inch by 1 inch.
Both mechanisms will project away from the window approximately 3/4cm, consequently there is always ‘light seepage’ around the edges of roman blinds. If complete blackout is a necessity then consider installing a blackout roller blind behind the roman blind or choose curtains.
Time to Choose Your Roman Blind Fabric
Now you are an expert on how to select the perfect fabric for your Roman Blind , it's time to shop for a beautiful blind fabric. You can find all kinds of gorgeous plains and prints in our Home Furnishing Collection. And don't forget to look out for Part 3 - ‘How to make a roman blind’ where we will have a detailed tutorial on the actual sewing of your Roman Blind.
Our guest blogger, Bevelee Jay Regan is a professional blind and curtain maker and is the founder of her business Jayworks, where she makes bespoke soft furnishings for both private and commercial clients. Follow Bevelee @jayworks_sf to see samples of her made to measure curtains, roman blinds, roller blinds, pelmets, lambraquins, sheers, piped cushions, bench seat covers, loose sofa covers, bedspreads and patchwork bedspreads.