How to Sew a Machine Made Roman Blind
This 3rd tutorial is based on the method used to make a machine-made roman blind where the stitch lines will be visible on the front of the blind and the heading is finished by hand. This is suitable for beginners with confidence following written instructions, measuring and using a sewing machine, and also for intermediate and advanced sewers.
How to Calculate the Cutting Dimensions
● Width of window + 6cm
● Width of window
● Length of window + 15cm
● Length of window + 15cm
For example, let's say the window is 110cm wide by 150cm long
Cut the face fabric: Width 110 + 6 = 116cm
Length 150 + 15 = 165cm
Cut the lining fabric: Width 110cm
Length 150cm + 15 = 155cm
Tip: Blinds are created using straight lines and right angles. It is vitally important that the fabric and the lining are cut square across the bottom raw edge before beginning construction. This will allow the blind to make up without a hitch. At this point you do not need to be concerned with the top raw edge of the blind.
How to Plot the Measurements and Join the Fabric to the Lining
- Place your fabric on a work surface right side down. Square off the bottom of the fabric using a set square or large book. Place the short edge of the set square level with the selvedge of the fabric, using a pencil or chalk to draw a line along the long edge of the set square. Repeat on the other selvedge. Join the two marks together and cut along the line. The fabric is now square.
- On the wrong side of the fabric mark out the dimensions of your blind starting from the bottom edge. If pattern placement is a consideration as discussed in blog 2, mark the dimension on the front of the blind so that you can see the pattern. If you are a beginner use pins to mark the lines until you are confident that the measurements are correct, then mark with a pencil or chalk. Check the measurements again, then cut away the excess fabric.
- Repeat step one and two for the lining.
- Fold the fabric in half lengthways and mark the centre point with a notch at top and bottom raw edges. Repeat for the lining.
- Place the fabric and lining right sides together matching raw edges (not centre points, they will match further on in the construction. Note at this point that the lining will be narrower than the face fabric. Pin the two layers of fabric together down one long edge (do not pin the top and the bottom, just the sides) keeping the raw edges flush together.
Top tip: place the pins horizontal to the edges.
- Pull the lining to meet the other long edge, pin together as before.
- Set the machine with a neutral thread, stitch length 2.5cm, needle in the centre.
- Machine down 2 side edges with 1.5cm seam allowance sewing from top to bottom each time.
- Press both seams towards the lining.
- Turn the blind face out and match the centre points, secure with a pin.
- Place the blind on the work surface, lining side up, and smooth both fabric and lining out to the sides.
- There will be a 5cm border of main fabric showing down each side. Ensure all seam allowances are facing the edge of the blind. Press the side seams to create a crisp line.
Create a channel for the bottom bar
- At the bottom of the blind on the lining side fold up a hem of 10cm, press along this line. Fold the raw edge towards the lining to create a double hem of 5 + 5cm.
- Secure with pins.
- Thread the machine using thread that matches the face fabric. Adjust the stitch length to 4 on the machine and move the needle as far to the left as possible. Stitch along the edge of the folded line as close as possible. Back stitch at the beginning and the end.
4. Pull the threads to the back of the blind and snip. Press the hem to set the stitches. Setting the stitches allows the thread to fill the holes made by the machine and provides a professional finish.
How to Mark the Final Length
- Place the blind on the work surface right side up. With the hem facing you measure up to the final length of the blind and place a pin, repeat this step approximately every 15cm (picture 1). Double check your pins are all at the correct height.
- Mark a faint line with pencil/chalk or invisible marker. Remove the pins. (picture 1)
- Press the hem towards the lining (see picture below).
- Place the blind on the work surface right side up and unfold the hem so that the chalked line is visible.
- Cut a piece of loop Velcro to the width of the blind and pin it in place along the chalked line.
- Reset the needle to the centre position. Machine the velcro to the top of the blind sewing around all four edges. Trim off all loose threads.
- Turn the hem back towards the lining so that the velcro is on the back of the blind. Tuck the raw edge under the velcro and secure with pins.
- Slip stitch along the folded edge using small and regular stitches catching only the lining and not the face fabric. This is a professional way to finish the top of a blind so that you do not have two machined lines of stitching on the front of the blind.
How to Calculating the Pleats for a Roman Blind with a Bottom Half Fold
Headrail allowance makes space for the roman blind pleats to neatly stack behind the blind; it also accounts for the amount of the blind required to cover the headrail system.
- Deduct 7cm from the finished length of the blind. This allows space for the headrail system or batten.
- Deduct 1cm to allow the half fold to hang longer than the pleats when folded.
As a general rule aim to calculate roman blind pleats between 20cm – 30cm on smaller blinds and 30cm-40cm on bigger blinds
- Measure finished length of the blind
- Deduct 7cm headrail allowance and 1cm half fold allowance
- Divide the remaining amount by one of the following: 3.5,5,5.5,6.5 until the optimum size of a pleat is achieved. (See further below).
- To calculate the half fold depth, divide one of the pleats by 2 and add the 1cm half fold allowance.
Lets calculate an example blind with a final length of 150cm
- 150cm - 7cm - 1cm = 142cm
- 142cm / 4.5 = 31.55cm
- Round 31.55cm down to 31.5cm the extra 4 lots 0.05cm can be absorbed into the top of the blind without any further calculation.
- The above calculation tells us that we have 4 folds of 31.5cm
- Next calculate the size of the half fold by dividing 31.5cm / 2 = 15.75cm
- Add on the 1cm half fold allowance 15.75cm + 1cm = 16.75cm
- Round this up to 17cm. A small amount of rounding up and down is allowed as there are allowances at the top and the bottom of the blind which can shrink or grow without affecting the overall finish.
- If your blind is longer than 150cm then you may need to divide by a larger number than 3.5.
- Therefore this blind has a bottom fold of 17cm and four further folds of 31.5cm. The top fold will include the allowance of 7cm so will in fact be 38.5cm. (See diagram below.)
How to Mark Out the Pleats
Starting from the hem, plot the calculations onto the back of the blind.
- Place the blind on the work surface wrong side up. With the hem facing you measure the half fold depth and mark on either side of the blind with a pin.
- Measure from the first pin the depth of a main fold and again mark with pins either side.
- Once the measurements are plotted with pins check, check and check your measurements again.
- Take a metre ruler and mark a faint line horizontally between the pins on either side. Remove the pins. Refer to the picture below.
How to Prepare the Pockets
- Cut strips of lining fabric 9cm deep x the finished width of the blind.
- Fold as per bias binding. Fold in half lengthways and press. Open out and fold raw edges in towards the press line. Press.
- Turn in 1.5cm at one end only. Fold in half and machine or slip stitch the end that has been turned in.
- With the hem facing you, start at the bottom marked line. Start with the closed end of the casing. Place the long open edges of the casing on the marked line working across the blind.
- Secure with pins through all layers ensuring that the layers of the casing are even and accurately pinned along the marked line.
- At the open end, fold the excess fabric towards the wrong side of the casing and close, secure with a pin through all layers.
- Repeat on all casings
- Check that the pins are even and not causing puckering. If so, release the pins, smooth out the blind and re-pin. Likewise if the casing looks loose then adjust so the tension is even across the blind.
- Thread the machine with cream thread on top and a thread that matches the face fabric in the bobbin. Adjust stitch length to 4.
- Roll up the excess fabric.
- Starting with the casing nearest the hem, Start with the closed end of the casing. Machine stitch across the bottom of the casing that is pinned to the pencil line. Back stitch at the beginning and the end to secure.
- Aim to stitch as close to the edge of the casing as possible whilst also taking care to catch all layers of the casing, whilst keeping the blind as flat as possible.
- The casing is now secure to the blind. Pull threads to the back and trim.
- Repeat for all casings, rolling and unrolling the excess fabric as you go.
How to Insert the Rods and Attach Ring Clips
- Slip rod in the cases through the open end.
- Hand sew a slip stitch to close the ends of the casing.
- Slip the flat bar into the bottom channel and slip stitch the ends closed.
How to Mark the Ring Positions
- Measure in 10cm from the edge of the blind on either side, mark with a pin or pencil on the fold of the casing. Repeat for the other casings.
- Distribute the remaining ring clips across the casing at approx 40cm intervals, or thereabouts.
- Clip all ring clips in place, if using sew-on rings attach with an over stitch through the rod casing.
Please note that rings cannot be placed lower than 150cm to the floor, if your blind hangs at this height then you must use appropriate safety ring clips.
The blind is now ready to hang!
Ready to Sew More Roman Blinds?
We hope you have enjoyed the process of making a machine made roman blind. Don't forget to read the 4th and final blog for how to hang from a batten or a headrail system.
Fabrics Galore London stocks a wide range of suitable high quality fabrics for roman blinds. Search under the ‘Furnishing fabric’ heading.
Flame Stitch Linen Look Desert Island and I Wanna Be Like You
Orla Kiely Oval Flower Seagrass and Palm Springs by Maison Thevenon
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.