How to make a Simple Unlined Roman Blind – using Rod Pocket Tape
Skill level: beginner to intermediate - covering what you will need equipment/tools, material and method
- Matching Thread
- Measuring Tape
- Ruler, Tailor’s Chalk or Pencil
- Rod Pocket Tape, Dowels, Cord & Track or Roman Blind Track Kit
Marking Up & Cutting Out Your Fabric
Measure the size of your blind to establish the finished width and drop measurements that you need to achieve. Then calculate your cutting size by adding on to the finished blind measurements the side seam allowances and the top and bottom hem allowances as follows; and as shown in diagram (?):
- Add a 2.5cm (1”) seam allowance to each side of the blind width (i.e. 2.5cm + blind width + 2.5cms) to establish the cutting width.
- Add a 2.5cm (1”) top edge turning allowance and a 5cms (2.5”) bottom hem allowance on to the finished blind length (i.e. 2.5cm + finished blind length + 5cms), to establish the cutting length.
Pro Tip: For wider blinds that require more than one width of fabric, the fabric will need to be joined (and pattern matched if you’re not using a plain fabric) prior to marking out the cutting size. For a more attractive and professional looking finish aim not to have a single join right in the middle of the blind. Instead aim to have a full width of fabric in the centre of the blind with two joins equidistant from the outer edges.
So, for example, on a blind that requires a second drop of fabric to achieve the finished cutting and making width, use one full width in the centre of the blind and a half or part width (depending on the finished width required) to either side of the full width. N.B. – This does not mean that you require 3 widths of fabric to achieve your finished size. Cut the second drop of fabric in half down the centre vertically and join (pattern matching where necessary) the two uncut edges (i.e. the selvedges) to the uncut selvedges of the full centre piece. You do not need to cut the half drops down in width before you join them to the centre piece, as any excess width will be cut away when you mark out the finished cutting size.
Mark the cutting size (which is your blind size plus top, bottom and side hem allowances remember) on the reverse (wrong) side of your fabric with tailor’s chalk or a pencil. Cut out the blind along the lines you have marked.
Pro Tip: Certain stages of making your blind, such as turning in the side edges and top and bottom hem allowances, will require ironing or steam pressing the fabric (unless the supplier information recommends not to do so). Using heat - and the wet heat of steam in particular - however, can cause shrinkage on some fabrics; and whilst the amount of shrinkage is usually minimal, it can affect the finished size of your blind. This can be a problem in situations where you need quite an accurate finished size, such as with an inside recess fit. Pre-pressing your fabric with steam (where the supplier care instructions allow) can avoid any post-cutting shrinkage, ensuring a more accurate finished size. On blinds where more than one width of fabric is required, it is advisable to cut and join the fabric and then to pre-press it all over before marking out the calculated cutting size.
Sewing the Side Seams
Working from the back of the blind (i.e. with the wrong side of the fabric facing upwards towards you), fold the side edges in 1.25cm ( ½”) and then 1.25cms ( ½”) again to form a neat double-folded hem that will hide any raw edges; and press lightly (where possible). Do this on both sides of the blind, then sew down with a well-matched thread, near the inner edge of the side hems.
Sewing the Pocket for the Bottom Bar
To create a pocket at the bottom of the blind for the weighted bottom bar to sit in, fold and press a 1cm and then a 4cm ( ½” and then 2”) hem and stich along the top edge of the pocket close to the inner edge fold. Leave the outer edges open for the bottom bar to be inserted at a later stage.
Stitching the Loop tape (soft side of the Velcro) to the Top of the Blind
With the wrong side of the blind facing you, fold over and press a 2.5cm (1”) hem at the top of the blind. Open the fold out again and with the right side of the blind facing you, attach the top edge of the loop tape to the blind by placing it over the hem allowance (not over the main body of the blind), flush against the pressed fold line and stitching close to the edge of the loop tape.
Fold the top hem allowance with the loop tape now attached to it over again and working from the wrong side of the blind, stitch along the bottom edge of the loop tape, stitching through both the loop tape and the main body of the blind this time.
Pro Tip: Attaching the loop tape in this way means that there is only one row of stitching visible on the face side of the blind, creating a much neater and more professional finish. You can press the top edge over, leave it folded and stitch down both the top and bottom edges of the loop tape, sewing through all layers with both rows of stitching; but this will mean that both rows of stitching will be visible on the face side of the blind.
Lightly press the blind all over before moving on to the next stage.
STOP! – CHECK YOUR FINISHED BLIND SIZE NOW
If you have marked up, cut out and stitched the hem allowances as in steps 1 – 4 above accurately enough, then the body of your blind should now be the correct ‘finished size’; and now is a good time to check that this is the case before you proceed any further, as it is easier to rectify any inaccuracies at this point than any further into the blind making process.
Lay your blind out flat and using a retractable steel tape measure (fabric ones can stretch and be inaccurate) check that the finished length and width of your blind are what you intended them to be. If not, undo any hems and stitching that is necessary and re-do to the correct size before you carry on.
Pro Tip: It is well worth taking the time to keep checking your blind at each of the making stages to save you any time-consuming corrections or a disappointing end result.
Marking the Rod-Pocket Tape Positions
To calculate how many rows of rod-pocket tape you will need and how far apart they will need to be spaced, see our comprehensive guide - How to Correctly Calculate the Rod Spacings on a Stacked Roman Blind. Lay the pressed blind out as flat as possible and working from the back of it (i.e with the reverse side facing upwards) and starting from the first half-fold at the bottom, mark the positions of the tapes on both side-edges of the blind, using either pins or tailors chalk. Draw faint lines across the blind between your marks with tailor’s chalk and check that the lines are parallel before sewing the tapes on.
Pro Tip: It is well worth taking the time to keep checking your blind at each of the making stages to save you any time-consuming corrections or a disappointing end result. So, if any of the lines look as though they run off and are not parallel, then now is the time to re-measure and easily re-adjust them, rather than unpicking rows of stitching once you have attached the tapes; which could damage the fabric or cause unsightly pin-holes where the stitching has been.
Sewing the Rod-Pocket Tape to the Blind
A - Check the Tape
First, familiarise yourself with the tape that you are using. You may have bought your tape separately, or it may have been included with the track and accessories of your Roman Blind kit if you are using one; and whilst most rod pocket tapes all do the same job they can vary somewhat in appearance. Ensure that you know which is the right and wrong side of the tape and which is the top and bottom edge.
The right side of the tape is the one which has the strip of small stitched pockets on the front. These pockets are what the operating cords thread through, so if you stitch the tape on with these to the back of it then you will not be able to cord your blind.
The top edge of the tape is usually the one with the row of cord pockets closest to it and the larger pockets or casing which holds the dowels/rods nearer to the bottom of the tape.
Check whether you have a tape with a continuous enclosed rod casing or one with a pocket casing. With a continuous enclosed casing the dowels/rods are inserted inside the casing of the tape from one end; and with the pocket-casing the dowels/rods can be inserted from the front of the tape via the pocket opening nearest to the end of the tape. You will need to know which type of tape you have to know which finishing-off hemming method to use when you stitch the tapes to the blind.
B - Cut the Tape to Size
If you are using a Roman blind kit then your lengths of tape will probably have been pre-cut to size and will just need trimming to finished size when you stitch them on. If you have purchased your own tape, then you will need to cut the correct number of pieces to size. The tapes need to be the full width of the blind plus 2.5cms (1”) at either end for hem turnings.
C - Hem the ends of the Tapes
Depending on which type of tape you are using – enclosed rod casing or pocket casing, you will need to sew a hem on either one or both ends of your tape, prior to attaching it to the blind. For both types, turn a double hem 1.25 + 1.25cms ( ½ “ + ½ “ ) towards the back (wrong side) of the tape and at its right side edge, to neaten it. Stitch the hem down along the bottom edge of the tape only (not across the end as this will prevent you from inserting the rods all the way to the ends correctly). Leave the top edge unstitched as this will be secured when you sew the tape to the blind.
Pro Tip: For a professional finish to your blind and to make it easier to run the cords down through the stitched pockets in a straight line, take the time to line up the stitched pockets at the beginning of each piece of tape as you begin to sew, so that each tape starts in the same place.
If you are using pocket-casing tape then you can also hem the left side edge end of the tape in the same way, again stitching the bottom edge of the hem only; before you attach the tape to the blind.
If you are using enclosed rod casing tape then the left side edge end of the tape will need to be left open to leave access for the rods to be inserted into before the end of the tape is hemmed and stitched down.
D - Placing and Stitching the Tapes
Work from the back of the blind so that you can see your chalk lines clearly. Starting with the bottom tape first, place it face (cord pockets side) upwards (hem side down) with the hemmed right-hand side of the tape flush with the edge of the blind and, with the top edge of the tape just covering the chalk line, stitch along the full length of the tape as close to the top edge as possible.
For the pocket casing tape stitch continuously to the end of the tape and therefore to the end of the blind. Repeat for all tapes.
For the enclosed-rod-casing tape, stitch continuously to the end of the blind, leaving the 2.5cm (1”) hem allowance open, beyond the edge of the blind, at the un-hemmed end of the tape. Repeat for all tapes.
Pro Tip: For a professional machine stitched finish, load your bobbin and top threads correctly. The lines of stitching that attach the rod-pocket tapes to the blind will be visible on the face side of your finished blind. Because you are stitching from the wrong side of the blind, the thread that will be visible on the face of the blind will be the bobbin thread, so ensure that your bobbin is loaded with a good quality sewing thread that is well matched to your face fabric. The top thread will be the one that you see from the tape side of the blind, so match this accordingly to your tape, which will probably be either white or cream. To ensure that the top white or cream thread does not show on the face side or the coloured thread on the tape side, test your machine tension out before attaching the tape and adjust accordingly.
Cutting & Inserting the Rods (or dowels)
You may be using wooden dowels or the fibre glass, metal or plastic rods supplied with your Roman blind kit. If you are using the rods from a kit you may need to remove the small rubber end caps first prior to cutting them.
Cut the rods or dowels to size before inserting them into the rod-pocket tapes. Cut each one to 1cm ( ½ “) less than the full blind width. This needs to include any end caps one replaced, so you may need to take a little more than 1cm ( ½ “) off in this instance. Cut one to size first, replace the end caps and try it in the blind before cutting all the others, to establish the correct allowance.
For the pocket-casing tape, insert the dowels one at a time by locating the open pocket nearest to one edge of the blind and carefully inserting one end of the rod. With firm but gentle pressure, slide it along the casing to the other end of the blind. Tuck the end of the rod that you are holding securely behind the open pocket that you started inserting it from, so that it is hidden inside the tape casing and does not protrude.
Pro Tip: If you are finding this a little tricky, gently push the dowel as hard as you can to the other end of the tape, being careful not to burst the hem open with too much pressure, until the dowel slides in; then release the pressure again and centralise the rod so that it sits comfortably in the tape casing. If this is proving very difficult then the chances are that you have cut your rods/dowels a little too long at it is better to trim them down a little more than to force them into the rod casing as this will only result in the blind looking a little stretched and distorted from the front when it is finished.
For the enclosed-rod-casing tape, insert a rod/dowel from the open end of the casing, until it is fully inserted to the other end. Close and finish off the open end of the tape by turning a 1.25 + 1.25cms ( ½ “ + ½ “ ) double hem as before. Stitch the top edge of the hem by hand, basting it to the top, already stitched, edge of the tape. Stitch the bottom edge of the hem by hand, through the tape only, ensuring that you do not attach it to the outer edge or main body of the blind, as this will prevent the tape from tilting correctly when the blind is pulled up.
Cutting & Inserting the Bottom Bar
The bottom weighted bar on a Roman blind plays an important part in the blind working properly, so is an essential part of its assembly. Not only does the bottom bar help in conjunction with the rods/dowels to keep the folds horizontally straight as the blind is pulled up; it provides the necessary weight needed to help the blind to drop again with ease.
You my be using the bottom bar provided with your Roman Blind Kit, or you may be using a wooden dowel or iron rod to weight your blind. Trim your bottom bar to the same width as the rods/dowels, i.e to 1cm (½ “) less in width than the full blind width and insert it into the bottom pocket of the blind.
Pro Tip: To avoid the bottom bar moving and possibly poking out of the end of the blind with continuous use, close the end of the bottom pocket casing by loosely hand stitching the open outer edges.
Making is Complete
All the making up stages of your roman blind are now complete, and you are ready to attach and cord your blind on your chosen header rail or operating system. For the next step in making your roman Blind see our full roman blind kit guide.