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How to Make Tab-Top Roman Shades

Updated February 21, 2017

Modernise and add a twist to a classic Roman shade by opting for a tab-top Roman shade and a decorative curtain rod. Tab-top Roman shades are mounted outside the window frame as opposed to inside the frame or casing. Making a tab-top Roman shade is an easy project requiring only straight seams and simple sewing, but can be rather time consuming.

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  1. Measure the width of the outside casing of your window. Add 4 inches to the width. Measure the length of your window from the curtain rod to the base of the window sill. Add 4 inches for hems. Measure the distance between your curtain rod and the top of your window sill to allow for a maximum tab length.

  2. Cut your fabric to the desired measurement. Cut strips of fabric 3 inches wide by approximately 10 inches long to make a tab with a 3-inch finished length, adjusting if appropriate for your window. Allow one tab for every 6 to 8 inches in width.

  3. Press doubled 2-inch hems around all four sides of the Roman shade. Mitre the four corners (see Resources). Sew the hems into place by hand or machine. Allow a 1/4-inch opening in one mitred corner of the top and bottom hem.

  4. Press each short end of the tabs under by 1 inch. Fold the tabs for your tab-top Roman blinds in half lengthwise. Stitch with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Turn right side out and press with the seam in the centre of one side. Baste the two short ends together, setting your sewing machine on a long stitch length.

  5. Pin the tabs into place on your tab-top Roman shade, starting with the ends. Machine stitch or hand sew the tabs into place on your Roman shade.

  6. Slide dowels into both the hems of the Roman shade. Mark the placement of the cords with pins. Position cords 10 to 12 inches apart across the width of the shade. Stitch small plastic or brass rings to carry the cords, placing rings every 8 to 12 inches down the length of the Roman shade. Place the uppermost ring along the top dowel channel.

  7. Knot drapery cord onto the bottom ring of each row of rings. Thread through the rings toward the top. Gather the cords together, then knot to one side. Slide the Roman shade onto the curtain rod and hang.

  8. Tip

    Choose a sheer fabric for a casual and pretty look.


    Opt for a lined Roman shade if you prefer a more regular look on the outside of your home or need more privacy and light control.

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Things You'll Need

  • Decorative curtain rod
  • Lightweight fabric
  • 2 narrow dowel rods, cut slightly shorter than desired finished width
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Small plastic or brass rings
  • Drapery cord
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine and coordinating thread
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Sharp sewing scissors
  • Pins

About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.

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