How Do Roman blinds work?

modern living room image by Galina Barskaya from

A Roman blind is a type of window treatment that is raised or lowered using a cord that hangs to one side of the blind. There are many styles of Roman blinds, from formal to casual and pleated to swag, but all of them operate the same way. The cord is wrapped around a small metal cleat affixed along the window frame to hold tension on the cord when the blind is up. If you unwrap the cord from the cleat and release tension on the cord, the rolled blind will unroll due to gravity, covering the window.

The Batten

All Roman blinds have headers. This header is usually a piece of 1-inch-thick wood that runs the width of the window; it is frequently called a batten. In older-style Roman blinds, the header is screwed directly to the underside of the window casing. The batten is used to mount the fabric and mechanisms of the blind. Contemporary Roman blinds are often attached to battens with hook-and-loop tape or snap tape.

The Fabric Panel

The window is measured for height and width, and for seams and hems. Once the panel is sewn together, its height and width will match the inside measurements of the window casing so that, when the blind is fully down, the window is completely covered. The bottom of the standard blind is sewn into a pocket and, a dowel rod is placed in the pocket to keep the blind rigid. Dowels are added every 6 to 8 inches across the horizontal width of the blind using rod pocket tape that has rings spaced at regular intervals.

Attaching the Cords

Cords are tied to the bottommost dowel ring for each column of rings. There are usually three to four vertical columns of rings across the width of the blind. The cord for each ring column is threaded up through the rings to the top of the blind. When the blind is raised and lowered the cord travels along the rings, holding the blind level and pleating or unpleating the fabric at each dowel.

Connecting the Cords

When the blind is attached to the batten, a screw eye is screwed into the underside of the batten above each column of rings. One extra screw eye is positioned beyond the last screw eye. Each cord passes through its own screw eye and through each adjacent screw eye, moving toward the extra screw eye. All the cords are gathered with the blind fully down and the slack removed. A cord condenser is attached to the cords. This is a plastic device that converts many cords into a single cord. A decorative cap is slid over the end of the single cord to cover the knot, and a knot is tied in the cord. When the cord is pulled, all of the cords rise together within the screw eyes, and the Roman blind rises.

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