Inside: Learn how to make custom tie-up shades to fit any window in this easy beginner sewing project.
My bay window was a thorn in my side! The windows are awkwardly angled and the sills are only 1/2″ thick leaving limited options for window treatments.
So I did what any normal human would do. I got cheap paper stick on blinds and left them there for a couple of
weeks years and pretended that they were the hottest trend to hit window treatments.
When I came to my senses I scoured the internet for blinds, shades and curtains. I couldn’t find anything that fit my windows or my budget.
DIY saved the day yet again!
I am a newbie when it comes to sewing. So if you are too then you are in the right place. This is a forgiving project, sewing only straight seams.
Related: How to Make Curtains from Drop Cloths.
The small lightweight rods fit perfectly in the shallow window sills and two different colors of lightweight linen fabric allow some light to filter through. Although I have the option, I didn’t plan on adjusting the shade height during the day.
I was very much inspired by Miss Mustard Seed’s tie-up shades for this project.
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TOOLS FOR DIY TIE UP SHADES
SUPPLIES FOR DIY TIE UP SHADES
- Fabric of choice – I used linen in two different colors
- Matching thread if sewing
- Sewing pins
- Tension rods
CUTS FOR DIY TIE UP SHADES
*Your cuts will vary depending on the size of your window. My windows measure app. 19 x 54 inches. Keep in mind my cuts took into account a double hem on both sides and bottom. I left some extra fabric in the width to allow for some bunching at the top for a less refined look. I also allowed extra fabric on the bottom piece for bunching the material while it was tied. For esthetics reasons, as things are usually more appealing in thirds, I cut the top to be app. 1/3 of the window length and the bottom to be app. 2/3 of the window length. Adjust tie length for the amount of shade you want open and closed and for the length you want the ties to hang.
Here are my cuts:
- Top – 38 x 23 inches (the 38 inches will be folded/doubled over for final length of 19 inches)
- Bottom – 49 1/2 inches (after double hem length will be 48 1/2 inches)
- Ties – 49 x 2 1/2 inches (four ties per shade)
Here is a pattern for reference.
STEPS FOR DIY TIE UP SHADES
Step 1) Create a double hem on each side of the top piece. If you are new to sewing a double hem is folded over twice then sewed to hold it in place. To create a double hem measure your fold about 1/4 inch, fold it over twice, iron, pin and sew the inner edge of the fold.
A double hem creates a nice finish.
Step 2) Take the top piece and fold it in half lengthwise, so the double hems you just sewed face in. Pin in place, making sure to leave a large enough gap at the top for your tension rod loop. Sew the folded sides together. I left a 1 1/2 inch gap at the top for the rod. Sew across the width of the material to create a loop for the tension rod to slide through where you marked for the tension rod at the top.
Here is how the tension rod looks inserted once you are ready to hang the shades up.
Tip, if you’re newer to sewing like me, place a piece of tape as a guide for sewing the tension rod loop. This will help keep your sewing straight and even.
Step 3) Sew a double hem on the sides as you did for the top piece. Then sew a double hem to only one end of the top piece. After you create a double hem for the sides, cut the corners at an angle at the end you plan to do the double hem. This is easier for the side and end fold to overlap at the corners making it less bulky when you go to sew.
Related: How to Make Pallet Curtain Rods
At this point, you have all your pieces ready to be assembled and sewed together. The pic below is for one shade.
Sewing the Ties
Step 4) Position one end of each of the four ties on the bottom piece and add a couple of pins to secure in place. You will have two ties on one side of the bottom piece and two ties on the other side of the bottom piece in the same place. I placed my ties 3 1/2 inches from the edges.
Next place the top piece on top of the bottom piece that now has the ties pinned. Make sure to place the unfinished edge of the top piece to line up with the finished edge of the bottom piece. Pin the top piece in place.
Step 5) Sew a stitch along the top edge to sew the top and bottom pieces, and the ties together. This is the first seam.
Keeping all the material in the same position, add a second seam about 1/4 inch below the first seam in step 4. For a good marker, I sewed over the seam of the double folded hem in the bottom piece.
For this final seam, I will try my best to explain this part so it makes sense. At this point, the ties should be well attached to your top and bottom pieces. However, you will secure all the edges in place for a third and final seam for this section. You will do this by sewing the edge of the previous hem to the top piece.
Step 6) Fold the top piece over and pin it in place. Then while the top piece is open, sew a seam over the first seam you did when you attached the ties in place.
Step 7) Trim the bottom piece if needed. Sew a double folded hem to the bottom of the bottom piece, like you did earlier to the other end of the bottom piece, in step 3 (woh thats a lot of bottom talk).
Repeat all these steps for as many shades as you need. For my living room bay window, I had to do this five times, sigh.
Step 8) Iron the shades. Slide the tension rod through the loop and place the shade(s) in your window(s). Fold and tie to your desired style. I folded up the bottom piece in an accordion style to my desired length. Then I made a bow with the ties.
I am so happy with how they turned out! And I don’t have to pretend anymore that paper stick em’ shades are all the rage.
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