Thermal Blackout Roman Shades DIY

Lately our curtains and shades have been driving me nuts.  Ok really I’m having major sensory hell issues caused by bright light and I’m taking it out on the sunlight ergo the projection onto the curtains and shades.  So I’m making us some roman shades.  So far I have 1 and a ½ done, I plan to make 4 to start with for the windows in the bedrooms and office.  Then I broke the sewing machine, the timing is now off and so Tom and I get to go on an adventure to get repaired.

Thermal Roman Shade installed, window shade open

But the cool thing is I finally FINALLY found the material I’ve been searching for for years and Joann Fabric actually had it on sale!!!!  It’s this cool fabric stuff apparently called Warm Windows Insulated to make curtains that not only completely block light but increase heat and cooling efficiency.  I first learned about the idea of thermal curtains years ago at a relatives’ house up north but she had special ordered them and paid a fortune.  At the time I thought “Hmm I think I could make these if I can find the materials”  today I did.  The completed one is in the office and I love it already!!  Were so easy to make and basically cost me about $30 a window for all of the materials (instead of $200).  I can’t wait until the sewing machine is fixed and I can make more of them.

Thermal Roman Window Shades:


  • Warm Windows Insulated Window Shade Material cut the the exact size of the window area you want the shade to cover.  If you want the shade on the outside of the window frame measure to there, if you’d rather as I did they hang inside the window casement measure there.
  • Front Material (I am using neutral colored canvas fabric but you could use any pretty pattern or solid you’d like) cut to 2 1/4-3″ wider than the warm windows material and 8″ longer.  For my first window I did only 2 1/4″ wider, but I think for future I’ll do closer to 3″ as I really want to block any light coming in around the edges of the window.
  • 1″x2″ board cut to 1/4″ shorter than the width of your window measurement
  • 3-5 eye bolts
  • roman shade rope
  • staple gun and staples
  • thick thread (I used upholstery thread)
  • 5/8″ dowel cut to 1/2″ shorter than the width of your window measurement
  • small plastic or metal roman window shade rings
  • window shade cord cleat
  • Hammer
  • Screws and screw driver/drill

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To make:

  • Line up the edges front fabric (pattern side in) with the edges of the Warm Windows fabric (smooth side in).  Because your front fabric has been cut wider than the Warm Windows fabric, the front fabric should be a bit loose and billowy with the edges of each fabric lined up.
  • Sew a 1/2″ straight stitch down the 2 long sides
  • Flip the fabric inside out so the top sides are now facing out
  • Flatten it so the front fabric and Warm Windows fabrics are now smooth.  Iron along the seam to help lay flat.
  • Now take the long 8″ of top fabric that extends past the Warm Windows fabric, and fold it to the bottom edge of the Warm Windows Fabric, then fold again to make a 4″ hem.  Depending on where you want the curtain to hang to determines where you fold that 2nd fold up to and hem along.
  • Sew along that long hem edge (but not yet down the sides)
  • Insert the 5/8″ dowel into that hem pocket and sew up the sides to ensure the dowel can’t fall out.  This dowel helps add weight to the bottom of the curtain so it hangs and stays in place
  • Hand sew the plastic roman shade rings along each long side parallel to each other.  Sew these on the Warm Windows Fabric side, being careful not to punch the needle through to the front fabric as you do it.  Starting from the bottom, place these rings every other line on the warm windows fabric.  These are what you thread your Roman Shade hanging rope through.

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Set the curtain aside for a moment at this point

  • Take your 1×2″ cut board and look at your window, decide where you’re going to place it either above or inside the window casement.  Then figure out which way your board will be installed and place the eye hooks on the side that would be hanging down once installed.  Place an eye hook on either far edge, and then depending on the width of your window, 1-3 more eye bolts evenly spaced.

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Bring your curtain back into the picture and line up the top edge (the only edge at this point not sewn) along the top plane of your 1×2″ board.  The plane of the board that when installed on your window would be facing the ceiling (so not visible if you were looking at the window as you walked into the room).  Positioned so the front fabric is facing out and the Warm Windows Fabric is against the board.

  • Using your staple gun, staple the fabric to the 1×2″ board along that top edge, hammering the staples in additionally as you go since this fabric is rather thick.  I used 1/2″ staples and that seemed to work well.

Now you are ready to install on the window!  This task is easiest I found with 2 people.

Carefully place the window shade where you want it, and using your drill drill at least 3 holes (1 on each end and 1 in middle) in your board with it pressed against the wall or window casement where you want it installed.  If installing on drywall, use anchors if you can’t match up with the studs.

Once the holes are drilled, screw the board in place.  I used 1 5/8″ screws which worked well.

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Now you should have the curtain installed on the window and hanging in place.  On to the final few steps!

Decide which side of the window you would like your shade pull to be on.  Then take 1 length of your Roman Shade rope and thread it through the top eye bolts and down the long side farthest from the side you want your shade pull to be on.  Tie the rope on the farthest bottom ring on the shade.

Take your 2nd piece of rope and thread it first through the eye bolt closest to the side you want your shade pull on then down the rings on that closest long side of the curtain.  Again tying it off on the lowest ring of that side of the shade.

You want these 2 lengths of rope to be long enough that once threaded through their respective eye bolts and rings, there is enough extra length to reach the window sill.  Take these 2 lengths of hanging rope and tie the end together.  I found to help further prevent any tangling or one side of the shade pulling differently than the other, tying off slightly below the top eye bolt was helpful as well.

Diagram drawing of installing the shade pull cord.  Red dots are where the eye bolts and plastic rings are.  This is all done on the backside of the window shade, the warm windows fabric side.

Now figure out where you’d like your shade cord cleat to be positioned.  This will be for keeping the shade open when you’d like it to stay open.  Screw the cord cleat in place.

Cord cleat installed with cord wound on it

And that’s it!  You now had a nice thermal light blocking roman shade on your window.  Congrats!

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