I made some simple balloon shades for my daughters’ room. It’s just one piece of fabric, no lining, and some ring tape and cord. The hardware is pretty simple too.
My daughter have a window in their room that is 10 feet long and a foot and a half tall. It takes up the whole wall. We wanted to give it a window covering that would not only add privacy and block light, but also add a little height to such a narrow window. Our solution was balloon shades. Traditional roman shades would have worked too, but balloon shades give a softer, more feminine look which is perfect for a girl’s room.
Fabric for Balloon Shades
We chose some cute eyelet fabric to match the look of their room. I didn’t worry about lining the curtains because the sunlight filtering into their room in the morning helps my daughters to wake up.
The fabric needs to be slightly longer than the window is wide so that it will drape some. We bought 4 yards, or 12 feet, to cover the 10 foot window.
I hemmed up the ends of the fabric (you could also use seam binding tape if you don’t want to sew), then sewed ring tape on top of those hems. Then I sewed 4 more strips of ring tape at even intervals along the curtain, so that I would have 6 strips where the curtains would gather when they are raised.
The sides of the fabric are called selvages, and don’t have to be hemmed because they are already finished, but I added a small hem on the top edge, just for looks.
There is drapery cord going through the rings in the pictures, but it’s easier to put it in after the curtain is up.
For hardware, we bought six cute flower finials from IKEA, and some screw mounts to attach them to the wall. We found out finials have very short screws. They’re not meant to screw into a wall. How silly is that? Even with the screw mounts, they are not sturdy, especially since we have plaster walls. This is important: The finials do not hold the weight of the cord being pulled, only the light weight of the fabric itself.
A few inches below each finial is a screw eye. Those screw eyes hold the weight of the curtain being raised and lowered because the cord will go through them. Those screw eyes won’t show, but they are the work horse of these curtains.
Putting Up the Balloon Shades
I cut 6 pieces of ribbon and put them through the top ring of each tape. Then I tied the ribbon, with the ring, onto the corresponding finial. Now the curtains were up!
I threaded the drapery cord through the rings. To start, I tied the cord to the bottom ring on the far end, then up through the rings on that tape. And, finally, through all of the screw eyes to the other end of the curtain. I left a lot of extra cord, just in case. Next, I went to the bottom ring on the second tape, and repeated the same process. Because the cord is all behind the curtain, I can’t show you a picture, but here’s a diagram:When all the cords are through, give it a test, or a few. This is the exciting part. It was so much fun to see that my curtain actually worked!
The Pull Cord
Now to deal with all those loose cords. Because this is a kids room, I didn’t want the cords to be a strangulation hazard, so I made a cord cover. I used a 1 inch by 36 inch piece of white fabric, folded it in half, sewed it up the side, and turned it inside out to make a tube. I pushed the 6 dangling cords through the tube of fabric.
I wanted to string a large bead onto the end of the cords, to make it look nice and easier to pull, but I couldn’t find one. So I made one. I cut about an inch from a large wooden dowel, then drilled a 1/8 inch hole through it. Then I drilled 3/8 halfway though it. I coated the whole thing with silver Rub N Buff (I love that stuff).
I threaded all of the loose cords through my new bead and tied a knot. The 3/8 inch hole hides the knot, and the 1/8 part keeps it from slipping through.
Last of all, I mounted a cleat on the wall. I looked into some kind of pulley/holding thing so I wouldn’t need a cleat, but they all seemed cheap or complicated. And my skills in raising a lowering mini blinds seem to be lacking, so I decided not to go there. A cleat is simpler and easy to wrap the cord around.
Here’s the finished balloon shades. I just have to say that taking a picture of window that is the only source of natural light is terrible. Something like trying to see the shape of the sun. So, these pictures are only made possible by Photoshop!
Wow, that sounds like a lot of steps, but it was actually a fairly easy project. I finished the whole thing in just a few hours. I hope I explained each step well. If not, please ask questions in the comments sections below. I’d love to help you make your own shades.
I love how they turned out, very relaxed and fluffy looking, and very feminine and pretty. And compared making true roman shades, they were very quick and simple.
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