Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Balloon Shade

The Venetian blinds in our house were one of the first things to go when we moved in as my husband dislikes them. But I still like some way to easily adjust the lighting in a room. One of the first things I do in the morning is let the sunshine in! But I also want it easy to darken the room for naps and at night. Easy to sew balloon shades have been the perfect solution for several of our rooms!

Here is some simple directions. No pattern needed!
First sew a simple, one piece curtain. It should have a top placket for the rod and fall generously below the window. The fullness of the curtain is entirely up to you.
Next, take a trip to a fabric store and home improvement store and gather a few items.

cord - I bought mine in the curtain department at Joannes

tiny rings - I used plastic rings for the first shade I made but after several years of hanging in the bright sunlight, the plastic disintegrated. Ed suggested stainless steel washers. They were more expensive but should last for years without falling apart or rusting. You want the smallest size possible while still allowing your cord to pull through easily.

three small eye screws

one cleat
Lay your curtain on a flat surface wrong side up.
Mark where you will sew on your rings. I used pins to mark three rows evenly spaced across the curtain. Then marked about every six inches from top to bottom.
Carefully hand stitch the rings to the curtain. You want them to be sewed securely without being too noticeable on the wrong side. When the shade is gathered up, the stitches will not be noticed.
Cut three lengths of cording. Make sure it is long enough to go through the whole length and across the top of the shade. String the cording through rings. Tie the end securely to the bottom ring. (This picture is sideways and I can't seem to get it flipped. You want the strings going from top to bottom!)
Hang the curtain in the window. Screw the eye screws into the top of the window frame. String the cording through the eye screws pulling the cording all to one side.
Attach the to the side of the window frame. When you pull the cording, wrap the cords around this to hold the shade in position.

Wasn't that easy! At least it is easy to do but harder to write about!

Please let me know if these directions were not clear!


  1. Thanks Gina!!! I am using a shear fabric, so I'm going to sew "tubes" instead of the metal rings, but the diagram of the eye hooks gave me a great way to raise and lower the shades. Does the cord run through them easily, or does it get hung up?

  2. Christine - Glad to help! Let me know how it turns out for you! As long as your eye hooks are not too tiny - or cording too thick, it should pull though easily. I raise and lower these blinds several times a day, and it works quite easily. Gina

  3. Christine, did the "tube" idea work for you? I am looking to do the same thing with sheer fabric, and I want to have gentle gathers all the way up. Thanks, Sarah

  4. Beautiful curtains, Gina!
    Unfortunately, I am terrible at doing these kinds of things, especially since I need six of them. I am hoping to find someone local (central Pa) to make them for me. Can I use pre-purchased curtains? I found curtains I like at Target. They are a a velvety kind that are 79% cotton and 21% Rayon. They are lined with Polyester. Btw, is there a reason it says "dry clean only." Why couldn't they be washed.
    Sorry for all the questions, but I've been going crazy trying to figure out what to do.

  5. Linda - I don't know why you couldn't use a pre-made curtain and just add the rings and cording. You would only need a simple curtain so it would be easy to get someone to sew for you also. I would be careful not to get a curtain that was too heavy and thick or it won't slide up and down easily. The fabric I used wasn't thin but it also wasn't lined. I'm not sure on the dry clean only thing. I rarely wash my curtains anyway. When they get dusty I just put them in the dryer with a wet towel and they come out looking good! Hope that helps! Gina

  6. Sarah and Gina
    Several years ago I made a ballon shade for my grandson's room. It is probably 5 ft wide and 4 ft long. I lined it and it is very heavy. I had to use a heavy cord but it worked well. I am restringing it to use for my second grandson. I think the key is to use a heavy cord so that it has the strength to raise the shade.

  7. Oh that's very pretty! I was searching for some directions for balloon blinds and found your blog. I have my roman blinds made but wanted to make a valance now for the top to look like the balloon blinds but it be a valance and really poufy. I found some solid pink fabric at Hancock Fabrics that I want to make it out of. I posted about mine on my blog.

  8. Hello. I am making a balloon curtain for the first time. I chose a very heavy fabric and am afraid I made a mistake? My window is 36in wide. Could you tell me how wide to make the curtain and how many scallops to have,(if there is a right or wrong amount).. and do you think I should put a liner? Thank you so much, Summer

  9. Hi! We live in a rental and we cannot put holes into the window frames or trim, because they are stained wood, not painted. Also, we live in Italy and the houses are made of cinderblocks, not wood beams and drywall, so we avoid nails or screws at all costs (we LOVE 3M hooks!!)! Any suggestions on what to use other than the eye screws and cleat? They only need to last 2-3 years because we move that often! Thanks!!

    1. Shelly-
      Would a 3M hook work for the cleat? I think it would. I'm not sure what to use for the eye bolt but I'm sure you can find some solution since the only purpose is to hold the string to the top of the curtain.

      Best wishes,

  10. Thanks for sharing Gina, I love your sewing room and the shades are adorable. SO R THE KIDS!!


  11. I don't know how to clean my balloon shades. When I took them to the dry cleaners I was told I would have to remove the rings. I just as well make new drapes, if I have to take the rings out! Any suggestions?

    1. I put my drapes in the dryer with a wet wash cloth. They weren't terribly dirty, just very dusty, and this helped them look much better.

  12. Thank you so much for these clear instructions! I have been sorting through all kinds of instructions for Balloon & Roman shades, and all of them include stapling the fabric to a piece of wood. I want to be able to take the shades down easily to clean, or to take with me if we move. This is perfect!


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