London shades

London shades have been in my workroom for several weeks now. This is the first time I have made this design. It has taken some thinking, reading, designing, and lots of practice to get them to this stage. It is one thing to have a pattern, it is another to make that work for your customer’s windows. One finished, three more to go.

flat shade London shade

44 Replies to “London shades”

    1. I want to add fringe to the bottom of my london shade. When I look at the shades in drapery stores I can’t figure out how they attached the shades. It is not sewed through the face fabric and through the back lining. Can you tell me how to sew the fringe without seeing the stitches on the back lining?

        1. Hi Emma, on my London shade the trim at the bottom is sewn in between the bottom edge and a facing piece to hide any stitching. If a beaded trim has a pretty braid as well as the beads, the trim can be glued on, or applied with double sided tape or hand stitched. I have used all three methods. Just make sure the glue or tape is made for such applications.

  1. Kathy your London Shade is GORGEOUS!

    I’m trying to make one for my friend’s daughter and it is not going well. I have searched the web (most of the shades are very poorly done) and poured over a couple of books and haven’t come up with a consensus or anything that I am happy with.

    If you would answer the following questions I would be VERY grateful.

    1. Other than to accommodate the trim, was there a reason that you used the pillowcase method? My shade needs to be 98″ wide. For my test shade I made 2″ side hems and a 3″ bottom hem. Most of the directions that I found provide for a variation of the method that I used.

    2. Did you sew the box pleats down or just in the seam when you sewed the fabric and lining together?

    3. How far from the bottom seam is your first ring?

    4. How far apart are the vertical rings?

    5. How many pleats are pulled up?

    6. Are the pleats pulled up by the cords through screw eyes or tied? I tried tying the bottom 3 and 4 pleats but I have decided that it will only hang nicely if the cords are pulled
    from the top.

    7. Did you press the the pleat folds?

    8. Did you use a weight bar?

    9. How long is your shade? Mine needs to be 26″ at the longest point. Intend to check, but presumably that doesn’t mean the tails on each end, which will be past the window molding, but how far over the window the shade falls.

    10. Did you add the top band as a design detail (I LOVE IT) or does it serve a purpose? I’m thinking that it may help the box pleats hang nicely.

    The picture that I was provided is at Houzz, Lola’s Kitchen, Niles, IL, the 8th picture.

    Thank you very much for your time.


    Linda Adam

    1. Hi Linda, sorry it has taken a few days to get back to you. This was my first London shade and I had a lot of question too. I used a MFay pattern for the width, pleat and hem measurements. Their suggestion is to make London shades no more than 44″ wide. If you haven’t started this project yet, I would try to cover that 98″ with 2 shades side by side or 1 shade pulled up in the center as well as the sides.
      The pattern allowed for double 2″ side hems and a double 3″ bottom hem. I did pillowcase mine, but also had a 3″ piece of black fabric on the back side to look like a folded hem, otherwise the lining would show to the front on the bottom.
      I had a solid black fabric for the pleats, I only stitched the fabrics together, folded the pleats in at the top after it was sewn to the lining and used staples to baste them in place until the shade was stapled to the board.
      The bottom ring was 4″ from the bottom and the next rings were up 6″, then 5.5″, 5″ and 4.5″. I read this suggestion on the Custom Home Furnishings forum. Staggering the rings made the folds lay better and give the shade the full look I wanted.
      The rings were placed in the center of each pleat on the back side and tied together as tightly as they would gather. My shades are being used as valances and don’t open and close. They could have been made to operate, but the customer wanted valances.
      I didn’t need a weight bar because of the weight and drape of the fabric. If I were to use a lighter weight fabric, I would use a weight bar and staple a length of cord to the board for stability.
      I made 2 different size shades. Two of them were 21″ wide and 2 were 34″ wide, the finished length of the curve was 24″.The tails were the same length as the bottom of the curve.
      The top band was a design feature that the customer requested. So I made a small cornice box to allow for this instead of using a single board.
      I hope I have answered all your questions. I would love to see how your project comes out. Please write back if you have more questions.

      1. Kathy,


        I ordered the M’Fay pattern (yours looks a LOT better), and expect it to arrive by Thursday since the office is also in NC.

        My friend’s daughter sent me a picture of the inside of a similar shade that she has in her kitchen (her mother said that it is a heavier weight drapery fabric), and it looks like the lining was a relatively thick flannel (?) that I associate with interlining. What type of lining did you use? My fabric is a heavier weight drapery fabric or a light weight upholstery fabric – similar to a non-stiff sail cloth.

        I have put this project on hold until the pattern arrives, and am making a new purse from a pattern that I created to lower my frustration level.

        Once I have reviewed the M’Fay pattern and your answers carefully I may have more questions. One thing that I questioned was the use of a cornice box. I have done a similar top band on window treatments in my home and mounted them on a single board. Why did you opt for the cornice box?

        It is sooooooo great to communicate with someone that knows what I am talking about and does QUALITY work. I REALLY appreciate your help.

        All the best,


      2. Wow! Thank you so much for this information. I have made 3 relaxed london shades at this point and am designing my fourth for a friend’s kitchen window. Your tip on spacing the rings is so helpful! I always had a problem with the folds looking floppy as I drew up the shade, so a couple of times I had to just baste the folds in place with needle and thread (my london shades are non-functioning…they don’t raise or lower). You do beautiful work, too!

  2. I love how your london shade looks. I have been debating on what type of shade to use for my bedroom and hope you can offer some advice on an idea I have to combine a shade with a valance then hang on a rod or create a seam/pocket to hang the shade (instead of a board). I have one very wide window that has a decorative rod with the supports on each side and one in the middle. I would like to keep the rod and not use the board. I also wanted to change the london shade to sew a flap over valance. What I would like to do is below, please tell me if you think this would work:
    1. Wide window is 84 inches, I think it would require 2 shades.
    2. Combine two patterns 1) the london shade with 2)a flap over valance with a contrasting color. The flap over valance idea came from B5369 Butterick Waverly (view A) with a solid color (moss) sewn to the top of the london shade. The Shade is a swavelle Glencoe floral material.
    3. Instead of using the board, I want to flap over the top solid part to hang over the decorative rod and the floral shade behind it.
    I don’t plan to use the shade to pull up or let down, rather to have it in a fixed position.

    Would it work to create this attached valance, have it hang over a rod with the fixed london shade? I realize I would have to somehow tack the top or maybe sew an allowance to slide on the combination valance/shade. Does this sound like it would work?

    1. Hi Kathy, a London shade with a valance may be a bit too much for one window. A valance over a roman shade is often done and looks really nice. Either way, to answer your hardware questions, yes you can keep your rod and hang your valance from it. I do think using two shades and valances for the width of your window is a good idea. The simplest way to mount your shade, even if it is stationary, is to put it on a board and mount it inside your window frame. I wouldn’t try to mount your shade to a rod it would be too complicated and unstable. If you look through my Pinterest board on shades and the one of valances, you will find some ideas similar to what you are thinking of. And there should be a couple of pictures showing the back side of some of the shades to show the construction.
      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  3. Hi Kathy, I love the London shade and plan to make one for my new sewing room. You do beautiful work. My question is: Where are the cords on your Roman Shades and how do you attach them after they are pulled up? I didn’t see any brackets to attach the cords to. or any cords running at the top of the shades when they are raised. I just presumed the cords are in the middle of the lining and fabric, but how do you draw and keep the shades up? Thanks again..I really enjoyed reading all your instructions..You are a very good teacher. I love decorative sewing and making new window treatments and articles for our home,

    1. Hi Faye, I can’t remember if I just tied the bottom rings together and let the shade hang from the board or if I tied the rings together and stapled the extra length of cord to the board. These shades did not open and close. They can be made that way. If you make them to operate, you will need to use guide rings and a cord lock or some other type of shade hardware. I have purchased my hardware from Rowley Company and used both the simple cord locks and their EZ rig system. Be warned when making London shades or balloon shades that open and close – there will be a lot of fussing with the fabric to make it look good every time you operate the shades.
      Thank you for the nice compliments and for reading my posts. I need to write more often.

  4. I absolutely love these curtains. I also love that you were so willing to share how to make them. You are so kind! I’ve just gotten into making draperies and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your expertise. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kimberly, thank you for reading my blog and for the nice comments. I would love to see your drapery projects. I have been sewing as a business for about 5 years, but still feel like a beginner. Are you sewing as a business or for yourself? If there are other professional workrooms in your area, we are a friendly bunch and more than willing to help with experience and advice.

  5. Hi there:

    I’m in the process of making a London valance. I’m using instructions which I understand except for the part about the pleats (between the wing and center) which say to take the depth measurement and multiply by 4. I also plan on making the pleat a contrasting color and am not sure the seam allowances are included, although I can figure that out. The baffling thing is the pleat measurement. The poster said she used a depth of 1-1/2 but you could use up to 3; then multiply that number by 4.” In addition, it seems to me that I have also seen deeper pleats. Could you please comment on this? Thank you so much,

    1. Hi Caroline, it would be nice to see some clear instructions written for this shade. Everyone has their own way to put one together and many of the instructions assume you know some basics. I think the idea of multiplying the measurement is that she is taking the measurement from the center of the pleat to one side. So if you want the pleat to be 3″ wide when it is folded to look like a box pleat you need to use 6″ of fabric plus seam allowance. I hope this helps. I would love to see a picture of your shade.

  6. Hi Kathy –
    Like everyone else here, what a great job you did. I wish you had posted the back of the valance. So we could see how everything does layout. I’m working a simpler version of this and would love to know how the back is supposed to look. Do you have any representations of a back version of a permanent London shade?

    Thank you so much

    1. Hi Leslie, I looked through my photos and don’t have a picture of the back side of this shade. What it looked like is the rings that are spaced at different spaces on the back were all tied up together. I then tied a piece of cord from the rings to the underside of the board and stapled it in place to keep everything stable. Next time I make one, I will try to take more photos. I also want to see the mechanics of different window treatments. Thank you for your questions.

  7. Hi Kathy

    What a beautiful shade. I have been trying to find some instructions for a london shade. Your post was so helpful!!
    I have a few questions. I was reading your response to Linda Adams. I don’t un der stand what a pillow hem is. Could you please explain? Also you say you have a 3″ piece of black to look like a folded hem? I don’t see that in the picture.

    I hope you don’t mind my asking but could you please help me with the measurements? My window is 43″ wide by 53″ tall, including a w” return on each side. I would like a 3″ pleat. So I understand I will need 6″ plus seam allowance of contrasting fabric. My question is, where do you think I should start the pleat? So what would the measurement be from the return to the edge of the pleat. Then what would the measurement be between the two pleats?

    Thank you in advance for EVEN considering answering my questions. And thank you for sharing your knowledge with us on making this beautiful shade.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Marilyn, I bought the pattern for the London shade from MFay patterns. The instructions are not very detailed, but it does give a great chart to figure out how to adjust the pattern for different size windows.
      To pillowcase the side hems, means I cut the lining slightly narrower than the face fabric. I then stitched them with right sides together and turned it right side out, like a pillowcase. This made the face fabric to roll slightly to the back side and I didn’t have the bulk of turned side hems.
      The black lining band at the bottom helped in two ways. It gave me a seam to place the tape of the beaded trim. And it gave the bottom edge a black lining instead of white.

      1. Hi Kathy

        Wow! Thanks for your response, and so quick! I think I can do this now! I didn’t want the extra expense of a pattern since I am only making one shade but I think the chart sounds like what I need.

        Thank you for the explanation of the pillowcase and black lining band.

        Would you mind my asking how you attached the lining? And did you use a weight board?

        Thanks so much

  8. Hi Kathy

    I forgot to ask? How did you attached the beads? How do they stay flat and not come up with the folds in the shade? Did you use a weight board?

    And how did you attach the lining?

    Have you made others yet?

    Thanks again for your much needed help.


  9. Hello Kathy! Your work is absolutely beautiful!
    I wanted to know what pattern, if any, you used to make this beautiful London Shade?

    1. Hi Sue, thank you for the compliment. I did use the M’Fay pattern for London shades. This was the first time to make this shade and I found the pattern instructions could have had more details. A little trial and error and some bits of advice from other workrooms helped me to figure out how to put this shade together.

  10. Hi Kathy…I have been trying to decide about making these beautiful London shades for months now. bought the fabric last year. Your work is absolutely gorgeous. I have a couple of question that hopefully you will answer. first of all, I was hoping the use rods to hang the valance …. will this be a problem. secondly, I have seen these shades with and without the box pleats….the ones with box pleats look fuller. I am not wanting to use a different color so I just wanted to ask if it’s still better to make the box pleats to give them a better look…thanks so much.

    1. Hi Patricia, you can certainly make your shade out of one fabric and do put in the box pleats. You wouldn’t need to put in seams at the pleats if your window is narrow enough. The M’Fay pattern uses some pretty deep box pleats. I don’t remember the measurements now, but I think it was at least 6 inches. I have not seen a London shade made to hang on a rod. I am not sure why you would want to do that. Using a board is simple and easy to mount inside the window frame or outside. The shade in the photo was made wider than the window and mounted above the window frame about 5″. Thank you for asking.

  11. Love the shades, just two questions. If you are making the shades as a valance how much length do you need? It seems the length of the window would be too long, especially since I am mounting them ceiling height, about 10 inches above the window frame. Next question is do you make the width just the window width or do you wrap edges of board?
    Thanks, Anne

    1. Hi Anne, to figure how much length you will need for your shade, you should measure from the ceiling to where you would like the gathers to start and then add about 6 inches for each of the pleats. Your shade may be as long as the window, maybe not. It depends on how many pleats you want, and since it is not going to function, the length is up to you. Your shade is going to mount above the window, so you need to make it wide enough to cover the sides of the board. I think even inside mount shades look better with a return. The size of the board is up to you. You can mount it on a 1″x2″ or 1″x3″ or even bigger depending on how you want the sides to look. I bought my pattern from M’Fay. It has more detailed instructions on how to adjust the pattern for different size windows. Thank you for asking.

  12. I’m not quite sure how to mount the boards….what type mounts would I use?
    Thanks for your quick response and help with this.

  13. Hi there:

    I’m making a London shade valance which is pretty long meaning I have to put in 9 rings. I tried to start at 4″ from the bottom with the interval between the lst and 2nd ring being 6″ and then diminishing each consecutive ring by 1/2 ” as suggested. The problem is that by the time I get to the top two rings, I only have about 2″ in between. Is that okay? I thought about making the first interval 7″ which makes it 3″ between the last two rings. Do you have any suggestions?


    1. Hi Caroline, so much length and volume can be a problem. You can make the bottom folds larger and make 3 or 4 of them the same size. It can work. I played with the spacing of the rings several times by using safety pins. I tried them at different intervals until I liked the look. Many workrooms will make a whole valance out of lining and adjust the pattern until they get the look they want. Balloon shades and London shades need to be arranged and fussed with even more than swags.
      I hope this helps.

      1. Hi again:

        I have another question about the wings, i.e., mine seem to want to pull toward the center,curving in instead of hanging straight down on the sides. Could this be because:

        a. I need a wider or specifically placed weight bar -or-

        b. My pleats are not deep enough (they are 1-1/2″)…?

        How wide should the weight bar be and where should it be placed? I just temporarily slid it between the bundled rings, but again, the wings want to curve in, ach!

        Thanks ever so much for your responses ;>)

  14. Hey Kathy,

    Your london shade is beautiful! And all of your responses to previous questions and comments are so helpful. I’m currently working on a london shade with a finished width of 47″ (inside mount). I know it’s probably a little wider than what is typically suggested for one shade, but we’re going for it. Just a few questions.

    1. Is there a rule of thumb in deciding on where to place each pleat in from each side. Like 1/5 proportion general rule?

    2. I saw you mention in a previous comment that you prefer inside mounts to have returns as well. What’s your general allowance for including a fabric return on the board mount? Subtract 1/4″ from inside width? Guess it depends on thickness of fabric.

    Thank you so much for your time and responses! They are all so very helpful. Happy sewing!

    1. Hi Katie, thank you for your comments. The instructions from M’Fay patterns doesn’t give a proportion rule, but it does have a chart. For example it says a 24″ shade would have a 4″ tail, 16″ center section. 34″ shade – 5.5″ tail, 23″ center; 44″ shade – 7.5″ tail, 29″ center. For wider shades you will want to make more than one swag section.
      For an inside mount shade, standard roman shade or any board mounted window treatment, I usually cut the board 1/2″ smaller than the window opening. I make the fabric the same as the window opening if a flat treatment. If it has a return, you would add to the width to make the depth of the return.
      I hope this answers your questions.

  15. I just found your site! This London shade is fantastic. They are installing antiqued ivory cabinets in my kitchen, appliances are the new dark grey color and I have been looking for the perfect match and I think this is it. Do you sell these? Jane

    1. Hi Jane, custom window treatments add so much to a room. You are in charge of the color, style, fabric texture and design. My business is in Tacoma,WA. I am happy to measure windows and make treatments for homes in my area. For anyone more than an hour’s drive away, I am happy to recommend a custom workroom in your area.

      1. Kathy it’s hard t trust when I haven’t seen their work. About how much would be reasonable to pay for a window 72″ wide. Is it even possible, or would it have to be broken up into 2 sections London shade thanks jane

  16. Hello again:

    I am noticing that all the London Shades I see tend to spread a little at the bottom of the pleats and then the seem to fold toward the back; mine hang straight.

    Also, the bottom of the tails seems to be about the same length as the middle swoop. My tails are much longer and I cannot figure out why? My “wings” are a little wider than most, but still it looks okay–any thoughts?

    Thanks again

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