How To Make Balloon Shades (Quickly & Easily!)

Heather Robbins
by Heather Robbins

Balloon shades are an excellent way to add some character or design to your living room or bedroom. It’s a great method for letting a certain amount of light into your living space while keeping it chic. Even though balloon shades tend to be overpriced, you can always make your own instead!

To make balloon shades, measure the width of your window to determine how many panels are needed. Next, mark spaces 14 to 18 inches apart from the bottom to the rod-pocket casing. Then, sew a ring at each pencil mark. Measure the length of the rings and thread the white cord through. Then, set the balloon shade on the rod, and you’re finished!

An inexpensive way to add some design to your space is to make balloon curtains. If you have basic sewing skills and the know-how to use a tape measure, then this is the perfect DIY project for you! This will take you just a few hours and a trip to the craft store. We’ll provide the instructions.

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What Are Balloon Shades?

If you think this project sounds fun, but you have no idea what balloon shades are, don’t worry! Balloon shades are a type of shade that has a big poufy bottom side that billows out across your window.

Many people like to install these types of shades in their office, bedroom, reading nook, library, or hallway windows. You can even choose specific colors so that when the sun shines through your window, it casts that color’s glow across your room.

How To Make Balloon Shades

Before you begin creating your balloon shades, you should wash your sheer panels. It’s not necessary, but it helps to soften the fabric to make it easier to sew.

Step 1: Measure Your Window

You first need to know how large of balloon shades you are making, so you need to measure the width of your window. The best-looking balloon shades have a 3 to 1 fullness, which you can calculate by multiplying the window width or rod length by three.

Step 2: Mark The Panels

Next, grab your sheer panel and place it face down. Make sure the surface you put it on is flat and clean. Then, use a measuring tape to mark the fabric panel with a pencil. Place dots 14 to 18 inches apart along the length of the panel.

When doing this, you should start at the bottom of the curtain and stop about 10 inches below the pocket that the rod is inserted into.

Step 3: Add The Rings

After marking the sheer panel, it’s time to sew in the rings. At each mark that you made in step two, you will then sew in a ring. However, make sure you don’t overdo the stitches, as this can cause the fabric to bump and scrunch.

Continue sewing the rings on each panel until rings have been attached to all the ends and you have evenly spaced rows on the body of your sheer panel. You will see a balloon shape form in between each of the rows of rings.

Step 4: Thread Your Cord

After the rings are all sewn on, measure how long the rows of the rings are, and add just a few inches so that you can tie the knots. Then, cut your white lift cord in equal length and insert it through all the rings of that row.

While you’re threading the cord through the rings, you will need to tie a knot at the top and the bottom of each ring. Continue to repeat this step until all the rows are threaded. Then, cut a piece of cord for each row that is 4 to 6 inches and then set them to the side.

Step 5: Insert The Curtain Rod

Now that your sheer panel is ready and your balloon shade is almost finished put your drapery rod in the rod pocket of your new balloon shade and set the rod where you want it on the window.

Take the piece of cord that you cut in step four and put it through the three or six bottom rings, and pull them together tightly. Next, to hold the rings in place, you have to tie knots through them.

If your window is small enough, you can also connect all the bottom rings of your balloon shade to create a beautiful, over-sized, buoyant valance about 24 to 30 inches from the rod.

Step 6: Style Your Shades

Now that the shades have been created, it’s time to fluff them up and set them up how you want them. Make sure everything looks level and akin to your liking. And you’re done!

Ideal Fabric For Balloon Shades

Eyelet fabric is excellent for balloon shades, and if you want the sunlight to filter into your room as a ‘good morning’ alarm, then you won’t need to line them either. However, a good rule of thumb is that your fabric is just a bit longer than the width of your so it can drape.

For example, if you have a 10-wide window, you will want at least 12 feet of fabric. You can then hem the ends of it or use binding tape if you don’t feel like sewing or know how to sew. You will ultimately end up with six strips for the curtains to rise and gather.

Hardware You Will Need To Get

For this project, you will need some finials. Places like IKEA, Amazon, and any home improvement store usually carries them. Also, you will need screw mounts so that you can hook them onto the wall.

One thing to note is that the finials don’t typically come with long enough screws to hook them into the wall, so you’ll need to buy different screws for these. The screw eye will hold the weight of the curtain, which is why it’s vital that you have larger screws for the screw mounts.

Tips When Hanging The Balloon Shades

  • Tie the rings to the finial with a ribbon. Ribbon adds an extra bit of character to your balloon shades. You can color coordinate and make the entire shade look beautiful instead of just tying the shades to the finials with boring rope or thread.
  • Use drapery cord. Drapery cord is, of course, the best type you can use for this project. This is because it’s used to ‘hanging’ or allowing the shade to drape. If you use regular rope, or something else less flexible, it can take away from the balloon shape of the shade.
  • Check the strength before you hang. If you have a plaster wall, you may need to be careful of the type of fabric you use. This is because certain types of fabric can be too heavy and pull the rod forward, causing your shades to come crashing down.

Creating A Cord Cover (Optional)

If you have children in the home, it’s a great idea first to create a cord cover. You can do this by using a 1 inch by 36-inch piece of fabric that is folded in half. You will need to sew the side and turn the fabric tube inside out. Then, put the dangling cords in the tube of fabric.

Creating A Pullcord (Optional)

  • Bead the end of the cord. If you can find a large bead, you can put it onto the end of the cord to make it easy to pull. However, these aren’t as readily available as other types of hardware. So, it’s essential you shop for one. If you can’t find one, you can always create a dowel.

    Create a dowel if you can’t find a large bead for the cord. If you cannot find a large enough bead for your cords, you can always create your own dowel for the pullcord. To do this, you will need to cut one inch off from a larger wooden dowel and drill a 1/8-inch hole. You can use a 3/8 bit and drill it halfway through. You color it using Rub N Buff.

  • Thread the cords in the bead. Collect all the loose cords and put them through the bead. To hold the bead into place, you will need to tie the end so the bead doesn’t slip off. You can even braid the ends as long as it’s fat enough so the bead cannot slip.
  • Mount a cleat on your wall. While a cord holder is ideal, these are typically difficult to work with, or they’re made of cheap material and easy to break. So, a cleat is ideal if you’re looking for something simple to use and easy to wrap your cord around.

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Our Final Take

Balloon shades are a fantastic invention to add some pep to your room. Creating the shade is better than purchasing one that’s overpriced as you’re able to customize it the way you want. By carefully following these steps, you’ll have a gorgeously designed balloon shade in no time.

As you’re working through the steps, take your time. That way, you can avoid making any mistakes. If you do make a mistake, then take it as an opportunity to learn! You only get good at DIY projects by doing them.

Heather Robbins
Heather Robbins

Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.

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