How to Calculate Stacking Height for Roman Shades

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Be sure to calculate the size of designs when determining your stacking height.
Be sure to calculate the size of designs when determining your stacking height. (Image: Curtain. image by Victor Samoilovich from Fotolia.com)

Roman shades maintain their role as one of the most elegant window treatments available today. Unfolded, they cover the window in one long sheet of fabric. When raised, the Roman shade accordions onto itself, resulting in a graceful arrangement of horizontal folds of drapery fabric. To make your own Roman shades you must calculate carefully to achieve a good fit. One of the most important calculations is the stacking height, or stackage, which is the length of the shade when pulled all the way up.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Calculator

Determine your desired mounting location for your Roman shades: inside or outside the window frame. While most people think of inside mounted shades when they consider Roman shades, outside mounted shades have the advantage of not blocking as much of the natural sunlight coming through the window when the shade is pulled up.

Decide how much of the window you want to show when the shade is up. If the windows are very tall, you're using an outside mount, or if your shades will be ornamental, you may want to show more of them, up to 18 inches. Smaller windows, shades with inside mounts, and darker rooms that benefit from as much natural light as possible should consider smaller stackages, no more than 8 to 12 inches.

Measure the height of the window to determine the total length of your shade. Remember to measure outside of the window frame if you plan on an outside mount, and from the top to the bottom of the window for an inside mount.

Calculate the height of the individual Roman shade folds as follows: subtract the stackage height from the total shade length. Subtract an additional 8 inches for the lowest portion of the shade, which falls behind the rest of the folds. Divide this number by the number of flaps you desire, approximately 4 to 8. This will give you the total length of each flap of the shade. Each flap is made up of 2 folded segments. Divide this number by 2 to get the height of each individual fold. For example, if your total shade length is 60 inches, your desired stackage is 12 inches, and you want 4 flaps, your fold height will be 5 inches.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may find it useful to hold up a strip of fabric at the top of your window to help in determine your desired stackage height.
  • This calculation does not show the amount of fabric needed to make the shades. Additional considerations, such as what type of pulley is used, must be considered when purchasing fabric.

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