DIY Oval Window Shade

Oval windows are an unusual feature, and therefore much prized by those people lucky enough to have one in their homes. Your own design savvy shines bright in the window treatment you create for it. An oval window requires a custom shade, made to fit its particular dimensions, and a balloon shade looks especially distinctive in this type of window. Making one requires intermediate sewing skills, but the instructions here will serve as crib notes to turn you into an expert at creating it. Note that the mounted shade won’t draw up higher than the widest part of the window.

Things You'll Need

  • Blank paper, 8 1/2 x 1
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Paper scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric
  • Sewing scissors
  • Pins
  • Tailor's chalk (or other temporary fabric-marking tool)
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread to match fabric
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Weighted cord
  • Sewing needle
  • Plastic or brass rings for Roman shades, 3/8 inch outer diameter
  • Heavy-duty stapler
  • Screw eyes
  • Pull cord

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Weighted cord is a knit cord filled with weighted beads, used to add weight to the bottom hem of sheer drapes. It’s available in most home-decor sewing stores. You can use any knit drapery cord as pull cord; it’s available in most home-decor sewing stores.

Tape sheets of paper together, edge-to-edge, until you have a piece large enough to cover the entire window. Place this over the window opening, tape the corners to the wall, then trace the outline of the window. Remove the paper from the wall and cut along the line. Slide the paper oval into the window opening, place it flat against the window, and trace the outline of the interior of the window frame.

Tape more sheets of paper together, edge to edge, until you have a piece at least 2 inches larger than the outline of the interior of the window frame. Tape the outline of the frame to the larger piece, mark 2 inches all around its exterior, then draw this larger oval. Cut it out to create your template; set it aside.

Measure the length and the width of the interior of the window frame (not the template). Add 3 inches to the length and 11 inches to the width.

Cut a rectangle of fabric with those measurements, making sure the grain line runs lengthwise.

Fold the fabric in half, right-sides together, and pin the edges together. Use tailor’s chalk to mark a line 4 inches from the fold and parallel to it. Pin along this line, so the fabric doesn’t slide, then stitch along the line, from the top of the fabric to the bottom. This creates a wide channel.

Place the fabric on your work surface, right-side down. Smooth down the fabric of the channel so half of it lies on either side of the seam; this creates an inverted pleat on the wrong side of the fabric. Press it flat. Pin the folded raw edges of the pleat to the raw edges of the fabric beneath them to hold the fabric in place for subsequent steps.

Center the paper template on the fabric, pin it down, then cut along the edge. Remove the template. Pin the edges of the pleat down at both the top and the bottom of the fabric.

Fold the fabric in half horizontally. Mark the outside of the fold, along the raw fabric edges, with a pin. Unfold the fabric.

At each pin, make a cut 1inch long along the horizontal axis of the fabric. Then, using zig-zag stitch (or a serger), stitch around the top half of the fabric to finish the edge—you’ll sew from the cut on one side to the cut on the other. Remove the pins holding the pleat in place at the top.

Finish the edge of the bottom half of the fabric with zig-zag stitch. Now you’ll create the hem, which is also the casing for the weighted cord. To create this casing, turn the fabric along the bottom half of the fabric up 1 inch, pin it in place, and stitch it close to the finished edge. Insert weighted cord inside the casing and hand stitch it in place at each end; cut off any extra.

Hand stitch rings to the wrong side of the fabric, starting at the bottom and attaching them 4 inches apart, and placing them along the vertical centerline of the fabric. Attach the last ring 4 inches from the top.

Turn the top edge down 1 inch toward the wrong side of the fabric and press. This creates the stapling allowance fold that you’ll use in the next step.

In this step, you will staple the fabric directly to the window frame. Place the right side of the top of the fabric against the inside of the window frame—matching the center of the pleat with the very top of the window. Staple on the stapling allowance fold, working from the top to the end of the stapling allowance on one side, and then from the top to the other side. At this point, the oval shade will hang over the window, with the right side of the fabric facing into the room.

At the top of the oval, insert a screw eye through the fabric and up into the window frame. It should line up vertically with the line of rings sewn to the back of the shade.

Insert screw eyes every 2 inches along one side of the window frame, stopping at the horizontal middle of the window. (These will eventually carry the pull cord to the outside edge.)

Tie one end of the pull cord to the bottom ring of the shade. Then thread it up and through all the rings on the shade, through the top-most screw eye, then down through the screw eyes along the outside edge of the window.

Pull the cord to raise the shade. Attach a cord cleat to the wall to anchor the lift cord and hold the shade in place when it’s open.


  • Don’t hang corded shades in any area accessible by children, and make certain the cord cleat is safely out of their reach.