The gathered balloon shade is one of the most common, yet most beautiful, shades youll fabricate for your clients. Functional, full and elegant, the shade adds yards of wonderful fabric to the window.
As in many instances, its often a good idea to go back to basics and review
the steps to making these shades.
Most balloon shades have two to three times horizontal fullness with two inches
being the most common. After the fullness is gathered in, the poufs on the bottom
of the balloon usually are between eight and 15 inches wide. Therefore, very
often one-half of a width of fabric is required for each pouf (see Illustration
1). Create an odd number of poufs whenever possible. Doing this places a full pouf
in the center of the window for balance and as a focal point.
Allow an extra 25 to 30 inches of fabric for the bottom poufs and to finish the
top of the shade. The poufs usually are created by three tucks, each five to
six inches in size, permanently held in place either by sewing on shade rings
and tying four together or simply by folding the tucks and tacking them in place
by hand or zigzag machine stitch.
STEP BY STEP
Sew any seams. Lay fabric and lining right sides together and pin. Sew down both
sides and across the bottom. Turn inside out and press. If you prefer, you can
turn side hems rather then pillowcasing, but most workrooms and customers prefer
not having the bulk of side hems.
Turn and sew a two- or three-inch bottom hem.
Beginning at the top of the hem, mark with a pencil or fabric pen the placement
of each ring. Usually they are five to six inches apart vertically with each
vertical row lined up with the sides of each pouf (see Illustration 2).
Sew the rings by hand, with a zigzag machine or with a tagging gun. Remember
not to sew rings onto the first three horizontal rows if you are planning to
sew the bottom tucks in place instead of tying rings together. Tacking the tucks
saves a lot of time and rings.
Cut a one- by two-inch board the finished width for an outside mount shade or
1/4-inch less than the finished width for an inside mount. Tightly cover with
lining. Place screw eyes in line with each vertical row of shade rings.
Gather the top of the fabric and staple onto the mount board.
Tie shade cord onto the bottom ring (or through the bottom four rings if using
that method to hold the bottom tucks). Use a drop of clear glue on the knot to
make sure it never slides out. (You can guess how I learned the importance of
Run the cord through all the rings in the vertical rows, through the screw eyes
and any other screw eyes along the board to the desired side of the shade for
the pull. Knot all the cords together on the outside of the last screw eye. Braid
all the cords together to form a single attractive pull. Knot the cord at the
end of the braiding. If desired, run the cord through a decorative cord pull
Cut a length of oval or 3/8-inch round rodding 1/4-inch shorter than the finished
width of the shade. Cover with a sleeve of lining and hand tack at the top of
the hem where the poufs are located.
The top of the gathered balloons can be finished in several different ways, each
creating a very different look.
Strickland is owner of Professional Drapery School, Swannanoa, NC,
and is an internationally acclaimed speaker with 20 years experience
in the window coverings industry. She is the publisher and editor
of Sew WHAT?, an international monthly newsletter for professional