Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Easy sew DIY roman shades

When we moved into our house our dining room had these beauties on the windows.

Well actually, in all honesty, those drapes are the ones from the living room because that is a picture of the living room, but they are the same drapes. They must have cost a fortune when they were made. Professionally made. In the 50's. They are pleated drapes with a silkish liner. But they just aren't my style. I still have them all, they are waiting in the, I won't actually ever drop these off at the Goodwill, pile, that lives in my basement.

I took them off the windows sometime this summer and just never did anything since. And it's not as if we live in the country so we can strut around our house without being seen, oh no, our neighbors live 15 feet away. We can wave at each other from our dinning room tables. But that is the kind of commitment I take to DIY projects around the house. So I finally decided to fix this issue with DIY roman shades.

There are tons, tons, of blog posts and tutorials on how to make no-sew DIY roman shades using cheapo ugly mini blinds. A quick search yields this one, or this one, this one which is using the exact same fabric I am and this final one. All are great tutorials, with the last one being my personal favorite. Most are no-sew DIYs but if you have a machine and can sew in a straight line, you can sew this project. If you don't have a machine, I would just use the iron fusing stuff. You can find the iron fusing stuff in the sewing isle and it should come rolled up and look almost like tape.

So why am I blogging about it? Well, because even using all of these as references, I still had some "huh?" moments, so I thought I'd take pictures of those moments.

What you need
iron + ironing board
butter knife
straight edges
sewing machine
fabric - enough to cover each window
cheapy mini blinds - one for each window
fabric glue or tacky glue
cheapy kids paint brush you don't mind trashing
* hot glue gun - I tried to use this to attach the fabric to the mini blind bar but it didn't work so even though it's in my picture and I kinda used it, it's not part of the final project

Time Commitment
2 -3 hours per window - I guess, I made one roman shade over three weeks working on it for 5-10 minutes at a time, clearly, I wanted to pace myself

My Cost Break Down
Fabric - 2, 70" table cloths for 70% off which made them $5.38 each
23" Mini blinds - $2.49 each
Tacky glue - $2.49
All other supplies - on hand, so $0 for this project
final cost - $20.72 divided by 3 windows = $6.91 which isn't so shabby

The first step is to iron your fabric if it's all wrinkly. Trust me, don't be lazy and skip this part. You'll be angry at yourself later if you don't get the deep wrinkles out now so take a good 20 minutes and just do it. Pass the time by watching an episode of Iron Man, the animated one where Tony Stark is a teenager and the plot line completely abandons the comic strip. Or you know, whatever you watch in your house, probably something educational.

Once you have it ironed, lay your fabric out. Because I was working with a circle I just folded it in half. I then found the center of my pattern, in this case it was a triangle which is what the pencil is pointing to. My window length is 42" so I knew I wanted the fabric a bit longer and decided on 44". I then measured 22" on either side of the triangle and marked those. Note that if you actually sew or know where your sewing stuff is you would use a fabric ruler. I don't sew despite owning a sewing machine and lose everything, so I used The Husband's tape measure instead. 

I then repeated the process going in the opposite direction for width. In my case the window width is 23" so I made it 24" across. I should have done 25" to give myself some more room in the next step. Then because I'm a visual person I grabbed the nearest straight edges I could find which included a light saber, Nerf sword, mini blind boxes and level, and made a border so I could see what my panel would look like. Once the pattern looked even I went and marked all the lines and cut the fabric out. Not since 6th grade wood shop where I rocked at being one of two girls, have I needed a T square so bad.

Once my panel was cut out I folded over and lightly pressed a 1/2" crease on all sides with the iron. If you decided to skip sewing this project, which I almost considered and used the iron webbing stuff, I would still recommend pressing down your edges with an iron so that you don't have to use pins.

If you're using a sewing machine, quick zip around all four edges. If you're using the iron webbing stuff, then use that here. No matter how you do it, in the end you should end up with a rectangle of fabric.

Now comes one of the parts that I couldn't figure out. I couldn't figure out which string I was suppose to snip. Call me slow and cheap but I wanted to be sure I wasn't wrecking my $2.50 mini blind. I started by extending the mini blind all the way and laid it out on the table. I found that if I laid the mini blinds out and had all the slats flat against the table, it made it much clearer which cord I wanted to get rid of. See how in this picture the top string that is being held by the scissors has all those little strings that head vertically down? That's the cord you want to cut. The cord that is looping through the slats, that is not the cord you want to cut! Note, that I didn't actually cut that string like I'm showing with the scissors, I just wanted to make it clear what string is the one we want to get rid of.

Now the fun part. Snip every single vertical string. When you're done it should look like this.

Once you have all of the vertical strings strings you should be able to slide all of the slats together and at this point it becomes super clear what string you need, the one that the slats are still going through.

Next you want to pop off the cap on the bottom of the blind. I used a butter knife and attempted not to stab myself with it. Once you pop it off you will have the main string, the one we want to keep, that has a knot in it. Cut the string with the knot on it as close to the knot as possible. Cut the string that loops around the bottom piece and snip it off at the top. By this point you should be able to remove the bottom track and slide off your slats. Be a kill joy and recycle them before your son and Husband figure out they can be used as weapons, weapons that sting and leave marks.

When you've cut the right strings your mini blind should look like this. Also, tip of the day, don't leave it out even with the strings wrapped around, or your cats might chew on it while you take a break and you will have to start again. Not that that happened or anything.

Then lay out your fabric and figure out how many folds you want. I thought five folds would look nice, so I measured every seven inches and marked off the fabric. When I laid all the strips out I got what looked like that above. Kinda uneven. It's because I probably can't measure and my fabric is not a true rectangle.

So instead I just looked at it long wise, which is the way it will hang, and eye-balled it to look more straight. It's probably not straight but to my eyes, it looked better than before. Use your best judgement when it comes to your own panel.

Then once I had all of my strips where I wanted them I started gluing. You want your glue to go on the side that curves outward. I found that if you squeeze the glue onto the strip directly and then smear it with a brush it worked better than putting it on a paper plate, then the brush and then the strip. Skip the plate. The most important part however to take away from this photo is that you want to leave a gap of glue where the string will go though. You don't want to glue over that or getting the string through will be a pain in the tuchas.

Then in order to keep my strips where I had wanted them, I used a straight edge and glued the strips down right up against them. I let the strips glue over night though they seemed dry within a few hours.

Once you have your strips glued and set, you want to glue your fabric to the mini blind track (the glue will go on the side the pencil is sitting on). Now maybe it's just my blinds but they go into the bracket like this, with that front plate (on the left side of the picture) to secure them in the bracket. Obvouisly you don't want to glue past where it goes into the brackets or else when you pull on the string it will make the blind fall out. I marked a line, which is what the pencil tip is pointing to and then smeared glue all over the track.

Now some of the other directions were glueing the track so that little piece where normally that stick goes, is the side that was being glued. But then it sticks out all weird. Yuck. So I glued it the opposite way. In full disclosure, pulling the string when they are completed requires me to pull in the opposite direction, so I had to think how to do the window. Annoying thinking aside, I still like it better this way.

While the glue was drying I had The Husband install the brackets. I could have done it but I like watching him be handy around the house.

After the glue had dried I threaded the string through the strips. You want the string to go this way through the strips. On some of the strips, even though I didn't think I glued near the opening, I still had to gently peel back the fabric to get the string though.

Once everything is threaded through make your knots and put the pegs back into the bottom track. The hardest part is making sure your knots are even. You want to make sure that you leave enough fabric at the bottom so that you can glue it to the bottom track, I would guess mine was about 1/2 an inch.

Glue your fabric to the bottom track like this.

Now slide the top track into your mounted brackets. See why you don't want to glue past that line? Now slide in the little stopping piece and smooth out your fabric. You could always glue the fabric to the stopping piece but I found my fabric layed down nicely over top of it.

Stand back and admire your project. This is with the shade down all the way.

This is with the shade up half way. I did find that I had to help it at times to fold correctly but then again, I have to do that with the bamboo ones we have in the living room and those are obvouisly manufactored ones. And yes, that is quit serouisly my neighbors house. I wasn't joking about being able to wave to them.

One down, two more to go!


Anonymous said...

I really like these and am getting set to try it this week! Just a question - are they easy to raise even with the pull string behind the fabric??

Stephanie said...

Honestly, I should have left the little pull tab thing face out like everyone else. I thought I would get the hang of pulling the string backwards but I haven't :( That being said, pulling behind the shade isn't the problem, I even like that it hides the cord. Good luck!

Greg Arnett said...

I like the end result! I really love your choice of fabric. It has a really nice print! I also love the fact that you were able to give such detailed instructions on how you were able to make it. That makes it really easy for others to replicate it. Thanks. 
Greg Arnett

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am in the process of making these right now. It seems like the fabric is not gluing to the top of the mini blind. This seems like it won't hold. Have you had any problems with the top staying glued? Thanks!