Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to Make Roman Shades from Mini-Blinds, at Heart and Home

Hi there! Thanks to all of you for the sweet birthday greetings. My family treated me to the best weekend! I took so many pictures that I almost ran out of memory on my camera. I will share some of them this Wednesday. We went to the beautiful gardens at Filoli, one of my favorite places! Then we headed to San Francisco, and walked the Golden Gate Bridge. The views were incredible. We had dinner in North Beach, and headed home exhausted after a great day! But you will have to come back to see pictures of that later this week! (If you're here from a Thursday link, you can see that post here.)

Today I'm sharing a project I finished several weeks ago.

Many of you have probably seen the "Roman Shades out of Mini Blinds" tutorial that's been around blogland. I remember thinking I might try that sometime. I finally replaced the paper pull-up shades that had been installed quickly as a temporary measure when we into this house ten 1/2 years ago. That is embarassing but true. In my defense, they didn't really look that bad, but still, they were paper. And getting kind of grungy. And did I mention they were paper?!!
I got busy, and wrote this tutorial with a few extra tips that I hope are helpful to you if you decide to make a shade of your own. It's kind of lengthy, but I didn't want to leave any important information out!

Here's what you need:
  • mini-blind in the correct width for your window ( the length can be adjusted to size)
  • scissors
  • measuring tape or yardstick
  • fabric, enough to cover mini-blind. Try not to use fabric that is too heavy or thick.
  • screwdriver (used to pull out "plugs" at bottom rail)
  • fabric glue (I used Fabri-tac)

I had a lot of fabric on hand. In another life and a different home the fabric would be a painter's drop cloth.  But in my home  this "faux linen" has been used to make slipcover, drapes, and now, two roman shades. I like the way it holds it's shape, has a rough-ish texture, and is the perfect color to blend with the other things around here. (The inexpensive price is not bad, either! A while ago I paid $19 for a huge cloth - enough for two shades plus tons left over.) The only thing I needed to purchase was a couple of cheap  inexpensive mini-blinds, and some fabric glue. I used "Fabri-tac".  It works great, but it cost almost as much as the fabric.
 These are the steps:
  • Measure window, determine size of fabric needed
  • Fold and iron in sides, top and bottom of fabric to size
  • Prepare mini-blind (see *** below!)
  • Glue fabric to mini-blind "skeleton"
  • Hang shade
Here's how I did it:
First I measured my window, decided on a length that would come just to the window sill, and cut fabric about 4" wider for the sides, and about 6" longer than the finished size.

Then I folded and ironed in the extra fabric at the sides, top and bottom of the fabric. (I ironed it instead of marking it to create even, easy to see guidelines).  Then I opened up the ironed sides and stitched a trim to the front of the fabric that I had measured and cut into 2" wide strips the length of the finished shade. I stitched it into place about 1/2" from the edge of the main shade fabric. I like how the trim gave a more finished appearance to the shades, and I think it added a nice detail.
That step is optional!

***Next, I opened up a mini-blind, layed it on the floor and took off the extra slats and shortened it to the desired size. To do this the bottom "stoppers" need to be popped off, the string untied, and the bottom rail taken off. Then the ladder string, which is the thin string that holds the slats in place, needs to be cut and removed. It is important that only the ladder string is cut. The thicker string is the one that pulls the shade up and down. Do not cut that one!! It's pretty obvious which is which when you look at the shade and how it works. (Hint: the ladder string looks like a ladder!)

To determine how many slats you will keep and use, divide the length of your shade by how big a fold you want. The bigger the fold, the less slats you will use. Also, a bigger fold hangs down on the window more when the shade is pulled up, but less folds stack more closely against the window. I determined I needed 7 folds, 7" wide (49" length divided by 7" = 7 slats left on the string.) With the ladder string and the bottom rail removed, the slats slide right off the thicker string. Just pull the ones you don't need off, which will be most of them.

Once the extra slats are removed re-thread the thicker string through the holes in the bottom rail, and retie the string. Put the plugs back in the holes. Now the shade should be the correct length.

Pick up the shade and lay the prepared fabric, wrong side up, on your work surface (I used the floor). Place the shade on top of the fabric, and spread the slats out to where you want them. In my case, they were 7" apart. Make sure they are nice and straight!  I put the slats with the rounded side down on the wrong side of the fabric, for more surface to glue to. I measured the space between each slat, and then took a look at the whole thing before I started to glue.
It looked good to me, so I glued each slat to the fabric, starting at the first one below the top rail and working my way down. I put the glue on each slat in a long serpentine line, making sure not to glue the string to the fabric or the slats, and I rechecked often to make sure the slats were straight because they moved around while I was on the floor glueing. But it didn't take long before they were all glued in place. 

When this step was done, I glued the sides of the fabric over the ends of the slats, all the way up each side of the shade, along the fold and nice and straight. (I double-folded the sides of the fabric so there wouldn't be any rough edges showing on the wrong side of the shade - first fold in 1/4", then fold in the remainder. This gives a much more finished appearance to the shade)

Next, I wrapped the fabric around and over the top of the top rail, and glued it in place, making sure to leave the sides near the string free. The sides on the top rail need to be accessible, with no fabric on them, in order for the mounting hardware to fit. The fabric in those spots can be glued in place if it's too loose, after the shade is hung. Then I  glued the entire bottom rail in place after wrapping the fabric up and over it.  The glue I used dried really fast. After just a few minutes drying time, each shade was ready to hang. I didn't like the way the pull string fell behind the fabric. It was hard to find when the shade was down, and more difficult to use. To fix the problem I cut a small X in the fabric on top of the hole where the string came out the top rail. I glued the X pieces of the fabric back to the underside, and brought the pull string out through the hole. Now it is easily accessible at the front of the shade, and works perfectly. If you don't like seeing the hole on the front of the shade, you could attach a loose fabric valance to the front top of the shade.

After the shade hardware is installed, the shade can be hung.  If the fabric on the top rail puckers or sticks out where it wasn't glued, glue it down now. Once the shade is hung, pull the it all the way open, and help the fabric to fold in place correctly. Smooth it down, and pull the shade up and down a few times, refolding and smoothing each time if necessary. After the first few times up and down the fabric will fold all by itself just like it should. It has a sort of "fabric memory!"

Shade in raised postition:
 (No, the walls aren't orange in here!
 They just look that way in these pictures because it's a little dark in here!)

lowering the shade:

shade in lowered postition:

detail of trim on edges of shade:
There you have it:  complete instructions on how to make a roman shade from basic, inexpensive mini-blinds. I hope you found these easy to understand! If you have any questions please e-mail me, I'll be happy to clarify or expand on these directions. The process is really quite simple and it's very satisfying  to make something from nothing, for very little money. Good luck!

Thanks for visiting today, I'm always so happy you stopped by. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of these. I hope you'll be back soon.  I'll share some of the pictures of my fabulous birthday weekend in a few days.

Until next time,

I'm linking to Metamorphosis MondayDIY Day, Trash to Treasure, Transformation Thursday, and Thrifty Treasures. Thank you everyone!


luvtodecorate said...

I luv those! beautiful!!

vignette design said...

What a fantastic idea! I will have to remember this one! Glad you had a great birthday weekend. Can't wait to hear about your dinner in North Beach and the walk across the GG Bridge!

Jemsmom said...

Well, aren't you clever and crafty! That looks fabulous! Happy Happy Birthday! I know you had a wonderful day and can't wait to see the pictures!

Kammy said...

I love this - but, I'd probably cut the wrong string, LOL !
Looks great !

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

Wishing you the Happiest of Birthdays~!

You certainly gave excellent, detailed instructions, thank you.
I have to admit to trying this twice before and both times making a big ole mess:) I will try again following your instructions step by step and if I can make it happen, be assured I will give you the credit..


marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Great tutorial. Your shade is gorgeous. It looks wonderful. Hugs, Marty

Pat said...

Great job! Looks so nice ~


Kansas Amy said...

That is wondeful! I think I am going to have to give it a try!

Liz said...

What a great idea. I love how you did that! Thanks for showing us how.


Michelle @ Sweet Something said...

Hi Heidi, what a project! Thanks for stopping by! I've been treading softly this far out of comfort zone {using orange, I mean}...but I like the idea of adding orange to the lampshade! :)

Kristin @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia said...

How awesome is this, you are so creative!!! Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your kind comments!
Take care

alwayslearning said...

this is life changing! after living in a house for 11 years with 4 kids that was filled with mini blinds~ this is just what I needed to see!

Kelee Katillac said...

GREAT job Heidi! Excellent tutorial....

It looks so pretty and I love the trim.

xo kelee

Sherry said...

This is just what I have been looking for. I have mini blinds on our french doors leading into our room and this is the perfect solution for me. Thanks for sharing.

kim said...

Heidi, look how good you are. Those look great!

Birdie @ Chirp in the Forest said...

This is awesome! I guess I need to get out around blogland more because it's the first I've seen of it. I'm totally doing this with our blinds. Thanks for a great tute :)

Elizabeth said...

What a great project! They look wonderful.

Marina at Shabby Whites said...

What a great idea and thank you so much for sharing. I love the look of romans but they are expensive (if you don't sew yourself-which i don't ;-). I have a blind in the bathroom that's wood wide slats. Never did like them, I'm going to try it on them. Thanks again!


Anonymous said...

Looks great, def. going to try this!

Blinds said...

A well described article. I loved your creativity. Thanks for share.

Jenny - AKA - frogmama said...

Thank you for the detailed tutorial! I've had a roman shade project sitting in my craft room for a few years and it was just too daunting to tackle - maybe I'll try this method! Thanks for sharing! (I'm pinning this on Pinterest, too)

Accepting Natural Beauty said...

OMG this is a beautiful and simple idea. I just did it on the bedroom blinds with's gorgeous. Thank you so much for the idea.

graciously@home said...

I can't wait to make these! we have a number of blinds that are older and broken between kiddos and a dog... or even mismatched in color between what were here when we moved in and what we've purchased here and there... and even still just slightly (like half an inch) too short in width for who knows why... so fixing them all into roman shades is going to be awesome! My husband and I were just talking about making the switch last night!!! Cannot wait, thanks for posting this!!!

When I get them finished I'll post some pictures on my blog!

Lisa @ Shine Your Light said...

Hi, I found your tutorial on Pinterest and can't wait to try this roman shade method. Thanks for sharing - yours came out so pretty! Love the banding on the sides!

Anonymous said...

Getting ready to try this. I want to use burlap in kitchen