One of the most forbidding tasks I’ve come across after renovating our home has been finding proper window coverings. From the tedious task of picking out fabric from a collection of subpar choices to the daunting cost of a custom order, it’s no wonder countless windows have remained bare and uncovered for nearly a year since we moved in. Privacy is a non issue since we live in such a quiet neighborhood but the addition of texture, pattern and color has been needed for far too long. When textile maven Rebecca Atwood launched her line of digital and screen printed fabrics by the yard (I mean, that stunning indigo marble dyed Belgian linen!!), I knew I had to try my hand at DYEing my own Roman shades. And before I scare you away completely, I encourage you to read through the step by step tutorial. It’s really not as difficult as it seems – it’s just a heedful process. But no pain, no I-have-fabulous-shades gain!
- 2 yards of fabric
- 2 yards of linen or heavyweight cotton (optional)
- 1″ white mini blinds
- permanent fabric adhesive
- foam brush
- sewing machine (optional)
- pins (optional)
The first step is understanding how the mini blinds work. The super inexpensive mini blind system is made up of a million vinyl blinds that are held together with a set of vertical pull cords and ladder cords. The pull cord is what you operate to retract the blinds. The ladder cord helps keeps all the blinds evenly spaced and close together. You’ll want to find a set of mini blinds that fit the width of your window. The length won’t matter since you’ll be removing everything but about 12-18 blinds. Lay out the blinds, fully extended and open, on the floor or a long table. Take a pair of scissors and snip away the ladder cord – NOT the pull cord, which runs down the center.
Carefully snip away the ladder cords. The pull cords will stay in tact.
The ladder cord is held together at the top of the binds. Just snip away the fastener to remove the cords. Now the blinds will move freely up and down the pull cords!
Now you’ll undo the pull cord to remove the blinds. There are 2 plastic caps underneath the bottom bar of the blinds. Pop those open and use a needle or pin to fish out the knotted pull cords. Snip off the knots and remove the bottom bar.
Because my window measured 52 inches long and I wanted the blinds to be about 4 inches apart (for those nice large folds), I needed 13 blinds total. Since that would include the bottom bar, I only needed to keep 12 blinds on pull cord. Remove everything else but the blinds you want to keep. Thread the pull cords through the bottom bar and tie the ends into tight, double knots. Now your mini blind system has 12 blinds, a bottom bar and a set of long pull cords.
Now it’s time to prep the fabric. You’ll want it to be the width of the blinds plus an extra inch on each side. And the length should be the length of the window plus an extra two inches on each end. Once you have your rectangular piece trimmed and cut, iron it flat. Since the fabric I used was a bit translucent, I chose to line it with another piece of medium weight, upholstery grade linen. If you choose to line with a liner, cut it to the exact measurement of the window, without all the extra inseams.
Use a ruler to mark your inch inseam along the vertical edges of the fabric.
Lay the liner fabric on top of the backside of the fabric and fold the vertical edges in. Iron flat.(I’ve laid a piece of heavy fabric underneath here to protect my table)
Now that both sides folded and ironed, you can do two things. You can pin it and run it through the sewing machine. Or you can slide a long strip of fusible hem tape underneath the fold and iron it closed.
I have a sewing machine and just chose to sew it with a simple straight stitch. Don’t worry about the top and bottom of the fabric – leave it unfinished. Lay the fabric face side down on your flat surface. Lay the blinds on top of the fabric. Separate the blinds so they are all evenly spaced along the length of the fabric. Mark their placement with a fabric marker or pencil if you wish.
The top should sit two inches below the top edge of the fabric. Take your fabric glue and squeeze a good amount of glue along the width of the operating bar of the blinds. Use your foam brush to help spread the thick and sticky glue.
Carefully lay the bar and wrap the fabric around the top bar.
Now you’ll glue all the blinds to the backside of the fabric. Just squeeze a line of glue on the blind, spread it with a foam brush. Just avoid the pull cord section – you definitely don’t want to glue that portion down!
Turn it over and press down firmly. Keep going until you’ve reached the bottom.
Spread glue along the bottom of the bottom bar and wrap the fabric over it. You’ll want to put another layer of glue along the short side of the bar and fold the wrap the fabric over that. You can carefully trim away any excess fabric after the glue has completely dried.
Allow the entire thing to dry overnight before installing. I recommend using the manufacturer’s instructions to install.
Windows, I’ve got you covered.