Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Roman Shades: A Pseudo-Tutorial

So I made blackout roman shades.  And today I'm going to be sharing with you how I did so, in case you wanted to make any yourself.  However, I am not very gifted at giving instructions, so I'm also linking to the two tutorials I used.  I recommend reading them first, if you're really looking for instructions, and then coming here for a few extra tips.

1. Roman Blind tutorial from Jen Duncan.  (She also has links at the end for how to do an outside mount.)

But first, some pictures of the finished products:

There were already vinyl blinds up and we decided to keep both for now.

Does the blackout factor work?  The following photo was taken at the same time of day as the previous photos, just with no flash or lights on.  What do you think?

Alright, now for the "tutorial".  Please please don't use this as a full tutorial.  This is meant to supplement the other two tutorials and tell you what I liked best from each.

Here are the 'ingredients' I used for two shades:
- main fabric (I used 90" wide unbleached muslin)
- liner fabric (I used blackout fabric)
- matching thread
- 5/16" wooden dowels (10)
- small washers (30)
- eye screws (6)
- cord (I used mason line from Lowe's)
- L-shaped brackets (6)
- header boards (I used stuff I found in our garage) (2)
- 2-1/2" cord cleats (2)

I also used a sewing machine, staple gun, and drill/screwdriver.  (Actually, Caleb used the staple gun, because I'm apparently extremely terrified of them.)

The first step is to sew your fabric and liner together like you're making a curtain.  Sew it to the size you want the finished shade to be - with several extra inches at the top.  You don't need to hem the top.

And whatever people tell you, you don't need to hem blackout liner.  That stuff does not unravel even if you try picking at it.  Which I did.  I placed the raw edge of the blackout liner inside the double-folded side and bottom hems so that it doesn't show.

Use the other tutorials to figure out how far apart to space your dowels/rings.  I preferred the method on 33 Shades of Green.  Jen Duncan's shade tutorial was very pleated, which isn't the look I wanted.  Jen Duncan also doesn't use dowels, and this is another one where you can choose based on how you want it to look.  The dowels will give you a lot more structure.  I ended up using 5 dowels on each shade.  Cut, press, and sew dowel pockets on (33 Shades of Green has a great section on this step) and insert your dowel rods.

Both tutorials also recommend using some sort of weight (whether a metal rod or a thin wooden slat) at the bottom of the shade to weigh it down.  Because I used blackout liner, mine seems to be heavy enough without it, but I did buy some in case I change my mind later.

At this point, you have to hand sew all your washers or rings to the dowel pockets.  This will feel like it takes forever.  Note: the 33 Shades of Green tutorial uses small plastic rings like you can find at Hobby Lobby.  Jen Duncan prefers to use metal rings because they don't get brittle in the sun.  I couldn't find metal rings (for a reasonable price), so I used small washers from Lowe's.  If you can find metal rings, they might be nicer. :)  
I figured out where I wanted my 3 columns of rings to go, and then marked the spot with a pencil on each dowel rod row.  Then I sewed, and sewed some more, and then kept sewing.

Once that's done, the sewing is done - and now it's almost time for power tools and (really scary) staple guns.  First you have to attach your cords.  If you have three columns of rings, you'll need three lengths of cord.

Each tutorial had different ways to measure how much cord you need, but I found it most accurate to measure and cut as I strung the cord.  I spread the shade out on the floor, fed the end of the cord through a column of washers from top to bottom, and tied it to the bottom washer.  Then I took the skein of cord (still at the top of the column), unrolled as much as I wanted (across the top of the shade and down the side), and then cut it.  Repeat for the other 2 columns on each shade.  (If you can't figure out what I mean, check out the tutorials!)

The next step is to prepare your header board.  We had two similar boards leftover from when we tore the old cabinets out of our kitchen.  Caleb cut them to the right length (1/2" shorter than the width of the shade).  We pre-drilled holes for the eye screws and then screwed them in.  These should line up with your columns of washers/rings on the shade.

Next, attach your brackets to your board.  These went near the eye screws so that they were fairly evenly spaced.

Next, depending on your staple gun skills and how high you're hanging the shade, you can either attach your shade to the header board first, or mount the brackets on the wall first.  We chose to attach the shade to the board first, because our shade is hanging pretty close to the ceiling.  This is where my husband's fantastically brave staple gun skills came in handy. I had no idea I was so terrified of staple guns, but I'm very okay staying far far far away from them for the rest of my life.

The nice part about the shade being hung so high is that no one can tell if you make some mistakes and need to staple up extra bits of fabric to straighten out your shade.

Now go ahead and screw your brackets into the wall.  Be sure to use proper anchors if needed.  Our walls are practically as hard as rock, so that wasn't really necessary for us.

Also, here's a tip: Buy brackets that match the width of your header board.  I hadn't picked out boards yet, so I just guessed and bought ones that were 1/2" too wide.  Therefore, our shade hangs 1/2" away from the wall, letting extra light in the sides.

Next, you'll need to string your cords through the eye screws.  I had my cord cleat on the right, so I strung the right cord through the eye screw directly above it (string left-right).  The middle cord needs to go through the eye screw directly above it and then through the one on the right.  The left cord needs to go through the eye screw directly above it and then through the other two.  (Again, check out the tutorials for a better description of this.)

Finally, install your cord cleats on the wall next to your shade: 

And it's that easy! ;)

One thing that I didn't do that I think both of the other ladies did was wrap my board in something so the wood wasn't visible.  I think that's really up to you.  I can't see the wood, so it doesn't bother me.

Before I started this project, I did a cost-analysis and decided that it was probably worth it to make our own.  Things ended up being cheaper than I was expecting/estimating, so making these actually saved us at least $60 total.  I estimate they cost us just over $30 a shade.

If you're curious, I purchased absolutely all of the supplies at Hobby Lobby (fabric and thread) and Lowe's (everything else), with the exception of the header boards because we had those in our garage.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions or if I didn't explain something clearly enough.

Love and Muslin,
Leah Joy

P.S. I still have one more step on these and that's to find some sort of cord connector.

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