Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fabric Roller Shades

How to from Design*Sponge (click here)

What You’ll Need

heavy-duty roller blinds (including necessary hardware to hang them)

medium-weight fabric (determine how much you’ll need in Step 2)

all-purpose thread to match your fabric

measuring tape

sharp scissors

L-square or yard stick OR cutting mat, rotary cutter and straight edge


sewing machine

double-sided tape (optional)

1. Choosing a fabric

Sturdy, medium-heavy fabrics (such as light canvas, cotton twill or decor-weight cottons) work best for this project. A somewhat stiff fabric is preferable over something softer, as the stiff fabric will roll up more successfully than flimsier choices.

If you have your heart set on a lightweight fabric, I’d suggest lining it with fusible interfacing to give it more body and stiffness.

Although I haven’t tried it, stiff sheer fabrics (like the sheer panels sold at Ikea) would probably work well here too.

2. Hack, Install, and Measure

One important thing to note is that you should choose a heavy-weight roller blind (sometimes labeled “maximum light blocking,” or similar). The spring mechanism in lighter blinds isn’t always strong enough to support the weight of a fabric shade, so I suggest playing it safe and going heavy-duty.

Install the original (pre-hacked) blind in your window following the manufacturer’s instructions. Note the direction the blind rolls (ie, with the blind rolling from the back or the front of the roller), as well as which end of the roller goes to the left and right. You’ll need to plan your blind so that it rolls in exactly the same way.

Remove the vinyl shade from the purchased roller blind and reserve it for another use. (I gave mine to a friend who is going to use it as a drop cloth when painting.) Also remove the dowel or plastic bar from the bottom of the blind, and set it aside (you’ll use it later).

Measure the roller bar from end to end, just inside the caps on each end. Add 1″ to this length for measurement A.

Also measure the distance from the roller bar to the spot where you would like the blind to fall, and add 9″ to this length for measurement B.

3. Cut the Fabric

Cut a piece of fabric that’s as wide as A and long as B.

It’s important to cut the fabric straight and even, so that the blind will hang straight. This is probably the trickiest part of this project, so take a little extra care to be sure you’ve got it really straight.

To get a good, straight cut, use the selvedge edge of your fabric as a guide — you can count on the selvedge edge to be straight, so if you work from that line, you’ll be on the right track.

If you have access to one, I highly recommend a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and straight edge for this job, as these tools make it really easy to cut perfectly straight lines and right angles. If you don’t have these, you can use an L-square or a yard stick to mark straight lines.

Make the first cut along the selvedge edge, then measure from that line to make the remaining cuts, being careful to cut right angles so that all edges will be straight.

4. Sew the Sides

Turn under the long side edges 1/2″ and press. (Note: only turn the fabric under once, not twice as you would normally do. It’s best to avoid extra bulk in the seams so that the blind will roll up neatly, and a double-fold would case more bulk. This does mean that the raw edge of the fabric will be visible on the back side of the curtain, but what the heck, live dangerously!)

Sew along the side seams, stitching close to the folded-under raw edge.

5. Hem the Bottom

Next, turn under the bottom edge 1/2″ and press, then turn it under another 1 1/2″ and press again. Stitch in place, sewing close to the interior fold. (Note: the sides of the hem will stay open, which creates a sleeve for inserting the dowel at the bottom of the blind.)

6. Attach the Blind

To attach the fabric blind to the roller mechanism, place the fabric right-side up on a work surface. (The cutting mat works great here, as you can use the grid lines to be sure you’re aligning everything evenly.) It’s important to be sure the roller is aligned perfectly straight at the top edge of the fabric, so that the fabric will roll evenly. (Also take a moment here to be sure your fabric will be rolling in the correct direction, as you noted in Step 2.)

On the blinds I purchased, there was adhesive left on the roller from where the vinyl had been attached, and it was strong enough to hold my fabric panel. If that’s not the case for you, apply a strip of double-sided tape to attach the fabric to the roller.

Then simply roll the fabric onto the roller.

7. Hang the Blind

Pop your blind back into the hardware you installed earlier.

8. Insert the Dowel

Insert the dowel (which you removed earlier from the hacked blind) into the pocket and you’re done!

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