Monday, July 23, 2012

No-Sew Blackout Roman Shades

...using nothing but an old T-shirt, popsicle sticks, and some string!

Just kidding.

So the guestroom is coming along.  We've made major progress on the list:

  1. Dresser
  2. Desk-type thing (we're using one we've already got...for the moment)
  3. Bedside tables (and lamps, maybe)
  4. A corner sitting chair
  5. Window a/c
  6. Curtains for over the a/c, blackout preferable -  see inspiration here
  7. Hardware for the free bed we scored
  8. Box springs/mattress for the free bed we scored
  9. Hangers for the closet (and maybe a curtain for the closet?)
  10. Maybe some pretty things?  Pictures, maybe?

...and today I'm showing you my fabulous new window dressing.
Start with el cheap-o plastic mini-blinds.  Find yourself a table.  And a coffee.
 See this turny-knob thing?
 You don't need it.  Rip it off.
 My window's dimensions (above), and me figuring out how many of the plastic slats to keep (below).
 So you take your desired length (29.75 for me), subtract the width of the top and bottom bars (the structural ones), and find a good, round denominator.  I chose to make my shade fold every 5" with one short fold on the bottom (I'm not given to the pursuit of perfection, especially for a no-sew project).

This means I'm gonna be keeping every 5th slat, or so.  See?
 (The +'s are for illustrative purposes only, you really don't have to keep those particular slats...just so long as you keep enough slats to accomplish your 5 folds (or however many you of the other bloggers I looked at said '6" - 12" make the best looking shade'...I disagree, do whatever you like)).
Now you can cut off all the ladder-strings, the ones that are strictly used for tilting the slats up or down.  Do NOT cut the fat string running through the center of each slat.

You can pop off the white discs at the bottom of the shade, slide everything off all at once (except the slats you're keeping), or you can cut the unwanted slats.  Your choice.
You're gonna have to pop those discs off anyway, though, in order to shorten the pull strings.  Oh, and get those orange stickers off.  Not a choice.  Believe me, just do it.

Now, my hardware store was out of the correct width for my window.  So my blinds needed to lose 1 1/2" off each side.  I accomplished this with scissors on the slats and a Dremel with a plastic-cutting blade for the top and bottom.
It makes a lot of white, powdery dust.

As you can see, I way overestimated how much fabric this thing was going to need.
Blackout fabric first.  Cut it to size, and then lay your stripped-down, correctly-sized mini-blinds on top, face up.  I marked each slat's position right on the fabric in pencil.

Now, flip each slat over and dab E6000 (my favorite, industrial-strength, crafters' glue) into the inner curve of the slat.  I tried to leave at least 1 1/2" between the pull strings and the dabs of glue on either side.
This doesn't take long, unless you sit there staring at it because you're afraid to break out the glue and dive in.  Come on.  You already cut the fabric.  You're already committed at this point.

I chose to glue the blackout fabric exactly flush with the edges of the slats, the top bar, and the bottom bar.  This is because the fashion fabric will wrap over and around those unfinished edges, hiding them.  Oh!  And one more thing...on the top bar, don't glue the fabric all the way to the edge...leave it hanging loose for the last 1-2".  Trust me.

Ok, now we're gonna add the pretty fabric to the front.  This is how I did this part:
You've got the top, folded and pressed in a nice, neat line.  Take that pressed bit, and glue it to the underside of the top bar, missing the place where the pull-strings come out at the end.  Like zis:
Same thing here, too...leave the last 1-2" hanging free.

Now you're ready to glue the pretty fabric to the slats.  Again, be careful to leave a nice gap to either side of the pull strings.
I choose to glue only a thin line right at the back of the slat...I dunno, it seems to have worked.  Maybe gluing the whole slat to the fabric would've been better.  Oh well.

Doing it this way worked pretty well for me because my fabric (100% polyester) was pretty stiff, and I had pressed it out well before this step.  So as I glued each slat, it fell into place easily with no bubbles or hitch-ups.
At the bottom, I glued only the edge of the bar to the fabric.  I'll show you why in a second.
Once the glue is at least semi-set, flip the whole carnival over.
This is the part where we tuck all the raw edges to the back so they can't be seen.
See?  There on the bottom, I left it rounded under instead of pulled taught.  It looks a little more balloon-y, a little less professional, but whatevs.  I think it looks nice.  This is just glued along the edge, nothing fancy.  Raw edges are still raw, but they're facing out, behind the blackout fabric.
Up at the top, those edges we left hanging free?  Um, fold, glue, tuck, glue, make it kinda work, fabric to fabric (not to the bar).  It won't matter much in the won't really be seen.

On the bottom corners, um, fold, glue, tuck, make it work.  I chose to fold mine like a present.  You could meiter yours.  Or squish it up and flatten it with the iron.  Just don't melt anything.
This is the back, once it's done.
And the finished front:
A little loosey-goosey, but in a romantic, rumpled way (I hope).

So those top corners?  Not so nice looking.  Let's cover them up (and that cheap-o white plastic bar, too!).

Your package comes with an extra slat with no holes in it.  Get it out.  Cut yourself a long piece of pretty fabric, maybe 6" wide (eh, however wide you want it).  Now run a line of glue down the middle/middle-bottom of that slat.
Line up one edge of the back of your pretty strip on that glue.  The back of the fabric to the front of the slat.
Fold this set-up in half so that the slat is now facing down with about 1/4" of the pretty fabric poking out from under it.  Like this:
Follow the numbers.  You're finishing the left and right edges of this piece so they won't show.  It looks like this in the end:
Now take that top, raw edge of pretty fabric, fold it down onto the slat, and glue.  I set a weight on it for a few minutes to help it set correctly.
And while it's setting, you're free to go hang your shade!
What did I tell you about removing those orange stickers??   Sigh.  And it's crooked. Oh well! When it's closed, it'll sit on top of the a/c unit, so it doesn't matter.  Hehe.
This is how my shade looks when I just pull the strings without worrying about the folds.
And this is how it looks when I run my hand back behind, helping the folds fall correctly.
I don't really see much difference, but I thought you might be curious.

Wanna know how to hang your finishing touch?
Yep.  Tiny Command strips, the poster-size ones.  I put one on each end and one in the middle.

And that, as they say, is that.
So now, Mom and Dad, you have the comfort of a black-out (your window faces east...sorry), you don't have to worry about the curtain blocking the a/c, and it's as pretty as can be!

So cost breakdown, for those who want one (fabric from

  • Blackout fabric (<1yd) = $6
  • Pretty fabric = $5
  • Blinds = $5
Total = $16 for custom blackout roman shades!  Pretty sweet, huh?

Ok, awful lot of cleaning left to do.  Hope you all had a lovely Monday!


  1. Looks great!!!

  2. Wow - what a cool idea! Nice tutorial, too :). It looks really nice!


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