Window treatments are a chore to pick out, buy and hang, and unfortunately the study needed new ones. (Sorry, putty-pink venetians.) I’ve gone down a couple other roads with my other windows: customising IKEA curtains and blinds, sewing my own from scratch. But this room wanted blinds, not curtains, and I didn’t like a lot of the fabrics available for roller blinds and roman blinds alike: too plasticky, too shiny, too ordinary. Custom blinds were indeed an option, and they’d cost a mint. So I had a go at DIY fabric roller blinds and I’m pleased with the results.
(Blinds raised. Debating whether to roll them the other way round instead?)
First, this was my plan: two blinds per window. One would be an inner set of sheer blinds, for daylight and privacy. (This room faces the street.) The other set, my nice heavyweight fabric panels, would be mounted on the window frames. Three windows, six blinds. Day-night blinds — two-in-one blinds — do exist, but the selection is really limited on those.
Choosing the sheer blinds was easy: readymade Caprice ‘Baltic’ blinds from Spotlight. Done. (We also waited until they were on sale.) For my fabric panels, I chose a mid-weight upholstery fabric: textured, midcentury-esque linen weave, medium grey, cotton backing. Obviously the main draw of DIY blinds is that you can choose whatever cute fabric strikes your fancy. I don’t need the blinds to be a standout visual feature in this room, but it’s nice to have that tactile, organic quality to the fabric.
BLIND ASSEMBLY: MATERIALS
- Blind rod and hardware (more on this below.)
- Double-sided tape
- Fabric, in desired lengths — I used 6.5m of fabric for three blinds
- Fray-stopping liquid
- Cutting board and rotary cutter
- Straight-edge ruler and pencil
- 12mm (½”) round hardwood dowel, cut to blind width
- Fabric stiffening spray; something like Stiffen Stuff, not spray starch. (Stiffener can also be made with 1 tablespoon PVA glue to 250ml warm water, which is what I did.)
- Sewing machine + thread, or hem tape
- Iron, towels and a large flat ironing surface
Costs for the curious: mine worked out to be ~$40 per blind, give or take.
About blind hardware: My blind assembly was a lil’ more complicated than planned. I bought three sets of readymade sheer blinds to sit inside the windows, plus three ‘Blind Replacement Kits’ from Spotlight for the DIY outer blinds. However, these particular blind replacement kits are garbage compared to the readymade blinds’ hardware. The kits have a thick cardboard rod and a dinky spring mechanism, and I didn’t want that for my nice linen-weave fabric. So I used the crappy hardware for the inner sheers (which would rarely be raised/lowered) and the nice pull-chain hardware for my outer blinds.
Here are my recommendations for blind hardware: 1) Harvesting an existing set from a disused blind. 2) A section of 25mm aluminum conduit, cut to size, plus one of these pull-chain hardware kits they sell at Spotlight and Bunnings. (If you’re in the US or Europe, I’m sure there’s better and more plentiful options; there usually are.)
BLIND ASSEMBLY: STEPS
The blind itself is not difficult to assemble, but it does require attention to detail. It’s worth double-checking all your measurements and cuts. You can do this!
1. Determine the dimensions you’ll need for the fabric. I used hardware for a standard 900mm (3ft) blind, but the rod itself was only 860mm wide, to allow room for the mounting brackets. So the fabric had to be 860mm wide as well. (It’s easy to cut down the rod for a custom size; more details on that here.) As for length, I used a standard length of 2.1m.
2. Using your straight-edge, pencil and rotary cutter, carefully measure and cut your fabric panel. This is a great time to use a T-square.
3. Once the fabric panel is cut, apply a bead of fray-stopping liquid to both edges of the fabric and let dry. This means you won’t have bulky hems jamming up the brackets.
4. On the bottom edge of the fabric, you’ll want to create a pocket for the dowel. I sewed a blind hem as shown, 2” pocket with a 1/2″ inner hem, and ironing and pinning it in place before running the machine. The dowel will slide right into the pocket, but leave it out for now. Hem tape works fine too if you don’t want to break out a machine.
5. Hang the fabric on a clothesline or shower rail and spray with fabric stiffener. Use enough to dampen the fabric without excess water running out, and let thoroughly dry. (Not enough stiffener is better than too much, or else it becomes difficult to iron out. Speaking from experience.) I know the homemade PVA stiffener business sounds questionable but don’t worry, the fabric won’t feel gluey or plasticky to the touch when it’s dry; it’ll just feel like stiff fabric.
6. Iron out the dry fabric on a large, flat surface if possible. (Mine was our kitchen counter, covered in as many towels as I could find.) Use 1-2 layers of towel between the iron and fabric, or else the iron will stick to the stiffened fabric.
7. Trim the top edge of the fabric so that it has a straight edge, and affix the fabric to the rod using double-sided tape. Once that’s in place, insert the dowel into the bottom hem and carefully roll up the blind. That’s it! It’s ready for hardware and mounts. (You can see that my rolled-up blind here doesn’t have the dowel pocket sewn yet, whoops.)
And there it is, all hung up! The light from behind creates these wild striations in the fabric. That’s a blanket chest underneath, for when this room gets used as a guest room. The peace lily and charity shop ceramics keep it company. (I love that small black vase, which is actually marble. As soon as I saw it I was all, you’re coming home with me.)
The desk and the future workbench are in progress, but the main area I’m taking care of right now is the fireplace, just out of frame in the photo above. It’s getting a head-to-toe makeover (white and black, so glam) in preparation for a heat pump. HEAT PUMP! NOT BEING COLD! This study is gathering its winter layers indeed.