From Mini-Blind to Roman Shade

A very long time ago when the world was a little younger, I pinned Jenny’s (from Little Green Notebook) genius idea of making a roman shade out of mini-blinds.  (Since then she’s revised the process and so I’ve updated my pin to lead me to the new tutorial.)  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I finally got around to executing it for our front door.

I followed her instructions by the book blog all the way until the last step and so if you’re hankering to make one for yourself (which you totally should be), you can get all the details from her.  There were a few parts that I was a little confused on and since I’m the tutorial nerd I am, here’s the very detailed way I made our newest roman shade.

First of all, the supplies.  You’ll need a mini-blind (I got mine at Target), fabric of your choice, either a sewing machine or some iron-on tape for a no-sew version, a needle and thread, craft glue, and some plastic rings.

Measure the window or door or whatever it is you’re covering with your shade before you start.  That way you’ll know what size mini-blind to purchase and how much fabric to buy.  I used one of these Room Essentials curtain panels for my shade:
photo 1
It was originally from Target but I found it at a local discount store, Dirt Cheap, for $3.

I cut and hemmed it according to Jenny’s instructions.  If you’re doing a no-sew version of this shade, you’ll only have to fold the edges once as you iron on your tape so you’ll really only need to cut your fabric to be two inches longer and two inches wider than the size you want your finished shade to be (here’s a great tutorial on how to use iron-on tape for hemming).  That way you’ll have a one-inch hem on all four sides of the fabric rectangle that will soon be your finished shade.

After you’ve hemmed your fabric to size, lay out your mini blind.  (P.S. You won’t need the tilt wand that you turn to open and close the blind.  Toss it or use it to stir your grande latte…whatever makes your boat float people.)       
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Completely cut off the bottomrail by snipping through all the strings attaching it.IMG_4198

Then cut all the strings holding the slats on but don’t cut the string that controls the raising and lowering of the blind, aka the lift cords.  In other words, cut the vertical strings that run down the front and back of the slats and all of the horizontal, ladder-like strings, but don’t cut the vertical strings that run down the middle/through the holes in each slat. 
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On the mini-blind I bought, the strings holding the slats on were thinner than the thick ones that controlled the blind.

To completely remove the slat strings you can cut them off where they loop around the inside top of the headrail.IMG_4201

Next, pull off all the slats.IMG_4204

Give a couple of slats to your kids to buy a few extra minutes of time to work on this project uninhibited.  Don’t worry, they’re too flimsy to do any real damage.  :) IMG_4203

So, the slats are all off and you’re left with the headrail, the lift cords, and the bottomrail (not pictured but keep it!)  Side note:  Depending on the width of your blind, you may have three lift cords vs. two like mine.  Make sure you don’t cut any of them off! IMG_4205

Now grab your hemmed fabric and line it up along the headrail (where it’ll soon be permanently glued).  I lined mine up so that I had about 1/4 of an inch of fabric above the very top of the headrail.  Next, pull the lift cords down so they’re nice and straight and parallel to the sides of the fabric and, starting from the bottom of the fabric, measure up eight inches along each string and make a small pencil mark.  This is where the bottom set of rings will go.  After that, continue to measure up each cord, placing marks every 10 inches.  (You can make the spaces between rings shorter or longer depending on whatever you think looks best.  I followed Jenny’s recommended measurements.)
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Here’s a pixlr’d image showing where I placed my marks: IMG_4240
(I realized after I was finished with the entire shade that I didn’t need the two topmost marks/rings.  If there’s less than four inches between where your topmost marks are and the headrail, you probably don’t need to place rings at those top marks.)  Note the little feet…somebody wouldn’t nap while both her sis and bro were so an audience she became.  :)

After you’ve marked where all of your rings will go, measure the distance between where the cord comes out of the headrail and the end of your shade on each side.IMG_4241
Then, using that measurement, double check to make sure all of your marks are that distance in from the edge of your fabric all the way down.  If you laid your cords out nice and straight before you started marking, you should be spot on if not pretty close but I did this just to double check.

Next, grab your plastic rings (I used the ones in the photo below), a needle, and coordinating thread.  Jenny used clear thread and I would recommend that as well only I didn’t have any and you know this mom ain’t running out “quick” for clear thread.  I’ll settle for white in exchange for less stress, thankyouverymuch.   IMG_4247

Now simply sew a ring onto your shade at each mark you made, except for the very bottom set of marks.  The bottomrail of the mini-blind will go there.
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After you’ve attached all of the plastic rings, grab your craft glue and glue your fabric along the headrail.  Hot glue would probably work too though it might be more ‘bumpy’ under your fabric.photo 1 (1)

Once I had the fabric glued on straight, I made sure it was flat along the headrail and then I propped some books on top of it to hold it down while it dried.  I left it this way for 24 hours, giving the glue lots of time to dry completely. 
photo 2 (2)

While the glue is drying, grab the bottomrail of the mini-blind.  In her tutorial, Jenny used a thin slat of wood and eye screws as the bottom part of her shade, but once again, I didn’t have either of these things.  So, I improvised.  First, I cut about six inches of string off the bottom of each of my lift cords.  Using the existing workings of the bottomrail of the mini-blind, I popped off the small round plug that holds in the all the string, threaded my six inch piece through the hole, strung a plastic ring onto the string, tied a knot, stuffed the string into the rail, and stuck the plastic plug back on.  Get all that?  In case you didn’t…blind

Now the only thing left to do is to glue that bottomrail along where you made the bottommost (Word?  Not a word?) marks.
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Just make sure when you glue it down that your rings are at the top of the rail/closest to the top of the shade.photo 4

Once all the glue is dry, the last step is to thread the lift cords down through each plastic ring and tie each onto the bottom rings that are attached to the bottomrail like so:photo 2

And that’s it!  Hang your completed shade with the hardware that came with the mini-blind and you’re done! 

Here’s what ours looks like down:
photo (1)
[Excuse the toddler litter.]
Anthony’s not a fan because he thinks it looks like there’s a painting on our front door but I love it.  It’s a far cry from boring and that’s exactly what this previously hum-drum space needed.  (Speaking of painting though, as I was mid-project I couldn’t help but think how cool this curtain panel would’ve looked stretched over a wood frame and mounted as artwork.  So cool, no?)  Hopefully once I get the new lighting up and add some other details, Anthony’s mind will be forever changed…or at least until I decide to redecorate.

The only negative part about this shade idea is that, because the fabric I used is more silky than stiff, I have to adjust its layers after I raise it.  The ends fall and it looks like this:  IMG_4252
I could change that by somehow placing some long dowels horizontally along each set of rings but the few seconds it takes me to straighten things out isn’t a big deal so I’ll probably just take it as a lesson learned and use a thicker, stiffer fabric next time.

Cost?  Well, let’s see:
Mini-blind:  $3 (Target)
Fabric:  $3 (Target curtain panel via Dirt Cheap)
Plastic rings:  $1.50 (JoAnn Fabrics with a 50% off coupon)
Thread and craft glue:  $0 (already had but both but they’re from JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels, respectively)
Project total:  $7.50

As long as mini-blinds are being manufactured and I have windows and doors to cover with roman shades, I’ll be going this route again and again because, not only it is a lot cheaper and less difficult than making ‘real’ roman shades, but they also look almost if not exactly the same.

afterlight

So, is there any shade-making in your future?  I know it seems like it might be a tedious task but really it was pretty easy and if I’d had an hour to devote to making it, it would’ve taken me just that hour plus drying time to finish it vs. the weeks I had it laying around half-finished because my life be like kids, kids, kids.  Either way, I love our new shade and I’m so very grateful for those kids, kids, kids.

Happy Hump Day!  :) 

11 comments

  1. This is incredible! And your instructions are so detailed and understandable. Great work!

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  2. So impressed that you made this! Projects like this give me a headache just thinking about them- but you make them look so easy and awesome! :)

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    1. Says the girl who can do anything I can do... :)

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  3. Awesome ,I am completely impressed. I may even be inspired to try it.

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    1. Do and send me pictures if you do!

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  4. BRILLIANT!!!!!!! I will be trying this for my back door!!!!

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    1. Good! Pictures please when you do! :)

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  5. It looks great. I love the fabric. I have contemplated making Roman shades but never did because it seemed too hard. I am excited to give this method a try.

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    1. Thanks Emma! I'm with you on the reasoning behind never making roman shades! So intimidating! But this method is so easy! I'm excited to see how yours turns out!

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. This is really very beautiful and impressive. Step by step instructions given by you is very much understandable and i ll love to try it.

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