Friday, March 15, 2013

DIY Roman Shades from Mini blinds

Spring is coming and the day was particularly nice so I decided to open up the windows and air my condo out. With the blinds and windows open I realized in horror that my windows were filthy and still covered in paper snowflakes from Christmas. I busted out my widow cleaner and moved from widow to widow which in turn made me notice for the first time in months my horribly UGLY vertical blinds. I wasn't planning to take on a DIY project that day but what the heck, I had the time and supplies available to redo my small back door window so I went for it!

While trolling Pintrest a week or so earlier I had come across a blog with step-by-step instructions on how to convert el cheapo mini blinds into roman shades with no sewing ( so when a friend asked me if I wanted to join her on an impromptu trip to the fabric store I tried not to shout "YES" and off we went. It was clearly meant to be :)

Since I already had old mini blinds on my back door I figured they'd be perfect to dismantle for this project. If I didn't use them I'd just be throwing them out anyway so if I royally screwed this up it wouldn't be a big deal. I pulled them down and set to fixing the ugly.

I followed the directions (here) and took the bottom piece off, cut the ladder string and took off the extra slats I didn't need. The window is small so I decided on 4 folds. I also took the opportunity to clean it before putting it back together. The whole thing was easier than I thought. Just pop off the little plastic plugs on the bottom with a screw driver to access the thick strings that hold it all together, untie the knot and pull off the bottom. The hardest part was finding the little plug under my couch after my cat thought it would make a fun toy.
I popped the cap off with a screwdriver. Easy Peasy.

the infamous "ladder string"

the ladder string cut
 Cutting the ladder string was nerve wracking because the whole time I was worried if I was cutting the right string. The blogger I was following said she only has to make 3 cuts to get the ladder string off but I had to cut each and every horizontal line to get them off. In the end it looked like hers and the pull up mechanism still worked so I obviously did the right thing.
what it looks like with both ladder strings cut and removed

lets get rid of all that extra stuff we don't need

I just re-threaded the string back through the bottom piece and tied a new knot
Unfortunately when I got my new any improved blinds re-assembled I hit a wall as I realized my new fabric was in my son's room who was napping at the time. Face slap. So much for starting a new project off prepared. Next I did what anyone in my shoes would do: I made some coffee and got on Pintrest.

A few days later when more free time found its way into my day I picked up where I left off and started measuring and ironing my fabric. When measuring your blinds it is REALLY important to make sure your blind is pulled all the way out BEFORE cutting your fabric. Good thing a yard left me with some extra :) Next it was time to get my pattern on my fabric. I couldn't find a nice chevron like I was looking for at the store so I bought a light neutral linen and decided to paint my own. I know, I know, Im already doing something Ive never attempted before so why not add another previously untried project to the mix. Overachiever :)

The details of how to paint a chevron pattern yourself are here. I am not the most patient person and this part required some serious patience. It took a couple tries and what felt like forever but eventually I got my fabric taped up. Turns out there is a considerable difference in reading about how to do something like this and actually doing it. The measuring part was straight forward enough but its hard to explain in type the idea of WHERE to place your tape. You have to be very aware of which stripes you are planning on painting and make sure that you tape outside of those areas. That explains why in the blog's tutorial above some of the stripes look wider than others.

My first attempt= horrible. Notice how uneven all the spaces are
Success! The squiggley lines indicate the areas to be painted. Notice that the spaces inside the areas to be painted are still equal to the areas inside the stripes to be left alone but the tape makes it look like some stripes are skinnier than others. This means you've done it right!

clean up time! The craft knife turned out to be too scary for fear of cutting the fabric so I started to rip the tape off using the straight edge of my awesome ruler (I got this is 6th grade and I still have it!).

 I wanted to use the craft paint I had on hand but it turned out the white I was going to use as my base was a dried up mess so I improvised and used some interior white paint I had left over from a furniture project. I was able to achieve the light grey I was looking for by tinting with the craft paint. I would not attempt this on anything that you plan to wash though as I have no idea about the long term compatibility of these two kinds of paints. The type of fabric and paint you use as well as the overall look you're after will determine whether you will need one or two coats. I used linen so the paint distributed somewhat unevenly but I decided that I really like the effect. You cant see any unevenness when viewed without a light source behind it but hung in the window the light shows the thin spots and I got a somewhat distressed look.
all cleaned up and painting!
Ta Da!
 Once my paint was dry I set to trying to figure out how in the heck I was going to get it onto my mini blinds. I folded over my "hem" along the sides and secured with fabric glue before gluing down to the front of the slats. I felt it looked a little cleaner from the back than folding over and gluing onto the back of the slat.
"hemmed" and ready to glue to the mini blind

ready to glue!
 From there I used my trusty glue gun to glue the top of my fabric all along the top of the blind assembly and onto the back as well so that no raw edge would be visible. Then I spaced my slats about 5 inches apart and glued the front (convex) side of each slat to the fabric. At the bottom I secured my "hem" first and then hot glued it to the bottom piece. At first I glued it just to the front side of the bottom piece but found that when hung the heavy bottom piece hung down below the fabric and looked terrible so I glued the top part to the fabric too (before you hurt yourself trying to figure out what the heck I just said just check out the pic below).
extreme close-up!
all glued down and ready to hang!
 My next great adventure was trying to figure out how I was going to attach it to the door. The fabric prevented the top piece from fitting back into the end caps that secured them previously to the door (plus one side was missing a piece and it would fall off on you when you pulled the cord) so I needed to start over. I took the existing assembly down and sanded and touched up the paint on the door before mounting my new and improved shade directly to the door. It was surprisingly easy to drill holes in the top piece of the blind and then I just screwed it in using the holes that were already in the door.
I just screwed it directly into the door


I just love how they came out!
For my first project I think this came out great and Im really happy with it. The chevrons came out nice and sharp and the shade works as intended. So much better than that horrible ugly mini blind that was in the window before! Hmmm.... I wonder what else I can add chevrons to? :)

Please feel free to share, comment, question and try at home!



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