Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The $20 Custom Roller Shade -- my Pinterest Challenge

 A long, long time ago (like when Cottage Living Magazine was still in circulation -- I'm still mourning the loss of that magazine) I saw an article about customizing cheap-o roller shades. That was shortly after I'd paid a small fortune for three beautiful linen roller shades from Smith + Noble.

I vowed not to make that mistake again.

So when I saw a roller shade at Lowe's in the clearance section a few months ago (who am I kidding -- it was last spring) and realized that it was exactly the right size for the basement window, I grabbed it. It sat (and sat, and sat, and sat) in the garage until last week when I finally ripped off the vinyl shade off the roller, replaced it with fabric, and hung it in the window.

Okay, so...no, it wasn't quite that easy. In fact, first I painted the vinyl and that looked great. But then I had to add a ribbon edge and that didn't go so well. First I used ribbon and Jewel-It glue, but you could see the glue through the ribbon. Blah. Then I used ribbon and hot glue. But the hot glue dried so fast that it didn't flatten out before it dried and you could see the bumps through the ribbon. So I tried a warm iron, to re-melt the glue, but I kinda melted the vinyl.

Wrinkly vinyl does not make for a pretty roller shade.

So I ripped off the vinyl shade and started over.

That's when I found this tutorial and pinned it on Pinterest, and I found this tutorial which helped me out, also. Now I'm including my new shade in Sherry, Katie, Erin, and Cassie's Pinterest Challenge.

For this shade, I used some fabric I'd brought back from Mexico a few years ago, but next time I'd use something flatter and with less nubbiness. I also backed it with white muslin because I think seeing a patterned/colored fabric in the window from outside the house is semi-tacky. I don't know why I think that. I guess I like the uniformity of white from the outside. Plus my mom told me that window treatments should be lined with white. And she knows about this kind of stuff.

To back the shade fabric, first I ironed on Wonder Under. I'm not gonna lie -- there was a bit of a learning curve to this, especially since I was ironing on about 2 1/2 yards of the stuff. Just wait til it cools to rip off the paper and I think you'll be okay. If you try to take off the paper while it is still warm, the glue comes off with it. And the paper comes off in tiny pieces, like nightmare wallpaper.

Then I cut the fabric (with the backing fused) to exactly the size I needed it to be. My window is about 4ft wide by 3 ft tall. I added an extra 12 or so inches to the height so that the fabric would wrap around the roller a few times before it became visible in the window. I think this is important for keeping the fabric tightly attached to the roller.

I used Fray Check to keep the edges from fraying and then sewed a hem to hold a weight rod in the bottom of the shade. Since the fabric is a little nubby, the edges weren't as clean-cut as I'd like them to be. So...back to the ribbon.

Using Heat 'n Bond to adhere the ribbon, I lined it up with the edges of the shade and wrapped it under the hem about 2 inches. The Heat 'n Bond is a bit narrower than the ribbon, but it seemed to work well with almost no buckling when the shade rolls up.

The problem with including ribbon on a roller shade is that the ribbon stretches differently from the fabric (or not at all). But, I love the finished touch it adds to the edges of the shade.

Once the fabric part of the shade was ready, I used double sided tape (plain old double sided Scotch tape) to adhere the fabric to the roller. I rolled it around one time and then added another strip of tape between the two layers of fabric. It seems simple, but the tape is definitely enough to keep the fabric on the roller -- especially with the fabric rolled around a few times, which it always is, even when the shade is down.

Now, the financial damage. I already had the fabric, so I count that as free. The shade was about $1.50 on clearance at Lowe's. The Wonder Under was about $6, the Fray Check about $4, the Heat n' Bond about $3, and the white muslin lining was about $6. I had the weight rod and the ribbon (it came with the gift wrap on wedding presents from Williams-Sonoma 11 years ago when we got married!).

So $20.50 is the total cost, plus a few hours of my time. And I ended up with a great looking shade and a husband who is happy to see headway made on a basement "detail." Totally worth the price.


  1. awesome job! i need to do this for my bathroom

    1. Thanks, Melanie! I am really happy with how it came out. I think roller shades are great. Clean looking, easy to use, simple. It will be beautiful in your bathroom!

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  2. This is really great! I need to replace an old broken Ikea roman shade in my son's room and this seems like it would be a perfect little fit in there! Love the fabric and trim you used.

    1. Thanks! Yes, it is a great alternative to a roman shade. I have made four roman shades for my house and I looooove them, but it is a lot of work (plus, the two in my kids' rooms didn't stand up to their wear and tear -- the lift cords broke). This was way easier and I think it looks just as nice.

  3. Oh, this is great! When I clicked over, I hoped that it would show it from scratch (i have a super thin window that I need to dress that doesn't seem to have ANY fittings that aren't cu$tom)... but this would work for... anywhere else! Keep on rockin' it, babeh!

    Do you have a tute for the roman shades? Maybe I can do THAT for the thin window!

    1. Hey, Gina! Here is a link to the site I use to help me with roman shades: http://www.terrelldesigns.com/

      She has a calculator on her site that is super helpful, and you can order all your hardware from her. I've found her hardware to be higher quality than what I find in my local fabric stores -- and her pull strings, too. The pull strings I bought from her haven't broken, although I'm not sure if that's because they're on shades that are in our office instead of the kids' rooms or because they're higher quality. Anyway, her info is super. I'd totally buy her plastic battens, too. They're way easier to work with than wooden dowels.

      Here is a link to a few photos of the first two shades I did -- they are the ones that are still in good shape. https://picasaweb.google.com/hillary.dickman/RedecoratedGuestRoom

      Good luck!

    2. One other thing...you might still be able to do a roller shade, you just have to get the shade cut to the right width at Lowe's or Home Depot when you buy it (I think they can cut it to any width. Then rip off the vinyl and make your own shade.

  4. This looks great, and good for you for doing it yourself this time! :-) Wonderful job, and thanks for linking up with the Winter Pinterest Challenge!

    Erin @ The Great Indoors

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