Greek Key Roman Shades
I feel as if this project should have 2 names, a’la Zeus and Jupiter / Hera and Juno. Never knew why mythology had to be so confusing. It was basically a family joke how much I sucked at mythology in 7th grade. That was the same year I totally talked myself into thinking plural verbs should have an “s” like plural nouns do—despite the fact that I could speak English and knew that wasn’t the way it worked. I landed in summer school for that one. But I discovered the joy of Martika’s Toy Soldiers while carpooling that summer, so all was not lost.
Back to the issue at hand. Greek Key Roman Shades. Once upon a time I pinned these on Pinterest:
And when the blog world announced the fall edition of the Pinterest Challenge, well I knew it was now or … well, later.
Yep, one of the very first things I bookmarked after becoming a homeowner was this tutorial about making roman shades out of mini-blinds. I even mentioned it in this post about my favorite blogs. And it only took me 2 years to get around to making them. Jenny’s post is pretty good, but there was another one I referred to heavily during this project: this one from 365 Days to Simplicity. Or in my case, 730.
So, if you’re about to embark on this project, I definitely recommend keeping those on standby. I’ll cover the whole thing too, and fill in the gaps where I got confused. Which, if you refer to paragraph 1, you’ll realize is probably because of user error.
1. Start with mini-blinds. Typical, cheap, ordinary mini-blinds. You’ll need fabric too. I just measured the length and width of my window and padded about 6 inches on the length and width. I was lucky enough to find a great remnant of some linen fabric for a tremendous deal at Lewis & Sheron, and while I only needed 3.5/4 yards, I ended up with 6. (This will be key information later in the story.) Here’s the way before. As you may recall, the room’s gotten a Moody Glam coat of Benjamin Moore Hale Navy paint and a new furniture arrangement in the meantime.
2. So, next you measure your window again. Lots of measuring in this here project. Oy. Determine where you want your slats. This will be where your shades will fold as you raise them. Basically, you are going to remove EVERY SINGLE SLAT and replace only a few. I did not understand this, so I marked every 12th slat—making my folds every 10 inches. I marked them so I would know which ones to keep. Which was…
…completely unnecessary. Just remember how many inches apart you want the slats to be. Because you’re going to take off ALL the slats. This will not be the last time I mention this.
3. I laid out my blinds on the dining room table. I took of the three stoppers at the bottom. And pulled out the strings stuffed inside.
Tweezers came in handy for this part.
4. Snip the bottom off of all strings—just enough to remove the base slat and set it aside. Okay, so now you have 2 strings. The Fat one is the pull cord. You DO NOT want to cut this one. The LADDER string is what you DO want to cut. Take your scissors and run it along the underside of the skinny cord, severing the horizontal ladder cord that supports the slats.
When it’s done you should have severed ladder cords and an intact pull cord.
Snip the ladder cord from the top of the blind and think about DNA.
5. Then pull all the slats off. Even the ones with the green dots. Replace (or don’t take off in the first place) however many you need to make your folds. In my case, that was 4 slats. Pull the pull cords taut and re-thread them through the base slats. Measure (drink!) how far you want them to hang—in my case, I wanted them to rest on the window sill—and re-knot the cords so the base is at the level you want. I rehung each of them in the window just to make sure they were correct.
If you’re cool, then stuff the strings back inside and replug those three holes at the bottom.
6. Now it’s time for fabric. First, I had to snip off the rod that adjusts the angle of the blinds. Taylor helped me out with some wire cutters. I laid the blinds on top of my fabric and gave a couple inches on each side. Then I cut the fabric using a few of the leftover slats as a straight line guide.
7. Then I ironed my fabric. And while I was trying to get my starch spray nozzle unclogged, this happened.
Seriously? I thought this only happened in Bugs Bunny cartoons.
*SIGH* I had to re-cut another piece of fabric, as this new design motif did not work into my master plan. Luckily, I had plenty.
8. Now you’re ready to start gluing. 365Days made a hem on the edges of her shades. LGN and I did not. I really don’t see why you’d HAVE to, but Steve Jobs probably would if that makes any difference to you. I pulled the iron into the dining room and folded over the top of the fabric. I left a 1/4 inch or so peeking out from the top of the rail. Painter’s tape was helpful to secure it temporarily.
I am helpfully pointing to where the edge is so you don’t get confused with all the linen. I used the scorched piece as a barrier between the iron and table pad. Use fabric glue to attach the fabric to the rail. But don’t glue the outermost edges, as you’ll need those free to slide them into the blind’s brackets to hang.
Eventually, I tucked that little flap underneath.
9. Now slats. You’re going to lay your slats out apart the distance you previously measured. (Was that English?) I used not one, but TWO tape measures because I am so not good at the straight line thing. So the top of each slat was at the 10″ inch mark. And then 20″ and 30″ and 40″. There were 12 inches of space between my bottom slat and the base of the shade. Mostly because I didn’t want to deal with fractions and I didn’t think it would look all that weird since the visual weight of the shade would be at the bottom.
Use fabric glue to attach the slats to the fabric. As the other blogs suggested, I put the convex side toward the fabric to give it more real estate to stick to.
Don’t glue the cord to the fabric. It needs to glide freely so that the shades will work. I pressed the slats down, moving my fingers away from either side of the cord.
10. Then, crease the sides with your iron and fold them over the slats and glue. As you can see, the “hem” on my sides was not even, but it turned out not to matter. If I ever did this again I would probably try a little harder to do that.
Set it aside to dry and START ALL OVER AGAIN with the next one. I actually did all the cutting first, then all the glueing second.
I let them dry for about 4 hours, then started with the trim. When I bought the fabric, I bought 10 yards of 1″ black ribbon trim as well. I used almost every last bit. I knew what pattern I wanted, though I did play around with some other thoughts. Taylor’s vote was for the original plan and I agreed.
11. I first laid out the pattern in a general sort of way—mostly to make sure I would have enough trim. Again the painter’s tape was a huge help in getting my folds to stay.
I used my gift wrapping skillz to make the folds so it was one continuous piece of ribbon.
I figured out what sizes I wanted the boxes to be (4″x5″) and the distance from the edges (2″) and made a handy chart so I’d remember. Kind of like when Kevin Bacon left himself the note not to release the moon lander and Tom Hanks from Apollo 13. Only a little less life-threatening. I used a ruler obsessively while glueing down the trim.
More glue. More drying.
To quote one of the best movies of all time, isn’t it the most fun?
And here’s what they look like open. The greek key detail mostly disappears, but I still like the way they look.
Unlike actual Roman shades (that can cost several hundred dollars apiece) the cords for these are behind the shade. So, not ideal if you are raising and lowering them multiple times a day, but for a room we don’t use on a daily basis, it doesn’t bother me a bit. Especially since the blinds came with the house and the fabric and trim ran about $85. Add in a few bucks for glue and each shade ran me about $45.
The project did take about 8 hours, with some drying time factored in there. So, the better part of a Sunday. But totally worth it. I like to think Hestia/Vesta, Goddess of the Hearth and Home would approve.
Did you partake in the Pinterest challenge? I’d love to see what you did! Leave a link in the ol’ comments.
And come back Friday for the full reveal of all the Moody Glam goodness.