Living Off Grid: How To Make Insulated Shades Part II


Ed: Well, when I read this I got confused before I even got to the second paragraph. I think I will go stack wood……………….

R ShadesLaurie: The first step is to measure your window. You will need to estimate how much fabric you are going to need. It will be worthwhile for you to sit down and figure how many windows you are going to do and their sizes. The Warm Windows fabric comes in 2 widths so you may be able to use that to your advantage. Next step is to gather your supplies. My list was pretty simple. Fabric, thread and all those kinds of things and I bought a bag of ½ inch brass rings, a bag of orbs and a supply of rib slides. All the drapery supplies you could ever want you can get through Textol Systems online.

When you are hanging your shades inside the window frame it’s really important to get your measurements right, you won’t have much wiggle room.  You will measure from side to side of the framed window opening, not the window itself.  I cut the Warm Windows fabrics to that width plus ½ to ¾ inch for the wider windows, and depending on how you decide to hang your curtain from the top of the window frame you will need to add length to your curtain measurement, a little more about that later. My next step was to serge the whole outside edge of the Warm Windows fabric. Because of all the layers it’s just way easier to work with if it is serged or zig zagged around the outside edges. Next step is to sew your cover fabric onto the curtain. Your covering fabric will be wider and longer than your Warm Windows fabric for hems and seams. I use the width of the Warm Windows fabric and add 3 inches, and for the length I use the length measurement and add 9 inches. It is a good idea to use a square to square off the fabric for marking and cutting when you are using these large pieces of fabric.

Shade HemNext step is to create your seams and hems. Lay your Warm Windows fabric drapery lining side up and place your cover fabric face down matching the cover fabric edges to the Warm Windows fabric edges. Your cover fabric will not lay flat because it’s wider than the Warm Windows fabric, but that excess is taken up when you turn your shades right side out.  I sewed my seams with a ½ inch seam and once that was done went back and surged  those seams again. I know that seems like a lot of serging, but it sure makes these shades nice and no loose ends. I love my serger. Turn the shade right side out and press your side seams. Be careful not to use too hot of an iron.

Then tackle the bottom hem. For the bottom hem lay your shade front side down and fold the excess cover fabric in half to the bottom of the shade and press to set your crease, and then fold up again to cover the first 4 inch channel of the Warm Windows fabric. Pin and then hand stitch the hem and close the sides with a slip stitch.

Next step is to attach your rib slides. Turn your shade inside out and lay flat with the Warm window fabric face up.  At this point you Attaching Ringswill be gluing the rib slides to every other channel of your shade. I use Aileen’s Tacky Glue.  Start with your bottom channel, apply the glue along the whole length of channel and cut your rib to exactly the width of the shade, and glue the rib directly onto the channel.  Do the same for every other channel on the Warm Windows fabric. You will need to find something to weigh the ribs down while the glue dries. Once the glue dries carefully turn the shade right side out. Don’t be too concerned if parts of the ribs come loose, this is an extra step to help keep the ribs in place until you secure them in place by tacking them in by hand.  The next step is to sew the top of the shade closed, again, if you have a serger I would use that. Otherwise sew a ½ inch seam and zig zag the seam. Once you have that done you will be sewing the brass rings for the cords onto the back of your shade.  Lay your shade down drapery lining side up. You will have to decide how many rings to use. For wider curtains you may want to use 3 or 4 rings across the width of your shade. Narrower shades you may be able to get away with 2. On each of the channels that you glued the ribs onto you will be sewing 2, 3 or 4 brass rings. These rings will have to be tacked on by hand. You want to sew through the Warm Windows fabric catch the cover fabric and the rib slide plus the ring. So you are securing the shade fabrics, the rib slide and the ring all at once.  When you use the slide ribs these help to make your shades to fold up properly when you pull your shades up without any extra help. It seems like I was always having to help fold the curtains by hand while I was pulling them up, but these ribs help to make the curtains fold where they are suppose to.

Ed Essex
7/10/2012 8:22:36 PM

Jennine, Sorry to be so late in replying. These shades would need to be hand washed. And my thought on that would be to take them down and lay them out flat and take a scrub brush with a detergent like Woolite to them, front and back, rinse down well and hang over something to dry so you don't lose the shape. Dry cleaning would do well too, I think. But that gets to be so expensive. Funny you should mention the insulated curtains over the shades. I am going to do that in our bedroom where we have french doors and windows on the one wall. So I am going to make insulated curtains for the whole wall. To be used mostly when we get the really cold: 10 and below.

Jennine Wardle
7/6/2012 5:42:10 PM

We live in Interior Alaska and I've been planning to make insulated blinds (and insulated curtains over those!) so I was really glad to hear about the Warm Window fabric. My biggest question is, since the fabric is lined with a radiant/vapor barrier, how difficult are the blinds/curtains to wash? Do they have to be washed by hand (with no wringing) or dry-cleaned so the barrier film isn't damaged?

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