Living Off Grid: How To Make Insulated Shades Part II

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

Laurie: 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.

Next 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
will 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.

Once your shade is made you will need to install it. And rather than attach my shade to the support strip and then attaching the support strip to the window sill I simplified that process by having my husband install a ½ inch X 1 inch strip of finish trim to the inside of the window frame that has the screw eyes fixed into it (these are for your draw cords to go through). These need to be in line with the rings on your shades. Decide which side you want the pull cord to hang, and fix the last screw eye on this end of the wood strip about ¾ inch from the end.  Then I folded the top seam of my shade over about an inch and stapled front side of this lip to the front of the support strip. This was the only tricky thing in the whole process, and is probably a two man project, someone to hold the shade up while the other person gets up under to staple. One of the reasons I did mine this way was so that if I wanted to take my shades down in the summer time for the view I didn’t have to install and uninstall the support strip. We have 12 inch wide walls because our house is made with insulated concrete forms and this makes for beautiful wide window sills. I wanted to make these support strips as inconspicuous as possible so if I took the shades down you wouldn’t see them. Having said all that it turns out that I wouldn’t take those shades down during the summer anyway, they make really good shades for keeping the house cool in the hot summer months.

Once your shades are up you will thread your cord through the rings, starting with the bottom ring on the pull cord side up through
each ring, and then through the two screw eyes, and out to the side.  Thread the second and third cords the same way taking the ends through the screw eyes and cutting them to the same length.  I use orbs instead of tying the cord to the bottom ring on the shades. This way you can easily adjust them if you need to. I use orbs for the end of the draw cords as well which eliminates having to install cord locks. I just slide the orb up the cord to hold the curtain open.

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website  and