101brett baraDIYdiy projectssewing 101

Sewing 101: Roller Blinds

by Grace Bonney

I love roller blinds for their functionality (privacy and light blockage are there when you want it, gone when you don’t), but they’re not always the most exciting thing to look at. (Plain sheet of white vinyl? Snore.) But here’s a simple way to snazz up the situation — sew your own, using a hacked purchased blind as a base.

I think fabric blinds have a minimalism that’s really chic, and they allow you to use bold prints that could be too much in a full-on curtain. Best of all, you can start and finish this project in just a couple hours, so a window makeover is just an afternoon away. Let’s roll! –Brett Bara

CLICK HERE for the full roller blind how-to after the jump!

What You’ll Need:

heavy-duty roller blinds (including necessary hardware to hang them)

medium-weight fabric (determine how much you’ll need in Step 2)

all-purpose thread to match your fabric

measuring tape

sharp scissors

L-square or yard stick OR cutting mat, rotary cutter and straight edge


sewing machine

double-sided tape (optional)

1. Choosing a fabric

Sturdy, medium-heavy fabrics (such as light canvas, cotton twill or decor-weight cottons) work best for this project. A somewhat stiff fabric is preferable over something softer, as the stiff fabric will roll up more successfully than flimsier choices.

If you have your heart set on a lightweight fabric, I’d suggest lining it with fusible interfacing to give it more body and stiffness.

Although I haven’t tried it, stiff sheer fabrics (like the sheer panels sold at Ikea) would probably work well here too.

2. Hack, Install, and Measure

One important thing to note is that you should choose a heavy-weight roller blind (sometimes labeled “maximum light blocking,” or similar). The spring mechanism in lighter blinds isn’t always strong enough to support the weight of a fabric shade, so I suggest playing it safe and going heavy-duty.

Install the original (pre-hacked) blind in your window following the manufacturer’s instructions. Note the direction the blind rolls (ie, with the blind rolling from the back or the front of the roller), as well as which end of the roller goes to the left and right. You’ll need to plan your blind so that it rolls in exactly the same way.

Remove the vinyl shade from the purchased roller blind and reserve it for another use. (I gave mine to a friend who is going to use it as a drop cloth when painting.) Also remove the dowel or plastic bar from the bottom of the blind, and set it aside (you’ll use it later).

Measure the roller bar from end to end, just inside the caps on each end. Add 1″ to this length for measurement A.

Also measure the distance from the roller bar to the spot where you would like the blind to fall, and add 9″ to this length for measurement B.

3. Cut the Fabric

Cut a piece of fabric that’s as wide as A and long as B.

It’s important to cut the fabric straight and even, so that the blind will hang straight. This is probably the trickiest part of this project, so take a little extra care to be sure you’ve got it really straight.

To get a good, straight cut, use the selvedge edge of your fabric as a guide — you can count on the selvedge edge to be straight, so if you work from that line, you’ll be on the right track.

If you have access to one, I highly recommend a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and straight edge for this job, as these tools make it really easy to cut perfectly straight lines and right angles. If you don’t have these, you can use an L-square or a yard stick to mark straight lines.

Make the first cut along the selvedge edge, then measure from that line to make the remaining cuts, being careful to cut right angles so that all edges will be straight.

4. Sew the Sides

Turn under the long side edges 1/2″ and press. (Note: only turn the fabric under once, not twice as you would normally do. It’s best to avoid extra bulk in the seams so that the blind will roll up neatly, and a double-fold would case more bulk. This does mean that the raw edge of the fabric will be visible on the back side of the curtain, but what the heck, live dangerously!)

Sew along the side seams, stitching close to the folded-under raw edge.

5. Hem the Bottom

Next, turn under the bottom edge 1/2″ and press, then turn it under another 1 1/2″ and press again. Stitch in place, sewing close to the interior fold. (Note: the sides of the hem will stay open, which creates a sleeve for inserting the dowel at the bottom of the blind.)

6. Attach the Blind

To attach the fabric blind to the roller mechanism, place the fabric right-side up on a work surface. (The cutting mat works great here, as you can use the grid lines to be sure you’re aligning everything evenly.) It’s important to be sure the roller is aligned perfectly straight at the top edge of the fabric, so that the fabric will roll evenly. (Also take a moment here to be sure your fabric will be rolling in the correct direction, as you noted in Step 2.)

On the blinds I purchased, there was adhesive left on the roller from where the vinyl had been attached, and it was strong enough to hold my fabric panel. If that’s not the case for you, apply a strip of double-sided tape to attach the fabric to the roller.

Then simply roll the fabric onto the roller.

7. Hang the Blind

Pop your blind back into the hardware you installed earlier.

8. Insert the Dowel

Insert the dowel (which you removed earlier from the hacked blind) into the pocket and you’re done!

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  • This is great – all our windows have plain, heavy duty rollers blinds on them which are a slight eye-sore but great at blocking light at night (which is a must for me) and take up less space than curtains in our small living area.

    I just wonder how much light blocking even a heavy weight fabric like twill would have – it’s fine for the living area but not sure I could handle something that let in a decent amount of light in the bedroom. Is there any way of attaching fabric to the heavyweight roller blind or perhaps backing it with a blackout fabric for the bedroom?

  • Thank you for such fantastic directions. I now know what I bought that fabulous fabric in Hawaii for!! It’s a little much for curtains but perfect for blinds.

  • Do you know if this would work with laminated fabric? My husband has a dust mite allergy, and so we use roller blinds b/c dust can’t build up on them as easily. But fabric would just hold in the dust. So I was wondering about laminated fabric, if this would be less friendly to dust mites. Any thoughts?

  • In the images it looks like there are two shades (the blue and white Ikea fabric underneath). Are there two roller shades here? I like the layered look and just wondering how to achieve it. Thanks!

  • @Meg… I think it would be possible, but I’d just take into consideration that fold allowance Brett mentioned and the weight of the fabric. Maybe if you use stitch-witch (the iron-on bonding/fusing tape) to join the pretty fabric with a more tightly woven fabric, you’d even be able to eliminate the side hem (fuse the fabrics together and then cut a straight line within that fused section).

    Alternately the sample windows look like they have two different shades layered somehow. (I can’t figure out how else that white fabric moves in the pictures.) So maybe a vinyl or blackout rolling shade can be layered under a pretty shade. I’d just think about how the fabrics would rub against each other and make sure one was kind of slick. Then cover the rods with a valance of some sort.

  • Great post! I did this with our french patio door curtains. I wanted a modern looking curtian that blocked a lot of light as they doors on the east side of our house. I used used Ikea fabric panels and just taped them to the existing vinyl. Blocks light and achieves the look I was going for!

  • I love this! I bought some roller shades for our bedroom, I love the minimal look, but I was wondering how to hack my own. Once I can find some fabric that works to block out lights of passing cars, I will do this. Thanks for the tutorial!

  • Am I seeing a lace panel below the blind? How did that work, please? I’m so totally doing this. I already have some plain roller shades up there and can easily refurb them with this idea!

  • Great idea! This would be especially good for apartment-dwellers (as long as you save the original blinds) – a really fresh look without making a permanent change. And apartments always seem to come with the dingiest roller blinds!

    I love the fabric used in this demo – do you have the company name? Thanks!

  • So clever! As soon as I find the right fabric I am hacking my daughters blind! It would be so easy to attach a cute pull ring on the bottom too!

  • @Kate:

    The fabric is from IKEA. They have several types of fabric there that are similar variations of the one the author used. I think it runs somewhere between $5-8 a yard.

  • hi all, thanks for the comments!

    Looks like I’m busted – the second white shade you see behind the patterned shade is, indeed, another roller shade. I wanted to layer a sheer-ish shade with a heavier one, so that I could use one or the other. (I am super picky about how much light I want in my apartment, and when).

    Thing is, the sheer version was a bit of a fail – the fabric just didn’t have enough body to roll correctly. So I am now on the hunt for a STIFF sheer fabric, like those panels Ikea sells, and I’m going to try to make sheer rollers out of that.

    Having the two blinds hanging together works fine – I spaced them about 1-2 inches apart, so there are no issues at all with them interfering with one another.

    As for the patterned fabric, it’s from good old Ikea. A couple weeks ago they had tons of fabric on sale for 50% off so I got a really great deal on it – $4 a yard!

    For those of you who want to block major light, I once used spray-adhesive to glue a lightweight fabric over the existing shade on a vinyl blind. It worked great, looked good, and held up for years, so you could give that a try too.

    Good luck!

  • Crazy! I was just planning to do this to my daughter’s blinds, and I searched online for tips just the other day. I swear to god, I even had a dream about doing it last night. Thanks for the super-clear instructions!

  • I love this! I think those are the same IKEA curtains I have (the white with the leaves, not the brown). I think I’m giong to do this in my master bedroom, thanks! :)

  • Great tutorial! Thank you so much. I am in the midst of a huge window treatment make over session at home and I think this is going to be a good choice for a couple of places.

  • Great post…

    FYI — For those concerned about dust… My mom did something similar once with wallpaper instead of fabric.

  • Ah! How funny – I’m in the process of doing this for the windows in my house (stripes in the nursey, neutral linen in the office, charcoal gray brushed cotton in the master bedroom).

  • Thank you for posting this! I have a ton of ugly white roller shades in my new home and all new window treatments aren’t in the budget right away. I’ve been dreaming of some Dwell ones from The Shade Store, but they’re waaaay too pricey for me. With the right fabric this may be the perfect alternative!

  • jenny: I got my cheap heavy-duty blinds at Kmart. I’ve seen them in hardware stores too.

    Shannon: do you want a covering for your patio door that is attached to the door itself? It so, I’d do a small rod at the top and bottom of the door, and attach a flat panel of fabric to the rods. Just hem the fabric on both long sides, and make a pocket at the top and bottom just like the pocket on the blinds here.

    good luck!

  • This is really great. It seems like a quick and easy alternative. I’m excited to try it.
    Do you have any ideas for curtains?

  • I love it! But where do you find such cool fabrics? Is there a website where you find them, or are they from a brick-and-mortar store?

  • @Becaa: Visit your local IKEA (www.ikea.com)…. They have a surprisingly good collection (30-40 patterns) of fabrics, and the fabrics are extremely thick and durable (light canvas). I’ve never been disappointed with their fabric collection.

  • Totally timely. We’ve just bought a stack of fugly white vinyl blinds from ikea, and ‘tizzy them up with nice fabric’ was on my to-do list, but I didn’t know how. Only difficulty is that one of our windows is huge – about 2m (6′) across, and I’m not sure where to find fabric wide enough.

  • a few years ago i was dying to do this, but could not find roller blinds ANYWHERE. Much to my surprise.

  • Hey, this is to Claire. You could do what’s called “railroading” the fabric. All you do is turn the fabric perpendicular than the way that it comes off the roll. That way you don’t have seams. And I’m pretty positive that the stores that you would have access to (unless you are an interior designer) would only carry up to around 60″ wide.

  • This is great – I’ve been thinking of doing something similar to this in my girls’ room, and I think you’ve just shown me the perfect method. Just one thing: does anyone have any ideas on how to cover up the top of the roller so that the reverse side of the fabric isn’t so obvious?

  • How to cover up the top of the roller so the reverse side of the fabric doesn’t show, you say? How about making a valance? You could use a small tension rod to hang it just in front of the roller shade. I’m thinking that a flat panel or flat-pleat panel would look best – a more tailored one rather than a gathered one.

  • I found fusible blind liner at JoAnn Fabrics. They had a choice of translucent or black-out (which I believe would have appeared white from outside the window). I used the translucent version with white-on-white printed muslin and got great results. The fusible liner directions say not to hem the sides of the blind. Eventually you get some fraying, but these have been in use for ten years. The roller blinds must be a nearly universal item, as I found them in a WalMart. (. . . not many shopping options out here in farm country)

  • I am so excited to do this! I love the minimal look of roller blinds. Thank you so much for the info!

  • I have been planning on doing this in my son’s room, and this is the best tutorial I have found. My problem is this…the window I am covering is 60”x60” and the fabric I want to use is only 54” wide. Any clever ideas on how to remedy this? It is a brown and white chevron stripe so I want the pattern to stay horizontal, I don’t want to turn the fabric vertical.

  • This is an answered prayer! I’ve been hunting for a roller blind solution for months, this is it! You totally made my day. And your blinds look AMAZING! Thank for the step-by-step with pics, that is so helpful!

  • Thanks, Tabitha, I suppose I should have been more specific. In my case, I’d rather not use a valance, no matter how tailored. Would like to keep the look very minimal and keep everything inside the window frame. Something like a little veneer box to fit over the roller. Just wondering if anyone has seen or done something similar.

  • While I’ve never done it, it seems like you could spray adhesive a light weight cotton fabric on to block-out fabric. As for the side hems, try a zigzag, pinked, serged, or decorative stitch along the edge so it doesn’t have to be turned under adding unwanted thickness. An alternative is to make a separate blackout shade instead of the separate lace shade as shown in the demo.
    To make a lace stiff enough for a roller shade, maybe you could spray adhesive it to a light-weight interfacing fabric. You would lose some of the sheerness, but gain some stability and strength. They make iron on interfacings too, but the adhesive might bleed through the lace and make a mess of your iron and ironing board. Alternatively you could experiment with stitching twill tape to the sides and maybe a couple lengths down the center to give the lace shade some structure without compromising the sheerness.

  • Still experimenting with creating ‘top-down’ roller blinds ( have seen them in commercial settings). Would like some instructions on how to easily rig roller blinds to draw up from the bottom of a window– if anyone has info. I t would be perfect to allow light in at the top of the window, but reserve privacy at the bottom. I know this would involve a pulley system of some sort. Help!

  • This is so great – when initially reading the the post title I thought it would involve attaching the fabric to the existing vinyl *much more my speed* and I see in your comments that you’ve done that. When you did, did you fold a piece of fabric over to the back of the shade or cut it off flush with the front?


  • Funny. I JUST did this in my spare bedroom last week to fix my old ripped/broken vinyl ones. I also used IKEA fabric, mostly for its thickness and durability. My window is ridiculously wide, so I didn’t hem the edge, and it looks just fine. :)

  • I have a giant (like, six feet across) window in my bedroom that has been covered by an ugly off-white vinyl roller blind. One day, I will completely snap and tear it down so I was sure to bookmark this page..

    Also, I was thinking.. Maybe before you take the old blind off the roller you can use a fatty permanent marker to note where to put the new one? That might make it easier to get your new blind on perfectly straight, especially on larger windows. Just a thought!

  • This is my favorite post on Design Sponge. Years ago my artistic husband painted canvas with fabric paints and we put them on rollup blind rollers (which we dumpster dived). They were amazing and started a flurry of blind decorating and shower curtain decorating in our student ghetto neighborhood.

  • Hey, I’m just wondering if you could leave the vinyl blackout shade part intact, pull it out as far as possible, and then fuse, sew, or glue the fabric on top of it…do you think the shade would still roll up?
    I like how much light the blackout shade blocks out, but yep it’s ugly!

  • genius! thanks.

    The gorgeous bay windows in our bedroom are 90″ in height (we have tall ceilings) and roman blinds or shades that big run into the hundreds of dollars. This is a FANTASTIC hack; I can buy standard-length blinds and use super-long fabric!!

  • i’m with kyle above… i’ve had roman shades on my ‘to do’ list for almost a year. this seems so much easier and equally minimalist! i’m doing this for my office this weekend… i swear!

  • I wonder if you could glue a sheet of fabric over the existing vinyl shade and just carefully trim it. It might give more weight and blackout ability too. Does anyone have any ideas about whether this would be a good way to go?

  • i love the fabric! thinking a trip to ikea is in order, i love this easy project that will make a big impact on a room.

  • Love it!- I’ve been doing this for years! My process was to take off the existing blind , starch spray the new fabric and staple it onto the roller. Works great!

  • Stephanie, how about a white or brown 3″ border on either side?

    For kitchens and bathrooms oilcloth comes in fun patterns and would wipe clean.

  • Love this! Perfect idea for my newly painted kitchen. I just over-dyed some vintage fabric, now I know where it belongs!

  • Thanks for the great idea! You can get roller blinds at any home improvement store; Home Depot, Lowes, OSH, etc.

  • Love this! I’m with Modernhaus – when I’ve done this before I’ve always just adhered the fabric onto the original vinyl shade using spray adhesive to preserve the light blocking properties and it’s worked like a charm.

  • ahh thanks for your comment, Laura H! I’ve been wondering the same thing Modernhaus mentioned. My husband wakes up to the slightest bit of light and a blackout shade is so much better…
    love this post. I wish Ikea was less than two hours away…

  • I have thought of doing this, it is a great alternative to special order blinds (very expensive) and you can coordinate them with the fabrics in your rooms. I love roller blinds just for the fact that they can really block the light, but I love the fact that you can open mini blinds to bring in some light without pulling the shade up. I wish I could figure out how to do this with some sort of mini blind.

  • Wow!! This was a great tutorial, I am so glad to have found this blog. To Lisa from the comment on June 18th, I think oil cloth would work well, it might be a bit sticky going up and down but it should work.

    Thanks again, Laura McCracken

  • I am still laughing at the bunches of comments on the sheer panel in the back because I was completely baffled as to what it was and how it was at different lengths in each of the photos but no mention was made of it in the directions! Very creative!!

  • I am looking to try using blinds mounted at the bottom of the window for a top down operation. Do you have any tips for what to use and where to find hardware?

  • Beautiful job! I, too, was intrigued by the layered blinds.

    “Thing is, the sheer version was a bit of a fail – the fabric just didn’t have enough body to roll correctly. So I am now on the hunt for a STIFF sheer fabric”

    Could you heavily starch the lace you have? I’ve heavily starched lightweight fabrics until they have the texture of paper. Tip: you can make your own spray starch by dissolving 1 tablespoon corn starch in 1 cup of cool water & put it in a spray bottle.

  • I’ve done this with several blinds in my (young) kids’ room. The blinds have held up great for a year despite the rough handling they get. (Be sure to staple fabric down well!) It’s easy, looks great and ours block a lot of light.

    I kept the edges from fraying with a product found at sewing stores (like JoAnn Fabrics) called Fray-Check. It’s a little bit shiny when dried, so must be applied exactly on the edge or to the back side — just be sure to use a light hand when applying. There are other similar products available.

    Valance box: Centsational Girl recently blogged about an easy DIY wooden valance box (which she calls a cornice) that looks great and would cover the roller mechanism nicely: http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2010/07/playroom-color-cornice/#more-10080

  • Thanks for posting the instructions.

    This is in reply to Bridget about the dustmites. If you can find wool fabric, dustmites don’t like wool; they won’t be a problem

  • I’ve used a tip from a professional quilter. To stiffen the edge use white school glue. Place the edge of the fabric onto strips of either wax paper or even better use parchment paper found in the baking aisle. Apply with whatever you have, I used a popcicle stick to about 1/2″ to all edges. You can iron it down too but be sure to use the paper over and under the glued edge to protect your iron. When it’s dried it’s very stiff, you’d iron it to make sure it’s straight. Quilters use it to make it easier to go around scallopped edges. Today I used it on the cut edges of heavy designer drapery fabric I’ll be using. I’m saving my late daughter beautiful permenent roman shades to fit my large kitchen window. Looking for suggestions on how to “perfectly” match the pattern when I join I piece to another for added width. I’ve used lots of pins for matching but I don’t want to top stitch. Has anyone used stitch witchery for this method…and how did you do it? Thanks, stay cool :)

  • Oh, thank you for giving me the courage to try this! I have been wondering for ages why I could not try this very project. I have been distressing over the disintegration of the ancient roller blinds that my grandparents installed decades ago, but I refuse to throw out perfectly operating rollers! Fabric replacement seemed ideal but, not being very sewing savvy, was afraid to try, especially worrying about bulky side seams not rolling up properly. Now all I have to do is find the right fabric and go for it!

  • Hi, we have roller blinds in our older Californian bungalow house. The original blinds were made from a very dark green stiff fabric. These let no light through at all. I have replaced some with home made ones and just used a darker fabric that was allready 100% blockout (made with a blockout lining) these again let no light in and look fab….

  • I just finished a roller blind for the guest room. I used an Ikea blind that, according to the package was 1,20m, but it turned out to be 1,24m
    So I also had to adjust the roller itself, since it had to fit a 1,22m window…
    But they turned out great!!!


  • Another idea that you could use to get fabric wide enough for your wide window is to use a sheet! They also have beautiful sheets at Ikea, and I would think that would look great!

    Also, another trick I did when I made roman shades (years ago!) they didn’t drop down (closed) very easily, so I ended up putting metal rods/dowels in the bottom one to help pull them down. I also put wooden dowels in the pockets on the rest of the shade to make them look more creased or polished.

  • I work in a window treatment showroom. We sometimes have customers that want the fabric applied ‘reverse’ roll. Can this be applied to the roller in reverse? (you would probably have to mount it in reverse?). That way the area at the top won’t show the reverse side of the fabric. Does any one know if this can be accoplished with this system? Where you do find these? My problem is I have 2 windows 52″ wide! I can’t seem to find one that long.

  • These are beautiful! Is it possible to remove the liner that comes with the shade and sew fabric directly onto it – sort of using it as additional blackout and to keep everything straight on the edges (Maybe even using some spray adhesive)?
    Your idea/advise would be greatly appreciated ASAP because I need to do something about my windows now, as I’ve just finished painting of the room.

  • Only just now I saw that the question I asked has been answered a few times already. Thanks for this tutorial! Can’t wait to try it.

  • OMG this is such a great idea! Perfect way to get creative with blinds and jazz up a room. I’m going to keep my eyes out for some good fabric and try it out. Thank you!

  • Thanks for the tutorial! I am much happier with my shades now. To eliminate the bulky side seams I simply serge the edges (I didn’t at first, but it works better for me now). Downside: you need a serger. But if you have one, it might be a nice alternative. Again, thanks!!!

  • I never would have thought of this myself. Good imagination!! So fantastic! Been meaning to cover up my ugly bedroom blind!

  • I am planning on making roller shades for a teen’s bathroom window. I have made roller shades years and years ago with a kit. I bought the correct width of window shades for the rollers. When I installed the brackets, I put them in reverse. That way the roller itself was hidden and when rolled up would appear like a valance. Now I am searching for a kit again. I’m not sold on hemming the edges because of the bulk it may create. Oh and when I attached the fabric to the roller, I just used heavy tape like packing tape.

    • OH MY, you are awesome!! I don’t know if I can do this but I’ve been struggling to find a cool idea, and I’m going to try. I wouldn’t even mind sewing material to ( if I can figure that out) the existing shade and keeping it down most of the time. WHAT A BRILLIANT IDEA. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING IT!!! You’re brilliant! Thank you again, EDJ

    • I just found this post, so I’m sure you figured this out years ago, but if you didn’t (or for anyone else reading this now), the amount of fabric around your roller basically determines how far you can open the blind – let me explain. Most casements are 4″ deep (this applies to newer homes – my home, built in 1939, only hs about 3 ½”), so you have to make sure that when your blind is rolled completely up, it fits inside the casement with ample space between it and the window, otherwise, it won’t have enough space to roll up and down. I would recommend laying your fabric out on the original vinyl blind, temporarily with a non-permanent adhesive (two-sided tape, water-soluble glue, etc) so you can easily remove it if it’s too thick. Then manually roll the blind up all the way, and lay it centered on the sill of your window. Measure how much space you have between the blind and the window pane, while the blind is centered. If you have at least ½” clearance, you should be fine – if not, but you’re close, you may be able to move the hardware forward enough to compensate, but you want to make sure that the rolled up blind isn’t hanging outside your sill, because if it is, then it will be outside the casement when it’s hung, and will look awkward, in which case you’re better off skipping using the original roller blind altogether and just using your fabric. Also, the weight of your fabric is important, for two reasons: If you’re using the original roller blind and mounting the fabric to it, the roller mechanism may not be able to accommodate the extra weight – don’t use upholstery fabric, for example, even with a heavier blackout roller, because pulling the fabric down could actually pull the whole blind down. Fabric used by itself, however, has to be heavier (and somewhat stiff, but not starched-stiff), in order to hold it’s shape after being rolled up and down repeatedly and still look good (you still don’t want to use upholstery fabric tho – it’s still going to be too heavy, even on it’s own). Also, roller blinds come in other than white, and also in other than vinyl, so you’ll want to think about the color and fabric of the original roller blind in combination with your fabric – you may want to show off a darker pattern, perhaps, or maintain or increase your privacy level. For example, if you’re putting up a black patterned fabric, and the majority of your pattern is black, you can go with a darker roller blind, but if your black-and-white fabric is more white than black, you will want to stay with a white roller blind. Also, you wouldn’t want to use a textured roller blind if your fabric also has a texture – not just because of the contrast but also the increased thickness…

    • I don’t think so, but you can use iron on interfacing that will help keep them sturdy and stiff. I too made mine from a kit, and it was a roller with brackets along with the iron on interfacing. Only had to ad fabric.

  • Curious about the wallpaper — what kind of glue did you use? what kind of wallpaper? and did it roll well? seems like it might be too stiff? I have fabric roller blinds that were custom made for me, and the maker used fabric glue on the edges to prevent fraying, rather than hemming them. it has held up beautifully for 10 years, but i used heavy weight, almost upholstery weight fabric. they are gorgeous, like wall hangings. i have some vinyl blackout blinds in the bedroom, ugly but bought because i am light sensitive — i would like to try the spray adhesive option — i.e. glue fabric down to the vinyl. if anyone has any tips or experience with this, i would love to hear it.

  • Just came across this tutorial. I think it’s a great idea and the instructions are so clear with great pictures.
    A couple of things, in response to some others comments/questions.
    1. Using spray starch would stiffen a flimsy fabric.
    2. You can also buy double sided fabric that has no wrong side such as batiks. This would eliminate the problem of the back side of the fabric showing at the top of the blind.
    Can’t wait to get started.

  • Does anyone have experience with painting the existing vinyl on roller shades? Thinking of using a stencil to jazz up existing roller.

  • this idea is great! I too like the layered look. Like you said too flimsy to roll up, so why not put the sheer on a tension rod? I’m also a little OCD so the top of the rooler shade I would cover with a simple sleeved valance made out of a coordinating patter or color. To dress it up add a strand of tassles, pearls or beads or fringe.. cannot wait to do this! Thanks for the idea

  • Attach the shade to the roller backwards. Then switch the hardware that holds the roller. i.e. instead of slotted bracket on the left, put it on the right etc. You’ll now have a finished looking product without ever looking at the lining again.

    • There is one downside to this option. The backside of the roller will now expose a portion of the Right Side of the fabric to the sun coming in the window. I live in San Diego and in no time…that exposed section of the shade will fade, and would show up when the shade is down. I did a mock up and realized this would happen. I am putting mine in the conventional way….it’s for a wide but short window in a shower. I’ll cover the exposed lining side of the roller with a simple sleeve on an adjustable rod. I also opted to line the shade and cut it a bit longer and wider for a cleaner back side edge.

      • Thanks for this Dee-dee!

        I’m sure others will find it helpful before diving in.


  • I agree with Carol.
    the top of the roller should be installed the other way. of course you would have needed to attach the fabric, so the only the right sides show and the top roller is not being seen so much. Like a roll of toilet paper or paper towels, the fabric should roll over the top not from behind. The rest of the instructions were very helpful. Thank you.

  • You can also try painting your exsisting shades or adding wallpaper to them.

  • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I knew this was possible but every tutorial I saw for it before made it look like the most complicated thing in the world. The horrible plain white blinds that came with my apartment are getting changed pronto. Now just to decide on the right fabric. Oh, the possibilities. And it’s so easy and fairly inexpensive I can have a summer blind and a winter blind. Again, thank you!

  • You can paint your vinyl blinds with latex paint to match your walls and stencil them. I did this in my childrens rooms in the 80’s and the paint is still in great shape after all these years. I’ve wiped them down and vacumed them because I also trimmed them in my daughter’s room with lace and a big beautiful dragonfly brooch. I’m sure oil based paint would work too. I just rolled open the blinds on my ping pong table on drop sheet and rolled the paint on and let it dry well and then hot glued the trim on and they were done.

  • Just a thought for those with wide windows….I ended up buying a patterned cotton fabric shower curtain (72″ x 72″) for my 70″ wide window. Cost $29 at Winners instead of $25 meter for double wide fabric. Going to attach the hardware backwards so the ‘wrong side’ rolls up behind. And snip off the side seams (too narrow and thick I’m guessing) and try spray on fabric stiffener to set the edge. Fingers crossed.

  • I just applied a medium weight fabric onto a light blocking roller shade using spray adhesive. I hung it and…it won’t roll up. Any ideas?

    • I’m sure you’ve solved this by now, but if not, I replied on something similar to this under Liz’s question dated 1/28/12, above – if you’re still having problems, maybe that will help…

  • Why not leave the roller shade on and just use simple spray adhesive to it with the fabric then your fabric won’t be shone to the outside world and will have double the privacy! much neater. My mother always taught me that proper etiquette is to back your curtains with white fabric!

  • An even easier way to do this is to leave the vinyl on the roller and with Modge Podge, glue the fabric right onto it. Spread a layer of Modge Podge onto the vinyl, then place the fabric that you have cut the exact same size as the vinyl on and smooth out air bubbles. You can treat the edges with no fray if you wish. Then paint a coat of modge podge onto the fabric and let this dry. Put your blind back into the brackets and you have a professional window treatment that you can accessorize to the room. And when you tire of it, you can just peel the fabric off and put a different one on. BONUS: if you wash the fabric that you peel off, it can actually be used for something else.

  • I’ve been planning to do this with my 72″ wide windows, and could not locate any roller shades (ready-made) other than the thick vinyl black-outs at Lowes and Home Depot. The recommended Walmart cheapies are not available larger than about 38″! I finally gave up and ordered discount polyester shades from online, which I intend to glue the fabric onto. I need a small amount of light to filter through. Did anyone find a long-roller shade available in a store??

  • These are so cute! I can’t wait to try and make them! Where did you find that fabric?

  • I can’t wait to try this out. I have two questions, I’m in the uk but can you get blind kits for large windows and two I have see a reversible curtain fabric I like. how will I finnish the edges so I can hang them either way as curtains. thankyou

  • To do both sides so u dont see the back of one fabric is to do a pillow case system, just sew to pieces together, but should be a lighter weight fabric and use double stick tape to put together to put on roller shade, or u could use duct tape too. if your fabric is heavier, u will need to move your shade down some to make room for the fabric on the shade. very nice idea to add color and patern to a room.

  • Thanks for the modge podge tip Suzanne! Have not used it since elementary or middle school. I am excited to try this. Although there are many things to dislike about Walmart – I thought I would share that they do have really affordable fabric options. ESP cute fabrics for kids’ rooms.

  • Yay! Putting together my baby boy nursery, and I love Ikea’s sheer roller, but my problem with that, and all other stores I’ve looked at, the sheer vinyl only go up to 48″, and his window is 52″. Anything over that is either light blocking or super expensive outdoor shades. I wanted it to be light filtering, because I’m putting it behind the curtains, but its such a huge window, I don’t want the curtains to be just open all the time, but they are black out, so they need to be open during the day. This is a huge life saver!

  • I have been wanting to do this project since finding and old linen roller shade in my basement. This is the best hack ever – I just made the first shade (I need to make 11 so…) as a practice in unbleached muslin and I love it! I think I will make them all like that and thinking of using fabric paint or bleaching out a pattern. Will let you know how that goes! Many thanks for the wonderful instructions.

  • Fantastic post!!! This is a super interesting new for a great presentation of our blinds in the house… It is very beneficial for me.

  • thanks for your great, clear instructions – I want to make mine out of muslin – any suggestions on how to make them removable so I can wash them? I’m assuming repeated use will get them dirty before too long…..

  • Sorry if this has been asked before but I plan to make a roller blind using oil cloth for my bathroom and was wondering if I cut the material to match the inside width of the window or whether I need to hem it along the sides? I think this may make it too bulky….

    I was also wondering whether the fabric may curl at the sides due to humidity etc. and if I should stiffen the back of the fabric somehow?

    Any advice would be great thanks!

  • These DIY blinds are so cool! Definitely looks like a project that I could and would do. The place I use for blinds is so inexpensive I usually don’t DIY this part of my home http://www.royaloakblinds.com royal oak blinds but i definitely want to try this project!

  • This ended up looking like something you’d buy at a store! This is too cool. I’m going to have to try this, but with a mandala pattern tapestry. It would save me a ton of money, too :) Thanks for sharing!

  • I used Velcro to attach my fabric to the roller I have 2 sets of shades and can use the same roller easy to remove the shades for washing and changing seasonally.

    • Ahh.. that’s a good idea! Thougt, that I have to buy two sets of rollers, but this Velcro idea is just great!

  • I am looking at doing a window wider than my fabric length and will therefore need a seam in the middle of my roller blind. Is this possible to do? I am concerned about the roller feeding smoothly and also that the seam will show without a lining material?
    Any advice would be great – thank you!

    • Katie, you won’t be sewing a traditional seam here – it’s more like working a jigsaw puzzle or putting together a scrapbook page – you’re going to manipulate your fabric so it looks like one solid piece, even though it isn’t. First of all, make sure you pick a lightweight cotton or linen fabric that doesn’t fray easily (no polyesters, as they stretch too easily, and you won’t be able to get it to lay right), with a repeating pattern that can easily be lined up – florals, or large checks are good. (It doesn’t matter if the pattern has a difference of even 6″ or 8″ in the repeat, you only need to worry about the part of the fabric that will fit within the dimensions of your blind (i.e. if your blind is 36″X48″ you may need two lengths of fabric that are at least 60″ long in order to match your pattern, but that’s ok, what isn’t inside that 36″X48″ area is scrap, might be 6″ above on one length of fabric and 6″ below on the other, that’s okay). Make sure you iron it before you start, and do not use starch (your adhesive will add some stiffness, and starch on top of that can a) keep the fabric from adhering to the adhesive, and b) make your vinyl/fabric combo too stiff to roll easily). Use spray adhesive (like 3M) on one side of the vinyl roller, and lay your fabric carefully over the adhesive, working any bubbles out from the center by gently lifting as you lay it out. Do only one side at a time, you’ll focus on the pattern matching with the second piece of fabric. Your selvage line should kiss, but not overlap – make sure there are no gaps between the two pieces of fabric, the entire length of your blind. When you’re done, leave it flat for a good 24 hours to ensure the adhesive is completely dry – you don’t want your blind to stick to itself when you roll it up. Attach the finished fabric to your roller and roll it up before you place your hardware – this way, you can ensure it’s centered in your window casing the first time. I posted a comment for Liz, above, that talks about how to determine if the fabric you want to use will work, her post is dated 2/28/2012 – you might want to read it as well, so you don’t end up doing a lot of work just to find your fabric is too thick for your window casing or too heavy for your roller hardware. Good luck, I’m excited for your project!

  • Wow, those blinds turned out really beautiful! I love the black, gray, and yellow fabric that you used! My husband and I have been wanting to get some roller blinds for the past few months now and I would love to use a unique fabric like you did! I don’t think I have the skills to make my own but thank you for sharing the process! Thanks for sharing!

  • I have an extra wide window and am thinking of using the fabric from a queen duvet cover and spray gluing it on. Anyone tried that? Would it work? Thanks.

  • Keeping the inside of the house and its residents is an important thing. Many people crave for privacy and looks to install curtains and other materials by which their privacy is maintained and better safety to the indoors are availed. Usually people will be troubled with the dust, smoke, light and heat from outside and look to restrict the entry of those elements into the house. It is not good to shut the doors and windows in order to get relief from such issues as you will be devoid of fresh air entering the room. Using the window blinds have been a most opted alternative by which the inside of the rooms can be protected along with better privacy.

  • I saved the rollers from old vinyl shades that had cracked, hoping I would find a way to make fabric shades. Thanks so much!

  • Just found this and am going to use these very straight forward instructions today. Most cheap bought blinds have a beaded roller. I am reusing old inherited blinds and can’t wait to get started. I know this is an old post but the instructions are so clear. Thank you so much!

  • Quite some time ago I made a roller blind, I soaked the fabric in some stiffener, hung it on the line to dry and why I ironed it it became very stiff. I cant remember what liquid I used. Can anyone help please. I don’t want to use spray or paint it on.


      • I will look at this thank you. I just know I mixed it with water before I soaked the fabric. I have used something since that did not mix with water and it was not as good. Next time I find something I would like I will write the name down.

        Again Thank You

  • I can’t find a shade (locally) to fit my window. I need a 40″ and Walmart only has 37 1/2. Is there anyway i can take one end off and insert something to make it wider?

  • This is a perfect solution to my 1865 Victorian Farmhouse I just purchased… the shades themselves are as brittle as them can be, but because most of these windows are custom sized, matching new rollers would nearly be impossible. Great tips too you share here. I cannot wait to try with my own designed fabric. This way the curtains can then coordinate the shades – sweet. xo – Leah