Monday, November 21, 2011

My DIY (No Sew) French Door Shades for under $30!

You read that correctly, I made these no sew French door shades for under $30!  I've had this image pinned on pinterest for a few months now.  It comes from a really cute blog called 365 Days to Simplicity.  I decided to try and make them for the french doors in our basement last week so I went shopping at Ikea for some fun inexpensive fabric.  While I was cutting the fabric a really nice mom asked me what I was making.  As I was explaining my plan to make DIY roman shades out of mini blinds and glue I suddenly remembered that I was wearing my oh so pinteresting DIY scarf.... as I was cutting the fabric to make my oh so pinteresting shades....  Gasp, how embarrassing!!  It was in that moment that I realized I have become a pinterest junkie!!  I've since made a vow never to wear anything "pinteresting" while shopping for pinterest project supplies.  Ever again.  ;) This is how I made the shades for my french doors...


a. mini blinds (I got these at Lowes for under $5 a piece)
b. fabric (I only needed 2 1/2 yards and used this fabric)
c. fabric glue (I already had some)
d. iron-on hemming tape (I used this from Ikea for $1.99)
e. fabric scissors
f. metal ruler or yard stick
g. iron
h. hot glue gun (not pictured or drawn in...)

The first thing you need to do is measure the windows in your door.  You can download my printable guide here

a. (width of window)  _______ +1"= _______ (width of mini blinds you will need)
b. (height of window) _______ +2"= _______ (minimum length of mini blinds you will need)

(width of mini blinds)  _______ +2"= _______ (cut width of fabric) (you will hem each side 1/2")
(length of mini blinds) _______ +3"= _______ (cut length of fabric)

*Notes:  Take the location of your door knob into account when calculating the width of your blinds and fabric.  My window was 22" wide, so I used 23" mini blinds and cut the fabric 25" wide.  After I hemmed the fabric 1/2" on each side it was 24" wide as the finished product.  You can easily shorten longer blinds to the height you need.  I purchased 72" blinds and shortened them to 68".
I used KAJSASTINA fabric from Ikea that is 59" wide, so I was able to get two panels out of 2 1/2 yards. 
There was a perfect seam pressed straight down the middle, so I was easily able to cut it into two perfect pieces.  I flipped one side around so that the half flower looked the same on each side.
After you measure the width of your fabric and cut, fold over each side by 1/2" and press with an iron.  Next sandwich in the iron-on hemming tape and press with a hot iron to seal. 
Next open the blinds and lay them out on your floor.  You are going to take out most of the plastic blinds but first you need to calculate how many to leave in.

Length of mini blinds _______ divided by 10 = _______ (space measured on fabric to space blinds)

*Notes:  Leave 1 1/2" of fabric on top and bottom before and after measuring.  Glue each blind and mechanism part in the center of each line.  The window in my french doors measured 66", so I divided by 10 to space out the pleats to the size I thought would look nice.  If your window is taller you may want to consider dividing by a higher number.  If you are dividing by 10 you will leave in 9 plastic blinds.  The rest is written assuming you are dividing by 10.
There are two types of cords in mini blinds.  The ladder cord is the thinner cord and it is webbed together like, you guessed it, a ladder.  You are going to cut this cord out of the blinds.  The lift cord is just one thick cord that runs in the middle of the plastic blinds.  You are going to LEAVE IN this cord.
Ladder cord comes out, lift cord stays in.
I had to cut the ladder cord out also at the top.  There was a metal clip that I just snipped off to remove.  Once the ladder cord is removed the plastic blinds will move freely up and down the lift cord.
On the bottom of the bottom mechanism there are two plugs.  You will remove these, measure the blinds to the overall height you want (measure "c"), take out all but 9 plastic blinds, retie the knot and replace the plugs.
I measured the lift cord to the height I wanted, tied the knot at that height, stuffed the cord back in and replaced the plug.
My blinds had this part sticking out that would normally hold the stick that turns the blinds open and closed (or twists them vertical and horizontal).  I had to remove it so that the fabric didn't protrude when I glued it over this part of the mechanism.  .
To take this part out I just pried open the top a bit and pulled the entire thing out.  You don't need this part of the mechanism because you will be moving the shades up and down, not tilting them back and forth vertical and horizontal.  Once you cut out the ladder cord it becomes obsolete anyway.
I used a metal ruler to measure out the spacing on the back of the fabric with a pencil.  I just made little tick marks on each side, starting 1 1/2" from the top and then used the metal ruler to draw a line across the fabric from a tick on the left to a tick on the right.
Lay the blinds on the back of the fabric, placing the blinds front side down.  Space out the blinds on the lines you drew with a pencil, centering them vertically and horizontally on the line.
The plastic blinds should fit perfectly between the hemmed fabric.  Now this is where I say do as I say not as I do.  You need to spread out the glue evenly with a sponge or brush.  I didn't do this and the finished product isn't as "neat" as I would like.  It's okay, but it would look better if I had made the glue even.
Be very careful not to get any glue on the lift cord.
Allow the fabric glue to dry over night.  I glued the bottom mechanism part flat like shown above.  For the top mechanism leave about 1" on each end without glue.  This is why...
You are going to install them on your door the next day and slide a plastic part in front of the mechanism to hold it in place... so this is why you don't glue it all the way across yet.  I just wrapped the extra fabric on the top and trimmed off any excess fabric.  Glue it down with a hot glue gun.  I did the same on the bottom.
This is what they look like closed on the french doors in my basement on a bright sunny day. 
This is how they look closed at night. Not perfect, but not too shabby for under $30, right???
Open 3/4 of the way is my favorite way for them to hang.  The cord always hangs behind the shades so I just tucked the cord into one of the drapery pleats.  If it shows through your fabric you can install a cord cleat like this one.  To open just pull the lift cord behind the roman shades the way you would pull it to open mini blinds.  The fabric just pleats itself as you lift.  I did have to straighten out the pleats the first few times I opened them.  Overall I'm happy with my "under $30" roman shades for our french doors.  I picked a bold yellow color because I'm doing a yellow and grey thing in our basement.  I like that if I get tired of them in a year, I won't feel bad about getting something new.  They aren't perfect and I'm not 100% crazy about the way they look from the back, but they are just right for our basement for now.  I really learned a lot too about how roman shades work and I may try to sew some from scratch now that I've done it the "easy" way.  I hope this helps you make your home a little more cozy and chic.  Enjoy:)


Cat Davis said...

That has to be about the coolest DIY design trick I've ever seen. I wish I had a door I could do this on. Well, I do have my back door which has a long rectangular pane of glass but I love the light that comes in through it.

nic said...

this is brilliant!! consider it bookmarked for whenever i have a french door or a long window, although maybe i could do this with my windows now...fantastic, robin!! you've come a long way from Wisteria Street. Remember when we all begged Rhett to paint our apartements? you went for the red and purple motif in the living room; i went for a pistachio in mine... what a fun time! you must do a tour of your new place soon!

Robin Gray Christeson said...

Thanks guys:) Nichole, of course I remember begging our landlord (points to you for remembering his name!!) to paint our apartments. I think about that apartment often, it had the coolest stove ever. I'm going to do a house tour soon but I want to get a new lense for my camera first. Maybe after christmas:)

nic said...

how could one forget rhett ryland??

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Lori said...

I need to pick your brain -- Did you have any trouble finding mini blinds that were the right size? The window in my french door is crazy long (24-2/4"x80"). It's possible to use some extra string to lengthen the pull cord, right? I know I'll have plenty of slats, if I can just get enough string...

Robin Gray Christeson said...

I found mine easy at Lowes, but my window openings are only 68" L. Hmm.. 80" is long! I did a quick online search and came up with this I have never purchased from that site and know nothing about it... just saw the size was what you are looking for. It's more expensive than the $5 blinds I picked up from Lowes:( I don't know if you can add string to it because it needs to pass through the little holes in the vertical blinds... if you tied a knot it will get stuck. Maybe you can re-string the entire blinds with one piece?? Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

This is great! Do you see any reason why one couldn't put fabric on both sides of the blinds so that it looks finished from both sides of the door? If I wrapped around the fabric to also cover the back and glued it to the mini-blinds making sure not to glue the lift cord, do you think it would work? I'd have to figure out how to finish the 1 side where the fabric comes together - maybe just using iron-on hem tape. What do you think? Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

I love it! I did the same thing with inexpensive solid white cotton roman shades from lowes. Glued the fabric to them and I have lined custom looking roman shades! Took about 15 minutes.shades are 30 a piece.

Sarah said...

I love these and plan to make something similar for my kitchen french doors! I have one question before I start: is it it possible to put a fabric on the back too somewhat so that from the outside it doesn't show the back of the blind? We use our outdoor space a lot and I'd ideally like something that is pretty from both sides. I think I might be able to figure out how to cover the back if you think its possible. I hate to start this project without some idea if its attainable first. Thanks!

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