Alas, custom window coverings seem to be one of those things which are never very cheap.
I've had the same tired single panel curtains held up by tension rods for several years now, and with my change in bedroom paint color (photos soon!), it was about time to give the old curtains the heave-ho.
I debated several options for window coverings, most of which are DIY or semi-DIY. There are quite a few very helpful roman shade tutorials out there, including this no-sew one. I also considered using my new sewing machine (one of my favorite birthday gifts in recent memory - thanks, Mom & Dad!) to make a simple panel hung on a rod.
Ultimately, though, I settled on buying roller shades and covering them with fabric. Here's why:
- They're insanely inexpensive. Mine were $17.95 per shade at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
- Most stores will cut them down to the size you need for free.
- They block light extremely well (unlike the flimsy panels I currently have).
- Though they're plain, they're very easily made pretty by your choice of fabric.
- I bought gorgeous fabric from Purl Soho that I want to preserve for future use, and hot glue is very easy to remove from the roller shade and the fabric itself.
- They're easy to install.
- They're a very minimal time commitment. I'm a renter still, so investing tons of time in creating window treatments doesn't make sense for me at the moment.
And now for the how to:
Before you buy the shade, measure as precisely as possible the distance between each wall it will mount to, as well as the entire length you'll want the shade to cover. Then buy enough fabric for a 1 or 2 inch border around the length and width of the portion of the shade that will show.
1. Lay fabric (already cut to proper length and width) on a flat, clean surface, pattern side down. I didn't iron my fabric first, but if I did this project again, I would.
2. Unroll your shade to the length it will be when fully extended and lay it over the fabric, centering so that the fabric border is even on each side.
4. Roll up the shade, then install it per manufacturer's instructions.
A few quick tips & tricks:
Purchase your shades at a local store. I nearly purchased mine online and am quite glad I didn't - my measurements ended up being off by just a smidgen, so I was able to quickly run back to Bed, Bath & Beyond and have the shades cut down further. This would've been quite a mess had I not been able to do so.
The direction of the roller itself is a matter of personal preference. I think it creates a much cleaner line to have the shade pull down in front, rather than behind the roller.
When gluing fabric down, it helps to have something like a heavy book weighing down the portion of fabric above the roller and at the bottom of the shade. This will ensure your fabric is pulled taut.
If the length of your window isn't much shorter than the length of a particular shade size, I'd go with the next length up to ensure you'll have enough weight on the roller to help pull them up. My shades don't roll up quite as easily as they should, probably because they stretch almost to the maximum when pulled completely down.
If your roller shade won't roll down and up properly, pull it down halfway, then take the roller off the brackets and roll up by hand. Then replace the roller, and the tension in the spring should be much better. If not, repeat this process until it is.
The whole thing only takes about an hour and a half - have fun! Next project for me: repainting my bedroom.