Easy No-Sew Roman Shade & Valence

Inspiring post title, huh? I didn’t think so either. Maybe this will be a bit more to your liking… It’s quite a transformation, and one that’s been needed for some time. For several months my laundry room window has been naked. It’s a window that looks out over the back forty, and out here in BFE we don’t have right-next-door neighbors. No need to worry that anyone would go blind or suffer permanent emotional scarring by seeing something they shouldn’t. My naked window didn’t bother me…much…and it was preferable to what lived in the window before.

Beyond Ugly Mini Blind

But a few weeks ago I stumbled across a DIY post over at Little Green Notebook in which Jenny made some awesome Roman shades out of…drum roll please…ugly mini blinds. So yesterday I decided to try it for myself. Before I could even begin to do cool stuff like cut fabric and glue, I had to shorten my mini blinds. That required removing those pesky plugs in the bottom rail (rung?) that are driven in at the factory with pile drivers. Let the Bloodletting Begin A word of advice…do not use a screwdriver to pry these loose. You will gouge your hands, fingers, eyeballs, and other sensitive body parts if you try. Oh…and you will bleed. Profusely. My injuries didn’t require a trip to the ER as I had two brand new boxes of Band Aids in the bathroom. Note the use of the past tense. Must put Band Aids on shopping list. Once I was certain I’d clotted sufficiently, I fished the pull strings though the holes, trimmed off the knots, and removed the bottom rung. Cut-the-Knot-and-Remove-Bottom-Rung Taking out the vinyl slats was as easy and addictive and dunking Oreos. I had to force myself to stop after seven or eight. Remove Slats Those stringy little ladder things and I do not have a friendly relationship, and it took me three tries to get the bottom rail into it’s proper place. But once it was where it belonged, I fed the pull cord back through the hole and tied the knots. If there’s a trick to doing this perfectly so that the rail hangs level the first time, I don’t know what it is. If at first you don’t succeed…talk ugly to it and try again. Install-Bottom-Rung-and-Tie-Knot I was finally in the business of shade making. Jenny @ Little Green Notebook figured out where her slats/folds were going to be based on the length of her blind and decided 9 inches between her slats was what she wanted. I couldn’t find my measuring tape, so I simply counted the number of slats I had. There were 41 (not including the bottom rail). I rounded that number down to 40 and divided by five so that there would be four slats/folds in my shade. After some inner debate, I decided to put the “extra” slat at the top, so I counted down from the top and marked slat #9 by making a small circle with a pencil. Marked Slat I then marked slat #17 (9+8=17), slat #25 (17+8=25), etc etc. If I had to do it over, I’d put the extra slat at the bottom, but it’s not the first time my inner voice has steered me in the wrong direction. While the shade was still hanging in the window, I cut away all the slats that did not have a mark. I was careful not to cut the pull cord or the stringy ladder thingy. Shade Structure The little hook thing (don’t ya’ love how I know all the technical jargon for the pieces of my ugly mini-blinds?) that rotates the blinds open and closed was no longer needed, and I worried it was going to be in the way. So I decided to remove it. After a thorough inspection of the working parts of the shade, I decided it would be best just to break it off at the front. Having learned my lesson about screwdrivers, I used a pair of vise grips to break the plastic. A pair of pliers would probably work just as well. Now I was ready for the fun part…glue! Uhhh…after a not so fun part… The Dreaded Chore …ironing. I used some spray starch to stiffen the fabric a bit, and I’m glad that I did. I placed the fabric face down on my table and thought…now the fun part. Deep down inside (well…not so deep) I’m a five year old. Glue=happy. I folded back the ends of the slats, applied glue and stuck them back down. I made sure I didn’t get any glue on the pull cord or the stringy ladder thingy. (“Ladder cord” is the correct term for that stringy thing. I Googled it.) Bring Out Your Inner Child Jenny @ Little Green Notebook recommends Fabri-Tac, but I used Alene’s Turbo Tacky Glue because it was what I had on hand. After I’d finished this project, I noted that the label clearly states, “Not for washable wearables.” Since I’m not likely to throw my Roman shade in the wash, this shouldn’t be a problem. Must put Fabri-Tac on shopping list. Now if you’re wondering why I still had my ladder cord in place when Jenny’s tutorial clearly shows hers removed at this point, remember that my extremely organized self (snort) couldn’t find the measuring tape. I used the ladder cord to make sure that my slats stayed in the place I wanted them. After gluing the ends, I ran a bead of glue along the center of each slat. Then I stood back and scratched my head. Jenny’s tutorial made it look so easy, and yet I was confused. What to do about the ugly beige ends of the bottom rail that would show? Why did her bottom rail look flat and mine looked fat? I puzzled and scratched my head and puzzled some more. And while I was problem solving, I completely forgot about my camera. I finally decided to clip two small squares of fabric and use them like wrapping paper to cover the ends of the rail. I also turned the rail flat before gluing it to the fabric. Bye bye beige end caps. Bye bye fat rail. I clipped the rungs of the ladder cord and removed them. And when I was done I stepped back and saw this.

And I joyfully admired my handiwork for about ten seconds…until I remembered Jenny’s instructions clearly stated that I should NOT glue the fabric to the ends of the top rail because I still had to insert it in the mini blind brackets. Duh!!! I decided to hang it anyway, thinking that once I did I’d stumble upon a magic fix for my failure to follow directions. Once it was hung I decided I hated it. Well…not hate exactly, but I wasn’t nearly as pleased as I thought I’d be. I love and adore my white trim, but there was entirely too much of it showing. The blind just looked…bland. So I grabbed a cheap curtain rod I had lying around… …one that was white with brass hardware. A couple coats of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint and an hour later I had the beginnings of something that might make me happy. I draped what was left of the fabric over the rod, took some measurements (I remembered I had a fabric tape measure in my sewing box), and decided I’d make a valence that was 26 1/4″ wide by 10 1/2″ long. Back to the ironing board and spray starch…ugh… Using my rotary cutter I cut a piece of fabric 27 1/4″ wide by 22″ long. I then pinned 1/2″ hems on each side of the fabric and pressed them flat. I considered breaking out the sewing machine at this point, but I just wanted this project done so I used glue to secure the hems. I then folded my hemmed fabric in half lengthwise, carefully lined up my side and bottom hems and pinned them into place.  I used a pin at the top of each side of the valence to mark where my “rod pocket” should be. A bit of glue around the edges only, a bit of pressure and voila! easy, no sew Roman shade with valence made from mini blind, Waverly fabric Paddock shawl I’ve still go a few things to finish on this project. I hate the slats showing on the back of the shade so I’m going to raid my BFFWWW’s fabric stash tonight for some light colored fabric to line the back. If she doesn’t have anything suitable, I’ll spring for a half yard of black-out fabric. And I’m going to have to stitch the valence. The shade may not ever go in the spin cycle, but the valence at some point will. (BTW…Fabri-Tac is washable.) And I’d like to figure out a way to get the pull cord to the front (right now it’s hanging in the back). I think a black Sharpie and a funky little tassel would go a long way to dressing up something that otherwise is just utilitarian. So here’s a few shots with and without valence. (Pay no mind to the color variations in the photos…the first one is rendering true…the second and third are rendering much more black/white because they were taken at night.) I’m wondering if I should add some ribbon trim on the valence. Maybe something like this or this… Ahhh….the magic of Photoshop. So what do you think? With the valence or without? With ribbon trim or without? I’m kinda liking ribbon trim #2, but I’d love to know what you think. Want to know the very best part of this project? It was FAH-REE!!! Yep, free. Free, free, free, free, free. Because I’m a hoarder packrat thrifty and frugal saver, it was free. Ugly mini blind…free. Fabric from stash…free. Alene’s Turbo glue from stash…free. Curtain rod from stash…free. With the valence, without the valence, with the trim, without the trim…I’m just diggin’ my free and easy no sew Roman shade. Thanks for being brilliant, Jenny!

P.S. I’m linking up to Addicted2Decorating

Enjoy Responsibly

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Categories: Laundry Room, Renovations

8 Comments on “Easy No-Sew Roman Shade & Valence”

  1. July 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    I have seen this and I really want to try it. I have metal mini’s everywhere. I was going to replace them all with white 2′ faux woods but I might try this first. They look great! Thanks for the info.

    • Lea
      July 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

      Dee,

      You should definitely try this. It’s super easy, really inexpensive (even if you have to purchase fabric), and looks amazing. I can’t get over the transformation. The window makes me happy now. If it could only make me want to do laundry…lol!

      Lea

  2. Melanie Carr
    July 19, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Lea,

    I’m attempting this tomorrow.. with the black out fabric.. I’m still googling and pondering how I will ever get the slats (sp?) in some magic way, between the fabric and the liner.. WHEN you figure this out, please post how!

    Awesome..

    Melanie

    • Lea
      July 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      Melanie,

      My BFFWWW (best freakin’ friend in the whole wide world) didn’t have anything suitable in her fabric stash when I tried to raid it Saturday night. I’ve ordered a couple yards of black out fabric from Fabric.com because I couldn’t face dragging two kids to the fabric store forty five minutes away (ahhh…the joys of country living). So I haven’t tried this…yet.

      But my thought is I would just measure the back of my shade for width and height then cut my blackout fabric to those dimensions. Then I thought I’d create a 1/4″ hem on each side with my iron and glue like I did for the valence, and then I’d just glue the black out fabric on the back. By making the black out fabric panel slightly smaller than the actual back of the shade, a small edge of the pretty fabric would show on the back. I think this would make it easier to attach because I wouldn’t have to be terribly precise in lining up the side edges.

      When my fabric order arrives I’ll be sure to post pics of the lining and how I did it. When you get yours done leave me a comment with a link or a photo. I love seeing other people’s projects!

      Lea

  3. loyda
    July 21, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    okay looks great but what does the other side look like? I have a very narrow window at the front door that has the horrid metal blinds.. but company standing on the other side of the door.. well….. what will they see? Has anyone covered the other side or would it be to thick?

    L

    • Lea
      July 21, 2011 at 4:24 am #

      Loyda,

      That’s a great question, and one which points out the only flaw in this DIY. As my shade now hangs you do see the slats if you’re standing outside. This bothers me….immensely. My original plan included covering the back in the same fabric as I’d covered the front, but my decision to make a valence left me several inches short of the necessary yardage. I’ve ordered blackout fabric for the back, and the moment it arrives I’ll be pulling the shade down and covering the back.

      I don’t think a second layer of fabric will make it too thick. I’ve seen several Roman shades constructed from heavyweight fabrics such as duck cloth and denim. I’ll be sure to post my results when I do.

      Lea

  4. Melanie
    July 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Lea,

    I did it.. and let it sit on the back door for a week.. and now I’m starting over! My ugly mini blinds have been there since we built this house and the strings decided to snap.. so off to Home Depot I went and bought new ugly blinds and I’m starting over today! I did decide to change my fabric from the homespun plaid to a simple light kaki.. and I did try to attach the blackout fabric over the slats.. did not work.. made the biggest mess and ended up partially glued to my dining room / craft table. (me, not the shade)… So, off I go again. I will have to put the vain part of me aside and just live with the slats showing.. I did buy the beige blinds so it somewhat blends with the beige side of the black out fabric.. here goes round two!!

    • Lea
      July 28, 2011 at 2:25 am #

      Melanie,

      Congrats on a successful first mini blind conversion! And an aw-snap about your…well…snapping strings. (Sorry about my choice of condolence phrases, but Google Chrome’s been crashing a lot today and each time it gives me an unhappy face and an “aw-snap” so I guess I’ve got it on the brain.) Isn’t it weird how we’re happy about buying ugly mini blinds now? And I know exactly what you mean about the glue thing. I do a lot of work on my dining room table, too, and spend a lot of time scrubbing wayward adhesive off it. I’ve tried the black out fabric twice now…on two different shades. I’m going to go for round #3 on Friday, and if I don’t get it right this time I’m either going to live with the slats showing forever and ever after that or break down and sew “real” Roman shades from here on out. Send me some photos when you’re done. I’d love to see your creation!

      Lea

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