DIY Easy and Elegant Window Shades

This is a re-post, with a little bit of updating. I’ve been using (and enjoying) my homemade roller shades for over a year now, and wanted to share this idea (again) with you.

Window treatments are crazy expensive. I couldn’t believe how costly some fabric and a few metal parts could be as I was researching what kind of shade to buy for our living room windows. There was just no way I could spend that kind of money on curtains. I got frustrated and gave up looking; time to try something else!

What I landed on was a combo of purchasing some inexpensive curtains and morphing them into roller shades. They turned out great and are very practical, so I thought I would share what I did. (Here’s what they look like).

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For this DIY window shade project, you will only need three main things:

  • some kind of fabric
  • some kind of tension rod
  • something to seal hems

First, material. We needed something thick that would suppress the sun’s heat. So, instead of buying yards and yards of heavy-duty fabric (which would have cost me a good chunk of change), I purchased a thick sun-blocking curtain from walmart.com. At $7 per curtain, these cost a lot less than if I had purchased a ton of fabric.

Next, tension rod. My husband found some thick wooden dowels at a thrift store and we used those to hang the shades. There were no nails or screws necessary; we simply sawed the dowels to the exact width of the window, stuck a felt pad on each end, and shoved them into place. So the dowels’ own tension is what is keeping the shades in place. This is excellent because when you need to clean the shades, you can easily remove them from the windows. You’ll never have to deal with metal fixtures or screws.

Third, sizing the fabric and making the hems. I cut each curtain to the size of my windows and sealed the hems with stitch witchery (no sewing at all!). Since the length of the curtains I purchased was already the same length of my windows, I only had to cut along one side of the fabric in order to make it the size I needed. Then I simply sealed the cut line with stitch witchery. This was the only lengthy part of the whole process, but it didn’t take long and didn’t require any sewing. In order to use stitch witchery, you’ll need an iron and an ironing board, and stitch witchery is very cheap.

Lastly, hang them up and enjoy!

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Here is what the shades look like when they are rolled up. In order to roll them up, I inserted a thin dowel in the bottom of the curtains (there was a slot at the bottom) and put a felt pad on each end. Then I just literally roll them up by hand and jam the bottom of the curtain in between the window jams (ha). Again, the tension from the little dowel holds up the curtain roll.

That’s it! No cords, strings, nails, screws, grommets, or boning. Just fabric, stitch witchery, and dowels. I completed five window shades in about two hours, so it wasn’t terribly time consuming, either. Now, it might seem silly to have to literally pick up the bottom of the shade and roll it up to a desired height and stick it in the window sill. I get it; it’s a tad bit time consuming and maybe a little cumbersome. But honestly, it hasn’t bothered me at all, and I much prefer having no cords or strings. I won’t ever have to worry about these roller shades breaking because they function off of basic physics!

I think these DIY window shades are a great alternative to traditional roller shades. They look stylish, cost me little, and were super easy to make. You can make shades like these with any fabric of your choosing and can purchase wooden dowels from a hardware store. If you need some shades on a tight budget, give these a try!

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