Make Shades Out of Mini Blinds

Do you love the look of fabric shades but don't want to fork over the cash?

design by Coddington Design, via Desire to Inspire
Shades can often cost you an arm and a leg (especially custom fabric shades). When my cheap white IKEA shades were safety-recalled, I decided to figure out a way to repurpose the old {ugly} mini blinds that had previously hung in our bedroom windows. The result was better and easier than expected, not to mention even cheaper than the cost of new IKEA shades.

Here are the basic instructions. If you need more details, feel free to comment or email.

--Supplies--
Tape measure
Scissors
Fabritac (or comparable fabric glue - NOT HOT GLUE!)
Mini blinds (like the $3 Target mini blinds)
Fabric (yardage depends on the size of your window)
Trim (optional)

1. Measure you windows carefully. Then do some math and figure out how many folds you want in your shade. I like the look of a fold every 9 inches, which meant I only needed 6 slats for my small windows.

2. Let out the blinds all the way, making them the longest they can be. Carefully cut away all of the thin tilting/ladder-like strings, being very careful not to cut the thicker lift cord. I simply ran my scissors along the top of the slats, cutting away the tilt strings and avoiding the lift string altogether.

3. Take out the plastic plugs from the bottom of the miniblinds and remove and put aside the thick bottom slat piece (you'll need this later). Then simply pull off most of the slats, while leaving the few you'll need for the folds of the shade. Like I mentioned before, I only needed six slats for my shade.

4. Make sure the blinds are still let out all the way. Measure carefully and reinstall the thick bottom slat so that the length of your window and the full length of the shade are roughly the same. I decided to make my shade about 1" longer than my window measurement. Just to make sure it would be long enough.

Trim the extra cord away off the bottom.

Now cut out your fabric, using the shade skeleton as your pattern and leaving a 2.5 inch (or so) border on all sides.

5. Congrats! You're done with the hard part! You should have something that looks like this:

It's time to start gluing.

6. Start with the top of the shade. Fold over and glue the fabric together to make a clean edge and glue that to the front of the big top rail mount. **NOTE: Do not glue the folded hem to the very ends of the rail mount. You need to be able to slip the rail into the wall-mounted brackets, so the fabric needs to stay unglued on the very ends.

7. Measure 9" (or your preferred fold length) from the top of the rail. Adjust and glue a slat into place. Continue all the way down, gluing the slats to the fabric. I glued the rounded, convex side of the slat to the fabric so there was more slat-to-fabric contact. Make sure not to glue the lift cord to the slats or the fabric.

8. Glue, turn in and glue again the three other sides of the shade to finish off all the edges. Let it all dry.

9. (Optional) Glue on some trim to the bottom slat. I picked up some super, super tiny ball trim at JoAnn's for less than $1 a yard. (only needed one yard)


10. Hang up the shades just like hanging up mini blinds. The cord still functions the same way and, as long as you didn't glue the lift cord to your slats or fabric, the shade should lift and fold beautifully.

Here's my finished shade. The fabric is a blue-gray burlap that I bought a while back on eBay for about $6.50 a yard. I think I used about a yard and a half total for two shades, but I have small windows.


I'm happy with the look of the burlap. The dark color helps with light control (it filters), but I still feel like the room is bright and cheerful when the shades are down. It's a good balance for me. Some of you might want to add black-out fabric to the backs of your shade to completely block out the light. It'd be like living in a hotel.


Please let me know if you need clarification or elaboration. And don't forget to send me pictures if you make your own shades! I'd love to see them!

240 comments:

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service apartments in delhi said...

ohhhh....awesome really great work...amazing tips and tricks

Katy said...

This tutorial seriously changed my life. I used to make roman shades from scratch, using a sewing machine, hand sewing the rings, cutting the dowels, the whole deal - and it always cost so much money for all the components...not to mention TIME!!
I just used this tutorial for the 2nd time in my daughter's room -- it came out fantastic. THANK YOU!

Amy said...

LOVE this! Here's a question for you: What if your home came with thicker, white wood blinds? Could I use those for the same project?

Thanks in advance!

Kristina Love said...

I just bought my blinds from Target and got my fabric, but I'm looking at the directions about mounting the blinds and I'm confused. I have to mount a plastic bracket into the top two corners of my window, but then after I set the blinds into the brackets, I have to slide 2 plastic pieces into the front of the brackets to hold them in place. How can I do that if I'm supposed to have fabric glued to the top bar? Do I have the wrong kind of blinds? How should they mount to my window? Help!!!!

Auburn Pest Control said...

This is a great idea. How do they hold up compared to regular blinds? Do they still work as well?

Once again, great DIY!

Anne-Marie @ 10 Rooms said...

Just made four roman shades for my office using your tutorial - thanks, Jenny!

http://10rooms.blogspot.com/2011/03/blinds-are-finished.html

vickie said...

Your idea has made me so excited. Before i read you blog i made one out of wood and dowels buy imitating a roman blind i bought on sale for 2 dollars that was the wrong size.

It was a lot of work and the mechanics were not as functional as using a mini blind.

I also think your way can be the start for many other custom problems to be solved.

Thanks for sharing. I cant wait to try it your way.

Anonymous said...

This was a life saver for me, I decided to sew my edges and sew velcro on the fabric and glue velcro on the blinds - so I could take them off and wash them. It makes the process longer - but worth it. I will post a pic within the next day or so.

Hatefulhannah

Silver MLM said...

does anyone know where i can get a liliac or purple mini blind?

ter@waaoms said...

Great idea... my question though, is how come you don't cover the back?? For me, I'd like it to look nice from the outside as well. I'm still bookmarking this for future reference.

beautycareme said...

Hi Jenny,

Thanks sooo much for this project. I loved it! Simple to follow and I couldn't be happier with the results! I used a black and white floral print for our office and brown and white leaf print for our bedroom, looks very retro and my husband liked the results as well. Great way to change a room, and much cheaper than buying new blinds. I will write a response with pictures and link back to this great article on my blog, http://www.beautycareme.com/ because I'm sure many people will find it as useful as I did. Thanks again for such beautiful and crafty tips!!

Emily said...

Do you think that this could be easily modified to put black out fabric on the back?

Looks great!

Shawn said...

I stumbled across this awesome idea whilst Googling how to repair a broken mini blind (the slats wont open all the way anymore - I think the mechanism is stripped?) - but since they still close all the way I think I can still do this?

Jen said...

I tried this and I totally glued the lifting strings between the slats and the fabric! Doh! And even worse, it took me pulling so hard to lift them that I actually broke the top bar. I'm such a dummy. I'm hoping some super glue and an X-acto knife can save this travesty, because they do look pretty cute!

PMG Smith Family said...

LOVE this tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing it. Here is my version: http://frostedgingerbread.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-window-treatments-at-last.html

April@ Natural Nester said...

Can you explain why you can't use hot glue? If I'm only gluing the fabric to the plastic parts would that be ok? I'm working on my first one now and the fabric glue doesn't seem to work that well. :( But I'm really hopeful this will work out because the fabric I have is beautiful and this really would be the perfect solution for our bathroom!

Mike said...

This is genious! Thanks for the idea!

Anonymous said...

Where can I post a picture ? I am in total love!

Erin said...

For custom sized windows this is a great and cheap solution! I have troubles with the sun waking me up too early on the weekend though, so I will probably go for a thicker material. Any suggestions for a material that blocks the sunlight but is not too heavy?

Mindy said...

Oh my gosh, I LOVE this idea!!! There's only one room left in the house with these ugly things and I am SO doing this!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

Nikki said...

Thank you for this tutorial. I used it to make shades for my kitchen. You can see pics of how they turned out at http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=387251.msg4581520;topicseen#new

Thanks again

Nina said...

This tutorial is GENIUS.

We're re-doing our kitchen, and I wanted to vamp up the window so it seemed the perfect opportunity to transform the existing (sad) wooden blinds into fabric shades.

Here is the finished result: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rainsinger/6072674958/

The colour of the blind goes reaally well with the walls and the white of the kitchen elements, but overall I think it filters too much so I will re-do it in white fabric (and jazz up that with stencilled birds.

ImagesbyToniJo said...

Hey I loved your post! I just HAD to feature a link to this in my blog post!

Vivian said...

Loved this post! Made one for my daughter's room two months ago and am finally getting around to making the second one. A few tidbits from my experience:

GLUE: I used hot glue (it was all I had), and so far, it's held up decently on all the slats. It did come loose at the very top, probably in part because of the cord being behind the shade and pulling everything forward when we opened the blinds. That brings me to...

GROMMETS: Just bought a grommet kit and pulled the cords through it. It works beautifully! The cords do show now, which isn't quite as nice as having them hidden, but it works better for us.

BLACKOUT LINING: I used adhesive webbing to add blackout lining to my fabric and hem the edges -- just ironed it on. Sewing might be better, though, as I think the lining could tend to melt if not extra careful. To support the extra weight of the lining, I glued three or four slats together to make one sturdy slat piece before gluing the fabric on. So far, so good. Also, because inside-mounted blinds leave a small gap between themselves and the window's edge, I'm letting my fabric extend past the edge of the blinds to cover the gap a little better. The fabric is flexible, so it still raises/lowers fine, but it might get extra wear, there (maybe in time for me to redecorate?).

I saw questions about some of these things in previous posts, so I hope my contribution was helpful! Thanks for helping me make my daughter's room beautiful AND functional!

Beyond Measure said...

Ok, if you are going to do this, read carefully. If you want a liner on the back you must sew or glue the lining to the fabric 1st. Then glue that to the blind skeleton and you will see the strings and slats from the outside. There's no other way. I made it with the blackout lining and glued the face fabric to the front and the lining to the back but because of the strings, the lining will not fold into the fabric the way you expect it will and the side edges will not be straight when drawn because of the weight of the lining that wont fold in with the fabric. It's a cheap way to do it but I like things a little more professionally finished and would rather go ahead and make roman shades from scratch. But if you are on a tight budget,can't sew, and don't mind seeing the strings and slats from the outside, it's a great idea.

td said...

I love your site! I'm finally getting around to making some RBs with burlap. Where do you suggest buying it for the best price and quality? Also, do you prewash the fabric and if so do you use any fabric softener? thought I better ask before I'm short on yardage:)

thanks for all the inspiration.
Teresa

Frances said...

Thank you thank you thank you!!!
I have a 3 bedroom camper with yucky mini blinds. I didnt want to spend allot because we only go up on the weekends this is perfect!!!

Amanda said...

The safety issue isn't addressed unless you put fabric on the back of the shades, too, so that the cords are covered. The cords that run up the back of the shades have caused strangulation death in several children in the US. PLEASE COVER THE CORDS ON THE ROMAN SHADE WITH FABRIC IF YOU HAVE SMALL CHILDREN.

I LOVE this idea and will do it, but I will add a second layer of fabric to the back and find a way to glue the edges so the cord isn't exposed.

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11036.html

Andie said...

I have a mobile home that came with horrid mini blinds in every room when we purchased it. It costs way too much to replace every single blind so I am going to do this! THANKS!

Janice Ball said...

I am so going to try this and get rid of my mini blinds for good.

Janet said...

Love this idea! Do you think it would be possible to sew pockets for the slats instead of using glue? I would like to be able to throw them in the wash when they got dusty.

Mini Window Blinds said...

Wow what a great tutorial for making shades. I don't have any yet, just curtains, but I'm thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

This is so clever! I'm going to try it. thanks :)

hilary said...

Just wanted to let you know that I used your tutorial, and here's the link to our picture! I was able to re-purpose our old mini-blinds and make a beautiful shade in our kitchen. Thank you! I linked my blog post below!

http://primpology.blogspot.com/2012/03/repurposing-old-blinds-into-beautiful.html

Unknown said...

This is so super brilliant! I planned on making roman shades for my nursery, but was seriously daunted by the whole idea because they seem super confusing to make, not to mention all the hardware you need to buy. This is so easy and CHEAP! Love love love. I will be putting black out material on the other side to block out light so my little one can sleep easy (hopefully) :)
Can't wait to get started on them!! Thanks so much for sharing!

solarneverspills said...

question. do you have to leave a few of the blinds on or can you take them all off and leave just the strings? also when i attempt to make these, i will attach a piece of fabric on the back, so our neighbors dont see the back, this way they see a neat piece of fabric :):)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip! I just installed 2 new mini blinds (vinyl) and the slats have broken off already! This will be on the to-do-list for sure!

Marlena said...

Holy moly! I know you did this years ago n I'm just now jumping on this train.......but I love, love, love, this idea. It's wonderful for everyone. I'm a total wuss at diy's but I recently moved to a downtown city apartment and this idea is perfect for me with not alot of space or money but an abundance of mini blinds......and the color "rental-white-ish" so thank you lots!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have made roman shades from scratch and this is SOOO much easier and looks quite nice. Wich I had some of those miniblinds back that I threw out!

Erin said...

Has anyone else had a problem with these breaking after a little while? I made these about a year ago for my apartment, and within a couple months, the slats were all breaking around the point where the string goes through! I don't think my particular blinds were strong enough to hold up the weight of the fabric after most of the slats were gone. I've since glued one of them back together and it looks better. I got the super, SUPER cheap ones from Big Lots, literally $3 a set. My advice would be to spend a couple more dollars on the blinds themselves so that they're sturdier, and then be SURE to glue the individual slats to the fabric. That redistributes the weight better, rather than it all being on the weak points.

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