Vinyl Mini Blinds are the workhorses of window coverings: they are cheap, easy to install, and do their job admirably. They also provide a nearly perfect structure for a more professional looking window treatment: DIY Roman Shades.
You can make Roman shades from cheap vinyl mini blinds (that hide the blinds hardware) with only five things:
- Decorative Fabric cut 3 inches longer and 5 inches wider than your window
- Black Out/ Liner Fabric cut 1 inch shorter and narrower than your window.
- Hot Glue gun
- Measuring Tape
I made my faux Roman shades from start to finish in a few hours one afternoon, and I’m super happy with the results. My favorite part is that the blinds are completely sandwiched between the black out fabric and the main fabric, so these shades look just as nice from the back as they do from the front. Read on and I’ll show you exactly how you can do this yourself!
I’ve uploaded a video onto YouTube that will walk you through the exact process I’ve outlined in this blog post.
Here's the Written Tutorial:
Step One: Gather Your Supplies
- If you don’t already have some, you will need some vinyl mini blinds. They need to be approximately the width of your window and at least as long as the window. It’s ok if they are longer; you will customize the length in the process of creating your mini blinds.
Note: The mini blinds in my laundry room have pull cords (corded mini blinds are no longer sold), but this process also works exactly the same with cordless mini blinds.
- Decorative Fabric (I’m using an upholstery fabric remnant left over from another project) 3-5 inches longer and wider than window
- Lining Fabric or Black Out Fabric (amazon affiliate link) – this fabric faces the window; it’s not absolutely necessary unless you want to cover the remaining vinyl blind slats you will be using. I used a remnant piece so it was not quite as wide as the mini blinds. This lining piece can be the width of your blinds or slightly smaller and the length of your blinds (minus the header and footer pieces, probably about 2 inches combined).
- Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks (amazon affiliate link) – hot glue is fast and secure. No sewing required!
- Scissors (affiliate link)
- Measuring Tape
- Marker or Pins
Step Two: Remove Your Mini Blinds
The mini blinds I used were already installed, so I had to pull them down. And dust them, they were pretty dirty!
Step Three: Measure Window Interior Height
This step helps to make sure you cut your fabric to the right length. Measure twice to make sure you got it right!
Step Four: Cut the Ladder Chain, Not the Center Cord
This is very important! I nearly cut the wrong cord. You do not want to cut the cord that runs through the hole in your blinds; you do want to cut the cord that looks like a ladder and helps the blinds to tilt (they won’t need to tilt after we get through with them).
Step Five: Remove bottom footer board and take all of the blind slats off.
To remove the bottom, you will need to pop off the little plastic plug that holds the ends of the cords. Use a flat head screwdriver to pry them off and put them in a safe place; we will be re-using those.
Cut the ladder cord off the bottom piece; don’t cut the center pull cord. Depending on what you find, you can either unknot the center cord or cut the cord as close to the plastic plug as possible. Picture Source: Family Handyman
Step Six (Optional): Create Stronger Slats By Gluing Two Blind Slats together.
Once I figured out how far apart I wanted my “ribs” or repurposed vinyl blind slats, I decided to glue two blind slats together for each little section. Both of the fabrics I was using are on the heavy side, and I wanted to beef up the slats a little bit.
If you decide to glue two slats together like I did, be aware that you need to line up the holes pretty carefully. The hot glue creates an almost instant bond and you can’t really slide them around. The good news is that you have lots of extra vinyl blind slats to practice on if you mess up a few (ask me how I know).
Step Seven: Arrange your slats horizontally across your black out fabric and glue them on.
Put your fabric down and make sure to protect the surface you’re working on.
Arrange the slats horizontally so they are evenly distributed (I opted for slats every seven inches; this is a personal preference).
Glue the slats with the “hill in the middle” facing up. Most blind slats have a curve to them; I glued them with the rise in the middle facing up so that it would have plenty of surface area available for the main decorator fabric.
Be sure to leave a 3-4 inch “no glue zone” around the holes in your blinds. You will be threading that center pull cord back through your blinds, so you need room to maneuver.
Once your glue is dry, fold up the blind and liner fabric and set it aside.
Step Eight: Glue Header to Main Fabric.
Place your fabric “pretty side” down on your work surface. If the fabric is directional (meaning there is an up and a down to it), make sure it is oriented in the right direction on your work surface. For instance, my fabric had vases and monkeys on it, and I wanted to make sure they would be facing the right way instead of hanging upside down once I hung the shades, so I made sure to lay my fabric down accordingly.
Position the header 1.5 inches from the top of the fabric. Center your header so that you have an equal amount of fabric on either side of the header.
Glue your header into place.
Glue and Wrap the top of your header with the 1.5 inches of fabric at the top, tucking it around and into the back of the header frame.
Step Nine: Lay the Liner/Blind Fabric on top of the Main Fabric, Blinds side down.
Grab the liner fabric you glued the blinds to and place it on top of the main/decorator fabric. Then thread the pull cords through the holes in the blinds. This may take some maneuvering (see the video) but it’s doable.
Use tape to tape the end of the pull cord to the bottom of your liner fabric so it stays in place.
Step Ten: Glue the liner to the main fabric.
Line up the top of the liner fabric just under the header bar of the mini blinds. Glue in place.
Run a bead of hot glue along the vinyl slats attached to the liner fabric, skipping over the holes where the pull cord runs through.
Press the blind slats onto the main fabric.
Repeat this process for each set of fabric slats.
Step Eleven: Glue the sides of the main fabric to the lining fabric.
I did this in two steps:
- I ran a bead of glue at the edge of the fabric and turned that over, essentially creating a ¼ inch seam.
- Then I folded the fabric and glued it to the liner fabric, about two inches in. Be sure to glue it right at the fold and also right at the edge, to get a nice crisp line. Press the fabric together so the glue is spread thin and not clumped.
This two-part step gives you that clean finished look when you are looking at the back of the curtain (this is a nice touch if it’s hung where you will see the back of the fabric from the outside of your home).
Step Twelve: Cut the bottom of the fabric if you have not already done so & glue the bottom bar in place.
Remember your window’s dimensions? Measure from the top of the header bar to the bottom of the fabric using the window dimensions.
Add 1 ½ inches to that at the bottom and cut your main fabric.
Your liner fabric should be cut 1 inch shorter of the window’s actual dimensions. (I didn’t do this, but wished I had.)
Glue the bottom of the liner fabric to the main fabric, leaving 3-4 inch gaps where the pull cords will come through.
Glue the bottom bar to the main fabric, 1 ½ inches above the end of the fabric.
Remember to hold the bottom bar up at a 90 degree angle. The hot glue will not hold this straight up, so you will probably need to prop it in place once it’s glued.
Wrap the extra fabric around the bottom bar and glue in place.
Use your scissors to poke and cut holes in the fabric to line up with the holes in the bottom bar.
Step Thirteen: Draw the pull cord out of the liner fabric at the bottom/footer bar.
Use your fingers to find the two pull cords that you taped in place.
Remove the tape and draw the pull cords out of the fabric sandwich you’ve created and through the two holes in the bottom bar.
Grab the two plastic caps you set aside when you disassembled the vinyl blinds.
Thread the pull cords through the caps and push the caps in place in the bottom bar.
Knot the pull cords so they won’t pull back through the bottom bar. Knot them as close to the bar as you can.
Leave any excess cord until after you’ve hung the blinds in place so you can adjust the height if necessary.
Step Fourteen: Hang Your New Roman Shades!
Slide the header bar back into the metal clips attached to the window frame.
Step back and adjust the bottom length if necessary.
Trim the pull cords to length, making sure the knots are good and tight before cutting away any excess cord.
And that’s it. I love the way mine look, and I think the extra step of sandwiching the blind slats between the two fabrics is totally worth it.
The shades look nice and neat from both sides, and that makes me really happy.
One more project is now crossed off the laundry no-cost makeover to-do list! See the first post about my challenge to spend no money making over our laundry room here.
Let me know how your project goes!