This is a short summary of my adventure in making insulated window shades for my home.  I won’t go into a lot of the details that can be found at various websites but I will include a list of links, to which you can refer, at the end of the post.

Choosing the type of shade – There are several types of shades that you can make from a simple square or rectangular cover that is attached to the wall using Velcro to a more traditional side draw shade which requires purchasing special hardware.  I chose something in between, a simple Roman type shade that would be mounted on the outside of the window frame. I wanted something that was easy to open and close  but didn’t require me to remove the vinyl shades already installed.

I ultimately made and installed 4 shades of different dimensions.  Here is a list of what I did right and what I would do differently next time.

Did it right – I measured, figured and measured again before I bought a single piece of material.

Do Differently –  I did all the planning about 2 weeks before I went to the fabric store.  I should have reviewed my notes before I went but fortunately the woman helping me at Denver Fabrics, saved me from making a big mistake and wasting money.  The warm window fabric is quite expensive so you don’t want to buy more than you need.

Cover Fabric
Did it right – Found a cover fabric I liked and chose a light weight cotton that was easy to work with.

Do Differently – All my future shades will be solid colors or patterns that repeat often enough to make piecing together easier.  I had to  piece together fabric for 2 of the windows and had to by 2 more yards to make it work.

Sewing vs Non-Sewing
Did it right – Decided not to use my sewing machine and instead used ‘steam-a-seam” for all of the connections and hems.
Did it right – Hand stitched the cord rings.

Do Differently – Sew on the Velcro rather than using the self adhesive kind.  I have several edges that are not sticking and I can’t just remove the blind without re-string the cord to fix the problem.  If you use the self adhesive Velcro at least hand stitch it to the fabric and staple it to the support especially on the edges.

Fabricating the shades

Did it right

  • Set up a large table right in the room where the shades would be installed to do the work.
  • Double checked my measurements as I was working.
  • Used a framing square to make my warm window fabric cuts and place my cord rings
  • Took the time and spent the extra money to allow me to piece the cover fabric together correctly
  • Scotch guarded the cover fabric to make on-going cleaning easier.

Do Differently

  • Make my shades at least 2 inches wider on each side rather than the 1 inch I used.  2 inches would have left room for inconsistencies in the window dimensions and installation issues.
  • Where possible plan ahead to use full widths of the cover fabric rather than worrying about the exact length of the blind.  It would not be noticeable in my room if one blind was hung at a different height above the window than the others.
  • Spray the scotch guard on the blinds before you install them  I learned this after the first one.