Friday, October 21, 2011

Making Roller Shades?

When the casement windows on the front of the house were stripped of paint, we found this hardware buried under the paint. Sharon just recently figured out this is hardware used for hanging spring roller shades. So, now she is exploring the options for putting roller shades back on those front windows.

One option would be to buy traditional style roller shades from a company in Portland, Handwerk Shade Shop. But by the time we've added the option for a pull and stencil and pay $5 each for shipping (the company won't let you pick them up—even if you're local), the set of three is more than $300.

Since she already bought linen for curtains for these windows, Sharon has been on a mission the last few days to figure out if roller shades are something she can make.

She found a number of tutorials online about how to make roller shades, but their directions invariably begin with "start with a (cheap, worn, or ripped) roller shade." Most modern roller shades that meet that description have visible plastic parts. Our goal here is to make a period-style spring roller shade with NO visible plastic.

Sharon has spent a while shopping around for parts to make her own set of roller shades. From what she can figure out, it seems like she can just buy the wood dowel with the spring already installed and mounting hardware, then install the stenciled and starched fabric herself. Doing this would bring the cost to more like $100 for all three windows (including buying starch and metal pulls but not including the fabric she already purchased).

Has anyone else done this? Is Sharon understanding the parts correctly? She's trying to get help from the company selling the parts, but apparently they've been bogged down with questions and aren't taking calls right now. So, she's trying to figure this out over email. Once we figure it all out—we'll share our results.

In case anyone else is interested, the best sets of instructions Sharon found were these websites:
Sewing 101: Roller Blinds
How to Make a Fabric Roller Shade Using Repurposed Materials

1959 instructions to make your own fabric roller shades

The best instructions Sharon has found to date:
DIY Fabric Roller Shade

Wow, Sharon found the wood rollers for less than $5/each—too bad we don't need 50! Now we just need like 10 other people to go splitsy on an order with us or figure out if we can resell the rods on craigslist for cost.


  1. Any traction yet for making the roller shades? I'm considering making my own for our Queen Anne and it's a bit daunting.

  2. Hi Heather, We are currently waiting to make shades until we find someone who can give us some better feedback about how well they work. My mother wrote and said she had them growing up and HATED them because they were always getting stuck and wound up crooked. I need to poke around my community and find someone who has them and ask how they like them before I invest the hours making them.