Introduction: Create Your Own Top-Down Blinds

Picture of Create Your Own Top-Down Blinds

Create top-down blinds for a fraction of the cost of special order blinds!

Step 1: Getting Ready

Picture of Getting Ready

Why Create Your Own Top-Down Blinds?

My reasons are simple. I live in an apartment. It is temporary housing, and therefore I don't want to spend the nearly $150 per window to purchase custom top-down blinds. I also need the privacy that they offer because of my ground floor apartment.

What is the Cost and Time Commitment?

This particular project was done for under $30 (that includes all three windows). This is a bargain compared to the nearly $450 it would cost to have it done professionally. It also took me only an hour to create and install (not including shopping time).

What You'll Need:

- Make sure to measure your window first!

- One set of bargain mini-blinds per window. You are only going to use the top bar and strings for this project, so the quality of the slats is irrelevant. I found some for $2.50 each on sale, $4 each regular.

- One set of temporary shades*. They should be the kind that have an adhesive strip on one end. I bought the Redi Shades that are "room darkening" for more privacy. These cost me about $6 each.
*(These shades can be substituted for something of a better quality if desired. You will simply need to find a way of attaching the more complex shades/blinds to the top bar of your bargain blinds.)

- A cutting knife ($1.50) and cutting board or hard surface.

- Tape (optional).

Step 2: Start With the Bargain Blinds.

Picture of Start With the Bargain Blinds.


Step 3: Pop Off the Plugs on the Bottoms.

Picture of Pop Off the Plugs on the Bottoms.


Step 4: Un-knot the Strings.

Picture of Un-knot the Strings.

Step 3: Un-knot the strings on the bottom and allow for about five inches of string. Carefully turn the blinds over. If you are too rough the strings you un-knotted will fall out and you will have to redo them.

Step 5: Cut the Strings.

Picture of Cut the Strings.

Cut each of the strings on the top of the blinds. These are what allow for the open/close function of mini blinds, and are no longer necessary.

Step 6: Pull Away the Blind Slats Leaving Only the Strings.

Picture of Pull Away the Blind Slats Leaving Only the Strings.


Step 7: Remove the Heavy Bottom Bar From the Blind Slats by Sliding It Sideways.

Picture of Remove the Heavy Bottom Bar From the Blind Slats by Sliding It Sideways.


Step 8: Reattach the Bottom Bar to the Top Bar.

Picture of Reattach the Bottom Bar to the Top Bar.

If done correctly the knots will be hidden and there will be no problems adhering the new shades.

Step 9: Measure or Judge the Desired Length of the Temporary Shades.

Picture of Measure or Judge the Desired Length of the Temporary Shades.


Step 10: Cut the Shades to the Desired Length.

Picture of Cut the Shades to the Desired Length.


Step 11: Lay the Shades Next to the Bottom Bar.

Picture of Lay the Shades Next to the Bottom Bar.

Allow for enough slack to move around the bottom bar.

If you bought more complex blinds, you will need to attach the top bar of the complex blinds to the bottom bar of these blinds. You will be able to raise the complex blinds from the bottom up using their affixed top bar, and using the top bar of the bargain blinds you will be able to lower the complex blinds from the top down.

Step 12: Adhere the Bottom Bar to the Adhesive Strip of the Temporary Shades.

Picture of Adhere the Bottom Bar to the Adhesive Strip of the Temporary Shades.


Step 13: Optional Step.

Picture of Optional Step.

The temporary blinds do not have much weight on their bottom. For this reason I removed the metal rod from inside of the top bar (this rod allowed for the open/close function of the mini blinds). I inserted it into the bottom of the shades and taped over the ends.

Step 14: Installing the Blinds.

Picture of Installing the Blinds.

Remove the existing blinds. Make sure that they are raised prior to removing them.

If you do not have existing blinds, use the instructions that came with the blinds (sorry, I already had some up).

Step 15: Installing 2

Picture of Installing 2

The existing blinds may not need to be completely removed. If they are compatible with your new blinds, simply slide the covers from the end and slide out the existing top bar.

Step 16: Leave the Affixed Brackets and Slide in the New Top Bar.

Picture of Leave the Affixed Brackets and Slide in the New Top Bar.


Step 17: Enjoy Your New Top-down Shades!

Picture of Enjoy Your New Top-down Shades!

Don't Forget!

You may want to keep the existing blinds if (like me) you live in an apartment. Otherwise your landlord may ask you to buy new ones when you move out.

Also, keep all of the pieces that you removed or cut away from your bargain blinds (slats, strings, etc.). You never know if your next apartment will have the same size windows. Because nothing was broken during this assembly, you would be able to reassemble the bargain blinds and use them again in the future.

Have Fun!


UnoStudio (author)2017-01-07


virgineyau (author)2016-03-08

I have a very limited header space like 1 1/4" to hang it.

virgineyau (author)2016-03-08

can anyone tell me how to do a top down bottom up roman shade from the very beginning, please? I will appreciate it!

melissyb (author)2016-01-07

To cut a mini blind, draw the blind completely, wrap masking tape tightly around the entire blind INSIDE of where the cut is to be made, (don't cut into the mechanism) then use a chop saw or hack saw. Everything stays in place! Remove the tape.

modemmex (author)2015-11-05

This is brilliant. Not sure how someone figured this out but thank you for being a DYI engineer. I'm going to try it. I got a quote for top down bottom up shades - $2700. Yep, not a typo. I'm going to give this a shot. I didn't even know temporary shades existed. Thanks again!

Make sure to check the comments. After my original post people made some great suggestions to improve upon the design.

destinyscheeks (author)2015-08-30

I know this thread is really old but I have a Q (and Im hoping ill still get a response!)

I have bay windows so I'll need to make 5 of these (well I actually have to make 10 (5 x living room, 5 x bedroom). Anyhoo, My issue is that I cant seem to find a mini blind that is the exact measurement I need and being a women, I have no tools to cut it (can I even cut it??)

Any advise would be great thanks!

SuziR1 (author)destinyscheeks2015-09-05

Home Depot or Lowe's will cut them for free if you buy them there.. they aren't as cheap as other places but they do have lower priced options that are reasonable.

destinyscheeks (author)SuziR12015-09-06

Im in England, UK. We dont have Home Depot or Lowes here :( and I highly doubt a store here would do that for me if I purchased it from them (although I'll ask but Id be very surprised if they said yes!)

I dont have any tools ie hacksaw so looks like im going to have to invest in some (either that or pay someone to do it which I dont really want to do)

This site says its achievable so Im going to have to hope it works!

SuziR1 (author)destinyscheeks2015-09-08

I'm so sorry, I didn't realize. There are several large hardware/home improvement chain stores here that offer the service, I suppose I just assumed that would be so everywhere. Good luck on your project!

I don't think you can cut it down because of the mechanics inside. My suggestion is to try amazon or ebay to see if you can find something a better length for you. If that's out, I don't have a good suggestion, but over the years people have come up with really good ideas to improve on my original design. Read through the comments and maybe you'll find something that can work for you. Good luck!

These are my windows so Id have to make 5. Ive looked on Amazon and ebay and the closest I can get is 60cm - 10cm wider then each window :(

Ive read thru the comments but I still cant seem to find a suitable answer. I know that with a roller blind, I can use a hacksaw but then Id have to think about how the temp blind will stay upright as I want to block out street view and get natural light above (thats why I cut my blinds haha)

JamesM44 (author)2015-06-18

This project turned out perfect. I made an improvement like someone else recommended by using fishing wire as a guide for the shades to go up and down on so they won't bow outward but I included two screws. One on each side of the blinds so I could run the fishing wire up and through the railing at the top and back down to the second screw. This keeps the shades straight and also it keeps the bottom of the shades in place.

susieschweigert made it! (author)2015-04-18

Looks great!

msggomez (author)2014-11-12

I made this blind and had the problem with the temp blind not stacking, but bowing out. To solve this problem I used fishing line and a needle. Tie the fishing line to the top blind, pulled it through one of the holes as the white cord, thread the fishing line through the temp blind, travelled across the bottom of the temp blind and up the other side, threading your way back up to the hole as the white cord on the opposite side, do not tie until it is tight. Next, fasten the temp blind to the window sill. I used a flat thin strip of wood that I taped to the temp blind and nailed it to the window sill. Afterwards, I made sure the fishing line was tight, creating tension (length of the window). I tied off the fishing line to the top blind and it works like a charm and you can't see the fishing line! Total cost: $12.......Thank you Jen for this fabulous idea!

Good idea! I made this instructable 7 years ago. I'm so glad that people are still finding it useful!

AngieE1 made it! (author)2014-08-30

Did it. Instructions were perfect. LOVE THE RESULT! Thank you!

MattMurdock (author)2013-09-04

Hi, I'm just doing this now, on six big windows in my new apartment. Is it me, or will there be an issue when lowering the top bar, with the Redi Shades bowing into the room? With the bottom-up blinds, gravity and string keep everything aligned as the bottom bar is raised, but with these top-down blinds, there's nothing to keep the Redi Shades erect as they compress, rather than bending into the room. (I haven't actually mounted the blinds, yet, so maybe I'm wrong.)

Endif (author)MattMurdock2014-05-11

This is corrected by adding tension to the bottom-up set of strings. It forces the shade to collapse straight up and down along their line.

You're right. For me it was temporary. I had thought that if I wanted both top down and bottom up you could mount one set of blinds to the other. Remove slats in the top down set, and either keep them or replace the slats for something more solid in the bottom up set. Hope that helps.

Endif (author)2007-12-06

I am a Hunter Douglass certified professional installer/repair tech; our company is The Blind Man. Nuff said.

This instructable works, but really, you just need a travelling mid-rail and a restring that terminates at that new midrail.

A visit to your local blind company will probably yield free parts (they toss lots of blinds in the dumpsters, having replaced them). Probably get enough string that way too (you want the right guage of nylon cord, or the cordlock wont grab).

Hope this helps. =]

dtuzman (author)Endif2014-05-10

6 year old comment, but hopefully you're still watching!

Could you explain more about the midrail idea? I don't know what that term means

Endif (author)dtuzman2014-05-11

The mid-rail is the part that the instructable is adding to the top of the blind to add top-down functionality.

Bottom rail goes on the bottom of the fabric or slats, Mid rail goes at the top of the fabric or slats, and the top rail holds the two cord locks and keeps it all mounted to your window frame.

New set of strings threads through same hole through fabric, same hole through mid rail, same hole in top rail, then goes to its own hole in the top rail (or to a cordlock on opposite end) to allow control of that section.

You still have your original cordlock, but you now must add another on the opposite side to allow control of the new top-down set of strings. Alternately, you can simply drill a hole, file it down to remove burrs, and tie the strings off at a cleat at the wall and skip adding a cordlock.

Strings can be threaded with a 1.5 ft section of thin guage wire folded in half and crimped flat at the loop. This makes in effect a very tiny blunt sewing needle that lets you fish cord through the holes.

Strings can be welded together, or the frayed ends fixed, with a little bit of flame from a cigarette lighter. They're nylon, so they'll melt, and then burn, readily.

This may help.

dtuzman (author)2014-05-10

I just did this in less than an hour, with $21 of parts from my hardware store! score!

But... I'm still exploring solutions to have the pleats collapse nicely on themselves instead of bowing out, other than the alligator clips. I'm thinking of maybe making a thin rectangular 5-sided box to catch the loose pleats at the bottom, and forces them into alignment

swyatt3 (author)2014-02-03

I own a custom workroom and make those "expensive " shades you're avoiding...this was a phenomenal instruction guide! You made it seem so easy, and that's usually the hardest part. Great job !!!

waves22 (author)2013-01-17

Thanks so much for this idea. I love bottom up blinds so I can see the trees and sky but not my neighbours or cars going by. After thinking it over and looking at my windows, I decided to go a simpler route. I attached the paper Redi shade to the bottom of the window sill instead of the top. Then I attached self-stick velcro dots to the top of the blind, and a couple of places on the window frame so I can put the blind at several heights. It helps to reinforce the top pleat by putting a strip of cardboard in (just use a glue stick). And that's all. No tools, no holes drilled to mount brackets, works amazing. For one of my windows that does not open, I was able to put the blind right inside the frame. It looks like an expensive custom blind. I love the look of the simple paper with light filtering through. I am also planning to experiment with bottom mounting a linen roller blind and using velcro dots to position it. The velcro approach only works for windows that you have easy access to, but it is a simple option.

ruthgct (author)2011-03-31

You only left about 5" of string. I'm confused by that. Does that mean you can only lower the blinds from the top 5"? I'd like to lower mine about 2 FEET from the top. Do I need to leave 2 feet of string?

jen_higginbotham (author)ruthgct2011-03-31

Actually I didn't remove any of the string at all. You just disconnect the bottom bar from the mini blinds, take out all of the slats, and then tie the bottom bar back on the way it was. If I wanted to, I could have lowered the top down blinds all the way down to the window sill. Hope that helps explain it!

ruthgct (author)jen_higginbotham2011-04-01

OH! So then in Step 4 where it says "unknot the strings and allow for about 5 inches of string"...that's what I thought you meant. Sorry to be slow!! Can you explain that step to me another way? Thanks so much! I have all the blinds and plan to put them up this weekend in my 3 living room windows.

jen_higginbotham (author)ruthgct2011-04-01

I think the best way I can explain it is that the rest of the string (main cord) is all drawn up in the top and you only need a small amount to work with when you're attaching the ready shade. In the step where I talk about cutting the string I am only talking about the little strings that control if the blinds are open or closed. I have to be honest, I did this project a few years ago and no longer have any miniblinds to look at to help you. But it was a super easy project and I think once you get into it and have the blinds in front of you it will make more sense. Good luck!

ruthgct (author)jen_higginbotham2011-04-01

OK, I get it now! Thanks so much for guiding me through it, especially from an older project. I'll let ya know how they turn out! =)

mat9973 (author)2010-02-11

So if you bought the bargain blinds...why not use them?  Sorry...might be a dumb question but I realy need you to explain it.


jen_higginbotham (author)mat99732010-02-12

I'm not sure if you're asking, "why make top-down blinds at all" or "why not use the blinds instead of the ready shade".  If it is the former, it is because I live on the first floor of a very urban area and do not want to raise blinds from the bottom where people can look in.  If it is the latter, it is because you have to take the blind slats out to allow for the openness at the top - giving you privacy below but a completely unobstructed opening at the top to let sunlight in.  If you wanted to keep the blind slats in there instead of the ready-shade, you would need to buy 2 sets to combine - one to use as the mechanical (top-down part) and one that would be the regular blinds (bottom-up part).  I didn't want to affect the original blinds that were here when I moved in at all, as I'll leave those behind when I move out.

Hope that answered your question!

bettbee (author)2010-02-04

My experience has been that the temp blinds don't hold up. I've seen some that were in a window for 3 years and they were coming to bits. I'm tempted to make some of my own for this 'ible by learning to pleat fabric.

shutdown_exploded (author)2009-08-07

I tried this sort of from scratch, that is not using any parts from an existing blind set, just using hook-eyes as string guides and a tying up the string at whatever height. The shades folding themselves up is a serious problem, enough to almost make the whole project not worth it, but i'm still working on solutions. Some kind of guide bar to keep it from bowing out so much was one idea, but it doesn't entirely work. I also thought about applying water by cue-tip onto tho creases so as to weaken them, since it's the spring-like qualities of the blinds that make it want to bow outwards.

shabrach (author)2009-07-07

Thank you so much for your instructions. We want these types of blinds in our hot tub room but do not want to spend a fortune on them. This will be wonderful!

momo the dog (author)2009-05-13

thanks for this posting! it was easy to follow. got it done in 10 min. it's up and working beautifully. thanks again.

Linksep (author)2008-04-03

Cool! This was the first intructables project I've actually DONE... It took WAY longer than it should have (2.5 hours) but I attribute most of that to the HORRIBLE instructions included with the cheap Chinese blinds (much bad Engrish). Cost me $30 (big 48"x52" window)

I looked for the shades that Warlord mentions but my local Home Depot didn't have them (that I could find... nobody around to help me.)

I looked all over online for top-down / bottom-up blinds and the cheapest I could find was $95 (likely plus shipping) so this saved me $60+ on one window! Thumbs up!

I do have to mention though, as a person that has never had top-down blinds, they look funny. I'm sure I'll get used to it pretty quick though.

KaytiCat (author)2007-12-15

These are awesome! Great job!

warlord (author)2007-12-09

Thank you for this Instructable. The wifey loves our new cheap top down blinds. For those who want to do the top down and bottom up blinds you can buy the "temp shade" brand from home depot. You construct them the same but this brand has a cable and clip at the bottom that can lift and hold the bottom of the shade. It also has a little weight at the base which means no need for alligator clips to keep the shade down. I'll post pics in a bit... Thanks again.

warlord (author)warlord2007-12-09

here are the pics:

hcold (author)2007-11-30

Those brackets make me want to cry. So aesthetically wrong...

jen_higginbotham (author)hcold2007-11-30

I know what you mean. But my landlord had already put up mini-blinds in every window before I moved in. And like I said, I didn't want to spend too much on window treatments in an apartment. :)

chucka (author)jen_higginbotham2007-12-07

You could fashion some wooden trim. Stained to match the sill and frame that once tacked on with some finishing nails would cover the unsightly mini blind mechanisms. Also, if your into working with tin you could make a nicely folded, U shaped cover that one might paint to match or polish and set over top of the blind inter-workings.

GrizzlyAdams (author)2007-12-07

Thanks for the great idea! I'm going to suggest something though: 1: Get two draw bars per set of blinds. 2: Get an extra draw string set. 3: Drill holes in the bottom caps for the first draw bar so the second string can pass through. 4: Punch holes carefully through your pleated blinds to run the extra draw set. This way you can have both top down and bottom up blinds. Color the draw string end caps so you can tell which is which. If you're lucky a local print shop will have a hole punch meant for use on large catalogs they might let you use.

leebryuk (author)2007-12-07

I love the shades. I will make some soon. And I also want to compliment you on the quality of the instructable. It was full of useful photographs and I found the written instructions excellent. Good Job!

donna421 (author)2007-12-06

I'm new to this site - GREAT instructions, and fantastic idea! Question: If you would want to open your windows completely, it seems this would not work so well, because the blind wouldn't fold on top of itself without falling out of the window- kind of into the room. Am I right, and do you have a suggestion for how to make that work any better?

Endif (author)donna4212007-12-06

See my comment above; the midrail will provide enough weight to smush the pleats/cells into a stack. Locking the strings at the point you want will ensure a stable stack. =]

I have two suggestions. The expensive option would be to use regular shades (like Roman shades or double pleated blinds instead of the temporary shades) that can be drawn up like regular blinds. Then you could draw them up before lowering the top down all of the way. The cheap option (and what I do) is to just lower the top all of the way down, and then spend a few minutes gathering up the temporary shades. The ones I bought came with two alligator clips for each shade, so that you can gather them up and clip them so that they don't hang into the room. I posted a photo on another comment if that helps. Good luck!

About This Instructable




More by jen_higginbotham:Litter Genie RefillCreate Your Own Top-Down Blinds
Add instructable to: