Instructables

Create Your Own Top-Down Blinds

Featured
Picture of Create Your Own Top-Down Blinds
Create top-down blinds for a fraction of the cost of special order blinds!
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: 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.
-
1-40 of 43Next »
MattMurdock10 months ago
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 MattMurdock2 months ago

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.

jen_higginbotham (author)  MattMurdock10 months ago
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.
Endif6 years ago
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 Endif2 months ago

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 dtuzman2 months ago

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.

dtuzman2 months ago

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

swyatt35 months ago
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 !!!
waves221 year ago
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.
ruthgct3 years ago
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)  ruthgct3 years ago
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!
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)  ruthgct3 years ago
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!
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! =)
mat99734 years ago
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.

Thanks
jen_higginbotham (author)  mat99734 years ago
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!
bettbee4 years ago
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.
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.
shabrach5 years ago
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!
thanks for this posting! it was easy to follow. got it done in 10 min. it's up and working beautifully. thanks again.
Linksep6 years ago
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.
KaytiCat6 years ago
These are awesome! Great job!
warlord6 years ago
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 warlord6 years ago
here are the pics:
DSC02171.jpgDSC02172.jpgDSC02173.jpgDSC02174.jpg
hcold6 years ago
Those brackets make me want to cry. So aesthetically wrong...
jen_higginbotham (author)  hcold6 years ago
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. :)
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.
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.
leebryuk6 years ago
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!
donna4216 years ago
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 donna4216 years ago
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. =]
jen_higginbotham (author)  donna4216 years ago
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!
UPdrafter6 years ago
bravo! great idea. cant wait to try it.
SMRUDOLPH6 years ago
Well done! I love this. How clever you are!
Doctor What6 years ago
It may sound weird, but thank you for making seventeen steps. Usually other people (myself included) combine multiple steps into one. This is super easy to understand, and it produces an amazing result. (favorited) (+).
dchall86 years ago
Had you written this a year ago, it would have saved me about $600. Very nice. I might have to do some of the windows I couldn't afford before.
jongscx6 years ago
So are you able to raise and lower the shades with the old blind controls? I'm kinda confused as to how it works.
jongscx jongscx6 years ago
Nevermind, I figured it out. So you attach the heavy bottom plate off of the old miniblinds to the top of the new shade. So that when you want them down(open), you release the string and when you want them up(closed) you pull on it. Did you attach the bottom of the shade to the window frame or is it just held there by the weighted bar?
jen_higginbotham (author)  jongscx6 years ago
It's pretty much just held there. The temporary shade that I used came with little alligator clips that I used to keep them from hanging down to the floor, so the clips add some weight too. I'm not actually sure how much the weight of the bar itself does for it, but when the shades are new they just want to stay all crimped up and not fall to the bottom of the window, so it helps. I actually did this a month or so ago, and they're still working great! A closer photo is attached (from today).
100_3403.JPG100_3404.JPG
GREAT!!!
1-40 of 43Next »
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!