Intro: Removable Screens for a Truck Camper Shell
Good ventilation and a bug-free atmosphere are two key elements for sleeping comfortably in a truck camper, which meant we needed some screens on our camper shell windows. I wanted the screens to stay firmly in place but still be removable, so I came up with a velcro-based design that sticks easily to the carpet-lined interior of the shell and peels off easily when I need to re-position the screen. This is handy when we want to run an extension cord from our power inverter and out the window!
- Replacement screen material, sold in rolls at Home Depot. I only used part of this 36"x84" roll for this project.
- Bias tape, from the fabric store. Bias tape is cut on the diagonal of a fabric panel, so it stretches easily. I used 2 packages of 1" wide, double fold tape.
- Velcro. I used 1/2" wide, sew-on velcro, "hook" side only. The camper shell lining will work as the "loop" side of the tape.
- Black thread, to match the bias tape and velcro.
- Measuring tape
- Sewing Machine
Step 1: Measure and Cut the Screen
Measure the inside of your window, noting that the screen will need to extend past the window on three sides to anchor the velcro. I have my fourth side aligned with the window slider handle, to keep any bug-admitting gaps to a minimum.
- Measure your window. Mine is 15" tall, and 30.5" wide at its widest point. I'm going to taper one edge of my screen to better fit the sloping shape of the window.
- Add 2" for each side that needs velcro. For me, that means cutting a piece 19' tall (15+2+2) and 32.5" wide (30.5+2). I tapered the edge of the screen from 32.5" at the widest to 30" at the most narrow, so it fits the oblong window a little better.
- Lay your screen out and weigh down the corners so it doesn't curl all over the place. Cut out one screen and hold it up to the window to test the size before you cut the second screen. (Yes, this is experience speaking.)
Step 2: Attaching the Bias Tape
- Start on the lower left corner of the screen. Leaving a 4 inch tail, wrap the bias tape around the raw edge of the screen material. Note that one side of the bias tape is slightly shorter than the other; the shorter side is the front.
- Sew with a medium length straight stitch, as close as you can reasonably get to the inside edge of the bias tape.
- When you get about three inches from the corner, stop sewing with the needle down in the fabric. Carefully fold the tape into a nice mitered corner, then sew it down.
- When you're almost back around to where you started, stop sewing about 4 inches from the starting point. Overlap the starting edge, fold back the end so you have a clean edge, and sew down the tape to complete the screen edging.
Step 3: Attaching the Velcro and Installing
It doesn't take much velcro to hold the weight of a screen, but I've found that long velcro strips allow you to get the screen pulled nice and taut, and work much better in the long run.
- Cut strips of velcro at least 4 inches long. I used 3 yards of velcro total, so 1.5 yards or 4.5 feet on each screen. I simply folded the velcro in half until I had 8 pieces about 6 inches long, then snipped them with fabric scissors. I used three velcro strips on the long sides and two on the short side.
- Position the strips evenly around the three outside edges of the screen, then sew them onto the back of the bias tape. You can sew around the edge of the velcro or just do a single row of stitching right down the middle. Make sure to backtack at the start and end of each row of stitching. That's it!
To install, simply velcro the screen onto the carpet-y lining of the camper shell, and enjoy those cool, bug-free breezes.