When we moved into our new house, I loved the numerous windows letting in natural light. We also value our privacy; so in order to achieve the best of both worlds, I wanted vertical blinds that had sheers covering them on the bedroom window. That way, they could be open during the day, flooding the bedroom with light, but not allowing for an open view in. Closing the blinds provides total privacy and blocks the light for sleeping. I found that these custom made blinds are rather pricey, so I decided to give it a go myself. It takes a bit of measuring, and math along with the sewing, but I love the finished product that is a fraction of the cost of custom made ones.This tutorial is chiefly about how to cover vertical blinds with fabric, so if you already have blinds installed that you want to cover, you can skip the first step.
One set of vinyl vertical blinds that will fit the width of the window . The length of the blinds needs to reach the bottom of the glass in the window. ( It is OK if they are too long,; you can cut them.)
Sheer fabric to cover the blinds. I found a drapery sheer panel works very well. The amount of fabric you need will depend on the size of the window. The width of the fabric will need to be about 3.5 times the width of the window. If you want black-out blinds, you could opt for a dark, opaque fabric.
5/8” or 3/4” wide Velcro with adhesive backing
Thread to match the sheer fabric
Steel Tape measure
Heavy duty scissors for trimming the vinyl slats
Paper & pencil
Drill and screw driver --if you also need to install the blinds.
Step 1: Measure Your Window
If you will be hanging the blinds inside the window frame, use the steel tape measure to determine the height and width of the window opening. If there is window hardware obstructing the window, you may want to hang the blinds outside the window frame, so you would need that width measurement instead.There are many videos on YouTube that discuss the details on how to do that. Purchase a vertical blind with a width that will fit the space.You can buy them locally, and sometimes the store will cut them to your measurements. Or you can order them on line to be made to your specifications. I used the standard 3.5” vertical blinds in a cream color. The inside of my short window is 67” wide X 24” high.
Step 2: Measure and Cut Your Vertical Blinds
The blinds need to fit the width of the window, and have at least a 1/4 " gap on each side of an inside mount. If they are too long, you can easily trim the excess length off with a pair of heavy duty scissors. You will want the slats to be at least an inch or two shorter than the window sill (or floor for patio door). Mine are actually 2.5 inches above the window sill. That allows for the fabric to extend below the vinyl slat and keep it from making any scraping noise when opening or closing the blinds. When you are measuring for the length, remember to allow for the hardware at the top of each slat that adds to the overall length of the blind. If you want to see how it will definitely look, you could install the blind, and measure exactly where you want to cut the length, unless you purchased them to custom fit. Instructions to install the blinds should be included in your package of blinds. If not, there are many videos on YouTube, that will help you with the process. After you have the slats at the length you want them, you will need to make a vertical slot in the bottom of each slat. Measure 1" from the back side of the slat that is next to the window, and mark the spot. Then measure 3/4" above that spot; mark that spot. Draw a line to connect the spots, and that is where you will make the slot. Using your heavy duty scissors, carefully cut the slot, leaving a small gap in the opening. I also rounded the lower corners to prevent snags on the sheer fabric. You will use this slot at the end to anchor the bottom hem of the fabric to the lower edge of the blinds.
Step 3: Measure and Cut the Sheer Fabric
The length of sheer fabric will extend from the top of the vinyl slat, beyond the bottom edge, and go down to the window sill (or floor). Measure that distance, and add 2.5" for a 1.5" top hem, and 5.5" for the 5" bottom hem. The width of the fabric will be much wider than the width of the window, since it will be fan folded onto each one of the slats. Count the number of slats. Multiply that number by the width of one slat. I have 22 slats X 3.5" = 77". Then to allow for the fabric between the slats, multiply the spaces times 6.25"--- mine are 21 gaps X 6.25" = 136.5" Finally, add the fabric to cover the end hems. The hem on the right only extends slightly beyond the end of the slat. The sheer on the left end of the window will need to extend out an inch to fill the space by the window frame. By also allowing for a seam allowance, I added 9.5" for the end hems to accommodate a 2 " hem on the left and a 1" hem on the right. Adding all the measurements gave me a total of 223" for the width of the fabric. So you can see that my 67" wide window will require about 3 1/2 times as much fabric width.
Step 4: Sewing the Sheers
Obviously, I needed to make some seams to piece together enough fabric for this width. In order to keep the seams hidden, I calculated where they would need to be in a gap space so that they would not be seen in the front of the blind. Once you have the width of fabric you need, measure the bottom edge 5.5", and hem it up 5", with 1/2" turned under. Finish the top hem with 1.5" hem and 1" turned under. Complete the side hems with a 1" hem on the right, and a 2" hem on the left side. Press the hems with a warm iron.
Step 5: Adding the Velcro
The sheers will be attached to the top of the slats with a small piece of Velcro. I used a strip of 5/8" self-adhesive Velcro that I cut in 1/2" squares. Peal off the backing, and stick the rough sides to the vinyl slats. Place one square on both the front side and back side of the slat, just below the middle clip. Also place a second piece on the left side slat near the edge as the anchor. The fuzzy side of Velcro will be attached to the sheer fabric, so that it can be laundered as needed. Start from the edge that will be on the left side of the window , on the wrong/back side of the fabric, use the yard stick to measure in 3.5 inches. That is the starting point for the first piece of Velcro. The next piece will be placed 3.5" from the first piece. Then measure the gap space of 6.25" and place another spot of Velcro. Measure out 3.5" and place the next Velcro. Continue alternating the 3.5" and 6.25" measurements until you reach the right edge of the fabric. You will have two Velcro spots spaced 3.5" apart that will wrap each slat, followed by a 6.5" gap that will fill the void between the slats. If you find that the right edge is slightly longer, or shorter than you need, adjust it now, or leave it since it will be on the back side of the slat. The final piece of Velcro will be placed on the far left, 2" in from the edge. After all the pieces are placed, I also stitched seams at the top and bottom edges of the Velcro to ensure that they stay put. You now need to measure along the bottom hem to determine where the pleat will correspond with the top pleat. Start again on the edge that will be on the left side of the window and measure in 3.5 inches. Mark it with a straight pin. Measure out 3.5" and place another straight pin. Measure out 6.25", and mark with another straight pin. Continue along the bottom hem all the way across, marking with the pins.
Step 6: Attach the Sheer Fabric to the Blinds
If you still haven't hung the blinds yet, I urge you to do this last step while they are hanging. It will help give a better finished result.
Starting on the left side of the blinds, attach the top of the sheer fabric to the top of the slat. The first Velcro square will be on the end anchor, the next will be on the front side of the slat in the middle, then the fabric will wrap around the front edge of the slat where the next Velcro will attach to the square at the center of the back side of the slat. Curve the fabric in towards the window, and fasten the next Velcro to the front of the second slat. Wrap the fabric around the front, and attach the next Velcro to the back of the second slat. Continue this Fan Folded method until all the slats are covered in sheer fabric. At the right edge the final Velcro square will be on the back side of the last slat. Now you can see a rough idea of how the finished project will look. You can adjust the Velcro positions in order to eliminate any unevenness in the pleats.
The final part involves anchoring the bottom hem to the bottom of the slats in order to form nice, uniform pleats. Look at the pins on the bottom edge. They should correspond to the center front and back side of each of the slats. Adjust the fabric around the front edge of each of the slats, and pin the bottom hem together under each slat. Using your needle and thread; load the thread as a double strength and make a knot at the end of the thread. Starting on one side of the slat, you will begin a stitch that pierces through the fabric on the back side of the slat, passes through the slot in the slat, and comes out on the other side of the fabric on the front. This will need to be a very loose stitch to allow about a 1-1.5" length of thread from the back side to the front side of the pleat. This loose stitch will ensure some "play" in the fabric so that it can hang freely and move easily with the opening and closing. It also allows for easy removal of the sheer fabric for laundering. To ensure adequate strength of the thread, pass the thread back through the slot. Tie off the end and cut the thread. Repeat the process for each of the slats. Adjust the pleat so that the thread anchor is equal on both sides of the slot.
Step 7: Finished Project
Check the overall appearance of the pleats for anything that looks uneven. Adjust the Velcro at the top, or that anchor stitch at the bottom to even things out.
I added a valence at the top for a finished look that matches the long drapes in the other bedroom window.
Congratulations on completing this project that will add to the beauty of your home!
This is an entry in the
Sew Tough Challenge