It's hard to overstate the importance of window blinds. We need them to keep the damaging rays of the sun from fading our furniture, wallpaper, paint, and carpets. We need them to keep out prying eyes, especially at night. We need them to keep the living room dark for movie night and to keep our bedrooms dark, so we'll sleep better. We even need them as part of the aesthetics of our rooms, to help tie in the window spaces with the rest of decor.
You can buy window blinds, of course, but why not consider making your own? It's easier than you think and could save a lot of money. If you're interested in making your own blinds, keep reading.
What Is a Window Blind?
Window blinds cover the windows of a home in an adjustable manner. In other words, they can be opened and closed whenever desired, usually by drawing a cord.
Where Do They Come From?
For as long as humans have had houses, they have had window blinds. The most ancient civilizations we know of, the Chinese and the Egyptians, had blinds of some kind of other. The Egyptians used reeds all strung together while the Chinese used bamboo.
The Romans also had blinds, but theirs were made of cloth. People would get the cloth blinds damp so that they kept out both sun and dust. These highly practical blinds quickly became a fashion, and decorative accessory as Romans ordered their blinds to be decorated and drawn upon in various ways.
In the Middle Ages, the Persians introduced slatted wood blinds to the city of Venice. The design was not fundamentally different from Chinese and Egyptian blinds, but the Persians got the credit since they were the ones who brought these blinds to Venice. They were so wildly popular there that when Venetian merchants started selling them in Europe, the term "Venetian blind" became an official way of referring to this type of blind.
Developments and Patents
The earliest forms of these slatted blinds functioned much like the old reed and bamboo blinds. Blinds as we know them today were first patented by Englishman Edward Bevan in 1769. He figured out a way to fit slats into a frame that would let you adjust their height and so let in more or less light. An America, John Hampson, improved on this design in 1841 by allowing for users to adjust the actual angle of the slats.
What Makes Them Different from Curtains?
We all know that curtains are drawn across a window while blinds are drawn down from the top. But the differences don't stop there.
Compared with the average drawn window curtain, window blinds are:
- More durable
- More affordable
- Easier to maintain and wash
- More energy-efficient
- More modern in aesthetics
What Are the Benefits of Window Blinds?
There's a reason that we've had window blinds for as long as human civilization has existed. Blinds are important to our safety and security. Here are just some of the reasons we need window blinds:
One of the problems with curtains is they don't always draw properly in the middle. Some are also quite easy to see through. There are times when we all need privacy in our homes, and window blinds are essential for letting us have that while still giving us the freedom to enjoy our windows and the light they let in.
There's a reason law enforcement suggest that you never leave valuables in your car where they can be seen and why hatchbacks come with privacy screens to draw over the back. When thieves can see valuable things, they get tempted to go take them. Blinds protect the things in our homes the same ways.
The UV rays of the sun not only damage our skin with too much exposure, but they can also really wreak havoc with our carpet, our furniture, our painted walls, and our wallpaper. If you have windows where morning or afternoon suns shines in steadily, you'll eventually see fading on everything it touches.
Blinds offer more control of light than curtains do. The slatted kind can even be adjusted to allow in some light while still preserving privacy. When you want light, they're simple to pull up. When you want dark, they block out sunlight more effectively than curtains.
Not only do blinds block our light more efficiently, but they also keep out heat in the summer and cold in the winter. This helps to improve your home energy efficiency.
Creating Your Own Window Blinds
If you'd like to make your own Roman style window blinds, you can save a lot of money. To do this, you'll need the following items:
- Fabric of your choice (including lining fabric if you want it)
- Measuring tape
- Needle and thread that matches your fabric
- Pencil with eraser
- 2.5 cm wooden batten of the same width as the blind
- Self-adhesive hook and with a sew-on loop fastener
- 12mm plastic rings
- Decorative trim or braid (if you like)
- Screw-in eyelets (4)
- Wooden dowelling 3cm shorter than the width of the finished blind
- Wooden blind pull
- Three lengths of cord the width of the blind and twice the length
- Wall cleat
Take the batten and attach it to the frame of your window. The self-adhesive hook fastener should be pressed all along the front of the batten.
Measure for Size
Measure from the top of the batten to wherever you want the blind to stop. When you have your final measurement, add 5cm extra. Half of that will be for the top hem and half for the bottom hem. To get the width of your project, measure the batten and add another 5cm to be split between the two side seams.
Cut and Line
Cut out your fabric according to your measurements, and then lay the lining fabric (if using) onto the back of the main fabric. Consider using blackout material for the lining if you want to create a very dark environment. Use pins to hold the edges together until you've sewn them all around.
Along the bottom edge, stitch 6mm from the raw edge. Put a dowel in and trim the seam allowances. Iron smooth. For the rest of the dowels, first lay out your fabric with the lining up. Use a pencil to mark across the width 5cm from the top. Do the same down the whole blind every 20cm or 30cm, depending on your preference. These will be the pleats that hold your dowels.
Use 8cm strips of fabric as long as the blind is wide for your pockets. Stretch each along your pencil lines and fold them in half along the length. Rought stitch the long edge and one of the ends with a 1cm seam. Iron down the seams. Then center the fabric on your pencil lines and pin in place. Use a machine to stitch the long edge through all the fabric. Slide the dowels into these pockets and slip stitch the remaining seams.
Use your pencil to mark the center of each dowel pocket. Slip stitch a plastic ring into three places on each pocket: the middle and either side, 5cm from each edge.
Top and Bottom Hems
Turn the edges back 2.5cm, press down with the iron and pin. Close the fold on the top hem after you've stitched the sew-on loop fastener in place. For the bottom hem, add braid or decorative trim material and slip stitch it in place.
The three eyelets should be screwed in along the underside of your batten. They should align perfectly with the plastic rings on your dowel pockets, so one should be in the middle and the other two 5cm from each edge. A fourth eyelet needs to be screwed in on the side where the operating cord will fall.
Tie a length of cord to each of the three rings along the lowest pleat of your curtain. Thread each through the rest of the rings up to the eyelets. The finished end of the cord should appear on the working side of the batten. If needed, trim to cord. Attach the blind pull and use the cleat in the wall to hold the cord ends.
Window blinds are an essential part of the modern home. They're needed in every room, and if you buy each one, it can get expensive quickly. If you have some skill with a needle and thread, it makes a lot of sense to make your own. Making your own also means you'll be able to pick a fabric that perfectly matches your personal style and room decor.
Once you've attached your window blinds, you can take them down and move them if you move house. If you want or need to leave them when you move, you can rest assured knowing you didn't spend a fortune on blinds you can't take with you. Most importantly, your blinds will help you preserve your privacy, protect your home from damaging UV rays, allow you to control the light levels in the room, and look great in your space. Make your own, and you'll get all this while also enjoying a sense of pride in a job well done.