Just in time for the dog days of summer, I finished the window treatments I set out to have finished before the summer solstice. As my dad would say: that’s life in the big city.
When I set out to find a window treatment solution for the kids’ room, I wanted something simple in terms of materials, construction, and aesthetics. I didn’t want frills or fuss or complicated mechanisms that could break or be expensive to replace and I wanted to be able to tackle the shades with my own limited sewing skills. With these parameters in mind, my research consistently landed me back at the concept of traditional Swedish roller shades and so here we are with my riff on those.
As longtime readers will know, I have only recently come into a used sewing machine. Rest assured I kept this construction as simple as possible and have tried to reflect that by writing simple instructions based on my personal experience.
In construction and other things, these roll-up shades are endlessly customizable. I have no illusions that there might well be additional steps for folks wanting or needing more polished finishes and I hope folks reading will feel emboldened to use these instructions for a jumping off point to make shades of their own. It would be easy to swap out plain cotton canvas for something fancier, for instance. If light is an issue, lining these with an additional layer of light-blocking fabric—black canvas or burlap for example—would be simple and effective, though I’ve found that the tight weave of the #12 Cotton Duck has been sufficient for us so far. It wouldn’t be wrong to swap silk cord for cotton twill tape and playing with scale and color of cords and finishes are all things to try.
If you want your shades simpler still and don’t need them to roll all the way up, you could forego cords altogether, rolling the shades up by hand (the dowel would still be helpful here!) and resting the rolled shade on a simple bracket or hook placed inside your window frame.
In terms of installation hardware, I especially love that the small cup hooks and eye hooks are so low-impact in a rental window frame. (The blinds that I removed—and stored for my landlords should they want to replace them—were far more intensive in terms of damage to the window frame and general bulk.) That said, everyone’s windows are different and folks might need to tweak placement or materials depending on their particular needs or wants.
Without further ado, here are the basic materials and instructions for what I did in my home. If anything’s not clear, I’m happy to try to help! (And I’ll be adding lots of video to Instagram to help flesh things out, too!)
+ 1-inch x 2-inch wooden batten;cut to 1/4 inch less than the interior of window frame width measurement
+ #12 Cotton Duck Canvas, cut to ~5 inches longer than the interior window length measurement
+ Small steel tacks, nails, or staples
+ 2 brass o-rings per shade
+ Heavyweight 3/8″ natural cotton twill tape; roughly 4 times the length of your window, plus 20 inches.
+ 2 small cup hooks per shade
+ 2 small eye hooks per shade
+ 1 blind cleat per shade
+ I started by measuring the interior frame of my window from side to side and top to bottom.
+ Next I cut my fabric allowing an additional 1/2-inch seam allowance on each side and an additional ~5 inches in length. (Specifics will depend on the size of dowel and battens you’re using.)
+ Next I folded a ~1/4-inch seam along the length of each shade and pinned it into place. (I found the canvas to be stiff enough that I didn’t need to iron the seams flat for sewing, but if you need a sharp edge, now is the time to pull out the iron.)
+ I sewed a straight seam along both edges, remembering to reenforce the ends.
+ To make the bottom dowel pocket, I folded the bottom edge of the shade up approximately 3.5 inches and pinned it into place before sewing along the top of the fabric edge and reenforcing the sides.
+ On the opposite end, I folded the top of the shade around my wooden batten. I placed the batten on top of the fabric and folded the raw edge of the fabric around the top and onto the front as pictured.
+ I used small steel carpet tacks to secure my fabric, but small nails or staples would also work. I placed my tacks roughly 4 inches apart.
+ Once the canvas shade was secured to the batten, I marked two spots along the top edge of the batten, each 8 inches from the batten edge on the right and left and drilled small starter holes. These would be spots for securing the eye hooks and brass rings that create the pulling mechanism. (Exact placement and measurements depend entirely on the size of the window. My windows are 38 1/4 inches wide, so placing my rings 8-inches from the edge of the batten felt like a good spot for me. Keep in mind that the rings themselves will pull in a bit toward the center when the shade is drawn.)
+ Next it was time to add the mechanism for raising and lowering the shade. I used brass rings that hang from two loops of cotton tape. In traditional Swedish shades, these rings were often made of glass, but I ordered brass rings from a bag-maker’s Etsy shop and they work beautifully. I began by cutting two ~16-inch lengths of tape and slipped the rings over the ends of each tape, bringing the ends together so each ring hung in the center of an ~8-inch drop as shown above.
+ Placing the two ends of each tape length on top of each other, I screwed my eye hook through the twill tape and canvas and directly into the wooden batten. This resulted in each ring being suspended roughly six inches from the top of the shade as pictured.
+ I added an additional tack to the bottom tail of each ring tape just for good measure.
+ Next, I added the long vertical tapes that run the length of the shade. (This step was hard to capture in photographs so head to my Instagram account for videos.) I found this step to be easiest to do with the shade extended on the floor, with the room-facing side facing up. I began by tying one end of my whole roll of cotton tape to back of the first eye hook (which I had already secured into the batten).
+ I ran the tape down the back of the shade and up around the dowel back up to the brass loop hanging on the left side of the shade. Next I draped it horizontally across to the loop on the right-hand side and snipped it from the roll with a roughly 2-foot tail hanging from the right-hand loop. Once snipped from the toll of tape, I wove the tape through both loops (shown above) and started again on the right-hand side.
+ Reminder: The tape running on the left hand side of the shade goes first through left-hand loop and then across to the right-hand loop. The tape running on the right hand side goes only through the loop on the right.
+ After the tapes were in place, I was ready to hang the shade in the window. I added my cup hooks to the top of my window frame, measuring to ensure they would meet the eye hooks at the 8-inch mark where I placed them on the batten.
+ Finally, I installed my brass cleats to secure the cord, taking care to loop the extra tape out of reach of kids. By pulling both tapes simultaneously, the shade effortlessly rolls up. To let it down again, I remove the tapes from the cleat and let the dowel and gravity do the work.
More than anything, I can’t get over how much a prefer the simple look and feel of these shades to just about anything I was able to find commercially, including far, far more expensive window treatments like custom roman shades and roller shades. Canvas Etc. was kind enough to supply the canvas for me, but even including the cost of fabric and the fact that I was working with quite large windows, the total cost per window came to less than $25.
Any questions, just ask!