"I love my cats because I love my home, and little by little they become its visible soul." Jean Couteau

Saturday, July 18, 2015

blacking out the bedroom

In my continuing efforts to sleep better (someday I'll write about post or two or three about this great saga), I decided our bedroom needed to be darker. I generally had thought of it as pretty dark, but one morning, as I again woke up long before the alarm, I realized that there really was a significant amount of light seeping in through the Roman shades. As a test, I took some leftover blackout lining from the basement curtains I had made and pinned it over the existing shades. I was amazed at how much darker the room got, which sold me on the idea that adding blackout lining to our shades was definitely something I should do.

Unfortunately, I did not have enough leftover fabric from the basement curtains to cover all, or even most, of the bedroom shades. Luckily, I have this blog, where I document my projects, so I just looked at my previous post to find what blackout lining I had used. JoannFabric.com claimed they had it in stock, but when I went there, it didn't look exactly the same (I took a piece of my existing fabric with me), but it was close enough. The width of the fabric, 54", was going to be just about right for the height of the shades. I estimated the shade width at 3' for the narrow windows (measured at about 31", but I like to over-estimate a bit for buying fabric) and about twice that for the wide window. I figured I had enough leftover fabric for one of the narrow windows, so I got 3 yds (9') of new blackout lining.

Then I had to figure out how to attach it to my existing Roman shades. At first, I thought I would sew the lining on, but the shades were too thick to fit in my sewing machine, and I certainly wasn't going to hand sew all of that. Also, Roman shades are kind of tricky because there are all these different sections with cords running through them. I decided to try two different methods to see which would hold better. In the end, I used a combination of the two methods. 

The first was glue, specifically FabricFuse Quick Bond Fabric Adhesive. The second was Heat n Bond Ultrahold, which is an iron-on, and sort of looks like double-sided tape. I got it in the 5/8" width. I tried each of these adhesives on some scraps of the blackout lining. Initially, it seemed like neither was going to hold. I waited and waited for the glue to dry, and the fabric pieces kept peeling apart. The same thing happened with the iron-on adhesive. I was growing extremely frustrated and decided to give up for the day. The next day, when I took another look at my test pieces, both the glue and iron-on were holding fast. Apparently, they just needed a really long time to cure. With that decided, I got started on the first shade. 

I was afraid that if I disassembled the cords along the back, I wouldn't be able to get them just right again. So instead of covering the back of the shade with one big piece of blackout lining, I decided to do a small piece for each of the 8 sections between where the cords attach in. Each of these pieces was about 31" wide and 8" tall. I cut out all my pieces for the first shade and started gluing. It took a really long time and a lot of glue. I let it dry on the floor for a few hours before hanging the shade back up. 

For the second narrow shade, I mostly used the iron-on Heat n Bond. I thought maybe this would be less time-consuming than the glue, but no. I think it actually took more time, though they were probably close. Ironing on the sides was pretty easy, but trying to do the tops and bottoms, where the fabric gets wrapped around some sort of stiff stabilizer that keeps the shade looking nice when you pull it up, was tricky. I ended up doing some gluing in some areas to be sure of a good hold. Plus, it used a lot of the Heat n Bond. 

So for the final window, I used a combination of the two methods. Spoiler alert, this way also took a really long time. It turned out, there was no way around that. I used the Heat n Bond to attach the sides of each panel, then glued along the top and bottom. Since this shade was twice as wide as the others, I also put a couple of strips of Heat n Bond in the middle of the shade too, for a little extra support. Below are pictures of the fabric after ironing on the sides, but before, and then after, gluing the tops and bottoms. You can see how floppy it is before the gluing, but then the fabric gets all nice and tucked in after.

Each shade took a few hours, and I found the whole process annoying and not fun. However, it was very easy, so if you have existing Roman shades, this is a totally doable DIY. But if we hadn't already had these nice shades that I really like and were pretty expensive, I would totally have sprung for shades that already came with blackout lining. 

Here are the before and after. 

Obviously, a lot less light is getting through the shades now. Unfortunately, there's still some light sneaking around the sides of the shades. I'm debating doing a valence with side curtains to cover that up. Or maybe I'll just try a sleep mask.

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