shade

Eco-Saturday: Blanket shades

Falsa blankets make inexpensive, insulative window coverings.
Falsa blankets make inexpensive, energy-efficient window coverings.

I swiped this idea from my mom, who made Roman shades out of quilts to insulate her windows. I’m too cheap to buy quilts — and much too lazy to make them — but I love falsa blankets, which fit my Southwestern sensibilities and can be had for $10 or less at just about any truck stop on Route 66.

To make a Roman shade out of a falsa blanket, you will need:

1. Falsa blanket
2. 15 small plastic rings
3. 1×2 about an inch longer than the width of your window
4. Three small screw eyes
5. Nylon cord
6. Sewing machine or needle and thread
7. Scissors
8. Cordless drill
9. Screwdriver
10. Pins
11. Three deck screws
12. Cleat hook

Instructions are below the fold.

This project would have been WAY easier without feline assistance, Walter. Just sayin'.
This project would have been WAY easier without feline assistance, Walter. Just sayin’.

Spread the blanket out on a flat surface and fold over the edges to narrow the blanket to the width of your 1×2. Pin the edges and stitch in place. (If using a machine, install a sturdy needle. I used one designed for denim.)

Find a convenient stripe and use it as a guide.
Find a convenient stripe and use it as a guide.

Fold the top over about six inches. You can eyeball this, and by all means, feel free to use the stripes in the blanket as a guide. Find a stripe about 3″-4″ from the top and sew along it to make a tube.

Slip the 1×2 into the tube and drill three pilot holes — one in the center, and the other two an inch from each end — through the blanket and into the bottom of the 1×2. If you’re clever with the drill, you can insert the bit through the weave of the blanket to avoid damaging it, but it really isn’t necessary, as no one will see that part anyway. Be sure you hold the blanket taut against the 1×2 as you work so it hangs straight when you’re done.

Install the screw eyes. These will guide and support the cords that raise and lower the shade.
Install the screw eyes. These will guide and support the cords that raise and lower the shade.

Install the screw eyes through the blanket and into the pilot holes.

Find a stripe about 6″ below the 1×2 and sew on three plastic rings, spaced so they line up with the screw eyes. Find another stripe about a foot below the first and sew on three more rings. Repeat with the remaining rings, spacing the rows about a foot apart. The vertical distances don’t have to be precise, so it’s fine to use the stripes as a guide to be sure the rings line up.

Here’s where it gets tricky: Take a long piece of nylon cord. Tie the end to the bottom ring on the left. Run it up through all the rings on the left, then through the eyes, starting with the one on the left and ending on the right. Leave about two feet of extra cord at the end.

Repeat this process with the remaining rings and eyes. When you finish, you should have three cords — each running through a row of rings and then up through the eyes — with two feet of extra cord at the end of each.

Tie the three cords together about an inch or so from the eye on the right. If you like, braid them to make them look neat, tie another knot at the bottom of the braid, and trim the ends to make a little tassel. If you did it right, it will look like this:

Notice that the folded-over parts are on the same side as the rings, eyes and cords. You want all the ugly stuff toward the window.
Notice that the folded-over parts are on the same side as the rings, eyes and cords. You want all the ugly stuff toward the window.
Closer look at how the cords are threaded.
Closer look at how the cords are threaded.

Flip the shade over and drill three pilot holes through the blanket and the board. Use the deck screws to attach the shade to the moulding above the window.

Install the cleat next to the window to keep the cord in place when the shade is up.

If you did it right, your shade will look something like this when it’s raised:

Action shot.
Action shot.

You may have to help your shade a little bit the first few times you raise it by manually smoothing out the lumps and bumps so it makes soft but neat folds.

Fabric curtains reduce heat transfer. The thicker the fabric, the better it will insulate. To maximize solar gain and minimize heat loss, open the blinds on south-facing windows during the day and close them at night.

Emily

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2 thoughts on “Eco-Saturday: Blanket shades”

  1. We were fortunate enough to have thick walls on our house, so I fitted the shade to go inside the facing. The last one I made was better than the first one, so it’s better to start on a room few people see. I think the optimum would be for the quilt/blanket to be about one inch wider than the inside measurement of the facing so it could be tucked in and sealed a little better when the shade is down. It’s amazing how much these things cut down on drafts in the winter. I used quilts because I could buy them on sale and they came in multiple sizes for different window widths. The blanket makes it look all Southwestern. My quilts looked like an Appalachian cottage. The possibilities are endless and the materials cheap. Everybody wins!

    1. The first one took forever, because I was designing as I went and wound up ripping out two seams, but I did the basic folding and sewing for the second one, and it took maybe 20 minutes. I haven’t attached the eyes and rings yet so I can thread it, but I’ll do that while I’m off work this weekend. I made the second one slightly wider so there won’t be as big an air leak around it. The way my windows are set up, I can’t get these to hang completely flat, but I have bubble wrap on the panes and plan to install plastic film before winter sets in, so our house should be a little Thermos bottle by the time I’m done. I need to get some felt weatherstripping and staple it around the exterior doors, too.

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