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Roman ribs

It was just going to be a simple pair of curtains: you know, two panels of fabric, suspended from a horizontal pole and hanging in front of a window.

On an 18-mile bike adventure to Fabric Depot a couple of weeks ago, I found some fantastic fabric--the bottom one in this picture:

Black and white drapery fabric on bolts at a fabric store

My sewing-brain is rust-ee, and I miscalculated. Came home with not-quite-enough (which, in fabric, can be an expensive error). Didn't want to make the 18-mile trip again or spend the money on more yardage. Dithered for a few days. Watched a bunch of Youtube videos, and decided that I could cover three windows with the fabric I'd already bought, if I cared to make Roman shades instead of drapes.

So of course I made a second 18-mile round trip to Fabric Depot to buy the extra notions and crap that are required to make a Roman shade, miscalculated those requirements, and today trekked the 18 miles a third time to get the remainder of the stuff.

While graceful drapes do require a hell of a lot more fabric than the flat panel of a shade, the shade, it turns out, takes a hell of a lot of little doo-dads.

Among them are "Roman ribs," which are these plastic sticks that go where you want the shade to fold up. And the cords. And pieces of wood. And pulleys. And Velcro. And screw-eyes. And heavy lining. And weights for the bottom of the shades.

So, about $240 and 54 miles of bike riding later, I'm well on the way to running up some cheap homemade window treatments that are actually a small engineering project.

Good mental and physical exercise, though.

Here's Eleanor and the Roman ribs:

Dutch bike parked at the fabric store, with basket holding roman ribs

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 21st, 2014 08:14 am (UTC)
Gorgeous fabric.
Jan. 21st, 2014 08:17 pm (UTC)
It is, isn't it? When I was walking around the fabric store with my cut piece, another shopper stopped me and said, "Have you been waiting for those stripes for years? I wanted wide black and white stripes so badly that I actually made my own by sewing black and white fabric together. I wish I'd waited!"
Jan. 21st, 2014 08:24 pm (UTC)
Ha - a kindred spirit. :-)
Jan. 21st, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
She was! Another Type 4, definitely.
Jan. 21st, 2014 09:11 am (UTC)
I love Roman blinds. But as well as all the doo-dads (what a lovely term) they take a lot of work and time to make - so they're perfect for someone who has that as their main commodity. But once they're made they are so rewarding, because they look so smart and professional. And they are particularly good for windows which are attractive in themselves or which give onto a good view because they pul up out of the way during the day and let the window show fully - as well as letting in all the light.

I know it doesn't get really really cold where you are, but if you find that the windows do let in a lot of draughts or even just too much cold at night because of heat transfer through the glass, you can add an insulating layer to the blinds. Because they fit snugly to the window they make very effective insulation. I have huge windows which I love because the light floods in, but they do let out a lot of heat and let in the cold, so I am contemplating making thermal Roman blinds for next winter.

I love the fact that it was because you didn't want to do the 18-mile trip again that you decided to make Roman blinds, and then had to make two more 18 mile trips in consequence! Do you object to buying things online and having them delivered to you??
Jan. 21st, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC)
I decided to go with blackout lining rather than the strictly insulating kind, since these are bedroom windows. I expect it will add a small degree of extra insulation, but I'm more keen on the light-blocking function.

I do order stuff online all the time--it's a big part of why I was able to get rid of my car. Since retirement, though, I'm realizing how much of my online buying was in the name of saving time, as distinct from saving miles. Now, with plenty of time on my hands, I'm finding that I welcome reasons to get out, to make a trip, to get some exercise and see some other faces.

Also, in this case, I just wanted the doo-dads today, you know?
Jan. 21st, 2014 08:31 pm (UTC)
By the way, I gather from your comment that you've made Roman shades yourself? Any hot tips?
Jan. 22nd, 2014 08:15 am (UTC)
I do understand the feeling of just wanting to get on with it! I'm afraid it's years since I made mine. But my memory of it is that it takes longer than you think it will, and that absolute precision in measuring is essential. By that I mean both of the space it's going into and in using the fabric itself - the ribs have to be exactly parallel with the top, bottom, and each other and at true right-angles to the edges. By the way - check that your window has true right-angles and if not be sure to accommodate that, although I think that will be tricky if you have lines in your fabric pattern.

In terms of light exclusion, I hope you have a wide window frame i.e. plenty of space either side of the glass. Make the blinds as wide and as long as you can.

Good luck, and I look forward to hearing all about it and seeing the finished product!
Jan. 22nd, 2014 08:19 am (UTC)
PS Don't be tempted to have two blinds meet in the middle of a window; it just won't work and it will not exclude the light. Better to make one really big one!

Oh, and they'll be pretty heavy once made, so you need good strong hanging doo-dads - and again as far above the glass as you can.
Jan. 22nd, 2014 08:51 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tips! I hope my hanging arrangements will be adequate. I should be okay on the level and plumb thing--all three windows are recent replacements, and I've test-hung the fabric in them to verify that the horizontals are perpendicular to the verticals.

I'll have to make do with "good enough" light blocking, since all three shades will be inside-mounted, which I know will let some light in around the edges. From what I can tell (again, by hanging a test the fabric-sandwich up in one window), it's still a significant improvement over what I've had.

I'll post either pictures of my success, or a sad rant about my expensive failure, in the next few days.
Jan. 22nd, 2014 09:01 am (UTC)
I used to be obsessive about excluding light from my bedroom. But I decided I had to learn to cope with it, because I used to travel quite a bit for work and couldn't guarantee that hotels etc. would have good enough curtains. These days I often leave my curtains open (when it's warm enough) to be able to enjoy the moon and stars, and the view in the morning. I wish I could work out how I achieved that - I think I must have just decided to get over it and persisted until I did.
Jan. 22nd, 2014 11:20 pm (UTC)
Being a bit of a night owl, I've never been troubled by light in the bedroom--after all, particularly in the summer, half of my "night" can be in daylight.

It's nice to have the option, though--especially of blocking out neighbors' obnoxious porch lights.
Jan. 21st, 2014 03:07 pm (UTC)
This is the tale of every single "simple" home project ever. :)
Jan. 21st, 2014 08:29 pm (UTC)
The resemblance between "Fabric Depot" and "Home Depot" was not lost on me.
Jan. 22nd, 2014 08:00 am (UTC)
The middle one, one of my bedsheets look like that :))

And wow, 54 miles!! That's awesome!
Jan. 22nd, 2014 08:45 am (UTC)
I do love black and white stripes, especially for interior decor.

The 54 miles were distributed over more than two weeks, but yeah, it's still a good tally and I intend to keep up the mileage. It feels good.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )



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