Fabric Blinds and Shades
Fabric blinds make versatile, practical and attractive alternatives to curtains. Unlike curtains, they do not provide much insulation against heat loss, but they are more economical to make since you need much less fabric. Styles range from plain, utilitarian roller blinds or shades to extravagant festoon blinds.
The size of blind you require will depend on whether the window is recessed or not. If the window is flat, take width measurements across the frame; if it is recessed, measure between the flanking walls or from the outside of the recess to the other side. On large horizontal windows, a series of blinds looks more balanced and works better than one large one.
Festoon blinds require twice the width of fabric if they have a heading, and 1-½ times the depth; otherwise, you need merely 1-½ times the depth.
Roller Blinds and Shades
The most widespread type of fabric blind, the roller blind, consists of a sturdy or stiffened fabric wound onto a usually wooden roller. The roller incorporates a spring so that the blind can be lowered to any position and then released to snap back into its rolled-up state. A lath is slotted through a casing on the lower edge of the blind to hold it straight.
You can buy roller blinds ready-made or have them made-to-measure. Alternatively, kits are available which consist of a roller, brackets for holding the blind in place, a lath and a cord pull (you use your own fabric); the roller supplied can be sawn shorter if it is too long for the window.
Classic and elegant, Roman blinds are less severe-looking than the flat version. The blind is attached at the top to a wooden batten; vertical cords threaded through rings attached to the back of the blind allow it to be pulled up into soft horizontal folds. The bottom of the blind is stiffened with a wooden lath. Roman blinds look best if they are lined. They can be very effective if trimmed with contrasting banding.
Festoon Blinds and Shades
Festoon blinds can be made in different ways, but all types pull up into soft, billowing folds. Depending on the type of fabric and trimming, the festoon can look theatrical or elegant. Trimming with ruffles, flounces or fringing will accentuate the opulent flowing lines and will add simple decorative detail.
One type of festoon blind is a cross between a curtain and a Roman blind. Like a curtain, it is headed, lined, weighted and hung from a track using hooks; like a Roman blind, it is pulled up by means of cords which run through rings sewn on the reverse side. Other festoon blinds have cased headings or are attached to rails.
For roller blinds, choose any firm closely woven cloth, such as cotton furnishing fabric. Specially stiffened fabrics for roller blinds are available, but you can equally well buy a lightweight cheap fabric and apply spray-on stiffener to it. Avoid fabric that might sag, stretch or bunch up untidily. Plain colours, small repeat designs and even large prints can all be very effective.
Most types of curtain fabric — including cotton, chintz, sateen and linen union—are suitable for Roman blinds. Fabric with an overt texture can look very attractive, but it is important to select patterns with care — stripes and geometric designs work better when pleated up horizontally than do large, figurative or circular motifs.
Festoon blinds with curtain headings can be made from any type of not too heavy curtain fabric sturdy enough to pleat up well. Lining is recommended. By contrast, festoons with cased headings can be made in lighter, semitransparent material and left unlined.
Avoid prints that are too busy and fussy. Geometrics, stripes, plain textured weaves and simple floral prints are all good prints to use.
Lightweight material, including lace, can be used to make a roller blind if you treat the fabric with stiffener.
You will need to hem the sides by 1cm/1/2in to prevent fraying. The fabric might shrink after the stiffener has been applied, so allow extra. Test a small area first: spray it with stiffener, leave it to dry, and see what happens. Avoid loose-weave fabrics that might stretch after hanging.
To add interest and soften the plain lines of a roller blind, finish it by adding a decorative edge.
First stitch a casing for the wooden lath, about 12.5cm/ 5in up from the bottom edge of the blind. Stiffen the hem with iron-on fabric facing. Make a paper pattern of the required shape and cut it out. Finish the cut edge. To keep a castellated edge hanging straight, slot a rod through.