If you have a question for Ask CRAFT, shoot me an email at [email protected], or drop us a note on Twitter! We’d love to answer your crafty questions on any topic: technique, projects, crafty culture, or anything else! Each week the answers are here; include your name, where you’re from, and your website or blog if you have one!
Cybele writes in:
My question deals with pull shades. I want to make my own. There are so many lovely boutique fabrics out there right now, and I’d like to make some pull shades from them. Since we have a Victorian home (or should I say a really big Victorian restoration hobby…), pull shades are actually appropriate.
I am a knitter/seamstress/crafter so I get the basics of this project; trimming/edging/fusing a fancy fabric to probably a canvas, and adding a dowel on the bottom to attach a cording as a pull handle and attaching it to a larger top dowel with a spring. However, when I look at the pull shade kits out there, I see these things with really ugly plastic cording and roller parts. I don’t want to use those; I would rather make the whole thing from scratch, wooden doweling, springs… or find a kit that has the original, simple top parts. But how does the main top part work? My next step was to look for an old shade and tear one apart (don’t have one, so I’d have to beg, borrow or steal…), but thought I’d ask you first. Do you have any pointers or links to help me out?
What I can offer you is a compendium of links for your project. I’ve never re-done or made my own roller shades before, but it seems like you have the two options you mentioned above: either use a roller shade bracket/spring kit with your own other materials, or replace the fabric on an existing roller shade. Here are the resources I managed to find, in order of relevance:
- How Spring-Loaded Roller Shades Work (nice diagram)
- Bob Vila’s site has a repair tutorial useful for taking apart an existing spring-loaded shade to replace the fabric
- Fixing spring roller shades and adjusting spring tension by Select Blinds Canada
- How To: Make Rice Paper Roller Shades pull-chain type (Apartment Therapy)
- Pull-chain roller shade hardware kits (including a few different colors of bead chain)
It seems difficult to find a hardware kit for the spring-type roller shades, so I’d recommend taking apart an existing one if you really can’t make the bead chain type work in your favor. Follow one of the tutorials for taking the thing apart, and examine the parts. If you can’t live with the plastic parts, you might try spray painting them or recreating them in wood (which would be super hardcore, go for it!). You likely don’t have a metal shop in which to make the precision bracket system and other little metal parts, so keep those from the shade you take apart. Like you said, replacing the fabric is the easy part of this project. You might try searching eBay for vintage pull shades, but as usual, it’s hit-or-miss. Please share your results with us! If you have additional tips or guidance for Cybele, share in the comments below!