Monday, May 25, 2009

Blackout fabric

The playroom is on the second floor and south facing, very sunny and hot. Not good for game playing, movie watching or keeping cool. So, long curtains, to replace the valances were requested.

As I wandered around the store looking at my options, I stumbled onto blackout fabric, which can either reduce or completely block sunlight (for those, like me, who'd never really looked at it before). There were actually lots of different types, but one really caught my eye as it is fabric on one side and sprayed foam on the other. And, also important to me, it is white on both sides. Although blackout fabric wasn't requested it became my top pick as it also reduces heat absorption!

I did a little internet surfing for sewing suggestions, and was surprised how little I found. So this project became one of trial and error. After much pondering about hemming the sides, finish hemming the top and bottom, how to hang, etc., I decided to make window shades that hang from tension rods inside the window frame. I decided this for a couple of reasons. First, total blackout wasn't really necessary for us. Second, I wanted the option of adding back the valance or some other curtain-ing in future. So creating shades seemed the best choice.

I decided not to hem the sides as every stitch creates a hole for sunlight to penetrate. Using the manufactered edge as one side, I carefully cut the other side to the correct width, thinking smooooooooth the entire time. It turned out suprisingly well.

I cut the fabric 3/16" smaller than the width of the window and 4" longer than the length. I folded the top and bottom down 2" and sewed a straight stitch with 6 stitches per inch. I sewed a small loop of elastic in the middle of the bottom stitching line. We purchased a long length of wood called lattice, cut it to 1/2" shorter than the width of the shade, and slipped it into the bottom pocket. We put cup hooks in the top center of the window frame. The elastic loop hooks onto the cup hook, allowing sun and breeze into the room. The wood in the bottom of the shade, adds weight, keeping it in place in the 'down position', but also keeps the shade neat and tidy when it is hooked up in the 'open position'.

For anyone else who might be thinking about a project here are my recommendations:

Use a heavy weight needle for wovens. You need to puncture the backing cleanly, but not leave such a large hole that the thread won't fill it in. There was some discussion, on the net, of the type of thread to use, but I used what I had, which was all-pupose, and it turned out well.

Use a walking foot if at all possible. It makes all the difference. I tried several, including a roller foot, and the walking foot is super fantastic. It was the only foot to keep the fabric from shifting.

Do not use pins, use clips of some kind to hold your hem in place. I used some office clips and pulled them off as they approached the needle.

And that is all. Some very careful measuring, smoooooth cutting and 8 straight seams later and the playroom is all happiness :-)

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