DIY Matchstick Bamboo Blinds?
April 30, 2011 4:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to install roll up bamboo blinds on a very wide, but short, length of windows. It would be very expensive to order them to spec, and I'm looking into making my own. The mechanism is very basic, and I imagine the material is very cheap. I just can't find shades on their own, not pre-assembled.

It doesn't seem that many people opt to make their own shades. I've found a few places that sell the roll-up mechanism, but none of them sell the blinds on their own. Is this something that just isn't sold?

To be clear, since I'm sure it isn't yet, I'm looking for lengths of woven bamboo shade (like this), without the mechanism or attachments.
posted by daboo to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The material is kind of a pain to work with since it is just a simple weave, so if you cut it then it immediately tries to unravel all the way down. For this reason, I think you're unlikely to find any that has not been finished in some way: either as a rug/mat or blinds or place mats.

Depending on the dimensions of your windows you might be able to find mats which are intended for the floor but which are a good size. Floor mats may have coarser bamboo, though, and place mats may be too fine.

Another option would be buy a pre-made shade and cut the bottom off, and use the excess material plus new hardware to make more. My blinds (nothing special, from Bed Bath and Beyond) were originally about twice as long as they needed to be for normal windows. If your windows are extra short then you could probably get three blinds out of one. I would start small, though, because it really was annoying just to shorten a few blinds.

One last thing, if your windows are really short this may not be the material for you because it doesn't really fold that tightly. I lost a lot of space at the top of my windows.
posted by anaelith at 5:10 PM on April 30, 2011

Best answer: yeah, these are really easy to customize...some notes:
1) cut them a few inches longer so you can unravel out the last few inches of bamboo...this will leave you enough string to tie off the ends...leave a bit more (so you have longer string) if there's a wider piece finishing the bottom edge...that way you have extra for tying it back on.
2) if the windows are extra-short, you might consider hanging them completely over the window frame so it doesnt take up too much space when rolled up (like anaelith says)...this will give a totally different look, and one i'm not really a fan of...maybe buy one (i seem to remember them running ~$10 at ikea...their website only mentions the 24" wide but IIRC they have them up to like 5-6' wide or more...pier one might also have the wider ones...) and see how it looks first...
3) if the width needs to be taken in, it can be tricky, but doable, just keep it from shifting diagonally as you work: roll it out flat and butt one side against a straight edge (like a baseboard). using a ruler, mark (in pencil) your width line down the back side. (you HAVE to split the difference so the strings dont look all will be doing this on both sides) magic tool: wire cutters. snip snip snip. use a saw to cut off the ends of the top bar (in my experience with these there's usually plenty of space for this as the support cords and pulleys are usu quite far in from the edges)
4) these usu come in plain, light bamboo color, but they can be stained to match any decor...remember to wipe the excess stain off after a few minutes or they will be sticky for a looong time.
5) good luck!
posted by sexyrobot at 6:21 PM on April 30, 2011

Another option to consider is installing two or even three small blinds next to each other, to avoid making a custom blind. I have several very wide windows in my house, and I ordered double-header blinds for each of those windows. Its basically one rail with two blinds on it, next to each other. Bamboo blinds tend to have a very simple header without much excess sticking out to the side of the actual bamboo, so you could probably install them next to each other without a gap in between.
posted by Joh at 8:11 PM on April 30, 2011

I'm not sure how specific you feelings are about the finished-ness of the bamboo (my suggestion will look less machine-manufactured did it and has a more organic feel) but you might consider "fencing" material.

I've made shades from this stuff and the effect was very bohemian (and cheap) without being tacky. We always got compliments on them. One caveat is you can see between the bamboo stalks, not in great detail but I wouldn't expect to prance about naked in front of them.

I did what sexyrobot suggested: snipped the wire, took out a few inches of the bamboo stalks and twisted the wire back tight. I'm sure you could attach whatever mechanism you want to them so that they roll properly.
posted by powerbumpkin at 4:34 PM on May 1, 2011

*I just realized my link was not the exact thing we used. Home Depot has a much more matchstick-y version for about 25 dollars a roll. But I can't seem to find it on the website. Maybe just go to the patio section and look around if the idea interests you.
posted by powerbumpkin at 4:38 PM on May 1, 2011

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