It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here: AC Window Frame

At the risk of seeming a little cheap, white trash or just plain tacky I’m going to share this project with you. This was pretty much Chris’ project. He did all the planning and all the work. All I did was lend an occasional hand.

It’s actually starting to warm up around here and those of us that live in the eternal rain have a hard time handling the heat. Of course when I say heat I really mean about 80 degrees. Yeah I know we’re wimps.

That being said we were given a window AC unit and Chris was dying to find a way to put it in our bedroom window. See the problem is that our windows slide horizontally not vertically which would leave a huge open space above the AC unit. Surprisingly, that kind of defeats the purpose of the AC unit when you’re just letting all that hot air in.

Painting Master Bedroom 6

After talking about how I really didn’t a cheap looking piece of plywood covering the window, Chris came up with an alternative. Thus our little fake window was designed and created.

First off Chris used the table saw to cut a slot in some 1×2’s to use for the frame. It turned out that the blade width was pretty close to the width of the plexiglass we bought to use as our window glass.

AC Window Frame 1

Here you can see the slots down the length of the boards.

AC Window Frame 2

Then he cut the boards down to the size he needed.

AC Window Frame 3

Before he started assembling and painting Chris wanted to make sure the plexiglass would fit so he cut that to size next.

We bought the plexiglass at Home Depot but I know Lowes carries it as well as probably other places. While we were picking out our sheet we noticed that there were cutting tools made for plexiglass. Since we thought they pretty much looked like a utility knife we opted to forgo buying a specific little tool.

According to the directions you are supposed to cut about halfway through the glass with the knife then snap off the excess. We found that it really helped to have me holding the ruler down while Chris cut.

AC Window Frame 4

Once it seemed far enough through Chris just snapped the cut edge off.

AC Window Frame 5

After he was happy with how everything fit together he used spray paint to paint the frame pieces. He decided to paint the frame just so that it would blend in with the rest of the window frame better.

AC Window Frame 6

We didn’t chose anything fancy just a white spray paint in a semi-gloss finish.

AC Window Frame 7

Once everything was painted and dried he assembled the frame together with the plexiglass in the middle. To start with he glued all four corners and used clamps to hold it together. Seriously when you have clamps this big I guess you have to find some use for them.

AC Window Frame 8

Once the glue dried he added a few little brackets just to add some strength.

AC Window Frame 9

Then he just slid the AC unit in the window and slid his new window panel in on top. He added a little foam seal around some of the edges just to ensure a little better seal around the window.

AC Window Frame 10

It’s actually surprising how the window seems to fit in. Of course minus the fact that there’s an AC unit and the one window is all the way open. I guess it’s all worth it just so we don’t have to sleep in a overly warm room.

Do you have any projects that you don’t love the look of but you live with just because they are practical?

DIY Window Screens

When we moved in to our house we were lucky to have window screens for most of our windows. The only problem was that we were missing three screens and one screen was bent leaving a big gap that those pesky bugs could come through.

Last summer we honestly thought about getting some more but we weren’t really sure where to go. Finally, this spring I found some tutorials online and also found out that you can buy kits to make your own window screens. It seemed like the perfect solution and had to be cheaper than buying pre-made ones.

Chris decided to try and fix the screen with the bent side on it first. Instead of making a entirely new one we just pulled out the spline and replaced the bent side. It didn’t work perfectly but it was much easier than making a new one.

Window Screens 1

For the other three we had to start from the beginning. We bought kits at the hardware store that has all the pieces you need except the screen material and the spline tool.

Window Screens 2

We also picked out a roll of screen material that looked like what we already had at home.

Window Screens 3

We were pretty lucky that the three screens we were missing were all the same size and we already had one to use as a template. We didn’t have to do any calculating we just cut down sides to the same lengths as the one we already had.

Window Screens 4

Chris marked the lengths and then cut the metal extrusions using a small hand saw.

Window Screens 5

Since the saw left a sharp edge he used a file to smooth it off a little.

Window Screens 6

Once all the sides were cut to size we assembled the frame. The kit comes with plastic corner pieces as well as pull tabs and tension springs to hold the screen in the window.

Here’s a shot of the screen we already had with one of the new frames.

Window Screens 10

It’s a little hard to see but there’s a pull tab on the left side and a spring on the right.

Window Screens 11

In an attempt to keep the frame in place we taped down the frame to the floor.

Window Screens 7

Then we laid the screen material on top and taped down two perpendicular sides to keep them in place.

Window Screens 8

We then started pressing the spline into the slot starting on the corner of one of the untaped sides.

Window Screens 9

Then we just worked the spline around the screen and used a utility knife to cut off the excess screen.

It was actually a little hard to get the screen material taught enough but not so taught that it pulled the frame together. Honestly it was frustrating and we didn’t do that great of a job. The frames we made are a little bowed on the long sides but they work ok.

Window Screens 12

I’m just glad that as the weather warms up for our second summer here we will actually be able to open all the windows to cool down the house.

Has anyone else had experience making window screens? Or do you live in a climate that’s so warm you actually have AC?

The Roman Shade to End Them All

I may have thought I was crazy for doing the first five roman shades in our house but I really think I hit a new level of crazy with this one. It may very well be the last roman shade I ever sew (at least for a long time).

This project took me months to finish of off and on work. The intimidating size coupled with the tedious work made for a project that I just wasn’t motivated to finish. But this last weekend I finally finished the last steps and got this shade hung!

I wanted to save a little money on this shade so I was trying to use things that I already had. Since I already had some 45″ wide white cotton I used that for the half of the lining. Since my window was wider than 45″ wide I had to piece fabric to make it wide enough.

First I cut down my fabrics to about the right height. I had two strips for each layer.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 1

Then I had to cut one of the strips for each layer down the center lengthwise. Then I just sewed these two half size pieces with the full size piece in the center to make it wide enough.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 3

Once all the layers were pieced together I had to cut down both sides so each later was the right total width.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 4

Here’s a snapshot of what the main fabric looks like. I wanted the shade to be white but a little more interesting than a plain. It’s basically a white on white pattern that it’s obvious from a distance but it does add a little interest.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 2

Really from there on I just follow the steps that I previously did.

This time for the header board I wanted to stain it instead of covering it with fabric like I did before. Sine the window I was putting it in is fully framed in wood I thought it would blend in a little better that way.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 5

Once I had the header stained and the mounting hardware on I marked for the rings.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 6

Another small difference in the header was that I added an extra ring close to the right edge where I planned on having the pull cord come from. In the past we mounted one in the window frame so this was just a little bit of an upgrade.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 7

Just like with the curtains I had a really hard time taking good photos because of the lighting.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 8

Here’s a close up shot of the two fabrics.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 9

It may look a little less than fantastic in pictures but I’m so happy to finally be done.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 10

It’s nice to finally feel like the window is finished out and to have a little more privacy for this room if I ever need or want it.

Sewing Room Roman Shade 11

Seriously, after almost 6 months I’m glad to call this done.

Anyone else tackle a project multiple times over and finally decide that you’d done one too many?

If you want more info I how I have sew my roman shades check out my tutorial part 1 and part 2.

**Update: I’m converting this room into the sewing room but I’m keeping this roman shade, just changing up the curtains. 

Sewing Sewing Room Curtains

I’ve been working on a roman shade for my sewing room and lets just say that it hasn’t been going all that well. It’s tedious and super intimidating for me. All this equals a project that has probably taken at least 6 months and is still going. In the mean time I decided to finally get on making the decorative curtains that I wanted for over the window.

Months back I bought an inexpensive white curtain rod from ikea. Last week I finally went into the fabric store and looked for something to make the curtains.

Since I used the curtain rings all I had to do was cut the fabric to size and finish the edges. On the sides I did a double turned 1″ hem and on the bottom and top I did a 3″ hem.

Sewing Room Curtains 1

I wanted something cotton so that it would be lightweight and inexpensive.

Sewing Room Curtains 2

As for the color I really wanted something that would lighten up the room as well as tie in the teal ceiling as well as include some bright pink.

Sewing Room Curtains 3

I’m actually really pleased with the fabric I found. From a distance it just looks like a blur of light colors. I’m glad I didn’t go with a large bold pattern which would have been too overwhelming.

Sewing Room Curtains 4

After just a few hours I had the fabric cut and hanging on the newly installed curtain rod. Now all I need to do is finally get on that roman shade.

Roman Shade Tutorial (Part 2)

Part 1 explains how I sewed my roman shades. This part is about how I assembled and hung the curtains.

After I finished attaching the velcro to the top of the shades, I turned them inside out again and slipped in all the battens (cut to size) into the slots in the curtain. I also slipped one more 1/4″ rod into the bottom hem as specified by the calculator for a weight rod.

Then I turned the shades right side out again.

Before I finished assembling the shade I made the mounting board. I created my mounting board such that the shades could be installed inside the window frame. If you want to mount it another way check out this website for more information. After the 1×2 boards were cut to size I covered them white left over white fabric. Then I stapled a row of velcro along the short edge to as you can see in the photo below.

This next step was yet another place were I veered off the path a bit. I added a second row of velcro on the underside of the mounting board. In the picture below the staples are on the floor side and the first row of velcro is on the top. This strip of velcro I added so that I could later add a panel of black out lining behind the shade.

The last step of creating the mounting board was to add the eye hooks. Chris was helpful here and drilled small starter holes and screwed in the hooks. I added the number of hooks as suggested by this calculator. One on each side about 1″ from the end and then the rest evenly spaced in the middle. Here’s a couple of examples.

Now that the mounting boards is finished and I moved on to marking the shades for where the rings were sewn. I just laid the mounting board on top of the shade and pinned were the hook are. You only need to pin on every other batten starting with the first one, so the last batten will actually have no rings. Only attaching rings on every other batten makes it so that the shade will pleat and lay well when it folds. Trust me on this. Check out Terrell Designs for more information on how the shade works.

Once I had all the ring locations pinned I stitched the rings on the backside of the shade. I made sure that the thread went around the whole dowel and through the front a few times and then secured the ring. TO minimize seeing the thread on the front side I used thread that closely matched the front fabric.

It would seem that with the slots that you wouldn’t need to secure all the way through the front but learn from my advice here. I didn’t catch the front of the shade on every ring on the bathroom shades and they don’t look, lay or pull as well as I think they could have. So this time I made sure to take a small tuck on the front of the fabric so they were all much more uniform.

After all the rings were on, I attached the mounting board using the velcro and strung the pull cord through the rings. I started at the top and laced down the row and then made a tight knot on the bottom ring. Then I cut off the string towards the last batten just so that there would be extra to work with. With the far left strung I moved to the right and strung the next one.

Here’s string number two attached on the shades. Yay they are all assembled! Now all that needs to be done is hang them.

Since we decided that we want to use black out lining but I didn’t want the added difficulty of adding them to the shades. I decided to cut panels that could be attached to the mounting board behind the shades when they are installed. I cut the lining to size and then serged all the edges to finish them. I don’t think it would have frayed but I wanted it to look a little more finished. Then I sewed on a strip of velcro on the top that will mate up with the velcro on the bottom of the mounting board.

With everything together Chris got out the tools and we went to work hanging the shades. These shades were a little easier to hang since they are smaller than the bathroom shades. Chris started by drilling a small starter hole were he wanted to screw through the mounting board to attach it to the window frame.

Then he just aligned the mounting board with the back of the window frame, drilled a pilot through the window frame and then attached the mounting board with screws. As you can see in the photo we pulled the shade off of the mounting board and laid it on the window frame to make the installation much easier.

Then we just attached the shade again with the velcro and installed the hook we bought similar to what we did on the bathroom shades. This ensures the strings will pull past the shade fabric and won’t bunch the pleated shade.

So here they are! Pulled all the way up. After they were all installed I braided the pull cords, added a cord pull to the end and installed the cord cleat on the window frame. They are pretty simple steps but for more info check out the website.

Here’s what they look like when they are down. I was afraid the flower fabric would be too overwhelming and feminine, thus the reason for the grey on the outside windows. I like how they came together and the way they turned out.

In this shot you can see the blackout lining in the top window. It doesn’t look so pretty but it does the job and it’s removable when we don’t have guests. There are also panels that go in each of the lower windows they just aren’t shown here.

Here’s what the shades look like from the outside when they are pulled up.

Roman Shade Up Outside

What the shades look like down from the outside.

Roman Shade Down Outside

Whew. The End.

Don’t forget to check out how I sewed the shades if you missed it.

Roman Shade Tutorial (Part 1)

*This tutorial explains how I sewed my Roman Shades, check back on Thursday (hopefully) on how to assemble and install the shades.  Update: Check out Part 2

I haven’t been very motivated to work on our guest room since we don’t have guests very often and hardly ever go upstairs. So, when Chris’ parents and sister planned on coming for the weekend it was just the push I needed to do something with the guest room. The first thing on my list was to add curtains that would block incoming light  and provide privacy for our guests. Just as with the bath room curtains I considered a few different options for window coverings but in the end I decided that the look I really wanted was roman shades. I liked that they could add some color and pattern to the room without being overwhelming.

So here’s how I made my roman shades. Hopefully this will help me to remember how I did them later and maybe it will even help someone else too.

For reference the windows I covered are measured 16 3/4″ x 52 1/2″ and 34 3/4″ x 52 1/2″. It is really important to measure really well. Here is a picture of the windows I am working with:

The first thing I did was determine how much of each item I would need by using this calculator on the Terrell Designs website. Then I purchased and gathered my supplies along with a few tools I needed.

Engineering A Home: Roman Blind Supplies

This is the breakdown of the cost of my supplies for reference:

Fabrics for Outside: $30.20
Lining Fabric (white cotton): $19.15 (40% of coupon)
Rocloc Blackout Lining: $9.60 (50% off) (didn’t use inside the curtains)
Plastic Rings: $3.59
Cord Pulls: $2.58
Cord Cleats: $7.47
Velcro: $3.96
Thread:  $4.59 + On Hand
Cording: $4.99 (ended up using left over on hand)
1/4″ Dowels: $13.72
Eye Hooks: $2.36
1×2 Board: $3.12
Staple Gun: On Hand
Staples: On Hand
1 1/2″ Screws: On Hand
Drill: On Hand
– $5.00 off coupon
Total: $100.33 + tax

Other Supplies on Hand:
Rotary Cutter
Self Healing Cutting Mat
Quilting Ruler
Miter Saw
Drill and Drill Bits
Measuring Tape

Before I started sewing the shades I decided to pre-wash all my fabrics before ironing them. I think this is where I remembered just how crazy this idea was and what it was really like the making the bathroom shades.

Once I had the fabric ironed I folded it along the selvage edges twice to make a nice long strip that could be more easily managed using the rotary cutter and mat. As usual the cats were being really helpful.

Then I cut my fabric according to the sizes specified by this calculator. The only difference I made here was that I cut 2 pieces of lining fabric per shade. This is the reason there is so much white fabric. Oh so very much fabric.

Since I decided to use a few different fabrics together I had to sew them together in order to have each front fabric with a finished size as was specified by the calculator.

The next thing I did isn’t really part of the directions but it allowed me to have finished edges with the later sewn side seams. I serged both the left and the right side as well as the bottom of each front panel.

After serging I folded up the bottom 3″ and again another 3″ and then pinned for the hem. (Note the very helpful cat attempting to pull the fabric down)

Here’s the hem after it was sewn and pressed.

After I completed the front panels I moved on to working on the linings. I serged the left edge of each individual lining (2 pieces per shade). Then I laid both linings on top of each other and serged the bottom and right hand side together. Now I have only three sets of lining, one for each curtain. Each set is connected on the right side and bottom and the top and left are left open for steps later on. After serging the lining fabrics I hemmed the lining in the same way as the front.

I decided that I didn’t really want to glue my battens into the shade so I created a pocket for each batten to slip into. Thus the reason for two pieces of lining fabric for each curtain.

So to create the slots I laid out each set of lining  that I just serged on the carpet and marked out the locations of each batten (also from the calculator). Don’t forget to offset the tape measure so that the lining starts at the 1/2″ marking since the lining will start a half inch above the front. I used an air erase marker to mark out a line for the batten slots.

Once I pinned around each of the lines securely I sewed a line about 1/4″ on either side of each marked line. This created a pocket that was around a 1/2″ wide. After I had sewn a few slots I slipped in a batten to make sure they would fit. I removed them before I moved on since it makes it much harder to sew the rest of the curtain. This is something I learned the hard way the first time around.

From here on I pretty much just followed the directions from Terrell Design’s website.  I  lined up the front fabric and lining with right sides facing together. I pinned and sewed the first side together using a 3/4″ seam allowance. This should be the seam with the finished edge of lining not the one with the open ends of the slots.

Next I lined up the other sides, pinned and sewed along the edge leaving the batten slots open so they could be slipped in later.

It may not be really clear in the picture above be the lining is actually not as wide of the front fabric. This was done on purpose. That way when the two sides are sewn and turned the front fabric will wrap around the side and you won’t end up seeing a seam on the front edge of the curtains when hung.

The last part of sewing the curtains was to finish the top and add the velcro. I laid out the fabrics on the floor and smoothed all the layers out. Then I measured and marked where the top would be accounting for an extra inch to sew on the velcro.

Next I serged the top edge together to finish it off.

Once I serged the top together I turned it towards the back 1 inch, pinned and then sewed on the fuzzy side of the velcro.

Well that’s it for sewing the shades. it actually isn’t quite as difficult as it looks. Unfortunately I realized when I was writing this post that I never took any photos of the curtains once they were all sewn. Whoops, guess you’ll just have to wait for the assembly to see the big revel.

Don’t forget to check out the Terrel Designs website for more instructions and helpful tips.

Also don’t forget to check back on Thursday to see how I assembled and hung my curtains! (Check it out here)

Anyone else out there crazy enough to attempt a method similar to this for a roman shade?

Adventures with Roman Shades (Round 1)

*Check back next week, I am working on finishing a full tutorial of how I made my shades.  Update: Check out the tutorial Part 1 and Part 2

After completing the curtains in the master bedroom the next room on the window covering agenda was the master bath.

I considered a number of options from cafe style curtains to just a simple curtain on a rod. Both options seemed inexpensive, quick and easy to change if I wanted to. I quickly ruled out both options because I didn’t think they would be easy enough to open and close and weren’t really a look that I wanted. Since I was having a hard time trying to come up with a solution to make I looked for a better option that we could purchase. After dragging Chris around to a number of stores we never really found an option that we liked and wasn’t more than we wanted to spend.

I’m not sure how I got the idea to sew roman shades, but after doing a lot of research online and even buying some patterns I found this great website that explains all the ins and outs of making a professional looking roman shade (Terrell Desgins).

It’s not to hard to see from this site that these shades are not the cheapest window covering option or the easiest way to make a roman shade. Having said that, after looking into those other options this method seemed like it would produce the best looking, well finished shade and I’m glad I went with it. It was worth all the hard work.

Engineering A Home: Roman Shades

To begin with I looked for fabric that I could buy by the yard but I had a hard time finding somthing that was light enough but would still match the things we already had. The main fabric for the first curtain was actually a shower curtain that we originally purchased and used after we got married. I was lucky enough to find a another shower curtain to match that I could make the second shade from.

Here’s the curtains pulled all the way up:

Engineering A Home: Roman Bath Shades

I think they turned out great, I’m happy with the fabric choice and the functionality of the shades. We pretty much open and close them everyday and so far they are holding up well.

Here they are from the outside when down:

Engineering A Home Bathroom Roman Shades

Here what they look like from outside when the shades are pulled all the way up. It’s a little hard to see with the reflection off the window but they do hide nicely when fully pulled up.

One thing about these windows that made construction difficult was that the opening are more than 4 feet wide.  We were actually unable to find a 1/4″ wooden dowel to use as a batten that was longer than 4 feet. So after trying to glue the ends together (which didn’t work) I ended up taping them with some masking tape. Since I decided to create slots for the dowels to slide in (*check out the tutorial for more info on this) once they were in the slots and assembled they seem to pull up well. So far we haven’t had any issues with the dowels bending.

Once we hung the shades and pulled them up and down a few times we noticed that pulling on the cord would cause the fabric to bunch up in the corner where the cord meets the mounting board. After living with them for a while and actually installing our second set Chris came up with a great solution.

He suggested we buy the smallest screw hook we could find and screw it into the wall on the edge of the window frame closest to where the strings start to pull.

Now the shades pull up really well and they don’t bunch at the side.

I liked how these turned out so well (and conveniently forgot how much work they were) that I decided to make a second set for our guest room. This time around I snapped a few pictures of the process and I plan to come back next week with a tutorial and some tips on how I made my shades.

Anyone else making custom shades to get a look that you wanted?