DIY tricky window cover

Okay, so let me tell you what we did today.

You see, living in Alaska is interesting in so many ways, not least of which is the sunlight, which is present for all of about 3-4 hours during the day in winter, and about 22 hours in the midst of summer.

With this in mind, I would like to take the opportunity to point out the importance of vitamin D intake in the winter. As for the summer, well, good window coverings are a necessity, and in my house, Hubby and I need the dark to be able to get some decent shut eye.

Therefore the architecturally interesting but oddly shaped inclusion of this window in our bedroom was, well…not good.

We tried to cover it with the curtain that you see here, which worked for winter, but now that things are brightening up, this was no longer an option.

We had previously looked for a store-bought window shade to add coverage. However the problem with this was two fold:

1) Any window coverings that we found were not dark enough

2) The semi-circular shape of this window is not semi-circular at all (of course). It’s slightly crooked and off-centered.

So not wanting to spend a fortune on special order blinds for a window that isn’t straight to begin with, we started to brainstorm and came up with an idea.

First was to build a wood plank shade to fit in the window. The problem with this was that it was heavy and too difficult to cut in terms of the window having an odd shape. Also, securing the shutter was problematic without leaving large holes in the wall, and finding a way to open and close the shutter once it was screwed into the wall was also something of a task. In the end the idea was abandoned.

What we did decide to try was a DIY foam board cover.

Sounds slightly cheap? Well, yes, but the aim is for it not to look cheap. We would get a cut-out of the window, trace foam board to fit, cover with fabric, and Velcro up to the window. All made to look seamless.

Okay…. so here’s what happened.

Hubby went up on a ladder with some butchers paper and traced and cut the outline of the window for a template.

We got foam board and traced the outline of the template.

Foam Board
Cutting the outline

We decided to double up on foam board because the light is especially bright and also because of the odd shape of the window. We had to cut the foam board into parts to get it to fit. On one side we did 2 halves, on the other side we did thirds. We stuck these together with adhesive. The end result was this.

Side with 2 halves
Other side- cut by thirds- and glued together to provide thickness and stability

Once the shape was made from foam board, we tried it at our window, but decided that there was still quite a bit of light coming in. Covered in fabric, the board would probably be fine, but just to be sure, we decided to spray paint the foam board a darker color. We had some brown left over, but we also had dark fabric to cover the board with. This paint would probably show up under a lighter fabric.

Foam board painted and waiting to dry

The next step was to add fabric. The method that we tried was to cut the semi-circle shape in the fabric using the foam board as a template. The fabric was cut slightly bigger than the foam board and stuck to it.

Here’s the step by step:

The fabric was placed flat on my kitchen table- I needed some space to work.

The fabric was doubled over and cut to approximate size of template. I ended up with two pieces, one for the front of the board and the other for the back.

Here is the fabric ready to go for side one.

Once ready I sprayed adhesive liberally to one side of the board.

Then I flipped the board to glue the fabric flat to it. My hands proved to be the best method to flatten the fabric so that it was smooth. I tried a small rubber “squeegie” the Hubby has but this made more wrinkles in the fabric than my hands.

I flipped the board with fabric attached so that I could trim it again.

Now the tricky part. I started to spray and glue the hem of the fabric up and over the back side of the board. This was tedious but I needed to work quite quickly so that the glue wouldn’t dry and the fabric would stick.

Once done I got the other piece of fabric which had been cut for the back side of the foam board. I placed this under our board to draw another template.

I traced the template.

And cut the fabric, this time cutting on the inside of the line because I just needed the fabric to cover the seams of the folds on the back side of the board. This didn’t need to look especially pretty, since this would be the side facing toward the window, not facing out into my bedroom.

I placed this fabric over the back side of the board, making sure to cover the hem which had been folded back. Then I glued the fabric to the back of the board, folding down half way to glue and then folding the other half of the fabric and gluing it- this was so that I would not have to struggle to adjust the fabric to cover the board when it was tacky with glue.

Folded back the fabric, glued the board and smoothed down with my hands
Repeated for the other half

Then I smoothed, smoothed, smoothed with hands, trying to push any wrinkles out to the sides of the board and make the whole thing smooth both sides. The end result was this:

So something to note is that I thought that the brown paint from the board was all dry, but was mistaken. Some of the paint bled through the fabric and you can see it here. I knew that once it was hung up, I wouldn’t see it. But, mental note for you, if you paint your board, make sure the board is dry. Better still, get black foam board.

Once it was done and dried, it was time to hang it up and check it out. We used Velcro strips at the corners to attach and keep the board to the window frame. We held our breaths for the final result….and…..

TA-DA!:

It is difficult right now to get outside to where I can show you the view from the other side of the window. There is literally five feet of snow in my yard. But I did stick my phone outside, snapped this shot and filtered it to try to show you the outside viewpoint. You can just see that the pattern is slightly visible.

So it worked well for us and for what we wanted. Keeping in mind that this was the first try, I can only imagine that once perfecting, the options for additional decoration will be great. I didn’t add frills or any artistic embellishments this time. Next time?- who knows.

Overall I used:

* 4 foam boards at $1.50 each

* 1 can of spray adhesive at about $8

* fabric (I payed under $20 for about 4 yards)

* 1 can of spray paint in a dark color for about $4. However, next time I would simply use black foam board.

* Scissors and a marker for making template and cutting

* Butchers paper for making our window template

* Velcro dots to attach to the window

We are very happy with the result and look forward to happy sunlight-free snoozing this summer!

If you try this, let me know how it goes!

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