Roman Shade Blog

I am writing The Roman Shade Blog to provide personal responses to your requests for knowledge on all aspects of making and installing your own Roman shades. Each post will be given a “category”. These are listed in the right-hand column. If you are contemplating making a Roman shade for a sliding door, check the posts in that category. The most interesting category is “Mess-Ups”. I get lots of inquiries about fixing a problem with a Roman shade. Even if you only want information on top-down shades, be sure to also read the Mess-Ups posts. Perhaps you will avoid your own mess-ups.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blackout Lining Tips

Janice asks: I finished my Roman shades and we got them up and they work really well. However, when I sewed the shade tape on for the battens, it now shows sunlight through them like little dots. What can I do?

Terrell replies: On my web site, I recommend that you test first if you are sewing lines across a shade lined with Blackout lining. If you have only a few holes on each seam, you can use our white paint marker ( to fill the holes. If you have mucho holes, you will want to glue a piece of Blackout lining to the back, covering up the seams. Several of my customers have done this, with good results.

Liza asks: I am happy with my shades except for one thing - at each place I sewed a lift ring, the light shines through! When the shades are down and the sun is shining, I have bright little dots coming through my shades. I have many more windows for which to make shades. Is there any way to avoid this resuilt?

Terrell replies: Try the white paint marker.

Most Roman shades are backed with a drapery lining. The reasons are that a high quality drapery lining will provide:
  • protection from ultraviolet light, both for the decorative fabric on the front of the shade and for your furniture and floors
  • stability to your shade
  • a means to “hide” the internal parts of the shade, such as battens (which are placed between the front fabric and the lining) and the weight rod (which is placed in the hem of the lining)

In addition, linings can provide:

  • insulation, both from heat in the summer and cold in the winter
  • sound muffling
  • room-darkening properties

If you desire the last property, room-darkening, you will be using a Blackout lining. This lining is used when you want to completely block out the light coming in a window and is commonly used in bedrooms and home theaters.

My favorite Blackout lining is RocLon Budget Blackout. It is a tightly woven fabric that is backed with a thin layer of insulating foam. The fabric is 70% polyester and 30% cotton. The foam backing contains an extra “black” layer that blocks the light. The lining is non-porous and will not crack, peel or bubble. After talking to a sales representative at a trade show, I switched from the highest-quality Blackout to the Budget Blackout. The Sales Rep told me that the room-darkening qualities are the same for both linings, but the Budget version is lighter weight and less expensive. Sounds like a deal to me.

Blackout lining requires special consideration when making a Roman shade. You want to be careful if you “top-stitch” through the lining. A sewing machine needle can make a large enough hole for light to shine through. The first (and only) time that I noticed this was when I made a mistake, ripped out a seam and re-used the lining for another project. I could see the original line of stitch holes. However, I just made a sample to illustrate this property, and I did not get any light leaks. My guess is that my needle was old when I had the original problem. Given this property, here are several tips:

  • Use a new, sharp needle, the smaller the better. I use a Size 14.
  • Test first. If you are sewing parallel lines across the shade for batten pockets, take a small piece of front fabric and sew it to a small piece of Blackout lining then hold the sample up to the window to check for light leaks.
  • If you are using ring tape or rib tubing, make a small sample and hold it up to the window.
  • If you are joining panels of lining for a wide shade, press your seam to one side, rather than open.
  • Don’t sew on your lift rings by using the zig-zag function on your sewing machine. You’ll create a nice large hole on both sides of each ring. I hand-sew my rings and I am not very accurate at getting the needle in the same location for each stitch. It turns out this is a good thing for Blackout lining. I’ve never had a light-leak at my lift ring locations.

If you do end up with a few holes, you can purchase a Paint Marker at made specifically for the purpose of filling the holes.

You should NOT use Jewel-It or Fabric Fusion glues on the foam side of Blackout lining. It is recommended that you glue your battens to the front fabric, but some customers prefer to glue them to the lining. Both of these glues interact with the blackout layer and can cause a portion of the lining to peel off. Not good!


Double Glazing Birmingham said...

Thank you for the tips that you provide.All are really informational and for that I will share these to my friends for them to know insights about it.

Anonymous said...

Great tips - thanks! I have some budget black-out lining (Roc-Lon) but I can't figure out which side is right/wrong. Does the rubbery side face out towards the street, or towards the room interior?

TerrellDesigns said...

Terrell answers: the rubbery side is the "wrong" of the lining and faces towards the room.

Sharon said...

I'm glad I read this post. I'm actually gluing on the ribs as I write, and was thinking about trying gluing to the blackout lining. It's only a fortunate accident that I ended up gluing to the front fabric. Now I know the best way to glue future Roman shades. Thanks again!