Monday, March 4, 2013

Do I Have To? Shorten Window Blinds

It's March and time for another installment of "Do I Have To?" the whiners way to get un-fun stuff done. Since I've started this monthly feature, I've painted some trim, organized a part of the basement, and pulled up carpet staples. This time, the chore is:

Shortening window blinds.

Everybody all together now: YAWN.

If the world were perfect, all of us would have the cash for custom-made window shades and blinds.

But my kitchen window blinds are pre-made and purchased at the home-improvement big box store. At least they can be cut to the width you want in the store while you wait. But they usually only come in one length: super long.

The ones in question at my house were in the kitchen window over the sink, and 60 inches long. That's a lot of extra length for my 38 inch window openings, and whether the blinds were open or closed, there was a lot of bunchy gathers on the window, all the time.

Not having blinds was out of the question in this window, which faces due west and heats the kitchen up like one of Dante's levels of hell in the summer. (A separate blog post would be about how much I hate these leaky, horrible casement windows, but lets just tackle one thing at a time, shall we?)

So here's a step-by-step how-to for shortening blinds.


You'll need a pair of household utility scissors (you don't want the nice sewing scissors for this job), a glue gun, and a tape measure. If you need to protect your floors from some light do-it-yourself action, you'll also need a drop cloth, like I have here. The largest uninterrupted floor space in my house is in the dining room, so that's where this kind of monkey business usually happens.


Let the blind out to its full length. This is easier to do BEFORE you take them down, so do it first. No really, I'm not just hiding the dirty dishes.


Take 'em down. Mine are held to the mounting brackets by a wing nut on each side, and this is fairly typical of stick or bamboo blinds. Make sure you have a handy spot to stash the hardware while you're doing the job. 


Lay the blinds down on your work space upside down, or with the backside facing up. Here you'll notice a system of cords and rings that are attached to the back of the shade, and run through the pulleys at the top of the shade to pull them up. The last ring on the cords leaves about 8 inches of shade at the bottom.


Make sure the pull cords in the front of the shade are pulled up and out of the way during this entire process. These you do NOT want to cut.


Here's a close up of the cord system. It consists of a braided strand with loops that go through each metal ring on the back of the blind, and the cord that is pulled to draw the blind up. You can see how heat and UV exposure is already causing the blind backing to crack and deteriorate.


Measure your window, and then the blind. My window opening is 38 inches long, and that's how long I want the FINISHED blind to be. Cut the cord system there.


The nearest metal ring loops above my chosen finish length are at about 33 inches down the length of the blind. The draw cord (the plain brown cord on the left in this photo above) now must be knotted to this loop.


Make a knot, without pulling the cord tighter or making it loose. I wish I'd paid more attention in Girl Scouts. This is just a simple double overhand. Do this on either side of the blind. (My blind only had two sets of draw cords on the back. Wider blinds will have three or four. Repeat this step across the whole blind.) The looped braid should still have its loop in the metal ring. You can cut off excess, leaving about one inch ends.


Flip the blind over to the front so you can see the sticks and slats. You want to give yourself a generous amount of extra for the cutting and hemming process, so add at least four inches, like I did here. I'm cutting the threads of the blind between the slats nearest to 42 inches for my 38 inch finished length.


Start unraveling the vertical threads that weave the blind together, and remove slats and sticks for a few inches, until you have some length of threads, like this:


Tie knots on each vertical row, to prevent further unraveling. At this point the blind should be 1 to 2 inches longer than your finished length.


Now, trim the ends off the knots, and any backing that was left hanging down. The backing was really shedding lots of fibers, so I was glad I put down the drop cloth.


Flip the blind back over to the back side again. Find the nearest "fold" in the slats and sticks to your finished measurement, and be generous with the hot glue gun. Please be careful. It took me a few mishaps, swearing swears I didn't even know I knew, to understand that a "high temperature" glue gun, by golly, is really $%^# hot.

Fold it over and press firmly. Sometimes a few strings of glue will pop out the front, but once it cools they are easy to strip off.


Rehang. This looks much smoother and less bulky. The blind on the left looks a little shortened, but that's because of the crank-handle at the bottom of the window getting in the way.

Next month I hope to do an outdoor "Do I Have To?" Then again, it is the Midwest. It's best not to bet on the weather here. See you in April for the next installment!


  1. Thank you for posting this! JUST last night, I was saying to Cane, "We really should get blinds for the kitchen that match the one we put in the dining room." And he said, "We can't, because they're way too long."

    We have the exact same blinds you have, and now I know exactly how to fix that problem. While this looks like no fun at all, I hate the plastic blinds that are now in the kitchen and really want to replace them. Pinning this one now.

    1. You are welcome. This wasn't fun at all, it's true. But it was such a relief to get all that extra blind out of the way behind the kitchen faucet. Good luck with yours-- I know what you mean about plastic blinds. Is it just me or do they attract even more dust than other kinds?

  2. Great tutorial! I need to show this to my daughter-in-law so she can shorten the blinds on some of their windows. She hates them being too long but we couldn't figure out how to shorten them. Thanks!