Let There Be Light? Not in My Bedroom

I have a new pet peeve: the one-inch gap that exists around the blackout shades in my bedroom. Really, nobody in the shade industry has been able to figure out how to make an inside-mounted shade that adequately covers the window?? I guess I have a new sewing project or two for the bedroom to add to my list….

An eye mask project from Beautiful Bedrooms.

I've been living in my house for just shy of a year now, and when replacing the window shades for the bedroom reached the top of my (never-ending) home improvement list, I thought it would be an easy task to knock out.

However, a few trips to a local curtain store, plus a big box store, left me puzzled how to adequately block out the light without spending a billion dollars. I decided to compromise style in place of function, and settled on some simple blackout roller shades. Sorry, sun, I just don't want to see you so early in the morning.

But once installed, the pesky one-inch gap around the edges showed itself. Which means I sleep with an eye mask on if not all night, then starting around 4 a.m. when the sun begins to come up. If I don't, I snap awake when that first ray of light creeps around the shades.

It might be time to make some pretty curtains in addition to the shades as a perfect second line of defense. I've never sewn my own curtains before, but from what I've heard, it's not complicated. I also might stitch up a new eye mask just in case, as my current one is more years old than I'm willing to admit. Sleep, you will be mine! 

If you're looking for some sewing projects for the bedroom, check out the Best of Stitch: Beautiful Bedrooms book in the Sew Daily Shop.

What about you? Have you sewn any curtains or accessories for the bedroom lately? Have you solved any problems by sewing your own items for the bedroom? I can't wait to hear.  



Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


For the Home
Abby Kaufman

About Abby Kaufman

Abby Kaufman is assistant editor of Stitch magazine. When she's not scoping out new fabrics for her collection, Abby enjoys outdoor activities, and spending time with her husband and two dogs. 

13 thoughts on “Let There Be Light? Not in My Bedroom

  1. I used to work nights as a RN. So, I slept days and struggled with the same dilemma, too much light.
    Before I studied to be a RN I was a dressmaker/seamstress. So, I went to work on my curtains. I purchased two spring rods for each window (there were 3 of the same size), then, I had some dark purple chintz (I had bought at Salvation Army Store, check all thrift stores for fabric). I made the curtains double wide for the measurement and the length plus allowance for pockets for the rods + 2inches. I made pockets at top and bottom for the rods and hemmed the edges of the curtains.
    OK, then I used the stick on velcro tape on the edges of the curtain and the edge of the inner window.
    I installed the curtains, pushing the rods snuggly at the top of the window frame and bottom of the window frame, and used the velcro to push the edges to seal out light. I had a pretty dark room, for daytime sleeping. They also looked very nice with the tab top curtains I had made.
    The next task was to make signs for front and back door to ask people to not knock or ring doorbell; and to turn off the phone (this was before cell phones).
    Thank you for this opportunity to share. Karen W

  2. Abby!
    You’re so talented and with all the things you sew I can’t believe you’ve never made curtains! I agree I hate the sun peeking through when I’m not ready (no offense sun I luv you tons, but….). I’ve always made my own curtains in every place I’ve lived, I guess it doesn’t help when all the windows are odd sized and I don’t want to spend a billion bucks to keep my rooms shaded. My only advice is make sure you buy a good material, don’t go too cheap or the sun will eat right through the back and fade the heck out of them. 🙂 Good luck. Can’t wait for the post for you to show off your new curtains!!


  3. Two things –
    First, you evidently mounted the blinds on the inside of the window frame instead of on the outside – had you placed them on the outside, they could have been wider and the gap would not have been there.
    Second, if you make the curtains, be sure to line them with a light-excluding lining (blackout), this will also help protect the curtain fabric from sun-rot, and they will last longer.
    Good luck and sweet dreams!

  4. Oh I have the same problem. That pesky gap on both sides of the black blinds.
    And then my husband likes to leave the blinds up a couple of inches too, so that the windows get circulation and don’t fog up.

    For summer I did two different types of things.
    1. I stuck velcro on the corners of the window and then cut out a blackout curtain to fit over the whole window. Because it is velcro I can take down the curtain when I want. I did this for the small windows.
    2. For the big windows I cut out a strip of blackout and just velcro’ed it to the sides of the windows, since the blackout curtain covers most of the window.

    For winter, thank goodness it doesn’t get light till 8 and the sun goes down at 4:30. 🙂

  5. I’ve sewn curtains before depending on what style you want they can be easy or take a while to make. Another idea to black out the sun is to put boards on the inside of the windows I have found this helps.

  6. I don’t mind the sun coming in. I have a stronger dislike for alarm clocks so I’d rather be woken up by the sun. Somehow I can adjust to wait longer in the summer to still get up when I need to. However, I have a big issue with heat coming in through the thin windows in my rental!

    My son’s room was the worst at getting too hot in the afternoons. I made curtains using some heavy denim that I inherited – hemmed all around and a simple pocket at the top – and hung using a $10 curtain rod. I made it to fit 1″ bigger than the window in all directions, to help with coverage and avoid gaps. Added some decorative stripes at the bottom with thrift-store bias tape in primary colors, and viola! $12 curtains in 20 minutes. The denim is heavy enough to block most of the heat & light even without a lining, and it’s appropriate for a little boy’s room. Afternoon temperatures went down 5-10 degrees just in that one room.

  7. We had the same problem, well, my husband did, I can sleep though anything. I found a heavy drapery/upholstery fabric I liked to make rod-pocket curtains for the room’s 2 windows, made them extra full to gather on the rods, and then sewed a 6-inch strip of navy blue broadcloth to the outer edges of the panels so that the heavy dark fabric shielded that 1-inch gap. With the fullness of the panels and matching thread you can’t even tell that there’s a seam 6-inches from the edge. You can also line a valance with dark fabric to shade any light leakage above the roller too. Good luck!

  8. If you’re happy with the look of your blinds and don’t want to hide them, you can avoid the bulk of full curtains and just make fake ones to cover the gaps. I’m about to do this with my windows, not to blot out light–I want my southern exposure streaming in all day–but because they look naked without *something*. Just sew strips a few inches wide to mount at the outside edges of the window. If you have a valance at the top of the window, you can just gather them a bit and install them with velcro tapes; if not, maybe get a full width attractive curtain rod and place the fakes at each end of it.

  9. This what I have done before. Get enough fabric to make rod pocket curtains which are minimally the length + 4″ of your window, along with the same amount of Roc-lon blackout lining (the best and most used commercially). Also get a 5″ wide piece of plywood as long as your window is wide. These are the easiest curtains to make, just make sure you allow for at least a 3″ pocket at the top and 2″ hem at the bottom. You are going to make panels to go across your window.

    Example – for a window 36″ wide and 63″ long and material 45″ wide, you will need approx 7 yards of material and approx 1.5 yrds of Roc-lon (which is usually 60″ wide). If you want to just make side panels you can cut the fashion material yardage in half.

    Cut your material and Roc-lon and sew together, leaving 3.5″ at the top to make your pocket. For the side seams, take your fashion fabric and wrap it around the lining as if you were going to make a binding – this will make it look like it was professionally made. The side seam does not have ot be large, just enough to make sure there are no raw edges showing. Make a pocket that is 3″ wide (this will leave 1/2″ to be a ruffle at the top). Once finished you will feed your curtain rod through the pocket. Make at least a 2″ hem, just so it looks nice, you can make it a smaller hem if you want. Put up the curtain rod hardware just outside the window edges (make sure you find the side studs in the wall and mount the hardware there) then feed your curtains onto the rod. Place curtains on rod and set rod on hardware. Adjust the curtains so they are TIGHT AGAINST THE WALL (you will not need Velcro if they are pushed up against the wall) . Now take the plywood and an additional 3″ piece of material (either the same or coordinating) and staple the material onto the front of the plywood. Mount the plywood to the wall with “L” brackets just above the top edge of the curtain – this will take care of any light leakage at the top.
    This sounds like it is a lot of work but actually you can get this done in an afternoon. It takes longer to decide what material you want and get it than it does to put it together. Plus, if you have never made drapes or curtains before, it really is the easiest way to do it.
    Hope this helps you out!

  10. I loved this particular page of yours!…. It is also a problem which ‘peeves’ me!…. was thoroughly amused to see someone else sees this as an irritation! <3
    Liz 😉

  11. Have you tried getting a blind that is actually wider than your window, so it covers the edge? Also if you put magnets on the window frame and metal bits on the shade, so they are at the same spots, that should help to keep the shade fully against the window frame and keep the sun out.

    If you are truly despirate and don’t care how it looks from the outside, put foil over the window panes. That’s what I had to do when I worked on the late shift, foil on the window and a blanket like a blind.

  12. I have black out curtains, with a fleece throw covering the top of the curtain rod gap. I live in an apartment complex where street lights would shine into my room from 2 directions. I’ve thought of making scarves of heavy material that would drape the whole length of the window, but I’m on a limited income and haven’t been able to do that yet. This is attractive and cheap.

  13. You should live in Italy. Between shutters and black out shades that close like garage doors, no light gets in. Actually it was too dungeon-y for me, I was often the only neighbor that left the shutters open at night.