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HomeDec Tech: Eliminating Pin Holes of Light in Blackout Roman Shades

What are pin holes of light?

Blackout lining is made by coating a base material with layers of acrylic foam.  This blocks light but when sewing by hand or machine, the needle pierces the fabric and a tiny hole is created.

On flat Roman shades, rings are traditionally sewn on the back of the shade catching the face fabric and lining with the stitches.  Where every rings is sewn, you will see a pin hole of light when the shade is lowered to darken the room.  It doesn’t sound like a big deal… but imagine 35 little light holes shining through on your custom Roman shade!

pinholes of light

After a lot of experimentation I developed a method for hand sewing the rings to a blackout shade without pin holes of light.  It’s simple really, I was surprised that I had not thought of this before.  The process is outlined below but for a more clear explanation view this 30 minute video, a live hangout on air that I presented on May 23, 2014.
Click to View the Video 

To use this method you will not need any special tools or supplies… just a needle and thread.  That is what I love about this the most!  Hand sewing is my specialty and even though I believe adhesive products have their place in the workroom, I am thrilled to have a solution to pin holes of light that uses hand stitching.

To begin, cut the blackout lining to the size needed for the finished shade.  Mark for the columns of rings taking into consideration hems around the sides and bottom.  Hand stitch all the rings to the blackout using a thread that matches the lining.  Yes, you can match thread to the lining – not the face fabric!  No more color threads on the back of your shade.

ring on lining

After all the rings are sewn to the blackout lining, place your main fabric face down on the worktable.  Fold and press side and bottom hems.  Place a layer of interlining and trim to fit and then top with the blackout (with the rings sewn-on) face up.  For best results I found that adding a layer of  interlining eliminates the most light, but to my delight this method also worked great without interlining, creating diffused light at the tack points or no light at all depending on the face fabric.

shade interlining

Next, fold the blackout lining down the length of the shade at the center-most column of rings.  Starting at the first ring, and using a needle and threadwith two strands of thread knotted at the bottom, pick up the stitches from the back of the sewn ring.  Do not catch the lining, only the stitches.  Pull the needle and thread through until almost to the end, thread the needle through the loop created by the knotted thread and secure.

sewing ring

Create a Daisy Chain (aka French Tack) about 1/4 inch long.  You will want each tack to be exactly the same length so count the number of “chains” that you stitch.  I did four for each tack.  At the end, thread the needle and thread through the loop to lock it in place.

daisy chain

When the Daisy Chain is completed, take a stitch through the interlining, catching the face fabric and back through, securing to the bottom of the Daisy Chain with a knot.  Continue on to the next ring.  To speed up the process, do not clip the thread between each tack point.  The floating threads will not show because of the blackout lining.

daisy chain

When that column of rings is finished, fold the lining over to the next column – working from the center to the outer edges.  After all the rings are tacked with a Daisy Chain to the face fabric, continue to finish the shade by finishing the side and bottom hems.  If you use a cord shroud that can be tacked to the shade without rings, use this same process by tacking the shroud tube to the lining instead of rings, and connecting the face to the lining with Daisy Chains at each tack point.

The finished shade has no pinholes of light!  Keep in mind that results may vary based on your fabrication techniques and materials used, but I think you will be pleased with the finished shade.  This sewing technique is also included in the webinar “When Cord Free is Not an Option: Roman Shade Construction for the Small Workroom”  If you would like to learn more about making Roman shades, and products for cord safety such as cord shroud, ladder tape, Ring-Locks and more, you can purchase the recording by clicking on “Buy DVD’s and Webinars” tab at the top of this page.

no light holes

 I hope you will try this new method for sewing rings to blackout shades.  Please report back by commenting below, sharing on the HomeDecGal facebook page, or by sending me an email at Susan@HomeDecGal.com.  I look forward to seeing how you incorporate this idea into your shade projects!

Best Wishes,

Susan AKA HomeDecGal

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Denise Kalkstein at Jun 16, 2014 04:21:05

    Hi Susan – a friend informed me of your method here which certainly looks like it does the trick nicely! I’m in the middle of dealing with a client that is not happy with the light holes in the romans I just made and I am in the process of trying to “repair” the issue. I did hand sew my encased lift cord but I sewed through the lining and fabric together. I thought the holes are minimal but if the client is not happy, I’m not happy!

    Anyway – I’m wondering what you think about sewing the rings on the blackout lining as you suggest and then using small pieces of iron on tape to secure the fabric to the blackout lining instead of your daisy chain handsewing? I have used the dofix bordenfix in many situations and am thinking that it might help avoid the handsewing that you outline. I’d be curious for your thoughts on this. Thank you!

  2. HomeDecGal at Jun 16, 2014 04:56:43

    Hello,
    Thank you for the positive feedback!
    Yes, your idea would work but I would be concerned about the long-term stickiness of a little piece of bordenfix tape. A better option would be to run a line of a thin tape across the shade, at each horizontal row of rings. The shade would then have a better join. I would certainly experiment with this first. Some fabrics do better with adhesive tapes than others and I wouldn’t want there to be an outline of the tape showing from the front, or the fabric looking softer between the adhesive areas. Let me know if you try this and how it works. I am enjoying the sharing and brainstorming among workroom pro’s. There is so much we can learn.
    Best Wishes,
    Susan

  3. Debbie Mecom at Aug 30, 2014 02:11:07

    You mention the shroud tape used on it’s own, with no rings. Do you have an opinion on ladder tape used alone? Also, only one stitch into the face fabric?
    Thanks so much for your help and your wonderful blog!
    Debbie

  4. HomeDecGal at Sep 03, 2014 01:35:37

    I do not feel it is a good long term application (sewing the ladder tape directly to the shade without rings). On wide shroud tapes, you can stitch twice, but on the ladder tape, and shroud with a sewing strip/cord, you only have to stitch once. I hope this helps to answer your questions. Thank you for your question!

  5. wysteria hart at Sep 03, 2014 09:10:49

    Buried in the opening paragraphs of the M’Fay’s workroom manual, chapter H on interlinings, the author says to interline all roman shades and that the interlining helps to disguise needle holes. I have always interlined roman shades and have never had a complaint about needle holes.
    I’ve also seen another workroom use blackout paint. It looked very similar to white out, but was made specifically for the pin holes on blackout linings.
    terrelldesigns.com sells a similar product in a marker style.

  6. Jane Babinski at Oct 24, 2016 09:03:40

    I have a new client that does not want any light pinholes and I am very hesitant to promise that. I’ve not yet tried your method but am encouraged by your enthusiasm! However, since you’re still sewing holes into the blackout lining why wouldn’t there be light holes where the lining is pierced?

  7. Susan Woodcock at Oct 24, 2016 09:36:24

    Hello Jane,
    With this techniques, the small “daisy chain” that connects the ring to the face fabric allows a little space between the face fabric and lining, which helps to eliminate the pinhole of light since it is not directly next to the front. This method does perform best with interlining added but I have also had good success with lining only. It depends on the face fabric.
    Best Wishes,
    Susan AKA Home Dec Gal

  8. Iris Wells at Jan 27, 2017 11:31:53

    I am going to make a 90 ” drop x 6 width curtain with a pencil pleat heading using blackout lining how do I interlock the blackout lining to the face fabric without showing pin holes this person needs the curtains to be interlocked to the face fabric can you help best wishes Iris

  9. Susan Woodcock at Jan 30, 2017 02:38:37

    Hello,
    Interlocking shouldn’t be a problem. As long as there are layers of fabric, and the interlocking stitches are not pulled very tight there will be enough movement to block the light holes. Plus, if you space the stitches in the linings a little off from the stitch to the face fabric it will not show at all.
    Good luck,
    Susan AKA Home Dec Gal

  10. Katherine Juneau at Apr 06, 2017 08:03:56

    Is there a way to modify or still use this method if you use the pillowcase method of attaching blackout lining? Thanks!

  11. Susan Woodcock at Apr 07, 2017 03:31:33

    Hello Katherine,
    That’s a really interesting question! I need to think about it but I don’t see how you could pillowcase the lining to the front with this method. But, it’s fun to brainstorm and think of new ways of making shades. If I come up with something I will share it with you.
    Best Wishes,
    Susan AKA Home Dec Gal

  12. Sally wilkins at Apr 29, 2017 08:52:18

    Is there any way of concealing the holes once you have already sewn the tape threw both the fabric and the lining?

  13. Susan Woodcock at Apr 29, 2017 01:46:56

    Hi Sally,
    You can glue small patches of blackout lining on the back, to cover the holes. Another quick fix is to paint over the holes with gesso or acrylic paint.
    Best Wishes,
    Susan AKA Home Dec Gal


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