Blackout Lining Considerations
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.
Blackout Lining requires special considerations when making a Roman shade.
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 swing 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 seams 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'm 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 White Paint Marker 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!
Here are three comments from customers:
"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?"
She should have made a small sample first. I could not repeat this problem in my own sewing studio. I'm guessing my needle is sharper, or perhaps the Budget Blackout is more forgiving than the brand she used. If she had only a few pinholes, she can use the Paint Marker. If there are mucho holes, you can glue a piece of Blackout lining to the back, covering up the seams. Several customers have done this, with good results.
"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. What can I do?"
This is the perfect place to use the white Paint Marker.
"I can't figure out which side is right/wrong. Does the rubbery side face out towards the street, or towards the room interior?"
The rubbery side is the "wrong" of the lining and faces towards the room.