Having custom window covers of some sort is super important in a van, why not make them yourself with this DIY step by step guide. You need these for many reasons, firstly – Privacy! You want to be able to get changed in peace without the fear of somebody peeping in to see. Secondly – Temperature control. We can’t stress enough how well these blinds keep heat in on a chilly evening and out on a hot sunny day. And thirdy – Stealth! Covering your windows will stop passers by from being able to see inside you van and know that you are living there.
Prerequisites: Fitting windows, and Creating Window Frame
These custom van window covers are incredibly practical. Traveling through different climates means you want some sort of climate control method. By creating a reversible blind you can control whether you want to keep the heat in or out of your van. Also its a bonus that they are a hell of a lot more attractive than plain shiny metallic window covers on display in your van.
The way these window covers work is by using reflectix. This insulating metallic substrate is able to bounce the light / warmth to keep the heat in or out of you van depending on the way they have been positioned. It essentially works in the same way as a thermos flask.
Step 1 – Trace window shape onto Reflectix
This step is super simple! Cut a sheet of reflectix roughly to size, making sure to cut it a little bit larger than your window. Press the sheet of reflectix into position on the window making sure to press it firmly into the corners / curves. When you are happy with the position, take a sharpie pen and draw along the edges where the reflectix meets the window. This should essentially give you the perfect window shape. (Don”t worry if it’s not perfect, we can amend it later)
Step 2 – Cut Out Reflectix and Fabric
Cut out your window shape of reflectix and place it into its position on your window. Look to see that it covers the whole window and there are no gaps where light could peep through. If there are any areas which are not fully covered, don’t worry, we can fix this later.
Cut out a sheet of thick black fabric (we used vehicle carpet) and a sheet of thin sheer black fabric to match the shape of the reflectix. This now gives you 3 matching shapes in different fabrics like the diagram below.
Step 3 – Sew Sheer Fabric To Reflectix
Lay the sheet of reflectix flat and lay the sheer fabric directly on top. Use some weights to stop the sheer fabric from moving around. Pin the sheer fabric in place on top on the reflectix then hand sew them together around the edge. We recommend using a blanket stitch. The neatness of this sewing is not important at all as you won’t see it in the finished product so long as it is kept to the edge of the shape. Don’t bother trying to sew this with a sewing machine – the fabric will slip around easily and make a mess of your neat cutting.
This sheer black fabric does not have any functionality in this reflectix design, we just feel that it makes it a lot better to look at! if you don’t mind looking at the silver reflectix simply skip this step.
Step 4 – Attach Thick Black Fabric
This step is incredibly simple, a lot easier than the previous step. Flip over the reflectix sheet so the sheer fabric is facing down. Alongside it place the black fabric down so the good side is face down. Use spray adhesive on both pieces and stick them together – simple!
Try to match up the sides as best as possible for the most accurate results. Don’t worry if its not perfect though!
Step 5 – Check Shape of Window Covers
Place the window cover up against the window so you can see if the fit is right or if there are gaps to fill. You want to make sure your custom van window cover is the perfect shape and size! Make sure to check it both ways round – thick black fabric facing inwards and outwards.
It is easiest to do this in the dark with the internal lights on so you can see if any light seeps out. Make a mark on the edge of the fabric on the areas that need to be larger or simply trim any areas that are too large.
Step 6 – Attach Bias Binding
Bias binding is basically a narrow, neatly folded piece of fabric which is used to cover the raw edges of fabric. It is sold at all haberdasheries and craft shops and is not expensive. Pin this in position all around the edge of the window cover. make sure to pin it a little further out on the areas of the covers which are not quite large enough for the window.
It should sandwich the three layers of the window covers in between, giving you a neat edge. Once you are happy with its position sew it down. You can use a sewing machine here to speed things up.
Step 7 – Attach Suction Cups
Now it’s time to actually make the window covers stay in position. To do this we used suction cups. The suction cups have a threaded rod and a nut so they can easily be taken out and reversed. Choose the potion you would like the suction cups to sit. Remember that the blind is reversible so they have to work in both direction. We would recommend placing them in the corners if possible. We used 4 suction cups per blind but you could add more or less dependant on the size / shape of your blind.
Use an eyelet tool to create small durable metal holes for the suction cup to sit in. we used 5.5mm eyelets with 4cm suction cups with M4 threads and they fit perfectly.
Having window coverings in a van is absolutely essential. Cute custom window covers which fit your van perfectly are a real bonus. The temperature control aspect of using reflectix is unmatched. If you are less worried about being stealthy or you want to mix it up, try using a coloured or patterned fabric to match your vans interior.
Feel free to ask us questions regarding the window covers, whether it is about materials, price, time, or whatever else. You can always find us in the comments.