Today we’re getting down and dirty in the world of #glamping (but also it’s just normal camping, the only glamorous part is me😎). In Part 1 of this ongoing series where I convert my 2013 Toyota 4Runner into the car camping monster she was born to be, we’re starting out easy by making DIY Window Shades.
Have you guys heard about car camping? Like am I the only one who didn’t realize that was a totally normal thing that people do? Because Holy Roman Empire Batman, it’s everywhere!
And let me tell you, I am HERE 👏 FOR 👏 IT 👏
With all this quarantine nonsense (as in “boo quarantine summer 2020 is lame “nonsense, not “we should not be quarantining” – we should ABSOLUTELY be quarantining, people) I’ve felt particularly cooped up as of late. And as someone who started 2020 with some pretty grandiose plans for the year, feeling cooped up was not part of the lineup.
So what’s a girl to do?
Persuade her wonderful father to use every second of his precious downtime to help her transform her car into a portable campsite, of course!
Really though, if you’re reading this, thanks Dad, you’re the best and I love you so much ❤️
So I created this long list of things I wanted for my car, you ready?
Car Camping Wish List ✨
- Bed in the cargo area
- Cozy things for said cargo bed (see DIY car blanket YouTube video)
- Cargo box
- Metal screen to be able to open the windows
- Bug zapper
- Twinkle lights
- Comfy camping chair
- Reflective insulation
Truly the list could go on and on. I like shopping, what can I say?
So I figured I’d start with something easy, and I purchased this 24’x50′ roll of reflective insulation and got to work on my DIY window shades. **If you’re more of a visual person, I’ll link my YouTube video about it below**
Step 1: Measure Literally Everything
Although we’re ultimately going to trace most of the windows we’re working on onto the template directly, this step is still important to ensure accuracy before we cut into the reflective roll.
You want to measure each window very thoroughly. Be sure to measure the tallest and widest point of each window as well any angles that are not square, or consistent. The more data you have before you begin working on your template, the better. Having these measurements will also allow you to purchase the smallest roll of reflective insulation possible which will also save you money.
Step 2: Making Your Templates
Once you’ve got all your dimensions documented, it’s time to begin creating the templates for each window. Begin by tracing the outline of each window onto a piece of cardboard. You can either have someone hold the cardboard for you, or you can secure it with some tape.
Pro Tip: If you order your reflective insulation from Amazon, the box it comes in is almost enough to make templates for all the windows!
Step 3: “Measure Twice, Cut Once” – Dad
This was something that my dad has engrained into my brain since I was a very small child. You always overmeasure, and make sure everything makes sense before you make your cuts, because once you’ve made your first cut, it’s rare that you can go back and fix your mistakes.
So that’s exactly what I did.
I used all the measurements I took in step 1 and made sure that all the tracings on the templates matched up so that there would be minimal gaps between the shades and the windows.
Step 4: Snip Snip
When you’re happy with your dimensions, we’re going to go ahead and cut out our templates (I totally almost wrote “make our incision because I’ve been watching wayyyy too much House lately, RIP).
Anyway, go ahead and start cutting out your template. I used a box cutter, because it just seemed easier than hunting down some scissors, but if you go that route, be sure to place a spare piece of cardboard down to preserve your blade.
Also, go slowly, because I didn’t, and if you deviate from the lines on the template, then you have to just resort to eyeballing the final product, and we like accuracy around here, honey.
Step 5: Cut Your Reflective Insulation
Alright friends, final stretch here and we’ve made it to the easiest part! Once your templates are good to go, simply trace them onto your reflective roll, and cut them out. Reflective insulation is essentially foam so it cuts really easily which is nice compared to the cardboard.
Again, be mindful of what you’re doing and don’t cut too fast or you’ll deviate from the template and end up with gaps between the shade and the window.
Step 6: Last Steps
That’s it! All you have to do now is test out your new shades, make sure they fit into your window, and make any final adjustments.
These shades don’t take up much room on their own, but if you have a car with a lot of windows like I do, they can be difficult to stack neatly. I’ve found that rolling them up loosely has kept their shape nicely and it’s easy to store them in a reusable grocery bad when they’re not in use.
These DIY window shades were great because it was pretty simple (minus one stubborn window – peep that YouTube video for more 😉) and relatively inexpensive. The final product isn’t stunning on the eyes, but you can pretty it up by sewing some fabric around it which I intend to do down the line.