DIY: Magnetic blackout window covers

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Like we mentioned in an earlier post, the van remained empty for about two months after we received it from the dealership. We were still planning out what we wanted to build. In the meantime, we were using it on the weekends for climbing trips. The first DIY project we tackled was to make insulated “blackout” window covers so that we could have some privacy inside the car wherever we were parked for the night.

Our window covers are made of Reflectix insulation covered with fabric and secured to the windows with magnets.


Cost: ~$75

Difficulty: Beginner
This was our first sewing project ever, so it is definitely something that anybody with access to a sewing machine can tackle.

Tools: Sewing machine



  1. Cut Reflectix
    1. Create a stencil out of newspaper, poster board, or anything that allows you to trace the contour of the window accurately.
    2. Use the stencil to transfer the window shape onto a piece of Reflectix.
      • Due to the varying widths of the windows, it is preferable to use a 48-in wide roll of Reflectix. If the roll of Reflectix you have is not wide enough, use aluminum tape to join two pieces of Reflectix to form a wider piece.
    3. Cut it out with scissors.
  2. Cut fabric
    1. Lay the shaped piece of Reflectix on top of your outward facing fabric, and cut a square/rectangular piece that leaves about 2 inches of excess on the sides. (This excess is where you will sew the magnets into later on.)
    2. Use this cutout to cut an exact copy out of your inward facing fabric.
  3. Glue Reflectix and fabric together
    1. Lay the fabric cutout on smooth surface face down. (The side that you will see faces down.)
    2. Make sure to work out as many of the wrinkles in the fabric as you can. We used an iron.
    3. Note the application directions on the 3M adhesive spray bottle.
    4. Spray the adhesive onto one side of your Reflectix cutout. (Wait a bit, per adhesive application instructions)
    5. Carefully raise the Reflectix cutout above your sheet of fabric (adhesive facing down), lower, drop, and press.
    6. Repeat steps 1-5 for the other piece of fabric, taking care to try to match up the square corners of the fabric.
  4. Trim excess fabric
    1. Trim the excess fabric to contour the Reflectix. (Maintain the ~2 inch excess for the magnets!)
    2. Too much is better than too little. This involved a little bit of trial and error. We just continued trimming the fabric off until the ideal window shape was obtained.
  5. Determine magnet placement
    1. Use duct tape to temporarily attach magnets to the corners of your cover.
    2. Test the covers, and adjust the magnet positions until you get the right amount of contact to the sheet metal around the windows.
      • Again, some trial and error is involved here.

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  1. Sew magnets
    1. Hand sew a tight circle around each of the magnets.
    2. For extra support, we also hand sewed buttons in the center of the magnets to further ensure they held their place.
  2. Sew seam bindings
    1. Check out this helpful Youtube video.
  3. Spray fabric protector (Optional)
    1. We used a fabric protector spray to protect against moisture since these covers will come in contact with a lot of condensation as you travel.


It’s been more than one year since we’ve made these window covers. Here are some thoughts:

  • These window covers provide privacy and keep the van much better insulated than without.
  • The window covers (especially the ones you interact with often) will lose their shape over time. We’ve recently taped magnets to the sheet metal around the affected windows so the magnets in the covers have a stronger attachment. Checkout the picture gallery for examples.
  • Even with the fabric protector spray, the color of the window covers will fade over time from the UV exposure. You may consider reapplying the spray every once in a while.