How to cover lampshades with fabric | How About Orange

November 18, 2013

How to cover lampshades with fabric


One of the things I did this weekend was dress up these lamps I got at an antique store. Check out their new outfits!

The lamps didn't come with shades, so I don't know what the original shape would have been. I searched high and low at Target, HomeGoods, and any stores I could think of that sell new shades, but couldn't find a size that wouldn't look silly on these slender bases.

So I Googled online places that will make custom-sized shades, and finally selected Fenchel Shades. You can choose the shape and exact dimensions of your new shades and they'll make them for you. Since I was kind of paranoid about getting it wrong, I had Alex hold a cylindrical wastebasket upside down over one of the lamps for reference while I walked across the room and eyed it from afar. I measured the trash can and then determined how much narrower and taller I would like the shade to be. Then I made a hasty paper replica with taped-together pieces of printer paper and Alex held it up for size. (Measure 68 times, cut once, as the saying goes.) The template was approved!

I ordered simple cylindrical shades with plain white linen since I loved the pretty pottery bases so much, I wasn't sure I wanted to overpower them with a crazy patterned shade. I figured as long as I had the shade itself, I could monkey with it later if I changed my mind.

Each new shade cost $29, but shipping and handling was a little steep, so the total for each custom shade ended up $38. It was worth it to me.


And then of course I decided the white was too boring against pale walls and wanted to crazy it up. I ordered a yard of this African diamond fabric from Etsy. The pink will go with the parlor chairs, and I can't resist a geometric print.


I've read tutorials where you sew a sleeve and slip it over your shade. Or sew bias tape to the top and bottom of the shade before you adhere the fabric. Unfortunately sewing usually makes me want to throw my machine through a window, so I went the no-sew route and used Krylon Easy Tack repositionable adhesive (purchased at Michaels) and Aleene's Tacky Glue (purchased I forget where, but it's easy to find).


First I pulled off the trim from the top and bottom of the shade so the new fabric would lie flat.


Then I cut a piece of fabric to fit the shade, with about 3/4" extra at the top and bottom and roughly 3" extra width, which I planned to trim later. My shades are perfect cylinders so I cut a rectangle, but if you're working with a cone-shaped lamp, you'll need to cut an arc shape. Make a pattern by rolling your lamp across a large piece of paper (the back side of wrapping paper works), tracing the top and bottom edges with a pencil. Then add the extra for overlap and cut your fabric using the paper pattern as a guide.

I folded over 1/4" of fabric and pressed it along one of the short edges of my rectangle. This hides the raw edge where the fabric ends meet on the shade.


I sprayed the back side of the fabric lightly with the repositionable spray adhesive and rolled the lamp shade on it, making sure to keep the fabric's print lined up straight. If it started to go crooked, I peeled the fabric off and tried again. (This adhesive is wonderfully forgiving— you can do this over and over until it's perfect.) I cut off some of the excess overlapping fabric and smoothed down the seam.


I figured out how much fabric I wanted to wrap over the frame at the top and bottom of the shade, then trimmed off the excess there, too.


This shade has a spider fitting with spokes that intersect the shade, so I cut a slit to help the fabric fit over it.


I applied Aleene's Tacky Glue along the exposed fabric edge and wrapped it over the shade's rim.


This particular fabric doesn't ravel easily, so I left the edge raw, secured by glue. A lot of folks cover the edges with bias tape, or cut the fabric even with the rim of the shade and hot glue decorative trim along the edge, but I liked the simple, clean look with no trim. I'm super happy with how these turned out!


If you're not into fabric, here's another idea. Cut silhouettes, lettering, or a pattern out of vinyl contact paper and stick it inside the lampshade. It will magically appear when you turn the lamp on. You could change the shapes for holidays, amuse your kids with different silhouettes, or cut beautiful lacy patterns. (How removable the shapes are depends on the surface of your lamp and how you adhere them, obviously. Flammability also will vary!)

22 comments:

Grandma G said...

Your seam matched up perfectly?!?!

Mum

womanshopsworld said...

What fun!! This is so inspiring! What a brilliant idea, and it seems simple enough that even a non-sewer-fabric-obsessed gal like me could pull it off!
Thanks for the love Jessica! OX

Jessica Jones said...

Mum. Yes! That gave me great satisfaction. I guess the scale of this print was perfectly designed for these lampshades.

Grandma G said...

I guess so! Just proves you ordered the right one. ;)

Mum

Trace A DeMeyer said...

I love your blog and this idea was simply GREAT and the how-to makes me fearless now - you ROCK!

gasilhane said...

Finding a great fabric.. that feels good:))

Tabatha (Rhapsody and Thread) said...

Had to laugh at your sewing machine comment - I'm not friends with mine either! lol

I've got the makings for lampshades in my craft cave, waiting patiently for motivation... and time...

When I find both, I'll def look back at this tutorial xx

jintyoo7 said...

Great idea - thank you for the "show how :)

Ananas said...

Lovely! Like the idea with a siluette in the lamp :)

AngieBrumley said...

Fantastic! Love that the pattern matched up. It *is very satisfying...much like when the pattern matches up on wrapping paper. :)

Jessica Jones said...

Exactly like that!

Sarah said...

Those lamps look amazing! You had a great vision for them.

Linda Perkins said...

Thanks for sharing all these fantastic ideas on how to make a beautiful custom lampshade. I am actually planning to do some variations with my old lampshade and this post could help me so much in making it more beautiful. I love to use pastel-colored fabric for a cool effect.

-http://www.fenchelshades.com/

The Needle Shop said...

Jess, these look SO good!

swisssidejewelleryetc said...

Oh those patterned shades are so much better than the plain white - well done for getting a brilliant finish to the seams.

Anne-Marie said...

These turned out great, love the fabric you chose! I may need to give this a try!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this for so many reasons! I have an MCM lamp with it's original linen shade (that's in really poor condition) that I've been wanting to replace.
Thanks for the inspiration & tried & true testing.

Kiri said...

Bet you're pleased you went with the bold print, they look amazing!

*Tadaam ! said...

So nice! Well done!!

Flo (from the french creative blog *Tadaam!)
http://www.tadaam.fr

Jessica Jones said...

Thanks!

And Kiri, I am very pleased. I know it's not everyone's taste, but I dig it. :)

Chris Haynes said...

Wow... that first pic makes a statement... I love it...

vmh said...

Amazing.

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