I never thought about making my own lampshades really. I mean, why would you? Most of us are too busy thinking about living actual day to day life to be bothered by making our own lampshades. Plus, you can always buy them (Buying is easy, but much less fun!). As many of you who have been reading the blog or following me on Instagram will already know, I’m not really an “off the peg” kinda’ gal when it comes to my home. I love making or upcycling something so it’s a one off. For that reason alone, why the hell would I not want to learn how to make my own lampshades?
Note; I am living in hope that you all like to live life on the edge too, and therefore are totally interested in making your own lampshades?
So; what exactly are you going to need? Well you’ll all be over the moon to hear that this particular DIY project involves absolutely no sewing at all! You’ll need a pair of scissors to cut fabric, and a pair that can cut paper/ tape, some tailors chalk (or a washable fabric pen) and about a metre of your chosen fabric to cover your shade.
Note; When choosing your fabric think about the pattern; the spacing of the pattern and its recurrence; this will give you a good indication as to whether it’s busy enough (or maybe too busy!) to look right on the size of shade you want to make. My absolute favourite fabrics to use are prints from Cabbages & Roses, Peony and Sage, and Sophie Allport; all sell fabric by the metre.
Now all you need is the bits and bobs to make your lampshade frame. The easiest way to do this (for first timers) is to buy a DIY lampshade kit. The best ones are made by Dannells and can be bought directly from their website or from Amazon. The kit will make either a shade to go onto a lamp base, or a hanging pendant shade for a ceiling light. I am going to show you how to make a shade with this kit so you can learn (from a seasoned lamp-shader) how to make and finish it professionally.
Step 1– Unroll the PVC panel across your fabric (print side up on your fabric first of all so you can choose where you want the pattern to fit). Then flip the fabric over and place the panel on the right spot and draw markers around its edges with your chalk or pen. Cut roughly around the edge of your markers, leaving a 1-2cm edges (slightly more at each end) so you have cut the rough shape for your covering.
Step 2– Keep the fabric print side down now; so you are working on the back of the fabric. Lay the PVC panel onto the fabric and slowly unpeel the backing so it sticks to the fabric end to end (smoothing down tightly as you go). A good tip here is to use a weight (I usually use a candle!) on the end of the PVC panel as you are unrolling it so that it stays in place and doesn’t spring up at you!
Step 3– Check that the fabric is smooth to the backing (no bubbles) and then proceed to trim the bottom and top edges to the edge of the PVC. For the edges on the end, leave a 1cm free edge of fabric with a diagonally cut triangle at each end (We’ll need this later to tuck in and give a professional finish. The kit doesn’t tell you this!)
Step 4– Snap back the top and bottom perforated edges and peel away to reveal the free edges of fabric. Leave these as they are, we’ll use them to finish the edges of the lampshade once the frame is in place.
Then secure a line of your double sided tape to each end of the panel and peel off backing before sticking the free edges down tightly. These give a professionally finished edge when we roll the frame into place (you will see this join on the outside of the shade).
Step 5– On one end of the panel (where the fabric is folded over); also attach a line of double sided tape along the edge. This must be on the inside edge, but leave the backing on for the moment as we’ll take it off later.
Step 6– Ok, so decide if you want your frame to be a hanging ceiling light or a shade for a table lamp? The arrangement for the two rings inside is different for each. Once you’ve made up your mind, this will then also determine how we attach the double sided tape to the rings. For this tutorial I am making a table lampshade; so I am attaching the tape to the top ring with more tape on the top edge; and with the bottom ring the fitting is facing upwards and there is more tape showing on the bottom edge of the ring. Stick the tape around the outer edge of each ring (make sure as you meet the ends that they meet together as closely as possible; butting ends if you can).
Step 7– Lay the panel out in front of you; the end with the extra piece of tape on needs to be furthest away from you (Weigh it down if needed to stop it springing up!). Remove the red backing from the double sided tape so both of the frames are sticky (DO NOT put them down on the table at this point. Please!). Take each shade ring in the correct hand (remembering which should be the top and which is the bottom) and gently place them onto the edges of the PVC backing, about 4-5 cm from the end you are closest to. The fabric free edges should be to the outer edge of each frame. Roll them back towards you to pick the backing up and stick it to the frames; then begin to roll them away from you. Keep pressure and go slowly (There are no prizes for finishing first here!).
Step 8– Once you are coming towards the end of rolling; remove the backing from the piece of double sided tape and continue to roll forward so it sticks to the outer fabric. Once its secure you can pick up the shade and smooth it down tightly. Now you can also smooth the outer edges of fabric over the top and bottom of the frame that is still showing (Cut little V shapes in the fabric to smooth it over the inner frame arms where needed.).
Step 9– Now the edges are covered, we need to neaten them up on the inside and make sure there are no loose edges or threads. Luckily the kit gives you the perfect little tool to do just that! Using the point of the tool; push the edge of the fabric under the inside of the frame; then pull it along inside the frame to tuck that edge in (Don’t push too hard as you can rip the fabric!). Repeat this movement as you work around the inside of the frame and until you are happy with how it looks. Then repeat on other frame edge until both ends look neat and finished.
Step 10– Hang your lampshade or attach it to your chosen lamp base (there is a ring insert to use that can be inserted into the fitting so you can attach the shade to slimmer light fittings if needed.).
Finally; congratulate yourself. You’re a lampshade making legend!
I really hope you’ll be brave enough to give this one a go. Especially if you are the kind of person who shieaway from sewing but wants to be creative with fabric; hopefully you can see there is really nothing to be scared of here? I honestly believe that learning this little skill has created endless possibilities for me in my home; and it means each time I get bored of a room, I can now make lampshades to go along with all of the cushions I make! I’d love to see your lampshades if you make them after reading this tutorial, so please do share them with me on Instagram. Now, off you go……