diy by 95

upholstery basics: how to make a lampshade

Although I’m admittedly a chair addict, they’re not my only obsession. I am a sucker for lamps, and after years of collecting lamps in every size, shape and color, I found myself with a lot of lamps and no shades. The success (or failure) of a table lamp has as much to do with the shade as it does the base, yet there are surprisingly few options when it comes to ready-made shades. This month on Upholstery Basics, we’ll make a custom drum shade to inspire your next bright idea. Photography by Mel Cole — Amanda

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .

Materials

  • fabric
  • painter’s tape
  • measuring tape
  • chalk
  • square
  • yardstick
  • pressure sensitive styrene
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • hard, flat object like a plastic ruler
  • bottom and top rings
  • bulldog clips
  • white craft glue
  • small paint brush
  • weights for the seam
  • paper tape
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • iron

Resources
Fabric: Amy Butler
Lampshade Supplies: Lamp Shop

Don’t forget to check out Upholstery Basics: Tool Time to learn more about the tools we’re using today.

Instructions

1. Determine the height and circumference (pi X diameter) of your shade. This shade will be 13″ tall by 13″ in diameter, which is 13″ tall by 40.84″ around (3.1416 (pi) X 13″). We’ll need an extra 1/2″ of width to overlap the connection in the shade (41.34″). For the purposes of making this easier, feel free to round up to the nearest 1/2″ (41.5″).

2. Cut out a piece of pressure sensitive styrene to the exact dimensions from step 1 (13″ tall X 41.5″ wide).

3. Cut out a piece of fabric large enough to cover the shade with a few extra inches around the edge. Tape the fabric (face down) to the table with painter’s tape.

4. Determine how you’d like the pattern centered on the shade and use the square and yardstick to draw the left and bottom edges of the shade.

5. Check the fabric to make sure it’s free of dirt and lint. The pressure sensitive styrene has a sticky side that attaches to the fabric. Peel off the first few inches of paper covering the sticky side, line up the bottom and left edges with the lines from step 4 and stick the shade paper to the fabric.

6. Continue peeling and sticking a few inches at a time until the styrene is completely attached. Use a flat, hard object, like a plastic ruler, to smooth out wrinkles and air pockets. Use the bottom line as a guide for keeping the styrene straight on the fabric.

7. Lay the lampshade rings on the table and ensure that the rings lay flat to the tabletop all the way around. Use the edge of the table to bend the rings, where needed, to get them straight and flat to the table.

8. Attach the top middle of the shade to the top ring using a bulldog clip. With the bottom of the shade against your body, work your way around, attaching the shade to the top ring with bulldog clips. When you get to the end of one side, go back to the middle and work around in the other direction.

9. When the shade is attached all the way around the top, place the shade (top down) on the table and attach the bottom ring to the shade all the way around.

When both rings are attached, the rings should be flush to the top and bottom edges and tight to the shade paper with no gaps.

10. With a pencil, mark the edge of the seam at the top and bottom of the shade and make a mark to indicate which side is the top.

11. Remove the bulldog clips from the shade and lay the shade on the table with the fabric facing up. Use the straight edge to mark a line in chalk connecting the marks from step 10. This will be the seam line on the shade.

12. Flip the shade over and place glue on the fabric beyond the line from step 11.

13. Place the other side on top of the glue and line up its edge with the marked line. Press the seam together.

14. Place a bulldog clip at the top and bottom of the connection and lay weights on top of the seam on the inside of the shade. Allow the glue to dry for 10 minutes.

15. When the seam is secure and the glue has dried, place the shade on the table with the bottom edge up. Place a thin bead of glue all the way around the bottom inside edge of the shade.

16. Place a bulldog clip on the seam of the shade and place the back of the bottom ring on top of the clip to prevent it from falling into the shade. The bottom ring will have a welded joint. Place this joint to the right of the seam. Slip the front of the ring just inside the shade and use the bulldog clips to hold it in place. When the front half of the shade is attached, remove the bulldog clip at the seam and attach the back half of the shade with bulldog clips.

17. When the bottom is attached all the way around, flip the shade over and place the top ring inside the shade. Place a thin bead of glue all the way around the top inside edge of the shade.

18. Carefully pull the top ring up without pulling it out of the shade and use the bulldog clips to attach it to the top edge of the shade. The top ring has braces that attach to the washer in the middle. Line up one of the braces with the seam. Allow the glue to dry for 10 minutes.

The rings should fit the shade perfectly. If you’re having trouble getting them to fit, check that the top ring is on the top side of the shade and make sure there are no gaps between the shade and rings.

19. Remove the bulldog clips from the shade. Lay a pencil flat on the table and mark a line all the way around the top and bottom edges of the shade.

20. Use the small paint brush to apply glue to the bottom half of the paper tape (only a few inches to start). Start just beyond the seam with the bottom edge lined up with the line from step 18 and press the paper tape to the top edge of the shade.

21. Continue gluing all the way around, cutting the end of the tape even with the seam in the shade.

22. Cut out a small triangle centered over every brace in the top ring.

23. Apply glue to the top half of the paper tape and use your fingers to fold the tape around the rings to the inside of the shade. Do your best to tuck the excess tape neatly under the ring.

24. Repeat steps 20–21 and 23 to attach paper tape to the bottom edge of the shade.

25. Follow steps 8–12 from Coil Seat Finale to make bias tape out of the fabric of your choice. Instead of making it 1 1/2″ wide, make it 2″ wide. This will be the trim for the lampshade, so you’ll need enough to cover the seam and go around the top and bottom edges of the lampshade.

26. After you’ve cut out and seamed (if necessary) your bias tape, iron it in half lengthwise. Then iron each half in half.

27. Open up the trim for the seam and cut 3/4″ off of one side, leaving a 1 1/4″ wide bias tape. Apply glue to the backside of the fabric and press the ironed flaps down.

28. When the flaps are glued down, place glue on the backside of the trim and glue it to the seam of the shade.

29. For the trim around the top of the shade, start by cutting the end (with fabric completely folded) at a 45-degree angle. Open up the trim halfway and apply glue to the bottom half.

30. Repeat steps 20 and 21 to attach the trim to the top outside edge of the shade. Instead of lining up the bottom edge of the trim with the bottom edge of the paper tape, place the trim so that the middle rests on the top edge of the shade. Place a bulldog clip on the end to hold it in place as it dries.

31. When you get back to where you started, fold the trim in half and cut it at a 45-degree angle opposite of step 29. The end should cover the cut edge of where we started.

32. Glue the end of the trim on top of where we started.

33. Repeat step 23 to attach the trim to the inside of the shade.

34. Repeat steps 29–33 to attach the trim to the bottom edge of the shade.

Lampshade Tips

  • When choosing fabric for a shade, always hold the fabric up to a window to see how the light shines through the material. Thicker fabrics can prevent light from passing through, causing an undesirable look when illuminated.
  • Keep a wet paper towel handy for wiping off excess glue as you work.
  • Instead of making fabric trim, try velvet or ribbon trim for a simpler alternative. Simply glue the velvet or ribbon to the outside edges of the top and bottom.
  • If you have a shade that works with your lamp but want to cover it with a different fabric, remove the old shade paper from the rings and follow these steps to make a new shade.
  • Finding the pattern for conical shades is tricky, so use old shades as a pattern or order a pattern to your specifications from a lampshade supplier.

 

 

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95 Comments

Linnea

Wow! Beautiful shade. What a lot of work, now I know why lamp shades are so expensive! ;-) Thanks for this!

ACakeStory

Impressive! Now I know where to go when I finally get around to redoing my stained lamp shade. Thank you!

Jenn

Love the Amy Butler fabric you chose. But I also love the lamp base! Where would I find one like that?

GeorgIna

This may be a stupid question but I have to ask. What if the opening of the
Lamp is smaller than the opening that is at the bottom of the lamp.

Leslie

My ADD kicked in right around the fifth picture. I would LOVE to redo a zillion lampshades in my home, but it looks like I am far too impatient to get those perfect results. Gorgeous job!!

Jillian

This is incredible. I have several lamps in dire need of new shades, so I can’t wait to try this.

Jennifer

I could have used this a couple years ago, but thank you! Now I can redo my shade and make it look good. :)

Leslie

I just bought a great old brass lamp from the thrift store, and the shade was so ugly I left it at the store. This tutorial came at the perfect time!

Tanya

All i can say is …wow I always thought making a lamp shade would be easier but ive never tried, but wow, it looks so much harder than I thought. Definitely saving this tutorial.

Adrienne

Where do you find lampshade rings? Does that require you tear apart a lamp shade, or can you buy just the rings somewhere?

Nicole

Ohnooo! I needed this tutorial about three weeks ago, as I was trying (and failing) and trying again to recover a lampshade! It turned out okay, but I will have to bookmark this for next time. Thanks for the great tutorial! It is really well laid out and easy to understand.

Sentrell

This post came just in time for my lamp project! I purchased a lamp base from a thrift shop but I have yet to decide if I’d buy a lamp shade or reupholster one myself. I found my answer! This is so awesome! Thanks. :)

ashley poskin: suitcase table lady

SUCH an excellent tutorial! Over the years I’ve accumulated tons and tons of vintage fabric with no actual plan -nothing that involves sewing anyways – this is the perfect way for me to actually use the fabric!!

Thanks again!

lily

woo~~Very beautiful, individuality。Collect all materials need to spend some time(ex: lampshade rings, etc.),still pretty interesting handmade,I like it .

Leila

Thanks for the really comprehensive tutorial! I have an old lamp I’ve been meaning to revamp for ages. What is pressure sensitive styrene called in the UK? Can you use lining material inside your lampshade or does it need to be treated with something to stop it getting scorched? Could you paint the inside of the shade?

SuzyMcQ

An amazing tutorial Amanda. Thank you so much for the great directions, images and sources.

frances pelzman liscio

This is impressive. The finished shade is a lovely piece of art in itself. Thanks so much for taking the time to create this beautifully instructive post and to show the inspiring results.

Karen

Best shade tutorial I have ever seen. Bookmarked this, definitely will be making shades in the near future. I have a large collection of lamps with no shades! Thank you so much for the detailed directions. So timely!

Janet

YES! I needed to know where to find RINGS big enough. Thanks for the sources.

Anyone have a source for 8″ raindrop crystals – in colors?

Sandy

I’m a Textile Designer and have fabric printed just waiting to put onto lamp shades. Can’t wait to start! Thank-you for such a comprehensive tutorial. I’ll share the finished product with you. Cheers. Sandy

Jeanine

Any additional advice if one wants to have the shade colored inside? Pink or black or metallics? Do you spray it or add another layer of fabric?

Natasha Ioppi

Wow, I’ve been making lampshades for 8 years now but this truly is the most difficult way of making them. It’s not that difficult at all!!! No need for paper tape, no need for sewing machine, no need for biais…

Tips:
- after sticking the styrene to the fabric, cut the fabric leaving a 1/2 inch seam all around the styrene
- fold the seam of one of the short sides over the styrene and hold in place with doublesided tape (6mm)
- use the same narrow doublesided tape all around the rings
- remove the cover from the tape on the ring and place the ring on the edge of the styrene (not on the fabric, but the edge of the styrene!). If you can manage to the same with the second ring on the opposite side of the styrene.
- then roll both rings simultaniously along the edges
- use special fabric glue or doublesided tape to glue the seam
- put special fabric glue on the fabric seams at bottom and top, fold over ring and press firmly
DONE!

Much easier! ;-)
I could show you a link of another tutorial, but unfortunately it’s in Dutch!

andrea spitzer

yes where to get the ring and the other metal pieces>?
I have many lamps with no shade and glad to hear there are other people with a lamp obsession.
I have two lamps and handbags.

Carla

You did a great job with your instructions and photos. We bought a large lampshade recently for a few dollars and want to recover it and hang some lightweight pendants around the bottom frame. I’ll practice this before doing it on the actual shade, but I’m thinking metal grommets would work well for each hole. Anyway, thanks for the nice tutorial.

a rubino

this is thrilling.
a wonderful way to put to use some of the many remnants just waiting for purpose.

yay. and thank you.

jen

Wish this tute was up months ago. I tried half a dozen different attempts at shade covering before settling on spray glue and fabric over the existing frame. I’m tempted to rip it off and start again now I know how it should be done! I also bought some very expensive metallic paint for the inside which came up OK but the $3 gold spray paint worked soo much better! Gives a really lovely warm glow.

Stephanie Fig

Hi!

I have amazing vintage lamps as well. I have small yellow ginger lamps and brass twisty lamps as well Italian drip Pottery lamps…bute never any shades. I am so scared though…that I will ruin it. But alas, I will find some courage and make one. It would make my lamps way more appealing bc there are good bones but the shade is the quintessential detail!
Stephanie at The Enchanted Fig Tree on Etsy

Linda

Excited to try this. Seen that others inquired on where to buy the rings and I have that same question.

Amanda

Hello all!

My apologies for the delay in responding to your questions! I could have sworn that I responded. I must not have hit “submit”.

Jenn, I found this lamp base at an antique mall, but garage sales are the best places for lamps (think $5 each). Now that you know how to make the shade, you’ll be amazed at which lamps peak your interest!

Georgina, the last bullet on the “tips” at the bottom of the post addresses your question.

Leila, I’m not sure what styrene is called in the UK, but I bet the Lamp Shop either knows or could ship internationally. As far as the finish on the inside of the shade, I’ve used a metallic wallpaper (attached with spray adhesive), and it turned out to be really lovely. Spray paint would probably work, too. For the inside, attach or spray paint first to avoid getting glue or paint on the fabric.

Thanks for all the wonderful comments! I’m glad you like the tutorial!

Matty

I had always been very scared of tackling lampshades so had settled for store-bought ones which while nice, were not exactly what I wanted. This tutorial is so comprehensive and well written it has really given me the confidence to tackle some shades myself. Thanks

Jayne P. Williams

I have been absolutely desperate to make a lampshade; who knew you would have it! Thanks and thanks again! : )

Alexandra Grey

I just got fired from work and I have been walking a lot lately to find a new job, I guess it’s time for me to take a break. Thanks for your super detailed lamp shade tutorial, lamp shade making makes more easy. I’m excited to do this, I feel that this lamp shade will give me good luck in my next job hunting days.

Monique

Great tutorial! Will you be doing a tutorial on bell-shaped lamps as well?

Amanda

Hey Monique,
The instructions for a conical shade are the same. Check out the last tip at the bottom of the post about making/getting the pattern for these.
Thanks!

Wendi Clanton

THANK YOU! I have been collecting cool lamps from thrift stores but have not found any lampshades that I love. This is perfect!!

Mayli

thank you for your generosity in spirit for sharing your expertise with the rest of us zany creative types itching to create something beautiful!

Lisa

Excellent tutorial. Very detailed yet simple to follow with clear photos. Thanks so much. I love my finished product.

luciana

am in love with your work,the materials will be a challenge to find in africa but will try.brilliant

Judy

Thank you for sharing. Your photos and directions are very well done. I am attempting to get my courage up to do 4 silk fabric lampshades.

Judy

Thank you for excellent photos and directions. Looking forward to trying my skills.

Jane

Now I’m eager to get started. What is the most difficult step/s in your tutorial? Any problems that could develop and to be especially alert for?

Banesa Hernandez

i love it i’m a 8th grade student that is doing a project on remodeling my bedroom and this is a big help so that i can start doing my lampshade

Martin Casson

I wonder if anyone can help me? I have been searching for some 1950′s plastic ribbon (the type used in Barsony ribbon lamp shades) to restore an old 50′s rocket lamp. The original ribbon is perished and I need quite a bit, the lamp is very big. Any clues would be very welcome indeed. I have been searching for years! In fact I bought the lamp more than 10 years ago with a view to restoring it – I haven’t given up hope!

Jemma

http://www.needcraft.co.uk has kits and all the things you need to make lampshades. I got that from someone who’s job it is is to find the cheapest source for things like that so I don’t think you will find any better in the UK! They also have a tutorial on how to make them that looks super easy.

Connie

Hi! this is really amazing I’d like to try something like this for my project in college. I do product design at the moment and i was wondering where can i get hold of this kind of wire and about how much do you think i will need?

Umaima

I live in Eugene OR. and tried every lamp, and art store for the styrene you are using. The only ones they carry here are very hard and will break when bending and no sticky side. Can you please tell me where to order the one you use. Appreciate your help. Thanks. ‘Love your tutorial.

Umaima

Excellent tutorial.
Have tried everywhere from lamp shops to art shops to get the styrene you use but am unable to fine in Eugene OR. Can you please give me the name of the shop or website where I can order. Thanks

Shelley Mendenhall

Excellent tutorial! Can you do one for square lamp shades too? Pleeeeeeeeeze?

Betty Hagan

Beautiful job! I’ve taught lampshade making in my shop and although some of our methods vary, I think doing what works for you is most important.
I found that sometimes using double-sided narrow tape (in a hand held dispenser) was easier for some of my students. For attaching wire to lampshade. The trim is a glue job and takes lots of practice to do well. Just go slow and use painters tape to create a line to follow as you glue on the trim. Wavy trim just isn’t a good look.
Thank you for a wonderful step by step tutorial.

Amanda Brown

Shelley,

Glad you like the tutorial! The steps for making a square shade are the same. The tricky part is finding square rings. If you have an existing square shade, strip off the old material and reuse the rings to make the shade. Hope that helps!

vgmac

Is sewing really necessary to make the bias tape? It was hard to tell from the photos here but it looks like you didn’t sew the seam tape…

Amanda Brown

VGMAC,

If you have strips of fabric long enough to go all the way around your shade, it’s not necessary to sew the bias tape. Otherwise, you can connect the strips end to end by sewing.

Thanks all for the wonderful comments. To order supplies, visit the Lamp Shop website (linked below the materials list).

Tina

Has anyone done this? seems to be a lot of people thinking its great but no comments on doing it??

Linda

I have alot of victorian wire lampshade frames that I customed covered when I had my shop and need to find another way to be to use. Have found anyway to do so if not wanting to use as a shade?

kiki

i am currently interested in learning how to make lamp shades and have watched and/or read about a dozen or so tutorials so far. it all seems fairly obvious except for one thing that each and every one has failed to mention (and your tutorial is otherwise fantastic.) what is this styrene stuff? not a single source has bothered to explain what it is, what purpose it serves, are there different varieties, are there alternatives, do you need to use it at all, where can you find it, etc. i mean, if this is a beginner tutorial one should not expect a beginner to know already. thanks.

Sarah

Kiki, the styrene acts a a solid base for the fabric, and a way to keep the rings in the correct place. Yes, you need it, and it is safer to use with the light bulb heat source than a heavy paper. Will also last longer. It is a form of vinyl.

Fareeha

Do you think laminating sheet or a stencil sheet could be used in place of the styrene? I’m doing small lampshades so I don’t need a very large piece of styrene. I don’t want to order online and pay for shipping and can’t find it at any local hobby or home improvement store

Priscilla

I have literally a 70′s shade and I would love to redo it its a hanging lamp with a chain plug but not sure if I would need to remove the material completely or if I could just put something over it any help would be great thank you…

Amanda Brown

Fareeha,
I’ve never used those materials for a lampshade. If you think either of these materials is heat resistant, flexible, and sticks well to the metal rings, it’s worth a shot.

Priscilla,
It’s best to take everything off the rings and start from scratch. This gives you the cleanest looking and longest lasting shade.

You can find all the materials you need for your shades at https://www.lampshop.com/.

Juliana Canaan

I am just working in my first lamp shade using this tutorial and it is looking sooooo gorgeous! I am using natural 100% linen fabric and it has been so easy. I love this tutorial. Thank you veeeeeryyyyy much!

Kim Nelson

Where did you get all these products? I want to do this Im just having a hard time finding the materials locally! Thank you!!

Helenk

Does anyone know where to buy the plastic ribbon to restore a 50s atomic or basony lampshade? I trued the link to the uk site in an earlier comment but they do not have the ribbon from what i can see

Heather

GREAT job! Not sure I’m this talented so hoping someone might be able to help me. I bought a new lampshade today at lowes that has a slip uno fitter. I bought and am hoping to repurpose a lamp from Goodwill that looks like it requires a spider/harp fitter (like the one in the instructions). It looks like i would need the metal “arms” to be up top in order to fit the lamp. Can I salvage the shade/make it work? If so, how?

joy m

One Question: Per their advice, I got a yard of decorative paper attached to styrene from the lampshop, their glue and some ribbon. Problem is, it is so stiff, I can’t gracefully roll the top over the rings (or bottom) as it isn’t fabric. How do I glue the rings in place without having them move – the paper is heavy with the styrene and the rings need to be encased in something. I am replacing a shade that is 14″ x 24″ so it is rather large. And the ribbon they suggested definitely seems to be too small a width. Help!!

Barbara

Can’t you just cover an old shade with new fabric? Wouldn’t that be quicker? I’m just wondering because I live on a very tight budget.

Grace Bonney

Barbara

Of course- you can definitely do that. We’ve posted tutorials on that before, but were hoping to offer a wider range of offerings if anyone wanted to get crafty and make their own.

Grace

kayla

What kind of fabric is this/ its seems like a stiffer fabric. I just want to be sure to be something similar to work with. And what about heat resistant material. Awesome tutorial, cant wait to get started on mine..

Bev Hamilton

I have a vintage lamp with only top and bottom rings remaining to the modified drum shade. The top ring accommodates a top inverted ceramic shade for a three way spot light type bulb. The lamp is brass and marble base. I would like to replace the missing material to the original shape. Do you have directions to modify from a straight drum to a graduated one? Would you think that the formula used for the circumference for both would be able to be adjoined to that of the bottom one?

Kristine

WOW!!! What a brilliant idea of making like this! I haven’t try to do this, but I need to practice it… :)

Kelly Glaeser

Is the styrene paper or fabric based? Thanks so much for the great tutorial

Russell Atkinson

I am looking for a source to purchase a roll of fiberglass resin parchment to make several oversized (48″

Looking for a source to purchase fiberglass resin parchment to make several 48″ round drum shades. Can you PLEASE give me some the name of a supplier. Thank you

jennifer

Which styrene are you using exactly? at lamps.com they have many to offer, paper, fabric, colors etc.

Jennifer Streeper

I just got two vintage frames for lamps and I am so excited to have found your page. The drum lamp came out great and they are a real hit this year too with trends. I am a total DIY and artist but I am always concerned with safety too. My question is is there any fabric not to use because of possible fires or do people use flame retardant spray ever on their projects? Thank you for your time and really wonderful job!!!
Jenny

MissBehavin

I got a large lampshade at Ikea for $26 and cut it apart instead of ordering pressure sensitive styrene online, much cheaper for me. The bonus was it was already covered in fabric so I saved that step! Thanks for the guide :) the shades I made are stunning thanks to you.

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