Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Refashion a lampshade, a mini tutorial…

Remember this lampshade?


I bought it ages ago for 50p, and although it had a small tear in the back I had to buy it for that fabric. Well that was 2009, and since then one of the metal arms broke and tore the thing in half.
I took the lovely torn fabric off, intending to attach it to some plain fabric to reinforce it, but when I washed it this happened:


*sob* I was so careful but the fabric was very old and it fell to bits in the water. Only one thing to do – use the fabric as a pattern and make a new one!


I had a scrap of Sanderson-type upholstery fabric that was just big enough to squeeze the two pieces from.

This is important! Because the lampshade curves in two directions you need to cut the fabric on the bias to make it work. Trust me.

I cut the two pieces and used French seams to sew up the sides but you don’t have to do that, it just makes the inside a bit neater and stronger.


I then unwrapped all the tape from the top and bottom of the old shade.


Because one of the arms was broken, I got out my trusty brazing torch and fixed the bejingers out of it. I also reinforced all the other flimsy joints while I was there.


When the frame had cooled down I gave it a clean and gave it a coat of matt white Plasticote.


Replacing the tape. You need to wrap the whole top and bottom rail with tape so you have something to attach the fabric to, and you have to wrap it very tightly.

If you need to add another piece, sew it in place to start.


The wrapping all finished.


With the fabric in place on the frame before sewing. You can see that it is slightly too wide, but also slightly too short. When you stretch the fabric to fit it to the frame, it will become tight as a drum and fit the curved shape better.


Fold the fabric over the top slightly and hand sew it to the wound tape, keeping all the stitches on the inside. Make sure the seams are running along the arms of the frame so they don’t show when the light is lit.

When you’ve sewn all around the top, pull the fabric tight and pin it at the bottom. Start at one arm then pin on the opposite side. Move around the base, pinning as you go, making sure the fabric is pulled tight. When you're done pinning and are happy, sew it the same as the top.


You can see that by pulling the fabric really tight it fits to the frame. This only works if you cut the fabric on the bias because when you stretch it one way it becomes narrower the other.
Because the wrapped tape is really tight, that fabric ain’t going anywhere!


The finished lampshade. Lit, you can barely tell the difference between this one and the last one and even though the fabric isn’t quite as nice, I’m pretty pleased with it!



  1. Hello from the USA! You just saved me with this tutorial! I was going along just fine, making things up as I went along -- when suddenly, I couldn't fathom how to sew the fabric top and bottom to the frame! Thank you for taking the time to make this tute! -- Tracy

    1. Hi Tracey from the USA! Glad I could help :)