Lampshades – Creating Shades of Your Own Style

Written By:  by Julian Pollock

Lighting can be so much more than that simple functionality in a home. It’s also about style. You’ve created a space in your home that reflects you – your taste and your personality. If you’ve just bought what seemed to be the lamp for you, but now that it is in place, you’re having second thoughts. If it doesn’t quite fit into the surroundings as you’d planned it in your mind, there can be a simple solution – and a very satisfying one at that – by asking yourself: Have you got the right shade to go with it – that blends in with your surrounding decor? If the answer is no, then you’ve got two possible solutions – find one that does or make one yourself. Many times people settle with a lamp shade that is not what they want, simply because they can’t match or locate one — either in their local store or online — to the image they have in mind. The color may be a little off, or the print might not be quite right, or maybe the texture really doesn’t complement your décor.

Let Your Style Shine
If you have encountered this very situation, it is definitely worth considering this second option. You can create your own customized lampshade from an existing, plain white shade or start afresh with the basic ingredients. Either way you can tailor it to fit your home. Read on, and you will see how easy it is to go from blah to beautiful in just a few steps. And remember this is easy: we are not embarking on a voyage of invention like Edison who had to create thousands of prototype light bulbs before he finally made one that worked!

Choices, Choices . . .
Now you have the freedom to choose your lampshade fabric. Obviously, two of the most important factors to consider are the color and pattern of the material. However, there are finer details sometimes overlooked: weave and texture. Each kind makes a different statement. For an informal and rustic look, you’ll love the texture of an open weave fabric made of coarse thread. If you lean toward the traditional or contemporary, look for the same coarse thread, but a tighter weave. Does everything about your décor say “ultra contemporary?” Then you will want to try a tight, non-textured weave of extremely fine threads for a sleek style. (So you’re getting the idea on how to develop your style for your living space.) If you’re looking for more inspiration, just do a simple search for lampshade and you can find some beautiful customized designs that you can make yourself.

What’s Next?
Once you’ve selected the fabric, it’s time to customize the lampshade. Before you begin, make sure you have the following:

  • A generic white lampshade in the shape you desire
  • A large piece of newspaper, butcher paper, etc.
  • Pen or marker
  • Straight or safety pins
  • Scissors that will easily cut paper and fabric
  • Craft glue, fabric glue, or spray adhesive
  • A small, soft brush (for applying glue)
  • Trim that coordinates with your fabric for the lampshade’s inside edge
  • Trim for the top and bottom of the outer shade (optional)

OK, Here We Go!
Just follow these simple steps for your beautiful, custom-decorated lampshade!

  1. Lay the lampshade on its side either on the floor or a large table. Place the seam at one edge of the paper and roll the paper over the surface of the shade.
  2. Using a pen or marker, draw a line all the way around the perimeter, indicating the top and bottom edge of the lampshade.
  3. Remove the paper. Add one inch to the top, bottom, and seam lines and then cut the paper. Now you have a pattern.
  4. Smooth out your fabric, right side down, onto a table.
  5. Secure your paper pattern to the fabric with pins.
  6. Cut out fabric along the lines of the pattern.
  7. Check the fit of the fabric on the lampshade. Trim if needed.
  8. Apply fixative to the wrong side of the fabric. If you are using fabric or craft glue, add water to the mixture and apply with a small brush.
  9. Beginning at the shade’s seam, begin to stretch and smooth the fabric over the shade, a little at a time. Make sure you have an equal amount of extra material at both the top and bottom of the shade. (To allow the overage to lay flat and tuck over the edges, you may need to make small clips every inch or so.)
  10. When the fabric smoothly covers the entire lampshade, you may want to use clips or clothespins to secure it while the glue dries.
  11. For a finished look, glue trim on inside edges of shade.
  12. Decorate outer edges, if desired, with ribbon, fringe, beading, etc.

Extra tips:   

  • You may want to make the paper pattern before you shop for material. 
  • Measure the edges so you will know the amount of trim needed before purchasing.
  • Test glue on a small swatch of fabric first. If the glue bleeds through or discolors the fabric, try another adhesive or glue.

Once you have started customizing your own lampshades, you’ll never settle for anything less. Remember that wall sconces, and even chandeliers, will take on the whole different light with a simple change of shade. And if you’re a parent, you might find it a fun way of decorating your child’s bedroom to the latest Walt Disney style film. With a little ingenuity you can create an easy way of fastening the cloth so that it can be changed as your children progress from those early Bambi patterns, through those pre-teen Barbie, Bratz or Star Wars phases, into their teens and beyond. I’m sure there are many parents and children who would be happy with their unique “Pirates of the Caribbean” shade lighting their family room. Who knows, this may be an excellent craft for mother and teenage daughter bonding!

About the author:

Julian Pollock is a crafts and DIY enthusiast who inherited the skills of making lampshades from his mother. He is a regular contributor to http://www.chandelier-mall.com , – a lively online resource for chandeliers and including chandelier shades.

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