Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Making a Cover for a Lampshade

This month I've been tearing down vintage lampshades.  The frames require sanding, spray with Rustoleum, and wrapping the metal frame to provide a wrapped surface to attach fabric to the frame with handstitching.  Here are some photos showing the process of making a fabric cover.  

Drape a double thickness of fabric over half the shade.  Have the fold of the fabric at the top.  Pin and mark side seams with fabric marking pen.  A fabric marking pen has purple ink that disappears later.

 Cut out fabric, allowing extra for a seam.  You can straighten seams lines a bit using the marking pen and ruler before you sew.  At the top, cut the fold.

Place right sides together, pin, and sew seam.  Trim seam to 1/8". 

Turn the fabric, and slide over the shade.  Pin top and bottom snug.  This is a step I repeat several times.  Usually the cover is too big first fitting and I take it off, sew another 1/8" from last seam, and trim seam again.  You want a nice snug fit.  
 Eventually, you'll get the nice snug fit you want.  I use a thick bathtowel on my kitchen table to protect the finish from the sharp pins. 

 Once the pins are in place, you can handstitch the fabric around the top and bottom.  Be sure to STOP when you pick yourself with the pins.  You don't want to transfer blood from your finger to the fabric.  Take your time.  Your stitches will be covered by trim, so the sewing technique you choose doesn't have to be pretty, but the material needs to be snug and attached with enough small stitches.

Above photo: the top is snug and ready to be handstitched around the perimeter.

After you handstitch the top and bottom frame, trim away extra fabriic close to stitches, and add decorative trim with hot glue gun.

I used eyelash trim at the top and acrylic beads at the bottom.

Note:  Always install the cover FIRST, then the liner.  It is a cleaner finish in this order.  In this project I reversed the order to see if it made any difference.  And it didn't work out.  I had to tear it all off right down to the frame, and start all over again.  Sometimes experimenting pays off, but not always. 


  1. Is there anything you can't do? You make this look and sound so simple. This is such a good way to get exactly the lampshade you want. I love seeing how you accomplish these tasks for your home. Keep up the good work. It will be a showplace for sure.

  2. You do such a lovely job! It looks like tedious work. I can imagine my hands cramping up with all the hand sewing to get it taut and tight! What kind of fabric do you use for the liner?


  3. Very nice Linda! It turned out so well, but I was sure if that.

  4. Linda,
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  5. I just love your lampshade, it looks beautiful and so easy to do. I only have to cover the wire and your idea is great.

  6. I just love your lampshade, it looks beautiful and so easy to do. I only have to cover the wire and your idea is great.