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how I recovered my lampshade

I could not have even contemplated making my lampshade without using this brilliant (and beautifully illustrated) tutorial from Lara over at Kirin Notebook, it's easy to understand and a great reference to print out and keep handy whilst you are making your shade. 

Here is a little step by step on how I made my shade, in case you are interested.

Okay, I used:
*  An old lampshade
*  A sheet of polypropylene to use as your base stock - I bought mine from a plastic supply company but you may be able to find one at a craft supply store. I used 0.64mm thick sheet however I think 0.38mm would have worked just as well. The base stock gives the fabric strength and shape.
*  Fabric for my shade
*  Spray Adhesive
*  Fabric scissors to cut the fabric & general purpose scissors (or a craft knife) to cut the polypropylene sheet.
*  Pegs!

lampshade before

Original frame stripped, cleaned and ready to be spray painted

First of all if you are recovering a frame like me, you will need to strip the frame and clean it up (I also sprayed mine with some white paint to freshen it up as it was chipped). Before you strip the frame try to take it off carefully so you can use it as a template to trace around to get the shape of the base stock for your shade. My brilliant husband thought of this after I rolled the lampshade (for ages!) around trying to trace it onto my base stock.

using original base stock to trace around for my new base stock

If you have bought a new frame you can simply work out the circumference of your shade if it is a circular drum shade or if it is a tapered shade like mine above, you will need to roll it around tracing the top and bottom (easier with two people, one tracing on either end as you go. You will need to add 25mm for an overlap on one side so that your frame has something to stick to.

first go, cutting out the fabric 7mm bigger all the way around using the base stock as a template.

Once you have cut out your base stock you can then use this as a template to cut out your fabric, allowing at least a 7mm overlap of fabric all the way around. This is what I did on my first go, however I being a newbie at this lampshade making thing I found it near impossible to get the fabric and base stock to stick together once sprayed with glue, and the overlap even all the way around. Honestly do yourself a favour and cut the fabric a lot bigger than the base stock and then cut it to size once you have glued them together. There will be no tears and no wasted fabric (well just a little but it's better than if you have to do it twice like me).

take two! cut your fabric MUCH bigger than your base stock prior to glueing then trim to size afterwards.

Once you have got your fabric and base stock ready, lay them down on some newspaper or butcher's paper and give them a spray with spray adhesive.  Wait until they get tacky and place the base stock on top of the fabric and smooth out the wrinkles as you go. Once this has dried a little then trim your fabric to have an overlap top and bottom and perhaps on one side if you fabric is fraying like mine was, then you can fold this side bit over like below to have a smooth finish for the edge you will see once your frame is together. 

Oh boy, this is getting a little confusing isn't it??  Trust me, use Lara's tute if you plan to make a lampshade, and this will be much clearer - she uses diagrams, pretty illustrated diagrams, yay diagrams!

Now you are ready to put your shade together! The 25mm overlap will need to be sprayed with spray adhesive (protect everywhere else and just spray the overlap). In addition I also sprayed the top and bottom fabric overlaps including a tiny bit of the base stock (maybe 2mm)to make it a little bit sticky, this will help with the next step.

Place pegs around the frame to hold it all together whilst the glue dries

You will now wrap your frame with your fabric and base stock combo, using pegs to keep everything in place whilst the overlap dries. The reason I sprayed a little bit of the base stock was to try to keep it in place because the top and bottom bits of my frame aren't joined together (some frames are) and the bottom ring tends to want to pop out. 

Protect the inside of your frame with some paper whilst you spray the top and bottom overlaps (again).

Now once your frame is together and the side overlap has dried, you will need to place some paper inside your frame to protect it whilst you spray the top and bottom overlapping fabric. Once you have sprayed top and bottom (the more glue the merrier, it needs to be extra sticky for this part) carefully take out the paper and wait for the glue to get reeally tacky. 

Once the glue becomes tacky you can roll the fabric overlap over the frame, top and bottom.

You may need to cut some little slits in the fabric for the vertical rods you can see above. Then you are ready to roll the overlap around the frame, tucking it underneath. Once you have tucked the fabric overlap top and bottom you are pretty much done. YAY! We made a lamp!

Any questions?  Ask away below, I'm no expert but happy to help if I can :)

Images:  Olive & Joy


  1. Thanks, you have given me the confidence to do my own lamp shade. I bought a base for my youngest daughters room a few weeks back and haven't found a lamp shade I like (in the right colours) for less than $70. I thought I would hunt for a shade at an op shop and alter it - now I will follow what you have done and recover it! Michelle

  2. Michelle - that's great, good luck!

  3. Lovely inspiration! I thought it would be a difficult process, but you have proven me wrong!! :) Hazel

  4. Love your lamp. I have kept this bookmarked and finally got around to doing my own a cuople of days ago.... and they look great. Thanks for sharing with us. Bianca

  5. Gorgeous! I love it! What a great idea, thanks for the tutorial.

  6. Thanks Julie, a bit of searching led me to your blog. I am so happy to find the instructions to makeover an old lampshade. I will post it on my blog ,when I am finished.

  7. Hi there!

    What exactly is polypropelene? Is it like plexiglass? I've been trying to get up the nerve to try this project, any last minute pieces of advice???

  8. Hi Milkweed.

    I'm really not sure what plexiglass is, I'm guessing that is some kind of product name rather than the actual name of the plastic - a plastic manufacturer is your best bet, they will talk in actual plastic (or chemical) terms rather than product names.

    Polypropylene is a thin, very pliable plastic, bends very easily and is usually a cloudy transparent colour although it can be bought in many other colours. Whatever plastic you use, it needs to be heat resistant because of the heat your light globe will give off.

    Hope this helps! Good luck.

    Also when using spray adhesive use a permanent one not a removable one, it will work much better.

  9. Thank you so much for this post. I made a lampshade on the weekend and your instructions were wonderful. It turned out really well and looks much cuter than the options available in the shops!

  10. Hi Julie, I am at the start of trying to fix up a fabulous floor lamp I found on the side of the road. It is super old and will need rewiring, sanding, etc. I am currently trying to do the lampshades and have a pattern and have stripped the frame however there is lots of pieces of glue and paper/fabric stuck to it. Did you have this problem? If so, what did you use to clean it up Thanks! Janneke

    1. Hi Janneke,
      I think mine must of has a bit of glue because it needed painting afterwards. Trying hard to remember but it was quite some time ago. If it is hardened glue you may need to use something to lift it off like a paint scraper, chisel or blade - something to get under the edge of the glue. For sticky thin glue, eucalyptus oil always works a treat. Sandpaper to smooth out finer bits then a coat of paint (as you will likely lose some paint off the frame in the process of cleaning it up). Good luck!


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