Friday, September 07, 2007

How to cover a lampshade frame

Finally! I've gotten around to writing up this tutorial on how to cover a lampshade frame! Hope it all makes sense :)

- Lampshade frame (these can be tricky to find - I buy mine from Handworks in Prahran, VIC)
- Fabric (anything that can hold it's own when the light is on - you want to be able to still see the pattern!)
- Some sort of base stock to support the fabric - this can be card or flexible polypropylene.
- Spray Adhesive (this will be your best friend throughout the process - don't even bother trying without it)

1) Firstly, cut the base stock to be the same height as your lampshade frame (H), so the top just meets the top horizontal bar and the bottom just meets the bottom horizontal bar. (if your shade is conical you'll have to do that fancy thing where you lie the frame down onto the stock and roll it along, tracing the top and bottom as you go - you'll get a kind of arc shape).

The width of the stock should be enough so that there's about 2.5cm overlap after you've wrapped it around your shade.

2) Lay the base stock down on your fabric. Cut the fabric so that it's about 7mm taller than your base stock at the top and bottom, and a little bit wider (you'll trim this extra width off afterwards).

3) Put your base stock and fabric face down on some newspaper, and spray both completely with spray adhesive (depending on your spray adhesive you might only need to do one or the other, but mine recommends both surfaces). Wait a couple of minutes till the glue gets "tacky" then place the sticky side of your base cloth down centred on the sticky side of your fabric. Note: if you're not confident you can do this accurately, I'd recommend doing step 2 after step 3 :)

4) Trim off the extra fabric width neatly so that the fabric is flush with the base stock. Leave the extra height - you'll need this later!

5) Wrap your fabric & base stock around the frame. Glue the overlap down and wait for this to dry (or just secure it enough so that it doesn't move around).

6) Now for the fun bit - rolling the extra fabric around the top and bottom of the frame. Firstly you need to make this fabric tacky. I use spray adhesive again for this because it's nice and strong yet still "forgiving" in the early stages - ie you can move and restick things if you don't get it perfect the first time. I roll up a piece of scrap paper and place it inside the frame (to protect the inside from glue spray) and then spray around the inside of the fabric where it's sticking out - just the top for now. Wait a couple of minutes till this gets tacky.

7) Working your way around the circumference, carefully roll the fabric around the top horizontal bar and tuck it underneath. (if you've got a particularly thin or thick lampshade frame, you might need more or less than the 7mm extra fabric suggested). Also, depending on how your frame is constructed, you might have to cut slits in the fabric to make space for the vertical supporting rods.

8) repeat steps 6 & 7 for the bottom horizontal bar.

And that's it - you're done!


Bianca said...

fantastic! Thanks for sending me the email with the lampshade tutorial and having pics to go with it is even better.
To get answer your question on linen fabric, I bought mine from Charles Parsons, it's a 200gsm, 55% linen 45% cotton blend. Might be giving too much away now, but yes, I'm taking the plunge too in getting some fabrics printed. Good luck with yours, I absolutely love the designs! Will drop you an email with a pic once my lampshade with gold birch is finished.

Anonymous said...

You can find a lot of lamp shades to use as base if you look in thrift stores and flea markets!

Great tutorial, beautiful illustrations!

Heather Moore said...

Knocked out by your beautifully illustrated, excellently written tut! Thanks so much for putting so much effort into it.

Christie said...

Great tutorial, & by the way you have been tagged!! Full full instructions head on over to

Jessica Jones said...

This is excellent! And the most beautifully illustrated tutorial I've ever seen on a blog, I think. Thanks for taking the time to do this, Lara!

Florence Knapp (Flossie Teacakes) said...

What an amazing tutorial - thank you!

T said...

I'll have to try this!
Thank you : )

Concha said...

Thank you thank you thank you! That's awfully nice of you :)

Jason said...

Thank you Lara, you are so great to post these beautifully illustrated instructions. When is the book coming out?

Sherrin said...

great tutorial... I have wondered how to do this for a while... thanks!

Anonymous said...

nice! guess what i am going to do when i come back now? haha

200 gsm might be too thick. :) good luck with the linen hunting!

hey, i might open a temporary shop if i buy enough from jap hahaha.. we'll see.

Avie said...

thank you so much! i have been looking at beautiful overpriced lampshades for years thinking to myself "I know I can do that" I just never had the courage to try. Now I have no excuse!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous tutorial - thank you. I have a whole bunch of frames up in my attic waiting to be re-covered so great timing!

Leah said...

Hi, I just found your blog and love it. You are very creative and have a wonderful style. I was wondering, regarding the lamp shade post, what program you used to create the tutorial? Thank you for sharing your ideas.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit unclear on what you use for the lining (stock or polypropylene). What exactly do you use and where do you get it?

Thanks for the tutorial, very helpful.

Lara said...

Hi Anon,

You can use any sort of paper for the base stock so long as it has a bit of weight to it - heavier than normal paper but not too thick - the thicker it is the less light can come through :)

You can also get a sort of white opaque polypropylene from art stores - just ask and they should be able to help you out. This is the best option as it's translucent but nice and sturdy.

Leanna Welch said...

I saw this on Apartment Therapy. I cannot wait to redo a Giant water stained lampshade for a great 1950's lamp. I have not been able to find a shade in the right size and shape that is affordable. Thanks so much for the grat tutorial. BTW I love your site on Etsy.

Marie Green said...

Beautiful!!! Have need to do this for a long time to put some light in the corner of my livingroom. Do you know of anywhere to get the frames online? Thanks

Lara said...

Thanks cheaptherapy! Unfortunately I've had very little luck finding an online supplier of the frames :( You can however reuse the frame from an old lamp. Or even one from IKEA.

Faysey said...

Very informative!
I want to cover my shade with a vintage wallpaper rather than fabric, do I still need a backing or should I put it straight on to the frame?

Hayley said...

Fantastic tutorial!! My question is you've used a cylinder shaped lamp shade. My frames are a bit more difficult as they are vintage frames in a bell shape with scalloped edges. I've never covered a lamp shade before so I'm not sure how to adapt your technique to suit these lampshades. Could you help me out at all?
Any help appreciated greatly!

Teena said...

I was wondering if you would happen to have a tutorial for the kind of lampshade where the bottom is bigger around than the top. Thanks in advance.

Lara said...

Hi Teena!

Unfortunately no – it’s quite a bit trickier with cone shaped shades because the piece that’s wrapped around the shade is actually arc shaped!

I’ve seen a tutorial that suggests you roll your shade along a piece of paper and mark where the top and bottom rings touch the paper. The result should be two curved lines that form an arc. You have to be super careful when doing this though to get an accurate result.

Otherwise the technique for construction should be the same.

Hope that helps!


Anonymous said...

Could you use wallpaper instead of fabric?

julie said...

Great tutorial Lara, I've been wanting to try to make a lampshade and have some great fabric to use on it. Have to hunt down a frame and some polyprop first.

ps. Found your blog/s the other day and have found them very inspiring. I'm also trying my hand at learning to screen print, very early stages :)

Thank you!

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Naomi said...

Great tutorial! Thanks :)

Unknown said...

Also folks, I have successfully painted a tired old "hardbacked" lampshade using benjamin moore linen white paint. Just use a roller, go lighty, and recoat in 2-4 hrs. You may need to hold your hand on the inside, while carefully rolling the outside.