Tuesday, July 22, 2008

lovely lampshades

Lamp before the seemingly simple and innocent shade makeover.

Lamp after the frustrating and not-so-easy shade makeover.

How could such a seemingly simple decorating project cause so much frustration? This is what I asked myself for the second time since starting the lampshade makeover. As I sat there yesterday, finally gluing the fabric to the shade, I quickly realized that this could end up looking like something from my 8th grade home economics class if I wasn't careful.

And yet, Cottage Living made it sound so simple; only four steps to a gorgeous custom looking lampshade. The perfect way to use leftover fabric and add whimsy to any room. The ribbon bordering each end of the shade would hide rough edges and give the lamp a finished feel. Well, this was all much, much easier said than done. In fact, I would not recommend covering your lampshades in this manner unless you are an extremely patient and laid back person (I thought I was).

Isn't it lovely?

I'll lay down the basic steps for you, and give you pointers along the way.


A paper lampshade
1-2 yards of fabric depending on the size of your paper shade
Approx. 2 yards of 3/4" wide grosgrain ribbon in a coordinating (but dark) color
Aleene's No Sew Fabric Glue (at JoAnn's Fabrics and Crafts, but not online)
Dritz's Sewing and Craft Tape (found at JoAnn's stores also)
4 Large pieces of newsprint drawing paper, taped together
Fabric scissors
Craft scissors

1. With your large piece of newsprint drawing paper on the floor, trace with a pencil while rolling the lampshade across it: Start with the seam of the shade facing up, and trace along the bottom edge of the shade until the seam appears again. Reposition the shade at the starting point and repeat that step for the top edge of the shade.

2. Cut out your pattern and tape it around the shade. Trim off any excess paper around top and bottom edges. In fact, trim paper so that 1/4" of shade appears along top and bottom edge. This is so when you glue your fabric on, no raw edges will be showing. (Plus, the ribbon will hide them.)

3. Use your paper pattern to cut out the fabric. Be sure to allow extra fabric on the end to create a neat, folded seam at the back of the lampshade. Iron the fabric so it is nice and flat to work with.

4. Using Aleene's No Sew Fabric Glue, run a bead along the shade, about 1/2" from the top and bottom edges, as well as a line along the seam at the back.

5. Centering the fabric on the shade while it is sitting on a work surface, affix the fabric to the glue, smoothing as you go. This glue dries quickly, so work as fast as you can.

6. Fold about a 1/2" of fabric under at the back seam, and glue.

7. Affix the Dritz Sewing and Craft Tape to the top edge of the lamp. Unwind grosgrain ribbon directly from the spool. Start at the back seam, and stretch ribbon inch by inch along the top edge, keeping it taught as you go. This will help prevent wrinkles and bubbles. At the back of the shade, cut the ribbon so that you will have a 1/2" to fold under and use a small piece of the tape to secure it.

8. Repeat step seven for the bottom of shade as well.

9. Put shade on lamp!
I have to admit, it turned out pretty good, but still!

One thing that caused a problem for me, was the color of ribbon I initially chose. I picked an ivory ribbon that was the same color as the background in the fabric. Bad idea. I could see right through the ribbon to my jagged little fabric edges. (I did not allow the 1/4" on the bottom and top edges, and therefore had to trim the fabric while it was pinned on the lamp.) I had to go back to the store, and picked a chocolate brown ribbon instead, which probably ended up for the best.

If you decide to try this at home, I would recommend doing it with a friend. For detail oriented projects like this one, two crafty heads are always better than one. Because I already had the fabric and the shades, this project cost me only $11 for the ribbon, glue and tape.

I am ultimately happy with the results, but I can't say that I would ever attempt this again! If any of you have an easier technique for covering lamp shades, let me know!


Candace said...

The adhesive lamp shade I covered was easy as can be. The sticker part becomes your fabric template. Problem is that size and shape is seriously limited. Yours turned out adorable. I like the color combination.

Aimee said...

Kudos to you for sticking with it! I'm not sure that I would have the wearwithall to have done it! It was absolutely worth it though - they are incredibly chic - and now that they are on the oh-so-cool end tables there is no stopping them!