If an old lamp needs a makeover, creating a DIY lampshade is the quickest way to make it stand out with personal flair. “Have fun, keep it light, use what you have, and let yourself explore with color,” says Cara Gregor, owner of Cara Emilia in Sacramento, who doesn’t always want to buy another shade. “I work with what I have and just kinda see how it goes. Sometimes it works out perfectly!”
Your DIY lampshade can be as simple or as elaborate as your creative talents allow. You can start off with a preexisting lampshade or grab a new frame. The rest is up to you, whether you line the frame with fancy fabric, add jewels and fringe, or put your embroidery skills to good use. More often than not, you can find unique DIY lampshade accoutrements in thrift stores and on Amazon. Here, five bright ideas to teach you how to make a lampshade and give your lamp a new lease on life.
1. Custom Victorian lampshade
For those obsessed with all things vintage and eccentric, Ivy Karlsgodt of Ace of Shades in Brooklyn knows that a DIY lampshade is a perfect remedy. You can tailor it to any color scheme, space, or interior design style. “I like to use a layer or two of silk charmeuse as my base, and then add things like lace, velvet burnouts, and appliqués,” she says. “You can even reuse the fabric from unwearable vintage garments!” See how these gorgeous vintage-styled lampshades can mesmerize even the simplest of interiors.
To make a vintage shade, you’ll need:
Step 1: Prep the frame
Begin by spraying Rust-Oleum on the frame. Let dry. Wrap the cotton twill tape around all panels of the lampshade. Karlsgodt recommends wrapping the loose ends around the joints and securing them with a whip stitch. “This is what you’ll pin and stitch through,” she says.
Step 2: Cut and pin the fabric panels
Cut rectangular pieces of the fabric to be at least half an inch wider than the width and length of the lampshade’s panels. Pin the fabric by its four corners and add pins in between. She recommends stretching the fabric with one hand as you go until you have a pin every one inch or so, all the way around. “If you’re using something like a lace or velvet burnout layered over a solid fabric, you can pin these on together or sew the layers on separately,” Karlsgodt says. She emphasizes keeping the fabric on grain from top to bottom and side to side.
Step 3: Sew on the fabric
Using a whip stitch, sew the fabric onto the frame through the twill tape (not all the way around the wire). The stitches should be about 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch long.
Step 4: Cut off the excess
Cut off the excess fabric as close as you can to the panel without cutting the stitches. “Use double curved appliqué scissors for this,” she says. “Don’t worry about fraying—the gimp braid will seal this.” Repeat sewing and cutting on every panel until you finish the frame.
Step 5: Add the embellishments
Stitch on appliqués, netting, or any other details to make the shade your own. Glue on the fringe using fabric glue. Karlsgodt recommends going slowly and only gluing on a little at a time. “You can attach the fringe to the outside or inside of the frame,” she says. “I usually attach it to the outside as long as my gimp braid is wide enough to cover the stitching at the top of the fringe. Pro tip: use pin-curl clips to hold the fringe on while it dries.”
Step 6: Attach the braid trim
Glue on the braid trim to all of the visible stitching. “Any visible seams in the braid should be cut exactly to line up with each other and joined with a dot of glue to appear continuous,” Karlsgodt says. “Go slowly and take care not to get any excess glue on your fabric panels.”