The art of illumination is part of elegance. But how graceful would your bedside table look without a well-crafted elegant lampshade? They say that elegance is extravagance.
A new lampshade may cost from 20 bucks up to 100 bucks depending on your taste. But would it cost a fortune if you decide to become the very artist yourself? Of course not!
If you have the metal frame, all you need is a moderate amount of sewing skill and a little bit of patience. In this piece, you’ll learn the craftsmanship of how to cover a lampshade frame with fabric from scratch.
How to Cover a Lampshade Frame with Fabric
Table of Contents
What Materials Do You Need?
Here is the list of things you need to make a cover and a lining for your lampshade.
- Cotton tape/ribbon
- Sewing needle
- Sewing thread
- Needle pin
- Fabrics for outer cover and lining
- Fabric glue
- Fabric Chalk
- Bordering trim
Getting the Frame Ready for Work
It doesn’t make much sense when you think about sewing on a metal frame, does it? You need a proper base to sew on. And for that, we have the cotton tape.
What you have to do first is wrap up the top-most rim and the base rim of the metal frame with your cotton tape. But how much tape do you need?
To know that, just run the tape over the strut and measure both top and bottom circles. The amount of tape needed is usually two and a half to three times the circumference of the rim.
Now to get to the real work, you have to wrap the tape thoroughly around every inch of strut there is on the top and bottom. Any strut joint in the top or bottom circular frame is a good place to start.
Remember, you have to keep pressure when wrapping the frame to keep the binding tight. Otherwise, you will lose the tension of the cotton tape on which you will be sewing the fabric later on.
Trust me; you do not want the tape to move at that point. Also, a little thicker binding, say two layers of cotton tape, is better than a single layer.
Adhesive styrene is usually used for lining in commercially made lampshades. But any white cotton fabric would do, considering your bulb won’t heat up like the sun or suddenly catch on fire.
- You should find and mark the bias grain.
- Now, cover more than half of the frame with the fabric.
- Put the fabric across the bias grain onto the frame at an angle of the grainline that will allow the material to be stretched and fitted properly.
- Now attach the fabric to the frame by pinning on the cotton tape layers with needle pins. Use pins as much as necessary to make the fabric taut.
- After that, divide the frame into two parts in your head and use a pencil to draw patterns along struts from exactly half of the frame.
The initial work of taking measurements is pretty much done. Now take off all the pins to detach the fabric. For ease of understanding, let’s call this the measurement piece.
With this piece, you will be measuring and cutting the patterns for your outer cover as well as the lining.
How to Cut the Patterns Perfectly?
Take the fabric you chose for the upper cover and fold it into two layers.
- Now put the measurement piece you got on top of the cover fabric in such a fashion that the total drawn pattern lays on the upper side for you to see.
- Next, mark the cover fabric with chalk. While marking, keep a bit of seam allowance. Cut the fabric along the pattern border you drew.
- At this point, you should end up with two pieces of fabric; as for the excess material that you cut off, leave it. It might come in handy later on.
- The bias grain should be aligned along one side of the upper corner of the fabric to the opposite side of the lower corner. With luck, you might just end up getting it perfect the first time.
- Cut at least four notches on either side of the fabric to help line it up later.
- Now take the fabric you have for the lining in double layers, just like the outer cover fabric.
- Put the measurement fabric piece over it and precisely mark the lining fabric with chalk. And don’t forget to keep at least half an inch of seam allowance to the upright edge.
Now you can easily cut out your lining pattern. The only difference about cutting the lining fabric is, you have to cut a little bit from the center of the seam while the top and bottom of the seam remain unaltered.
This is because the center part of the lining fabric will be inside the frame, where the circumference will be a bit smaller than the outside.
Also, remember to cut the notches. Now that the cutting part is done, we are ready to sew up our pieces.
Getting the Pieces Ready for the Frame
It would help if you had your fabric pieces face to face when sewing them together so that the seam is on the inside.
When stitching, make sure to use a tight stitch. That will give extra strength. If you have a sewing machine, that is fantastic. But if you don’t, your hands will do just fine.
After sewing both the lining and outer cover pieces, it is now time to put them on the frame.
- First, see how the outer cover fits the frame. If you got the initial measurements right, it should fit in perfectly. Keep the seams close to a strut but on one side. Trying to divide the seam allowance may seem intriguing but trust me, it will not look good.
- If the outer cover fits properly, then take it off and try on the lining. You may face some difficulties keeping the lining taut inside the frame.
Use the needle pins to attach the lining fabric to the bottom and top circular struts you wrapped up with cotton tapes before. That will make your job so much easier. If everything fits perfectly, you can take off the lining and proceed to the next step.
Stitching the Final Pieces to the Frame
Let’s begin by sewing the outer cover first. Put on the outer cover to the frame and attach it with just enough pins on top and bottom so that it holds firmly. Tap your fingers onto the fabric to make sure it is taut.
Now put a thread in your needle and start sewing. While sewing, you have to remove pins every now and then but don’t remove too many pins at once. Otherwise, there is a risk of losing tautness and shape.
And of course, whether you finish the top or bottom, complete it before moving on to the next part. After you are finished with stitching the outer cover, you can cut off the excess fabric with the scissor.
Moving on to the lining, it’s a good habit to align the seam of the lining with the hem of the outer fabric. Pin the lining piece to the bottom rim of the frame. As for the top, make sure that the collar is a tight fit.
But a minor difficulty remains. Since the lining is put from the inside of the frame, the bulb’s struts may be an obstacle in putting the edges of the lining on and around the top rim of the frame properly.
The solution is quite simple. You just have to cut slits on those places. With the slits, you can now easily pin the fabric down onto the cotton tape and start sewing.
When the sewing is done, cut off the excess fabric but do not dump them yet. Make use of these extra fabrics by stitching them to hide the slits. But make sure to keep the layer thin.
Giving the Finishing Touch
Time for applause! You are almost at the end of making your first lampshade cover. And boy, does it take some patience to come this far!
All you have to do now is add the elegant trim of your choice to the borders and cover up the stitches. Just like you pinned the fabrics before, you pin the trim fabric on the rims.
You can now safely remove the pins. Gradually remove the pins one by one as you glue small parts of the trim at a time.
To give a neat finish, fold the trim half an inch when it joins in its beginning position. Continue this process and cover up both the top and bottom rims. And finally, your lampshade is complete and ready to be illuminated.
If you’ve read the piece, you should be pretty confident knowing how to cover a lampshade with fabric. This DIY project certainly needs plenty of patience. But there is so much room for creativity, and the final result itself is very much rewarding.