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Extreme Makeover: Lamp Edition

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Lighting is a crucial element for all interior design projects. If you have a space where your lighting needs a little refresh (sewing/craft room, dorm, family room), we have tips to customize a lampshade. Some lampshades are made by applying a paper backing to fabric to create the shape and these are very easy to recover. This tutorial is for a lampshade that contains no stiffener or interfacing which is a little trickier. Follow along to find instructions to remove the old fabric and lining, create a pattern for the new fabric and lining, customize the lampshade, and apply it to the frame.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Main Fabric:
For our shade (height 13”, lower diameter 18”), we used 5/8 yard of style #16638 Portofino – White (100% Linen)

We used 5/8 yard of style #17380 New Silquessa Lining – White (100% Polyester)

Fabric for Appliques:
We used 1/8 yard style #17285 Broadcloth – Gold (Poly/Cotton blend) and 1/8 yard of style #16743 Silk Organza – 18C Teal (100% Silk)

Paper-backed Fusible Fabric Adhesive:
We used ½ yard style #17100 Pellon Wonder Under 805

Fabric Glue:
We used Aleene’s OK to Wash It, but you can use your favourite fabric glue that dries clear and matte. You’ll also need a small bowl and something to apply the glue such as cotton swabs or a small paintbrush.

Sewing Thread to match main fabric and lining

One Package of Double-Fold Bias Tape
Or single-fold, if you don’t want the tape to show on the outside of your shade.
For our shade, we used almost the whole package, so if your shade is larger, you may need more.

Sewing Machine with a nice straight stitch

Straight Pins

Iron and Ironing Board

Press cloth

Pencil and large pieces of paper to create patterns

Scissors for fabric

Scissors for paper

Bull clips (or other strong clips to clamp to frame while glue dries)

Optional: Spray paint, masking tape, and drop cloth


original lamp

Removing the Shade Part 1:
Carefully peel back the bias tape from the frame at both the bottom and top of the shade. Remove main fabric from the frame.

Removing the Shade Part 2:
Carefully remove the lining from the top and bottom of the frame of the shade. The lining may want to fray, so take special care to limit tears or frays.

Optional Step – Painting the base of the lamp:
Make sure the lamp is unplugged. Apply masking tape to areas that will not be painted, including the cord. Please follow all manufacture’s instructions on spray paint (i.e. use outdoors or in well ventilated area). Put down a drop cloth to protect the area from any potential over spray. Protect your clothing.

Let’s make some patterns:
The first thing we will do is make a pattern for the lining. Your pieces will have been stretched out on the frame, so they will probably not lay flat. Press the pieces with your iron, so they lay flat. Be careful with the temperature of your iron when pressing lining. Also take care not to apply your iron to any glue residue as this may damage your iron.
Once the lining is pressed, fold it in half as shown in the first image above. Pin the folded edge to one edge of your pattern paper. Continue to pin the lining to the paper. Then trace the shape of the lining on to the paper. Remove the pins and set the lining aside. Cut out the pattern piece and mark it as lining and that it should be cut on the fold.
Repeat the process for the main fabric. We had to clip into the bias tape in order to get the fabric to lay flat.
You should now have a pattern for the lining and the main fabric.

Let’s make some fusible appliques:
For our lamp we made 12 – 4” x 4” squares to apply to our shade fabric (6 each of two colours). You can follow the steps to do exactly what we did, or you can add your own creative flair. You may want to limit yourself to a single colour, or maybe you want to expand to more colours? Keep in mind that when you overlap sheer fabrics like organza, you can create amazing colour-mix effects. For the shapes we used simple squares, but you may want to try circle, rings, bars, or more organic shapes.
To create our 4” squares we took our Wonder Under and cut it into 3 strips that were each 4 1/2” wide as shown above.

We then ironed the Wonder Under to the back of our broadcloth. IMPORTANT: Make sure that the glue side of the Wonder Under is facing the back of the fabric and NOT your iron. IWe recommend using a press cloth when pressing the Wonder Under to avoid any glue seeping through to your iron. We followed the same process to apply the Wonder Under to the back of the Silk Organza. Make sure that your iron is set at a temperate suitable for the fabrics that you are working with.

Once the Wonder Under was transferred to the fabric, we trimmed our strips down from 4 ½” to 4” by removing ¼” from each of the long sides. Once we had done this, we sub-cut our 4” strip into 4” squares.

Let’s cut out our lining!
Open out the lining. Bring the selvedge toward the centre fold, until you have enough space to lay the lining pattern on the fold. Pin the pattern at the folded edge and then continue to pin the pattern to the lining around the rest of the pattern piece. Cut out the first lining piece. Repeat the process working from the other selvedge so that you end up with TWO identical lining pieces.

Let’s cut out our main fabric!
Follow the same steps as you did for cutting out the lining. You will now have two identical main fabric pieces.

Let’s sew the lining!
Open out the two lining pieces and lay them right-sides-together. Place pins along the two side seams. Using a short stitch length, sew the side seams together using the same seam allowance used on the original lining. For us that was a 3/8” (1cm) seam. Press the seam allowances to one side.

Let’s sew the main fabric!
For the main fabric, we follow the same steps as the lining EXCEPT that we only sew ONE of the seams. This will allow us to work on the appliques more easily.

Let’s apply the appliques!
The first thing you will need to do is remove the paper backing from you appliques. It may be quite tricky to try to peel back the paper from the edge. Instead, we recommend scoring the paper with a straight pin near the centre of the applique. Then, fold the paper along the scored edge. You should be able to grab the edge of the paper and start peeling it away. Remove all of the paper in this manner for all of the appliques.

Once you have removed the paper you can place your appliques (adhesive-side-down) on to the main fabric in your desired pattern. We spaced ours out evenly but varied the rotation of the squares. Once you are happy with your layout, you may press them in place. We recommend using a press cloth to protect your iron. Do not slide your iron over the appliques. Instead, you should press one spot and then lift your iron to press the next spot. Continue this process for the rest of the appliques.

Applying the sheer appliques:
For our lampshade we then applied the sheer silk organza appliques. This created a cool transparency effect. We prepared the sheer appliques in the same way by scoring the paper with a pin and removing all the paper. We then placed all but one of the appliques and pressed them in place (using a press cloth). We reserved the final applique to cover the second seam.

Once we had applied all but the last applique, we pinned and sewed the second seam on the main fabric. We then pressed the seam allowance to once side. Then, we draped the shade over the end of our ironing board and applied the final applique to the shade, over the seam.

Now it’s time to dry-fit the lining!
Let’s start from the bottom. First, pop the lining inside the frame making sure that the seams line up with the “spokes” on the frame as shown in the first image above and that the seams are facing toward the outside of the shade. Wrap the edge of the lining around the frame and clamp in place. Repeat the same process on the other side of the shade with the other seam. Once the lining is clamped at the two seams apply the rest of the clamps evenly. The lining should be fairly taut. Then flip the shade over and repeat the process for the top of the shade. In order to work around the spokes coming from the centre of the top of the shade, you will need to clip into the seam allowance of the top edge of the lining as shown in the second-to-last image above.

Let’s apply some glue!
Pour a small amount of glue into a small dish. Remove one of the clamps from the top of the shade. Lift back the fabric to expose the frame. Apply glue to the frame, using a cotton swab or a small paintbrush. Then wrap the lining back over the frame and re-apply the clamp. Continue this process around the top of the frame. Allow the glue to dry for a couple of hours before working on the bottom.

Follow the same process to secure the lining to the bottom edge of the frame. Allow the lining to dry before applying the main fabric.

Once the lining has dried, you can dry fit the main fabric to the frame in the same way that you did for the lining. Make sure that the seams in the main fabric line up with the seams in the lining. This time, place the fabric on the outside of the frame and glue the seam allowances to the inside of the shade. Once you have applied the main fabric and the glue has dried you can trim away the excess fabric with the tips of your fabric scissors as shown in the last image above. Be very careful not to clip into the lining.

The final step is to apply the bias tape. First, use the clamps to dry-fit the bias around the bottom edge of the frame to make sure you have enough. Then you can cut the bias allowing a little extra for overlap. Remove the clamps. Apply fabric glue to the back of the bias tape and apply the bias tape to the edge of the frame. We used double-fold bias, so it wraps to the inside and outside of the frame. If you choose to use single-fold bias, you will apply it to the inside of the frame making sure that it is not visible from the outside and that it is covering the raw, cut edge of your main fabric. Continue gluing the bias to the frame around the entire circumference doing a small section at a time. When you get to the end, apply glue right to the end and fold back the last ½” of the tape. Then, apply glue to the folded end and attach to the edge of the frame and apply a clamp to hold it until it dries. Repeat the same process for the top of the frame.

Once all of the glue has dried, you can remove the clamps and secure the lampshade to your lamp.

Now it’s time to grab a good book (or a knitting or hand-sewing project – hint! hint!) and enjoy your customized lamp.


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