re-covering an old lamp shade

i have this old lamp shade. i’ve had it since i was a child. it has moved with me, many times, and the ratty, pleated “dusty rose” cover was more dusty than rose. and so, i stripped off the fabric, to see what was underneath.

the shade is made of plastic, and it had seen better days. you can see a crack here:

but otherwise, the shade and its components (basically, the metal pieces that hold it together onto the lamp) were perfectly fine. i got a cloth to dust the lamp and all its bits, and pondered what to do about it all.

i tried to see past the brass base, and my thoughts wandered over to a few of my favourite things: fabric, glue gun, and spray paint.

and so. the pieces started falling into place.

the lamp is to go into my daughter’s new room, and i immediately thought of this adorable heather ross fabric i’ve been hoarding in my stash since i purchased it a few years ago from sewzanne’s.com. sewzanne’s is a work-at-home business, by the way, run by a mom. she ships quickly and is one of the nicest people i’ve never met. ;-) and no she did not pay me to say this, in cash or fabric, though i’d take the fabric in an instant!

ah yes, back to the fabric. here is a sneaky peek:

isn’t the bike just perfect, with those streamers and banana seat? it takes me back instantly to my childhood, even though i don’t think i ever had a bike like that. maybe i just wished i did. heather ross has a way of doing that with her designs, taking you to another time and place. i love her work. if you’re still here reading this, it’s probably because you didn’t click the link to her website. because i know if you did click it, you’d be lost in her world of designs. please come back? bookmark me? something? :-)

i taped up the wire at the base of the lamp, and held it away while i spray-painted the rest of the base. i’m sure there’s a way to take the wire out, but that wasn’t something i wanted to tackle just yet. i did the spraying outside, with a mask on. i also had a large piece of cardboard underneath to catch the wayward sprays. i’ve learned that whatever piece of cardboard or plastic you think is big enough to use underneath a spray-painting project …generally isn’t. double the size. or, you know, have patches of paint on your grass or driveway and call it art. that might work too.

i used rustoleum’s american accents paint, in “heirloom white” satin finish.
while the base was drying (it took about 3 coats, 20 mins apart, plus a full day left untouched to cure), i worked on the rest of the lamp. this was the fun part for me.

using a large piece of paper, i lay the lampshade with the seam down. this was my starting point.

i rolled the lampshade around slowly, tracing an outline starting at the top of the shade. as it goes around, it creates a curve, and i stopped tracing once the seam was touching the paper again.

i repeated this on the bottom edge of the shade, so i ended up with something like this.

i added an inch to each curved line. this extra bit was to let me overlap the fabric slightly as it wrapped around the shade. i joined the curves with a ruler. you can see the extra “bit” (about half an inch) above the ruler.

this was going to be my template for cutting the fabric to size.

i cut this piece, and placed it on top of my fabric. whenever possible, i like to save fabric and time, and i found folding the template and placing the fold of the template on the fold of the fabric (still with me?) was easier and more tidy. less cutting, and it fit neatly into the corner of this piece of precious (to-me) fabric.

so in this photo, the fold of the fabric and the paper template is down along the right hand side.

apologies for the dark photo. must get more lighting in my crafty corner of the basement.

i always cringe a little when i make the first cut on a much-loved fabric. i used my rotary cutter, which is great for curves and precise cutting. i started thinking about how my choice of using a rotary cutter instead of scissors is kinda how king henry viii asked for an experienced swordsman to behead his wife anne boleyn, rather than using the usual hack ax-man. perhaps.

this is after cutting the fabric, before ironing. i didn’t take a photo of me ironing, you can thank me later. isn’t ironing painful enough?

most places online suggested i use a spray adhesive on the fabric. i didn’t have any, so i just used a plain old acid-free glue stick.

instead of gluing the fabric, i ran it up and down the shade.

this next part was a bit tricky. i placed and wrapped the fabric around. but even though it is a woven (vs. knit) fabric, the curved cut creates some bias stretch. so i had to play with it a little, making sure i got the bubbles of air out between the fabric and the shade. i trimmed any extra bits above and below the shade, so that the fabric was pretty much in line with the rim of the shade.

oh i forgot. earlier i had measured the trim i was going to use, but this can be done anytime really. again i added a little bit more to the length. the sequined trim was a dollar-store purchase.

i fired up the glue gun and got to work. as i was doing this, i thought how fun and easy this whole process was, and why in the world would i ever consider purchasing an actual lampshade? i also thought about what i’d be making for dinner, and what forms i had to fill out for school the next day. this was precisely the same time i burned my thumb with some hot glue. ouch. careful with that thing. it’s small, but mighty!

i played around with tucking the trim in on itself at the end before gluing it down, but found it was too bulky that way.

that little bit of extra trim measured out earlier worked just fine to finish the trim.

all written out, i know it seems like a lot of work. but it wasn’t so bad. and well, it was all so very much worth it, i’d say. a designer fabric lamp shade, cute as a button.

the finished base, after painting:

the finished shade:

and in its place on the desk:

what do you think? have you re-covered a lamp shade before? did you do anything differently? drop me a line!

i shared this on funky junk donna’s website.

© imadeitso, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to ana at imadeitso.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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5 Responses to re-covering an old lamp shade

  1. Corey says:

    What a fun project! Neat series of pictures, too. I have done a couple of lampshades from scratch and I found it very satisfying as they were difficult!

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