This post is about covering an old lampshade with pretty fabric and recycling it to be new again. Don’t judge me, please, looking at the state of the shade. But if you do, I wouldn’t blame you. This lampshade which was in storage is one of the catastrophes that I am used to. The shade is almost a goner, but it can be restored.
In theory, it is quite easy. Let me explain how I did it – in two ways.
Let me state some positive things about covering old lampshades. Even if your lampshade does not look like mine, you may still want to do it to get a matching colored shade for your decor. You can match it with your curtain or your sofa, or the accent color /accessories, or whatever your fancy.
When choosing fabric, you have to decide whether you want full-on light or partial light. For good light through the shade, you will have to choose a light-colored fabric, which is why most lampshades are white or cream. You just need enough fabric to fit the top circumference and bottom circumference. You may want to line your fabric or add interfacing or use it as it is. These are all your decisions
Cutting the fabric on the bias grain is what I will recommend for good fitting.
2 ways to change the lampshade cover
Method 1 – Draping over the frame
This method can be used if your lampshade has just a metal frame on which the fabric is attached to. A new fabric of your choice can be stretched and stitched on to the frame.
- Remove the old cover of your lampshade
Looking at my old shade, I thing if there is a metal frame under your fabric, this is a very good idea for recovering – just use yards and yards of ribbon or fabric strips and wrap over the metal frame – see through fabrics like organza can look beautiful. My cover is covered in dirt so removing it is not an option for me.
- Cut the fabric
Cut the fabric in the shape of a wedge. I can give you the dimensions to cut 2 such wedges – this usually fits a lot of lampshades. Anyways check your length and circumference before cutting the final.
- Cut 2 such pieces
- Pin the fabric pieces over the frame
This is then draped over the frame and pinned in place. Keep the wedge-shaped fabric right side down on the frame. Pin the two fabric pieces together at the sides. Use a lot of pins.
- Stretch the fabric tight to make it really tight over the frame. Now use a marking pen/chalk to mark the pin positions. Do this on the two sides of your frame
- Sew the pieces together at the side edges
Now take out the pins and remove the fabric pieces from the frame. Sew the fabric pieces together at the sides.
- Turn the cover right side out
Cut off the extra seam allowance inside. Finish the edges with pinking shears or zig zag stitches. Turn it right side out.
- Now put your new fabric cover rightside out over the frame.
Trim off the extra at the top and botton edges. You just need to have enough to turn under the edges
- Sew the top and bottom edge
Sew the edges in place. Use hand sewing needle and thread and whip stitches. At the top edge, if the hole is narrow, you may have to use pin stitches instead of whip stitches.
- Sew the edges of top and bottom
- Attach ribbon or trim on the inside
This is to hide the inside stitches.
Method 2 – Using the old lampshade as a pattern
This method is used if there is a stiff plastic lampshade cover under the fabric lampshade cover. You just need to make a simple fabric cover in the same pattern as the old fabric outside.
Step 1 – Remove the old cover
If there is a plastic frame over the metal frame over which the fabric is attached, you can cut off the old fabric to make your pattern. You will be keeping the plastic frame but changing the fabric over it.
Peel off the fabric carefully (Cut off carefully so that you get it intact, so that you can make the pattern from it)
Lay it out.
Trace around it so that you have 1 inch extra at the top and bottom. Because you will be cutting off the excess there; you need this 1 inch for turning inside.
Step 2 – Cut it out of the fabric
Step 3 – Sew the edges together
Keep the fabric folded right side to the inside and sew the side edges together
Turn the lampshade cover right side out. Insert the fabric cover over the plastic -metal frame.
Step 4 – Glue the top and bottom edges to the inside
Use white craft glue to attach the fabric at the top and bottom to the shade. Turn the top edge and bottom edge over the frame edge and glue in place.
If you snip the edges every 1/2 inch, it will turn smoothly.
Use clothespins or clips on the edges at the top and bottom to keep the folded fabric intact, until the glue dries.
I attached a trim at the bottom edge. You can also sew braids and fringes on the bottom edge – but I think it is a bit traditional. If you have a modern decor choose simple fabrics with no trims. An interesting stand is what makes the modern lampshades stand out. If your frame is rusted you may want to tape it with fabric tape – a 1/2 inch tape can be used to go over the frame – it will protect the frame and prevent more damage and also hide the faults it already has.
Updated on November 5, 2022 by Sarina Tariq