Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tutorial: Recover a lampshade the lazy way

Do you ever have a project on your mind that you want to do, but DON'T want to do at the same time?  You  know, something that would be a big improvement once it's finished, something that you really do want done, but the idea of actually going through the process just makes your eye twitch?

This lampshade was one of those projects.  It started off as a nice big, plain lampshade, but during our last move it had gotten a little beaten up.  The plastic on the inside was dented and when the light was on those dents were an eye sore.

As I mentioned in the post I wrote about the painted lamp that this shade belongs to, I did end up trying to camouflage the dents by painting some 1" vertical stripes on the shade.


They looked fine with the light off, but with it on the stripes were streaky and uneven and looked just awful.

I spent a long time trying to figure out how I could fix my flub without having to replace the shade completely.  That's where my lazy crafter side came out.  I did NOT want to hassle with trying to cover the shade with fabric, which to me seemed like a really unforgiving process.  You have to get the fabric on straight, get it on smooth, and don't you dare mess up or it'll be obvious!  At least that's what I imagined. 

Also, I hate spray adhesive.  Blech.

So I pondered and pondered, when one day as I was browsing lamp shades in Target I spotted a super cute one that I really wanted to just buy.  It was covered in a grey cotton fabric that had lots of tiny little pleats and folds all the way around it.  PERFECT!!!  No precision, no perfection and no spray adhesive!  I decided to recreate this look with my bruised shade.

I came home and carefully sliced through the thin layer of silk fabric that I'd painted the stripes on and peeled it off completely, leaving the bare, dented plastic lining.  I'm not sure this step was really necessary, but I didn't want those stripes showing through my new fabric.

Luckily I had a good sized piece of grey linen in my fabric stash, so I proceeded to cut it to the height of my shade + 2".  The length I cut was a total guess.  I used a piece that was the length of my fabric, plus a piece that was about 3/4 the length.  I didn't want my new ruffled shade to be too full.  But if I were to do it again, I would measure around my shade, then double that measurement and cut my fabric to that length.

I sewed the two pieces together end to end to give myself one long piece.

This next step was pretty cool.  I absolutely HATE gathering fabric for ruffles using a basting stitch.  So I did a quick search and found this tutorial for a tricky way to do it without worrying about busting your basting stitch.  Click on over for a full step-by-step.  But I'll give you a quick run down here.

1. Pull your top and bobbin threads out so they're a little longer than the length of your fabric.  Yep, waaaay out so they're as long as your fabric, plus a few inches. 

2.  Lay your fabric under your presser foot then bring both long threads underneath the foot and lay them out in front of your needle.

3.  Set your stitch length to normal (I used 3.5) and your stitch width to a wide zig zag.

4.  Stitch a zig zag right over those long threads, all the way down the side of your fabric.  (Make sure you're not sewing INTO the long threads when your needle comes down to create your zig zag stitches.  You just want to cover those long threads.)

5. Clip only your zig zag threads when you're done stitching, NOT the long threads.

6.  Pull on those long threads to gather your fabric.  They should pull easily underneath your zig zag stitch to create your gathered edge.
 Gather both sides of your fabric along the long edges, distributing the gathers evenly and checking to make sure that your finished length is enough to go entirely around your lampshade.

Take it to your ironing board and press the folds down in a neat or messy way, whichever you prefer.  I went with messy.

Place your fabric on the table, wrong side up, then lay your shade on top of the fabric.  Fold the fabric to the inside of the shade and glue the raw edges down using a hot glue gun. 
Glue a few inches on one side, then tug the fabric to the other side and glue a few inches on the other side.  Continue this way all the way around the shade.  *I wasn't paying much attention and my fabric got a little skewed as I went.  Not a big deal to me, but if you want your pleats and gathers to be nice and straight up and down, keep an eye on this as you go.  Or you could skew your fabric intentionally and end up with diagonal pleats!  How cool would that look?!

To finish off the inside, glue a length of grosgrain ribbon to cover those raw edges.

Learn from my mistake and give yourself enough extra width on your fabric so your zig zag stitches aren't showing once you've folded the raw edges in.  Some of mine are peeking over to the outside of the shade because I cut my fabric too narrow.

And here's the finished shade!  (See those diagonal gathers?  They don't really bother me, but I'd be more careful to keep things straight if I did it again.)

Bye bye ugly dented shade. 

Hello gorgeous custom pleated shade!!


Jake & Lisa Danes said...


Mary said...

What a neat idea! Will definitely keep it in mind next time I want to redo a lamp shade..

Maureen said...

Nicely done!!! Looks great!

Rachael said...

I think the diagonal gather is awesome! Way more character and design then a straight gather! Great lampshade fix!

Lisa Vinci said...

Useless Post, Porn-Star Sues to Brazzers.

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