DIY – Giving a simple lamp shade a touch of elegance

DIY – Giving a simple lamp shade a touch of elegance

I recently came up with the idea to redesign the guest bedroom into a French inspired space – see Inspired by French Design. One aspect of this involved recovering some simple lamp shades. You can add a custom touch to a lamp shade with fabric that coordinates with your room’s decor, in my case, a French theme.

I was initally quite nervous about this undertaking as I’d never attempted this before, so I was grateful my mum was able to lend a hand and her expertise.

To start, we gathered together the shades, newspaper for a pattern, a marker, fabric, scissors, spray adhesive glue, and pegs. Here’s how we went about creating one-of-a-kind lamp shades for our home.

Step One

Lay a sheet of newspaper on a table. You can also use butcher paper or brown wrapping paper.

Step Two

To make a marker you will need to tie a piece of string or wool around the shade. Place the lamp shade on its side with the string on one edge of the newspaper. Be sure to leave enough room to roll the shade over the paper.


Step Three

Starting at the string on the lamp shade, roll the shade across the paper and trace the shape of the top and bottom edges of the shade. Roll the shade the whole way around until you reach the string again. Try not to get pen or pencil marks on the lamp shade.

Step Four

Take the shade away and add a 1 cm seam line the whole way around while cutting the pattern.

Step Five

Lay out your fabric face up and place the paper patten on top. Shift it around until you are happy with the position of the fabric – this is particularly important if the material has a pattern on it. Pin the pattern onto the material then cut it out.

Step Six

With the material face down, turn up 1cm along both long edges and one short edge and iron it. This needs to be done very carefully. If you don’t get a straight 1cm fold it will affect how it is glued to the shade.


Step Seven

Now place the ironed material onto your shade by lining up the seams with the top and bottom of the shade. It’s a good idea to check this prior to gluing it onto the shade. Here’s mum lining the material on the lamp shade.

Lining up the material

Step Eight

Using the fabric spray adhesive (I just bought it at the local hardware), carefully spray the shade from edge to edge starting at the short un-ironed edge. We only did about 15cm at a time to ensure there was no bubbles in the material. Take your time with this step to ensure the top and bottom seams remain aligned. Once you reach the short ironed seam, smooth it into position over the sprayed edge for a neat and even finish.

Spray adhesive

Step Nine

Now use the adhesive spray to fold and glue the top and bottom seams.

Tidying up the edging

Step Ten

We found the previous step a little tricky so we decided to use pegs to ensure the material adhered.

Pegs to hold in place while drying

And here’s the finished product. An elegant lamp shade that matches the bedbead I made perfectly.


Happy lamp shade covering!


Lay out your fabric face up and place the template on top, shifting it around until you are happy with the position of the fabric pattern underneath. Cut out the fabric.
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