How to make a sewn silk lampshade

Updated February 21, 2017

Lampshade projects do not have to begin and end at painting or altering an existing lampshade. The construction of the lampshade itself is not as complicated as it may seem, and largely consists of sewing a pyramid-shaped tube onto a lampshade frame. You can make lampshades out of any fabric and in any style you wish. To make your own sewn silk lampshade, follow the directions in this article.

Take the covering off of an old lampshade that fits the lamp you are making the new lampshade for so that you are left with the wire form. Wrap the wire form tightly with bias tape or twill tape, gluing it in place with fabric adhesive. If using bias tape, iron the tape open before attaching it to the wire form.

Make a pattern for the new lampshade cover. Measure the height of your wire form, then add 2 inches to this measurement. Also measure the circumferences of your wire form at the top and bottom by wrapping a measuring tape all the way around the form. Add 2 inches to these measurements as well. If the lampshade you are working with is cylindrical (the top and bottom circumferences are equal), your pattern will be a rectangle with the circumference of the shade (plus 2 inches) as the length and the height of the shade (plus 2 inches) as the height. On a sheet of paper, draw a vertical line for the height measurement and horizontal lines for the length. If the shade is larger at the bottom than at the top, you will need a curved pattern. Lay the wire form on its side on the paper and place your pencil at the bottom edge. Roll the wire form along the paper, tracing the curve it makes on the paper as you go with your pencil. Once you get back to where you started tracing on the form, start over and trace the top edge in the same way, making sure that as you roll the form it follows the line you drew before. Cut this shape from the paper and wrap it around your wire frame to test the fit.

Lay your pattern down on your silk fabric and pin it in place, then cut all around the pattern. Remove the pattern from the fabric. Fold under the top and bottom edges 1/4 inch and press, then fold the fabric under another 3/4 inch and press again, so that the raw edges are contained within the folded hem. Stitch each hem in place.

Pin the sides of the lampshade fabric, right sides together, and stitch in place 1 inch from the raw edges. Press, trim and finish the seam allowances. Turn the fabric right side out.

Pull the lampshade fabric over the top of the lampshade wire form, adjusting for fit until it completely covers the form. Hand stitch the fabric to the bias tape or twill tape at the top and bottom, using a blind stitch—make small stitches along the hem to the tape underneath, hiding the stiches between the layers.

Hand stitch ribbon to the top and bottom of the lampshade, if desired. Fold the edges of the ribbon under or tie them into a bow.

Things You'll Need

  • Lamp
  • Old lampshade
  • Cotton bias tape or twill tape
  • 1/2 yard silk fabric and matching thread
  • 1 yard matching 1-inch wide satin ribbon
  • Sewing equipment and supplies
  • Fabric adhesive
  • Sheet of paper and marker
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About the Author

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.