How to recover an old lampshade

Written by siva stephens
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How to recover an old lampshade
Re-cover an old lampshade with fabric or another textile. (lamp image by Dmitry Veryovkin from

Re-covering an old cylindrical lampshade is one of the most rewarding do-it-yourself projects a novice can tackle. It requires only the most basic of crafting skills, but it will revive the lamp and update the room where the lamp sheds light to a surprising degree. Lampshades can be re-covered with fabric, wallpaper, kraft paper or any other textile.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Old lampshade
  • Butcher paper
  • Pencil
  • Straightedge
  • Scissors
  • Fabric, wallpaper or other textile (enough to go around the lampshade in one piece)
  • Chalk
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Spray fabric glue or spray craft glue
  • Measuring tape
  • Ribbon, braid or other trim
  • Hot glue gun
  • Glue

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  1. 1

    Lay the butcher paper flat on a table. Remove the old lampshade from the lamp. Set the lampshade on its side at the left end of the paper with the seam just touching the table. Roll the lampshade slowly across the butcher paper using the pencil to trace the path of the top edge of the lampshade. Stop when the seam touches the paper again. Return the lampshade to its original position and repeat, tracing the path of the bottom edge. Remove the lampshade and, using the straightedge, draw lines connecting the top and bottom path-lines to form a long rectangle. The rectangle will be curved if the shade is flared. Cut out along the lines to form the lampshade pattern.

  2. 2

    Lay the textile facedown on the table. Place the pattern on the textile. Trace around the pattern with the chalk, adding ¼ inch on all sides for hems and overlapping. Cut out the textile. Turn one short end of fabric under ½ inch and press to form a finished edge. Coat the back side of the textile thoroughly with spray glue.

  3. 3

    Line up the short unfinished edge of the textile with the seam on the lampshade. Cover the lampshade with the textile, stretching and smoothing the textile over the old shade to remove any bubbles or wrinkles. Cover the raw edge of fabric with the finished edge to form a new seam. Overlap the edges of paper textiles to form a new seam. Fold the ½-inch seam allowances evenly over the top and bottom edges of the shade for a finished look.

  4. 4

    Measure the circumferences of the top and bottom of the lampshade. Cut lengths of ribbon ½ inch longer than each measurement. Use the hot-glue gun to glue the ribbons around the top and bottom edges of the shade, folding the ends of the ribbons over ½ inch before gluing them over the raw edges.

Tips and warnings

  • Iron the fabric well before cutting it out.
  • If you add ribbon or braid to the edges of the lampshade, align the seams on the ribbons with the seams on the lampshade for a more professional finish.
  • If you are re-covering an old lampshade with paper, use a low-wattage bulb to avoid a fire hazard.

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