How to cover lampshade frames

Lampshade frames can be found at almost any car boot sale. Sometimes the remnants of the lampshade are still clinging to the wire frame, and maybe you've wondered about covering a lampshade frame for yourself. The basics of covering the frame with paper are not difficult and, with a little patience, the results can be quite good. The best part of covering lampshade frames yourself is that you can re-cover it when you want to change the look.

Place a piece of large craft paper on the table. Position the wire frame of the lamp so that you are starting to rotate the frame at a wire. Rotate the lamp frame along both its top and bottom wires and trace the line with pencil. This will create an arc shape. Stop when you reach the same wire where you started. Cut out the shape with scissors.

Wrap your lamp shade in the paper to see how it fits. It should fit exactly and line up over one of the side wires. When you are satisfied you have a good fit, position your paper pattern over the lampshade paper. Lampshade paper comes in three weights, and you can select the weight based on the size of the shade. Small lampshade bottoms -- up to 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter -- use lightweight paper, while 22.5 to 27.5 cm (9 to 11 inches) diameter shades use medium, and frames larger than this use heavy paper.

Place the pattern over your paper. Add 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) to the top and bottom and 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) to the length of the arc on the flat side. Trace the enlarged pattern on to your lampshade paper, and cut the paper.

Cut V-shaped notches 9.5 mm (3/8 inch) deep along the top curved edge every 2.5 cm (1 inch). Cut perpendicular 9.5 mm (3/8 inch) straight lines along the bottom curved edge. Apply lampshade glue along 9.5 mm (3/8 inch) of one straight side of the lampshade paper. Position the paper on the lamp and press the paper edges together where they overlap. Pull on the paper to achieve a snug fit and add glue along the edges of the overlapping paper so that it will press down completely. Try to do this as cleanly as possible.

Clamp the top and bottom of the shade at the wire and seam using bulldog clips. Apply glue to the underside tab starting opposite of the seam. Press the paper over the top wire and onto the paper shade. Use the clips to hold your glued areas together. Apply glue to the underside bottom outer edge opposite the seam, press the paper over the bottom wire, and clamp. Glue, wrap, and clamp the paper at the top and bottom wires and allow your lampshade to dry for eight hours.

Apply 2.5 cm (1 inch) white paper tape over the rim at the top and bottom of the shade. Remove all bull clamps and apply the tape starting at the lampshade seam. Keep the tape as smooth and even on both sides as possible. Cut notches on the inside of the tape to go around the wire framing. Overlap the end of the tape for a smooth finish. Cover your exposed seam with paper tape if you intend to cover your paper lampshade with fabric.


Add fabric over the paper by cutting the expanded pattern out of fabric. Spray glue the outside of the shade and pressing the fabric and paper together. Use hot glue at the seams and under the top and bottom edges. Wrap with co-ordinating bias tapes glued with hot glue. Trim as you prefer.

Things You'll Need

  • Craft paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Lampshade glue
  • Bulldog clips
  • Paper tape
  • Fabric
  • Spray adhesive
  • Bias tape
  • Trim
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About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.