How to Make Vintage Lamp Shades


When you want a lampshade with a vintage look but can't find exactly what you have in mind, consider creating your own. Customize your own lampshade by covering a wire frame -- either purchased just for this purpose or recycled by removing the fabric from an old lampshade -- with vintage or vintage-inspired fabric and finish it with a classic trim, such as velvet, lace, ruffles or tassels. The method can be used to cover lampshade frames of all sizes and shapes, but it is easiest with a conical or drum-shaped shade.

Things You'll Need

  • Lampshade frame
  • Newspaper
  • Pencil
  • Vintage (or vintage-inspired) fabric
  • Velvet, lace, tassel or ruffle trim
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Spray adhesive
  • Hot glue gun
  • Binder clips or clothes pins
  • Spread a sheet of newspaper out on your surface and place the wire lampshade frame side-down on top of it. Roll the shade along the newspaper and trace around the entire perimeter of the top and bottom edges with a pencil as you roll.

  • Add a 1-inch border around the outline and cut out the shape, which is a template for your fabric. Fold it around the lampshade frame to check the size and make adjustments if necessary.

  • Iron your vintage fabric well and place the newspaper template down on the wrong side. Trace around the edges with a pencil, and cut out the fabric shape with scissors.

  • Fold over one of the side edges to the wrong side of the fabric piece by 1/2 inch and press it down with an iron. This will form a neat vertical seam when you cover the lampshade frame with the fabric.

  • Cover your surfaces with newspaper and place the wire lampshade frame on top of them. Spray the entire frame with a generous coat of spray adhesive.

  • Press your fabric piece immediately around the wire lampshade frame so that the folded and pressed side edge is perfectly vertical and on the outside of the seam. There should be 1-inch margins of fabric above the upper rim and below the lower rim of the frame.

  • Apply hot glue to the fabric underneath the folded edge of the vertical seam and press the two layers of fabric together with your fingers.

  • Apply a ring of hot glue on the reverse side of the fabric (inside the lampshade) just under the upper wire rim. Fold the 1-inch margin of fabric down around the wire rim and press it down onto the glue. Hold the fabric with clothes pins or binder clips while the glue dries. Repeat this for the lower rim of the lampshade..

  • Wrap a length of trim around the upper rim of the shade and trim it to fit. Stick the trim around the upper rim with hot glue and hold it in place with clothes pins or binder clips while the glue dries. Repeat for the lower rim of the shade.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your lampshade frame is conical in shape, you may need to snip into the 1-inch margins of fabric with scissors before gluing them down in order for them to lie flat.
  • When shopping for vintage-inspired fabric, look at the reverse sides of patterned fabric. The reverse side often resembles a faded, muted version of the pattern on the right side, which is ideal for a vintage look.
  • When using spray adhesive, work in a well-ventilated area. Work outside or open windows and turn on fans.

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  • Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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