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DIY Making Gathered Lampshades – Top Tips

Cute little gathered lampshades are relaxed, informal and very easy to make once you know how. So much in vogue today, gathered shades are great for adding pops of colour to both formal and relaxed room schemes. Gathered lampshades are best suited to small and medium proportions, so easy to make once you know how and only a little hand sewing is required, so you don’t need to use a sewing machine. Read more for DIY Making Gathered Lampshades – Top Tips

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What fabric should I use for DIY Gathered Lampshades?

Binding the frame

There are oodles of fabric choices but lightweight is key. Silk saris are very popular as are block print ikats and, of course all things vintage. Cotton lawn, voile and lightweight silks also work a dream. Experiment with patterns, as the gathers change the overall look of fabric designs in amazing ways. For more ideas on best fabric to use for gathered Lampshades, check out our Crafty Critter Video on Choosing Fabric for gathered Lampshades.

How much fabric do I need?

Fabric for making gathered lampshades is cut on the straight of the grain and therefore very economical on fabric. You will need an overall length measuring 10cm more than the depth of your frame and between 2 or 3 times (depending on the bulk of gathers required) the bottom circumference of your frame. This overall length can be made up of multiple strips, 2 or 3, depending on the number of gimbals. Multiple strips do not need to be pre sewn.

Stitching and gathering

How do I get started with my DIY gathered lampshades?

First you’ll need to bind the top and bottom rings with India cotton tape. There are specific dynamics to binding frames that are best covered face to face at a workshop. However for those unable to attend I have made a Crafty Critter video, which covers the key elements. Next press your fabric. This will be the last time your fabric gets a press so consequently do take the opportunity to iron out any stubborn creases. After pressing, you’ll need to sew a line of running stitches along the top and bottom edges of each strip. Let us assume this shade has 2 gimbals, therefore we’ll need 2 lengths of fabric. It’s important to use a strong thread. This thread can be removed later. The distance between the lines of stitching should be approximately 5mm above the vertical struts.

Stitching the gathers

Next, using a fabric pencil mark a half point and quarter points between the gimbals on the top ring of the frame, matching all of these points to the bottom ring of the frame.

Place a pin evenly on each length of fabric, mid way, at quarters and at the start and end. Matching the pencil markers. There should be 5 pins at the top and bottom of each length, a total of 20 pins.

How do I start pinning and gathering?

It’s best to work one length at a time, half a shade at a time. The fabric shuold now be pinned to the top and bottom rings, aligning the pins on the fabric with the pencil marks on the frame. It’s important that each pin securely bites into the cotton India tape binding the rings.

Pining the gathers

Carefully pull the running stitch threads to gather the fabric. Work from both ends and tease the gathers across so that they are even. Lock the threads around each end pin to secure the gathers.

Once secure, how do I even and fix the gathers?

Pins, pins and more pins! This is where you need to have patience and spend time spacing out the gathers to give an evenly ruched appearance. Pin each gather securely in place pulling the fabric taut so that the gathers form neat crisp lines. Starting with the top ring. Turn the lampshade back and forth, spacing gathers and pinning until you are happy with the overall appearance. Once you are happy with the finish, use lampshade stitch and a strong matching thread to attach the gathers to the frame ensuring that your stitches go through all the layers. Correct lampshade stitch is key to maintaining tensions and something we cover in detail at our workshops. Some of these dynamics are covered in our Lampshade Stitch video.

Lampshade stitch on DIY gathered lampshades

Once the top ring is secure check the tension in your bottom pleats and re-pin where necessary. Continue to pull and re-pin as you stitch the bottom ring. There is a video coming soon on my website showing how to do this.

Repeat gathering, pinning and stitching on the other half of the lampshade. Make sure that the overlapping edges are folded over neatly to prevent fraying and to close the gap. Once the whole lampshade is stitched, trim all excess fabric.

If you wish to line your lampshade look out for my Blog on Lining Gathered Lampshades. However if your lampshade is to be unlined now it’s time to work on your trimming.

How do I complete making my Gathered Lampshade?

Getting your trimming right can take a few pins and some patience. Depending on the style and design of your trimming of which there are oodles, will define the best technique to use for your trimming. For anything other than gluing the simplest of trimming please refer to my Top Tips on Lampshade Trimmings. The technique for a neat bias trim finish is covered in detail at our workshops. There is a memory jogger video for previous workshop delegates @jsinteriors.uk. For those of you tackling this on your own, at home you need to create a 45% angle finish. Stitch this in place using matching thread. You can use fray stop for delicate fabrics, but use cautiously as it can bleed through.

Now you are ready to pop your lampshade onto a suitable stand and switch on the light. There is a kind of magic that happens the first time you switch the light on to a bespoke handmade lampshade, enjoy!

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Now you have read this blog on how to make  DIY Gathered Lampshades – Top Tips, you are ready to get started with your own professional, handmade Gathered Lampshade. Look out for DIY Lining Gathered Lampshades to give your shade a really professional finish. For more information upcoming courses by JSInteriorsUK on Gathered Lampshades, click here and other soft furnishings Workshop Retreats click here.

Most important… have fun!

2 thoughts on “DIY Making Gathered Lampshades – Top Tips

  1. Loved reading this – thanks for such an informative and easy to read guide that even a complete novice can understand! We have several JSInteriorsUK handmade lampshades in our holiday cottage in Norfolk that look gorgeous in the coastal setting and now I can see how they were made. Look forward to seeing the videos when they are ready and will book on to one of your workshops.

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely review. Your holiday cottage is the perfect little get-a-way haven in Norfolk, especially as it’s not just very pretty but also doggie friendly, has a garden and minutes from one of the best pubs in the area.

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