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DIY Making Tailored Lampshades – Top Tips

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Classic, neat traditional tailored lampshades give a timeless elegance to both formal and relaxed room schemes. Tailored lampshades are suited to all shade frame proportions and a huge variety of fabrics, presenting oodles of design options. Whether you are inspired by multicoloured fabric scraps, embroidery or luxurious silks, the only limitation being your imagination. Read on to find out about DIY Making Tailored Lampshades -Top Tips …

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A collection of vintage lampshades for DIY Tailored Lampshades Blog by Jacqueline Schultz Interiors

What fabric should I use?

There are oodles of fabric choices available today, suited for tailored lampshades. Traditionally silk has been the lampshade makers choice for tailored lampshades, as the closely woven threads and luxurious sheen diffuse light perfectly when stretched. Silk is also light weight and being a natural fibre is durable and naturally heat-resistant. For the purpose of this demonstration and always a firm favourite go-to for me when using silk is the Orissa Collection by James Hare Fabrics. Bearing this in mind, I encourage you to experiment when making your own DIY tailored lampshade with pattern, colour and texture, taking advantage of Jacqueline’s top tips. Depending on your frame shape and design choice there are a multitude of cottons and linens which are also suitable and even some wools velvets, damask, and/or embroideries which would look amazing on tailored lampshades.

How much fabric do I need?

Fabric for classic tailored lampshades is often cut on the cross or bias. This allows the fabric the most ‘give’ as it eases around the curves of the shade. If you are using a plain fabric you will be able to position your pattern economically. However if you have a pattern fabric with a particular design element to consider, this should also be taken into account. As a rough guide I give myself 1-2m depending on the size of the frame. And of course, remnants can always be used for future projects!

Binding a vintage frame for DIY Tailored Lampshades Blog by Jacqueline Schultz Interiors

How do I get started on DIY tailored lampshades?

First you’ll need to bind your frame and create a template for your face fabric and balloon lining, There is a Top Tips Blog on my website giving specific step-by-step how to instructions, creating a template and specific guidance regarding different design options. If using a patterned fabric I like to make a tissue paper template copy so that I am able to position exactly how I would like my pattern to fit. Given a little patience and pattern tweaking it is also possible to pattern match panels just as you would do with bespoke curtains and blinds. Our Workshops and Residential Retreats go into panel design options, pattern matching and getting the best out of your fabric, in great detail. However if you are trying this at home, most patterned fabrics are very forgiving and this isn’t essential at all for very busy fabric designs and plain fabrics.

Cutting the face fabric

How do I cut the face fabric?

First, 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. For the purpose of this demonstration I am using a plain dupion silk, in Wedgewood by James Hare. I have positioned and folded the fabric so that the pattern lies on the bias. Pin and cut with a 1cm seam allowance along the edge and a 5cm seam allowance top and bottom. You will need the 5cm excess to manipulate the tension.

Cutting the face for DIY Tailored Lampshades Blog by Jacqueline Schultz Interiors

How do I fit the face fabric?

Machine sew 1cm along the side seam. Then check the fit to the frame by pulling the face fabric gently over the frame from top to bottom. The Face fabric should feel quite tight. Line up the seams with 2 vertical struts. Remove the fabric from the frame and depending on the fabric give and fit; sew a second seam 2mm to the inside or outside of the first seam. Then trim the seam evenly to about 3mm.

Fitting the face fabric on a vintage frame

Pull the face fabric gently back over the frame and line the seams against 2 struts either side of the gimbals. Pin at the top and bottom of each seam making sure that you go right through the India cotton binding tape. Begin pinning around the top ring making sure to pin through the binding. Turn the shade over and gently repeat along the bottom ring. Begin to ease some tautness into the fabric and re-pin.

How do I ensure a smooth finish on DIY tailored lampshades?

Pins, pins and more pins! Spend time tweaking the tension and pinning for a smooth finish. At this point ripples and unevenness are quite normal when making your DIY tailored lampshade. Now you need to turn your frame back and forth, pinning and stretching again and again to work more tension into the face fabric to create even tautness, and keep pinning!

Pinning the face fabric on a vintage frame

To remove any stubborn wrinkles and to create an evenly taut skin follow the grain of fabric from the wrinkle to the edge, pull till the wrinkle disappears and then pin.

Pinning the face fabric for DIY Tailored Lampshades Blog by Jacqueline Schultz Interiors

How do I secure the edges?

Pull tensions into the side seams. Keep turning the lampshade at 45′ angles and pull the same tensions into the cover across all sections, and keep pinning. Once you are completely happy with the fit use lampshade stitch and a strong matching thread to attach the face fabric 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.

Stitching the face fabric for DIY Tailored Lampshades Blog by Jacqueline Schultz Interiors

How do I line my lampshade?

There are a variety of fabric lining options suitable for traditional tailored lampshades that are explored in more detail on another of my Top Tips, Blogs and under Resources on my website however for this demonstration I’m using cotton Tana lawn, one of my favourite linings as it diffuses light so beautifully. Cut out and stitch the lining in exactly the same way as for the face fabric.

Drop the lining into the inside of the shade frame, wrong sides facing. Line up the lining side seams with those on the face fabric. Pin the side seams to the bottom ring and at each strut around the bottom ring spreading the tension evenly. Turn the shade over and repeat the pinning being mindful of even tension on the top ring. Make sure that you maintain and even tautness and that the seams keep aline with the struts.

What about the gimbals on DIY traditional lampshades?

The gimbals will be in the way, but just pin around them for now. Turn the shade upside down again and secure with pins at closer intervals pulling tension into the lining. Turn the shade right way up and now that there is some tension in the lining you can pop a little cut into the lining fabric to allow access around the gimbal. This is quite delicate to get right. There is a video on my website under Resources showing how to do this in more detail.

Pinning the lining for DIY Tailored Lampshades Blog by Jacqueline Schultz Interiors

Start pinning the lining to the bottom ring securing with a pin at each strut spreading the tension evenly. Turn the shade over and pin the top edge to the top ring again evenly spreading the tension. The gimbals will be in the way, but just pin around them.

How do I complete the lining on DIY tailored lampshades?

Keep turning, pulling and pinning until you are happy with a taut even tension and a smooth finish, just like the face fabric. Be careful not to over stretch and keep the seams aline with the struts. Keep gently easing the tension on a 45′ angle. Secure your lining with lampshade stitch, slightly to the front of the shade and trim away the excess lining.

Stitching the lining for DIY Tailored Lampshades Blog by Jacqueline Schultz Interiors

How do I complete and trim my traditional tailored lampshade?

First, tidy your gimbals with small bias strips. There is a video on my website under Resources showing this in more detail. 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. For anything other than gluing and/or stitching the simplest of bias trimming please refer to my Top Tips on Lampshade Trimming notes on my Blog or on my website.

Fixing a trim for DIY Tailored Lampshades Blog by Jacqueline Schultz Interiors
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Now you have read this blog on how to make a DIY Tailored Lampshades – Top Tips, you are ready to make your own professional, handmade Tailored Lampshade. For more information on upcoming courses by JSInteriorsUK on Tailored Lampshades, click here and other soft furnishings Workshop Retreats click here.

Most important, have fun!

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