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DIY Template for Tailored Lampshades – Top Tips

Making a template for a handmade traditional tailored lampshade, pinning the pattern fabric to the frame

Frames for traditional tailored lampshades come in oodles of shapes, designs and sizes. The DIY template for Tailored Lampshades – Top Tips pattern template technique below can be used for recovering almost every style of tailored shade. This technique can also be used when making a balloon lining for tailored, gathered and pleated lampshades.

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A collection of vintage tailored shades ready for an up cycle

How do I prepare the frame for ?

First and foremost, especially if you are working with a used of vintage frame check your frame carefully for damage, rusting, kinks and bumps. Strip away any old fabric taking care to peel away all glue remnants and save any vintage trim in good condition. A gentle nudge can usually fix most bent frames. Rusty frames however will need more prep as they have to be sanded and primed to prevent any rusty stains seeping through to your face fabric, over time. For very small chips on vintage fames I seal them with a little spot of white nail varnish.

If however you would like to buy your frame I suggest online companies such as Dannells or Homemaking Heaven who have a variety of soft shade frame shapes in varying sizes.

Where do I bind the frame?

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. This binding will be permanent and therefore needs to be stitched in place. You will then need to bind two vertical struts. Which struts you bind very much depends on the style of your frame, how many panels there are and how you would like to manipulate your options when creating the design of your lampshade. We go into great detail on design options and dynamics at our workshops and how to use fabric designs, pattern matching, panel choices to optimise effect. However if you are giving this a go at home here are some suggestions …

Binding a stripped vintage lampshade ready to make a template for a traditional handmade tailored lampshade

For example the frame above has 6 panels. I could make a template of 3 panels, which means that my finished lampshade would be constructed in 2 halves. Alternatively, I could make a lampshade with 2 panels, giving me 3 sections in my design or make a template for only one panel and have a lampshade with 6 separate sections. As an old, dear friend once told me, the only limitation is your imagination. However many panels, sections and seams you have, the method remains the same.

What about the lining?

At this point please note that balloon linings are usually constructed in 2 sections therefore should your face fabric design be different you may need to make 2 templates.

Binding a stripped vintage lampshade ready to make a template for a traditional handmade tailored lampshade, close up

How much tape will I need?

I use India cotton tape and this will need to be wrapped tightly around the top and bottom rings and then sewn firmly into place. You will need at least 3 times the length of the top and bottom ring circumference. You will also need to temporarily need to bind 2 struts. For large rings several pieces of tape can be used. Make sure however that you stitch ends securely when joining and continue to maintain tape tightness.

Where do I start?

At the point where one of the struts meets the ring start by wrapping it around the wire in a figure of eight. This should secure the tape but reduce bulk. There is a video on my website showing this technique in more detail. Continue to wrap the tape. Aim to maintain the same wrapping angle. Each wrap should cover half of the previous tape. As you wrap keep the tape tight and test the tightness with your free hand. If the tape wiggles and moves you will not be able to keep the tension when stretching your face fabric. If your tape moves it will need to be rebound.

How do I make the template?

Let us assume that this frame has 6 panels and both the face fabric and the lining are going to be made in 2 halves with 2 seams directly opposite each other sitting on the sides of the completed lampshade. Therefore to make the template start by binding 2 opposite struts. (Remember, this will be temporary binding therefore do not stitch into place but wrap around and loop through the tail into a loose but secure knot). This will also be the template design for a balloon lining.

Pinning and stretching fabric taut on vintage lampshade to make a template for a traditional handmade tailored lampshade

Take a piece of old lining or cotton sheeting. You need a fabric that is non stretchy, has an even weave and the same ‘give’ on the bias. You’ll need enough to cover half the frame with at least 5cm extra all round. At this pint I like to take a pencil and draw 3 diagonal lines across the fabric following the bias grain. You’ll appreciate this later. Place the frame in front of you and pin the fabric loosely onto the four corners of the shade, at the point where the struts meet the top and bottom rings. Make sure that the fabric sits on the bias, 45* angle, use the lines to help you.

Starting with the top ring work from the centre at 2cm intervals pinning along first right then left till you reach each outward strut. At this point pin securely but don’t pull too tight. Turn the shade over and work the same along the bottom ring starting from the centre working outwards to the left then right. At this point the fabric will still be loose and have wrinkles. This is normal! Again working from the centre outwards, begin pinning along the vertical struts.

How do I get rid of wrinkles?

Pinning and stretching fabric taut on vintage lampshade to make a template for a traditional handmade tailored lampshade, close up

A thousand words and oodles of pictures can’t take the place of a face-to-face workshops. However here are the basics. Once all the initial pins are in place it’s all about even tension. You are looking for an even, taut skin of fabric without wrinkles. The grain of the fabric should run smoothly across on a 45* angle. Remember those pencil lines? They should run smoothly across on the bias at 45* with no dragging or veering off in any one direction. Start with the top ring and pull a little tighter and re-pin. Move to the bottom ring and repeat, and then the vertical struts. 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.

How do I mark the fabric?

After pinning and stretching fabric taut on vintage lampshade use a soft pencil to make the outline alone the rings and struts to complete the template for a traditional handmade tailored lampshade

The example above is a single panel template, however many panels you use the method remains the same. Using a soft pencil mark around your template along the rings and struts. You can then remove all the pins and cut out your template following the pencil lines.

How do I know that my template is symmetrical?

For a professional finish to a tailored shade it is essential that your template is symmetrical, to check simply fold it in half. The seams should match exactly.

Pinning a template from a vintage frame onto face fabric to make a traditional handmade tailored lampshade

What if the seams don’t match?

If the seams don’t match there are several things you can do depending on the dynamics of the pattern. Should the seam lines be only slightly out, it is possible to tweak things as you cut the face fabric by following the average line. Or keep the template folded and line it up with the folded edge of a piece of paper. Draw a line between the two sides, finding the average line between the edges. Cut a second paper template following the average line and when you unfold this you should have the perfect fit.

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Now you have read this blog on how to make a DIY template for tailored lampshades, you are ready to make a template pattern for a professional, handmade, traditional Tailored Lampshade. For more information upcoming courses by JSInteriorsUK on Tailored Lampshades, click here and other soft furnishings Workshop Retreats click here.

4 thoughts on “DIY Template for Tailored Lampshades – Top Tips

  1. I’m really looking forward to the lamp shade course this weekend. I have just bought some gorgeous fabric ready to transform my vintage lampshade . . . So excited

    1. Fabulous, everything is in place for a productive, fun packed weekend. Looking forward to seeing your fabric, your vintage frame looks perfect, gonna be a great creative bubble weekend.

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