DIY – Using Vintage Fabric for Gathered & Pleated Lampshades

Luxurious little gathers & pinch pleats are pretty options for lampshades . So much in vogue today, gathered and pleated lampshades are great for adding pops of colour to both formal and relaxed room schemes. 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! And, why spend lots of money money on buying new when you can do your best for the environment by using vintage fabrics. Read more for DIY – Using Vintage Fabric for Gathered & Pleated Lampshades – Top Tips

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Where do I source the best vintage fabrics?

It’s amazing how much I find for projects in my own wardrobe. That pair of cotton Indian pants with a rip down one leg, an old silk chiffon scarf that has seen better days, a pretty cotton summer shirt that has worn at one elbow or the old summers dress that Aunt Jude threw out. It was always my colour but not my style! The best place to start your search is in your own wardrobe. After that try the wardrobes of your family and friends. Everyone soon gets the idea and before you know it people will be donating things to you. Keep a project box somewhere handy and you’ll soon have oodles of things to suit different projects.

Collection of vintage lampshades

If there’s nothing in my fabric box that inspires me I head for the charity shops. York is FULL of charity shops. I do have my favourites, but that’s just personal preference. For me it’s all charity shops that are animal related! The York RSPCA is on my way from the Sainsbury’s carpark. Always a great way to spend 5 minutes and know that my purchases are going to support our furry friends. Also, while you are exploring your local charity shops, do keep an eye out for vintage lampshades. We’ll talk about these in another blog!

What vintage fabric should I use for gathered & pleated lampshades?

Making a gathered lampshade - step 1

There are oodles of fabric choices, but lightweight is key. Silk saris are very popular, as are block print Ikats. 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.

Why does my fabric need to be light weight?

Pinning pin ch pleats

The fabric needs to pinch pleat and gather affectively. A classic go-to in design for me is to pinch pleat the top of your shade and gather the base. This is however a rule itching to be broken and there are numerous design options around this concept. Basic rule of thumb, if you are unsure of the fabric suitability, make small gathers and hold it up to a light source. If you like the affect then you have a winner.

Birds eye view of a pinch pleated lampshade in process

Don’t I need fabric by the metre?

Absolutely not! Depending on the size of your garment you might be able to make 2 or even 3 lampshades. Once you have chosen your vintage piece you’ll need to unpick or cut away any seems and iron your vintage fabric flat. Pattern and border design do play a part and can be a huge asset to your completed project. We go into this in great detail at our workshops.

Lampshades have magic when the light goes on

The lampshades below were made from a vintage cotton skirt. The skirt had an orange bias around the bottom edge. I used this trim to edge the bottom of the shades giving them the same design edge as the original skirt. Always remember to save the trim and any bias bits from all your garments. These can be very useful for trimming your lampshade. And if you don’t want to use them on this project, they could come in handy for a cushion, a tissue box holder or another soft furnishing item to bring a room scheme together. Or maybe just save it for another later project. Don’t forget to check your trimming against the edge of your shade, next to a light source. Things change when the light goes on. And, you want the magic to work for you.

Bias trimming on handmade lampshades
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Now you have read this blog on  DIY Using Vintage Fabric for Gathered & Pleated Lampshades – Top Tips, you are ready to collect suitable fabrics for lampshade projects. For information about upcoming courses by JSInteriorsUK on Gathered & Pleated Lampshade making, click here and other soft furnishings Workshop Retreats click here.

I wish you lots of fun making lampshades to beautify your home.

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