How to make a lampshade from scratch

If you want to change up your home décor, bring out your inner artist and make your own lampshade!

Updated

How to make a lampshade from scratch

It’s easier than you might think to make your own lampshade, and a homemade lampshade is a great way to add some personality to a room. With a little DIY, light fixtures around your home will be looking their best in no time!

If you’re not sure what sort of DIY lampshade to make for your first project, try a drum lampshade. Measuring, cutting and fitting them is easier than with tapered lampshades.

DIY lampshade from scratch: your lampshade making kit

  • Pen and paper
  • Wire coat hangers - untwisted and straightened out to make sturdy wires
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Whatever fabric you’d like the lampshade to be made of
  • Chalk
  • Fabric scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Flame-retardant fabric spray

TIP: If you haven’t made a lampshade before, it helps to have an existing lampshade of the size you’re aiming for to use as a template!

DIY lampshade from scratch: making the frame

  1. Decide on the dimensions for your lampshade. Use an existing one as a template to help you.
  2. Define the size of the circles at the bottom and top. Put your template lampshade on a large piece of paper and trace circles around the bottom and the top.
  3. Bend a wire coat hanger into a circle of the correct size for the bottom. Twist the ends of the wire together to hold it in place (pliers are useful for this). 
  4. Repeat for the top. Use wire cutters to trim off any excess from both circles when finished.
  5. Cut 6-10 wire coat hangers to form supports between the bottom and top of your lampshade. If you're using an old lampshade as a template then measure the distance from the top to the bottom and cut the wire coat hangers to this length, allowing around 8cm extra to secure them in place. Stretch the coat hangers into straight pieces of wire that are easier to work with.
  6. Secure the wires at even intervals around your lampshade, joining the top circle to the bottom. Hold them in place by twisting the excess around the circles.
  7. Use a loop of wire to attach your lampshade to the light base. Assuming you’re working with a table lamp, twist together a loop that fits snugly around the appropriate part of the lamp in question, then cut 4 lengths of wire (these should measure the distance between the rim and the middle of the bottom circle plus a few centimetres for twisting). Use these wires, at even intervals, to secure the new loop in the middle of the bottom circle. If the loop is level with the bottom circle, push it up inside the frame slightly to keep it out of sight once the frame is covered. 
  8. Check your lampshade fits. If it’s loose then secure it in place with glue.
Bear in mind that this article applies mainly to table lamps. If you’ve got other lighting ideas – if you’re trying to shade a ceiling lamp, for example – you may need to make alterations to details like how the shade is secured.

DIY lampshade from scratch: covering the frame

  1. Lay out your fabric. The side you want on the outside of your lampshade should be facing down because you’ll be making marks on the side that’s facing up. Iron it out. It’ll be a lot harder to cut it precisely if it’s wrinkled. You may want to tape it to the table for extra precision.
  2. Roll your frame across the fabric to work out how much you’d need to cover it completely. Mark out the shape it forms with one revolution; this will be a rectangle for a drum lampshade or a curved shape for a tapered lamp shade. It’s best to draw out your markings with chalk so you can brush it away when you’re finished.
  3. Allow room for errors. Don't cut out your shape yet - add about 2 cm to the top, the bottom and the overall length to secure the fabric to the frame and ensure it overlaps itself. 
  4. Cut it out. It’s better to cut out too much than too little so don't worry if you're not too close to the lines.
  5. Wrap the fabric around your frame, leaving the extra 2 cm extending past the top and bottom. Glue the fabric securely to itself at the point where it overlaps, making sure you’re applying the glue only to the fabric that’s hidden by the overlap.
  6. Apply glue around the lower rim. Fold the extended edge of the fabric inwards and over the rim. It’ll need to be held in place until the glue dries; you can use small bulldog clips for this.
  7. Glue the fabric around the upper rim. Use the same process as above.
  8. Trim any edges once it has dried.

And that’s how to make a lampshade! If you have some unemployed coat hangers lying around, it’s time to use them to carry out all your DIY lampshade ideas.

  • Put together your lampshade-making kit with the materials you’ll need.
  • Build the frame using coat hanger wires.
  • Measure and cut the fabric.
  • Glue the fabric around the frame and over the rim.
  • For safety’s sake, treat the fabric for your lamp with a flame-retardant fabric spray.

    Originally published