Several months ago I found a groovy 1960s floor lamp for seriously cheap money. But the shades were shot. Being as I’m a mid century lamp freak I could not pass it up and figured at some point I’d find replacement shades for it. That was my magical thinking kicking in to justify buying it.
Problem is, it’s not really that easy to find replacement shades for these type of lamps. Or if you’re lucky enough to find original vintage shades, they’re usually pretty pricey. So it languished in the corner of my bedroom until I decided one day to take a closer look at them. That’s when I decided I was going to learn how to make them myself!
After studying several online videos and DIY blogs on how to make lampshades I decided to give it try. I’m pretty happy with my first attempt and I’d like to share with you how I did it. There are so many fabulous mid century lamps bases out there with either no shades or deteriorated shades. Now there is no reason to pass them by once you know how to do this. The tutorial can easily be adapted to any size shade. If you want to do a straight up drum shade that is not tapered, just skip the part about making a tapered template. You can even change the fabric or the trim. But the basic steps are the same.
Supply list for fabric covered lampshade
Posterboard or cardboard
Lamp rings, either from original lampshades or ordered from a lampshade supply company.
Fabric of your choice
Orange wood sticks
Double fold bias tape
Masking or painter’s tape.
For adhesive styrene, metal lamp rings and many other lamp shade supplies I highly recommend the LampShop. They have everything you need for lampshade making and the prices are great.
Everything else can be had a any Michael’s or Joann’s. I purchased ivory linen fabric from Joann’s because it was a similar look to the slubbed fabric of the original shades. It looks really pretty when it is lit up because you can see the pattern in the weave. Burlap was used a lot on MCM lamp shades as well.
When making a tapered or cone shaped shade the first thing you need to do is make a template. If you have a shade already in the size you want, it’s pretty easy. I figured out how to do it by watching this video. If you have no lampshade as a guide, then you’ll need to either order an arc template in the size you need or figure out how to make one using math. I won’t go into all that here. But there’s plenty online about it.
I used an original shade to trace out a template on a piece of poster board (see video). That way I have a template I can use over again. Add an additional 1/2″ to one side after tracing to allow for an overlap on the shade side seam. I then cut that out and traced that template onto the styrene and cut that out.
I took the original shades apart in order to use the rings. I removed the wood trim pieces as well. Lots of these Danish style lampshades have some sort of trim like that. They were to be glued on later.
Make sure your fabric is pressed/free of wrinkles. Lay it down on a flat surface.
Place styrene on fabric, starting on edge of fabric with adhesive backing facing down, peeling back a few inches at a time as you press it onto fabric.
The styrene has a narrow nonstick edge where I left that to overhang the fabric edge.
If you want to see a video on how to peel and stick styrene to fabric, this is a good one.
Cut around all 3 sides leaving about 1/2″ border.
Apply glue to short edge of styrene. Fold fabric over and press. Wait a few minutes till dry.
Start wrapping the fabric covered styrene around the smallest ring. Line up the edge of styrene with the ring using binder clips to fold over and secure the 1/2″ fabric excess. Do the same with the bottom, making sure that the edge with the glued fabric fold overlaps the non stick edge on the other side.
Take some pieces of tape to temporarily hold the seam closed.
You’ll want to glue the seam closed last so you have a chance to make adjustments when wrapping and gluing onto rings.
Start on small ring at opposite side of seam. Remove a couple of clips at a time, just enough so you can spread glue with brush on inside edge of styrene, right beneath ring. Fold fabric over snugly as you go, adding back clips to hold. Complete whole ring, working down both sides and make sure seam edge is clipped when you’re done. Do the same to bottom.
Leave clips on for 10-15 minutes or so till glue is dry. This may vary depending on type of glue you use.
Peel back tape and brush a thin line of glue just beneath the fabric fold on seam. Retape to secure while glue dries.
Take bias tape and starting at the seam edge, brush glue on both sides of inside folds and start wrapping. Make sure you line up the crease in the tape so that it aligns across the top of rings, ensuring it stays even on both sides. Using an orange stick, or something similar like a skewer, helps to push the folded edge of the tape down nice and flat. Clip as you go along to hold tape until glue dries.
When you get to the seam again cut the tape about 1/2″ longer where it meets the seam to there will be a little overlap there, glue in place and clip. Repeat on bottom ring.
The finished shades after I glued the wood pieces back on. I chose to put them on the wider side of the lamp rather than the narrower. I preferred the way they looked there instead. Artistic license!
So now my little Mid Mod lamp has a new life!
If you need clarification on any of these steps, please let me know in comments.
Till next time…..