Mid Century Style Lampshade Tutorial

Mid century style lampshade tutorial

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.

Trashed 60s lampshades

Nasty old burnt lamp shades

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.

supplies needed for lamp shade making

Supply list for fabric covered lampshade

Posterboard or cardboard
Adhesive styrene
Lamp rings, either from original lampshades or ordered from a lampshade supply company.
Fabric of your choice
Small paintbrush
Orange wood sticks
Fabric glue
Binder clips
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.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Mid century Lampshade tutorial

If you want to see a video on how to peel and stick styrene to fabric, this is a good one.

Step 3
Cut around all 3 sides leaving about 1/2″ border.

60s style lampshade tutorial


Step 4
Apply glue to short edge of styrene. Fold fabric over and press. Wait a few minutes till dry.

DIY fabric lampshade tutorial

Step 5
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.

Mid century lampshade making tutorial

Step 6
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.

mid century lampshade making instructions

Step 7
Peel back tape and brush a thin line of glue just beneath the fabric fold on seam. Retape to secure while glue dries.

How to make a tapered Mid century style shade

MCM lampshade tutorial

Step 8
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.

60s Style lampshade making instruction

1960s Mid century lampshade tutorial

60s linen fabric lampshade making


how to make a fabric lampshade

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!

How to make a fabric covered lampshade for a mid century modern pole lamp

60s Danish style floor lamp

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…..

By | 2018-06-04T21:17:16-04:00 June 4th, 2018|Crafts/DIY, Lifestyle, Uncategorized|4 Comments

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Theresa, owner and chief classy dame at the Blue Velvet Vintage online boutique. Lover of mid century fashion and home decor, classic films, Old Hollywood, pretty dresses, red lipstick, swing dancing and retro culture in general. Between my ecommere site and vintage style blog my mission is to revive the eras of classy dressing and inspire women to add more glamour to their lives! So don't be shy! I love to hear from others who share my appreciation of the styles of the past.


  1. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell June 6, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    I’ll take that as a serious compliment coming from someone who is so super creative! That’s wild your friend came across those shades They really are rare to find, especially in good condition. Not surprised she grabbed them.

  2. Avatar
    Vix June 6, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    That’s absolutely brilliant – what a great make!
    Funnily enough I was out with a friend yesterday (she trades in Mid- Century furniture) and we found a set of shades for one of those lamps – they’re super rare here and she snapped them up! xxx

  3. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell June 5, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you, Ann. Another mid century lamp lover! Woo Hoo! Aren’t they the best?

  4. Avatar
    Ann June 5, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Wow, Theresa, you did a fabulous job there. Your lamp shades actually look like original mid-century ones. I’m not sure I’d be handy enough to make these myself, though. The lamp is stunning by the way, what a great find. I really love these kind of lamps, they are so iconic! We have one with cone shaped glass shades in a typical 1950s design. xxx

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