How to cover a lampshade

April 11, 2008 at 11:59 am 48 comments

I decided to cover a plain old white lampshade with fabric.

white lampshade 

I had a general plan in my head of how to go about covering it, but since I’ve never done this before, I really didn’t know exactly what the end result would be. Turns out, I love it! It’s a relatively easy project, so here’s a tutorial:

1. Lay your lampshade on its side on a large piece of paper (like a sheet of wrapping paper). Starting at the seam where the existing shade is glued together, slowly trace a line onto the paper along the top and bottom edge of the shade while you roll it.

Draw a dot or an “X” to mark the beginning of each line.

trace bottom of lampshade

When you’ve traced along the entire top and bottom edge of the shade and are back at the seam again, keep drawing your lines about an inch past the seam, and draw an “X” to mark the end of each line. It should look something like this:

draw X

2. On both ends, use a ruler to draw a straight line from the “X” on the top line to the “X” on the bottom line. 

draw line

3. Cut out the pattern along the lines and pin it to the wrong side of your fabric.

pin pattern to fabric

4. Cut your fabric along the edge of the pattern.

cut fabric

5. At this point, you should make sure the fabric fits the lampshade. It should reach the very edge of the top and the bottom of the shade, and should overlap itself by about an inch at the seam.

6. When you’re sure it’s the right fit, spray the wrong side of the fabric with a spray adhesive (make sure it works on fabrics). I used Elmer’s Craft Bond Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive.

7. Lay the fabric — sticky side UP — on the table, and place the lampshade on top of it, lining up one edge of the fabric with the lampshade’s seam.

8. Stick the fabric to the lampshade by rolling the shade along the fabric, pressing firmly as you go.

press fabric along lampshade

9. When you get to the end of the fabric, fold the raw edge under a half inch.

fold edge under

10. Glue and press it onto the shade. (Note: I very carefully sprayed it with my Elmer’s adhesive, but a hot glue gun would probably be a cleaner option.)

press edge

If you don’t want to turn the seam under, or you just don’t like how it turned out, you can cover it with ribbon to hide the seam (more on that later).

11. Cut two pieces of ribbon — one to wrap around the top edge and one to wrap around the bottom edge of the lampshade. Each piece should overlap itself by about a half inch at the seam.

12. Use some sort of sticky substance (preferably a hot glue gun, although I used spray adhesive) to attach the bottom half (lengthwise) of your ribbon to the top edge of the lampshade. 

glue ribbon to top

Start the ribbon at the fabric’s seam, and adhere the ribbon to the shade as you go, letting the top half of the ribbon “hang” over the edge. It should overlap at the seam by about a half inch, if you’ve cut it correctly.

let ribbon

13. Fold the top half of the ribbon over, pressing it against the inside of the shade.

fold ribbon over

(Note: The inside of mine is a bit messy, which I believe could have been avoided by using a hot glue gun instead of spray adhesive.)

14. Repeat steps 12 and 13 on the bottom edge of the shade.

15. If you’d like to cover your seam, cut another piece of ribbon that is about an inch longer than the height of the shade.

16. Adhere the ribbon to the shade so that it covers the seam, leaving a half inch of extra ribbon at the top and bottom. Fold the extra ribbon over and adhere it to the inside of the shade. (Again, I used spray adhesive, but a hot glue gun would probably be cleaner.)

cover seam with ribbon

And you’re done!

finished shade

The whole project took me less than an hour to complete, and it was a lot of fun. The only thing I would do differently (as I mentioned several times throughout the tutorial) is to use a hot glue gun instead of the spray adhesive for the final steps. Also, you could probably replace the ribbon with fabric binding or some other type of trim. So many options!

If anyone decides to try this project, please let me know how it turns out.


Entry filed under: Fabric, Handmade goodies, Things and stuff.

75 cents Squirmy

48 Comments Add your own

  • 1. JenBrenneman  |  April 11, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Very cool! It looks great.

  • 2. Emily Hilleke  |  April 11, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Verra pretty

  • 3. Chellie  |  April 11, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    ooh i want but i’m way too lazy. maybe i could convince ole to do it?

  • 4. Jacquie  |  April 11, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    This is a great tutorial. Something that seems really hard, you made easy. Have you entered your tutorial at Sew Mama Sew? You should!

  • 5. Betty  |  April 11, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Another great idea to share- wow. I have made many things into lamps- but haven’t made my own lampshade. Cool! My boyfriend told me (via email-already at work) that we have a package at the POst Office. I can’t wait to get over there tomorrow morning, because I know who it is from!! Have a good weekend!

  • 6. Annie  |  April 12, 2008 at 10:14 am

    I’ve been really wanting to do this ever since I saw the covered shades at kirin note. Her tutorial is for using an empty lampshade frame though and I already have shades on my living room lamps (plus the empty frames are supposed to be really hard to find). Your tutorial is perfect information at the perfect time. Thanks!

  • 7. Allison Fouse  |  April 16, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Wonderful tutorial! Now if I actually had lamps in my house that required shades, I would put this on my to do list. Yours turned out lovely, so I can admire from afar. =)

  • 8. Tori  |  April 21, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Wonderful tut!! I’m so excited, I have two that need to be done!

  • 9. Ellen  |  April 24, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Has anyone ever told you that you have BEAUTIFUL hands — slender long fingers (piano player!) PS to people reading this who thinks it’s creepy…NOOOOOO– I am related to Karyn and have know her since pre-birth!!! She will ALWAYS be the precious little one to me! And I’m allowed to tell her so!

  • 10. Kathryn  |  April 25, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Wow. This is brilliant. I have lamp, with shade, from my late Mother. The lampshade is pink and clashes with the terracotta/taupe walls in the bedroom. Thank-you.

  • 11. Ellen  |  April 25, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I am inspired to try this with some vintage fabrics.

  • 12. Kathy  |  April 25, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Just yesterday, I thought to myself that I needed to figure out a way to cover my lampshades that are too boring. Thanks for the help!!!

  • 13. How To Cover A Lampshade « Love Never Fails  |  May 9, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    […] To Cover A Lampshade Jump to Comments I found this brilliant tutorial by Karyn on Fat Orange Cat the other day on how to cover a […]

  • 14. Barb  |  May 20, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Okay, so I’ve been in my condo with my husband for 2 years now and i’m getting very tired of the decor. So, i was trying to think of some ‘non-permanent’ ways to change up the place. I saw on HGTV that you could customize your own lampshade using fabric. Now, i really want to be crafty – but i seem to be lacking the talent! However, you’re tutorial is much better than that on HGTV AND you’ve definitely motivated me to try this out! I’ll let you know how it turns out…keep your fingers crossed!

  • 15. Patty Blackmon  |  June 2, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you so. . . . much, I’ve been trying to figure out how tocut the right shape out for a lamp shader or anything bigger at one end than the other for a long time. This was a great help.


  • 16. becca  |  June 14, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    thanks – I’m planning to cover a shade for my baby’s nursery to match the bedding I made…I googled for instructions and your tutorial is the nicest I’ve seen with such wonderful photos! I’m bookmarking it! Can’t wait to dive in.

  • 17. Pat Morse  |  July 17, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I really appreciate your clear instructions and great step-by-step photos, and I wonder if anyone has repaired a lampshade made of heavy parchment paper that is DENTED but not torn. Can I iron the dent out? or steam it out? Thanks!

  • 18. angie  |  July 23, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    oh, i can’t wait to do this!! thanks for the tutorial!

  • 19. Jane  |  July 26, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    You are truly a cats’ meow in my book for this one…great simple tutorial…love it……Thanks Jane

  • 20. Paula  |  August 31, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks! This is so helpful.

  • 21. A Lamp Makeover | Remodeling This Life  |  September 19, 2008 at 10:32 am

    […] could spruce it up a bit. I did a little google searching for how to recover a lampshade and found this tutorial and got to work. All I needed was my handy dandy hot glue gun, scissors, fabric (I found a scrap […]

  • 22. On Pins and Needles » Blog Archive » Rainy Day Crafting  |  September 27, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    […] quilting print from JAF (in my stash for at least a few years), beaded trim and lace.  I used the directions at Fat Orange Cat as a guide to how and make the lampshade.  Spray adhesive holds the fabric in place and I hot […]

  • 23. Faye  |  October 26, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Thank you for this excellent, easy to follow tutorial. I tried to do this on my own without success using a lampshade of the same shape pictured in your tutorial. After spending the past day removing grasscloth wallpaper from the walls of my family room, I decided that I could recycle some of it since it came off in fairly large sheets. I covered two tired looking lampshades with the wallpaper. The finished product looks terrific!

  • 24. Kim  |  November 13, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    I am off to try your easy to follow steps. I want to make many of these for my HOME FURNISHINGS & DECOR online store.
    Thanks heaps
    From Kim

  • 25. Grace  |  November 22, 2008 at 3:56 am

    I have an old lamp that I bought at a yard sale 2 years ago. It holds 3 100 watt bulbs. I thought it would be good for painting. My daughter made off with it and likes to use it in my front living room to read by! Ahh, when she’s done, I usually have to drag the ugly thing out of the room.. It wouldn’t be so bad if it had a different shade but finding a shade the right height and that offers space for 3 bulbs is impossible to find. I found your instructions on the Internet, went shopping for the products, and started as soon as I got in the door. It was sooo easy! Thanks for the great tutorial. Yours was the best I found on the Internet!
    Windsor, Ontario

  • 26. Nine Tomatoes  |  January 5, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Thanks for the great lesson! I’ve got tons of fabric and will give it a try.. with the glue gun. 🙂

  • 27. Norma  |  January 10, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Now these instructions are FANTASTIC. Like so many of the others, I have shades that need to be redone and other instructions I found just weren’t clear enough for me to undersand. Your visuals are fantastic and I THINK I can do it. Gonna start small and graduate on up to the larger shades. Of course, using a glue gun!

  • 28. Cori  |  January 28, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    That is SO cute! I might have to try that in my girl’s room. 🙂

  • 29. Judy Michel  |  January 29, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I have been looking for plain white paper lampshades in this shape in various sizes for quite awhile. I am currently living in Switzerland and have been unable to find them over here. If possible, could you let me know the source in the U.S. where you are able to purchase lampshades of this type.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Judy Michel

  • 30. Judy Michel  |  January 29, 2009 at 11:18 am

    I just wrote a previous e-mail asking for information about where I could find the paper lampshades in various sizes. I am living in Switzerland and have not had much success from her.

    Feel free to send any information you may have to me at my e-mail address.


    Judy Michel

  • 31. stephanie driscoll  |  March 16, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Thanks for the good pics. I looked at some other tutoirals, and they were confusing. I should be able to finish my project now. Great job.

  • 32. Kate  |  March 28, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks for giving me the confidence to go ahead a try this. I bought fabric last week and had done some experimenting with it, then found your tutorial today. Seeing your finished project gave me the boost I needed to jump in with both feet. I just finished my first one and it looks so good! Can’t wait to get the 2nd one done.

  • 33. johanna  |  April 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    what great directions. and so very easy. your right it is done in an hour.i just re-did my bedroom. as you know things can get very costly. you just think a can ofpaint and an odd piece of carpeting on sale from a reminent. dah……not so. i found my lamp with beautiful ceramic matching exactly my paint colour,someone put it out on junk day. i carried it home from my walk feeling absolutelyodd. all it needed was a new plug. i fixed that and re-wired it, and the shade was yellowed and old looking. so i used left over fabric i made my curitains with, and throw pillows on my bed, and whala, a whole new item. looking like 80 dollars. nobody believes me. such great directions. i kind of knew what to do, but so nice to follow the easy steps. i didnt have spray adheisive so i used watered down medium glue i used to make livingroom rice paper lamp shades and it worked great. a not so expensive electric sissors from wal mart as well that are great for an even cut, and nice and close with no frays in the fabric cut, and i couldnt live without my glue gun. the dollar store here sells them for 4.00 dollars. best thing i’ve ever had in my craft room. thanks so much for sharing. i just had to write and tell you how wonderful your tutorial was.happy reading in our great lamps. oh a another hint. dont buy exepsnive trim at fabric stores, dollar store has all kinds of craft items, only bring your lamop shade with you. for measurements. i did that and everyone in that ilse was giving me ideas. turned out to be a fun shop as i hate to do that.
    happy crafting
    oh and p.s if anyone reads this and knows where to purchase rice paper could you let me know.? so hard to find.

  • 34. Amanda  |  April 15, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    This is the easiet tutorial I have found online so far! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to try out your tutorial!

  • 35. cindy  |  June 14, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    What if you just have the wire part of the lampshade. I have some very old lamps that have old torn lampshades. I want to remove the torn fabric and replace it. So there will be no white underside to attach the fabric to. Has anyone tried this?

    • 36. Leenie  |  December 8, 2009 at 2:07 pm

      Glue a plastic coated paper to it first and then cover it.

      • 37. Sue  |  December 19, 2009 at 9:04 pm

        Where do I get plastic coated paper that won’t potentially be a fire hazard to line the inside of my lampshade? My shade is wicker and the bulb shines through–I want to make a liner for it.

  • 38. Trina  |  July 31, 2009 at 5:12 am

    Thanks for the tuturial, I have been looking for a Star Wars Lamp shade for my sons 7th D’day for a while and have not been able to find any. I decided to buy some Star Wars Fabric and cover an old Lamp Shade I already have.
    You have made it so much easier for me.
    I will let you know how it turns out.

  • 39. My favourite corner «  |  September 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    […] a cutesy lamp that I picked up from a car boot sale years & years ago.  I love it for its slightly weird beehive shape and tiny sprigs of flowers in candy colours.  My hubby couldn’t understand my love for the thing (it is, admittedly, a bit 80’s Laura Ashley- but in my defense I did pick it up just around the time shabby chic started coming onto the scene so it was a serendipitous buy).  I covered a cheap plain shade (also from Dunelm Mill) in the gingham- tutorial here […]

  • 40. laura  |  October 27, 2009 at 1:16 am

    OK I must be an idiot. How exactly are you rolling the shade? Everytime I try it I get practically straight lines. I definitely am doing something wrong. Thanks for any help.

  • 41. Vikki Salazar  |  October 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Great directions and very easy to follow.

  • 42. Leenie  |  December 8, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    It’s all well and good; but, what if you like to change the color as the seasons change. I thought about making covers and using the upholstery tape and velcro on the inside. Does anyone have any other idea as to how to do this.

  • 43. Leenie  |  December 11, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I don’t want to glue the fabric just in case I want to change for the seasons. Is there a way that I could make covers like slip covers for a chair?

  • 44. Mary Poppins in Heels  |  January 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    I’ve looked at all kinds of directions and yours are, by far, the best. Your photographs are wonderful!

    I see how to follow the comments, but how do I follow your blog?

  • 45. Rainy Day Crafting | The Family-Centered™ Life  |  January 10, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    […] a quilt print from JAF (in my stash for at least a few years), beaded trim and lace.  I used the directions at Fat Orange Cat for the lampshade.  Spray adhesive holds the fabric in place and I hot glued the lace and trim […]

  • 46. Aubrey  |  March 10, 2010 at 1:05 am

    I just did this – I put a photo up on my blog. Thanks for the great directions!

  • […]     Theresa, I found a tutorial on covering a lampshade in fabric How to cover a lampshade Fat Orange Cat I stopped at Goodwill today and did a scan for lamps but came up empty I'll keep looking there's […]

  • […] plain steel lamps with the intention of decorating them. I was not until recently that I found the perfect tutorial and finally covered the lampshades with the same fabric I used for my bedroom shelves. It looks […]


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