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Thursday, August 13, 2020


I've been toying with the idea of adding a pair of lamps to my mantel for a while, I had some there years ago and loved the look.  On a recent trip to Homegoods I came across the perfect pair- they had a slim enough profile to fit on the mantle and were tall enough to add some height.  And, the bases look like bamboo and were already the perfect color!  These are probably technically buffet lamps, that's the term you would use to search for a similar shape and size.  Although the shade was a perfect crisp white, when I put them on the mantle the shade totally disappeared... they needed some oomph!  Since the shades were so nice and we all know I like to move things around a lot, I didn't want to do anything to them that would permanently damage the shade should I want it to be white again in a different spot.  I've covered shades with fabric in the past using hot glue but they were always old shades that I didn't care about using again in their original condition.  So, I used this easy method and today I'll share how to temporarily cover the lamp shade with fabric so that it is removable and won't damage the shade should I want something different down the road.

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You will need a few supplies-

Fabric of your choice (my gingham fabric here- lots of colors!)
Ribbon or Trim for the edge (multi-color tassel trim I used)
Low Temp Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks (I prefer low temp to save my fingers but any glue gun is fine)
Scissors and Pencil

Start by laying out your fabric.  If there's a wrong (back) side, lay it facing up.  Lay your lampshade down on it and make sure there's enough fabric so that you can roll your shade all the way across the fabric from shade seam to shade seam without running out of fabric on the sides.  

If your fabric has a pattern, be mindful of what will be centered on the front of the shade, you'll want whatever you want centered on the front to be in the center section of the pattern you're about to mark out.  Stripes are tricky and I probably wouldn't recommend them for a shade unless it's a perfectly straight drum shade with no slope at all.  This gingham pattern won't stay straight all the way around the shade, I just made sure that the pattern was straight and centered on what would be the front of the shade.  Another alternative for gingham is to turn the pattern diagonal and there's not as much to worry about keeping the pattern straight.  I'll probably do that next time!  

Start with your shade laid down in the center of your fabric, then use a pencil to mark along the top and bottom edge.   You can see the beginning of my line along the bottom of the shade here-

Carefully roll your shade along the fabric continuing to mark the top and bottom edge until you've done enough to wrap around the entire shade.  Go out an extra inch or two on one end, we'll use that to make a finished edge. 

Cut out around your lines.  If you're making two shades, use your first piece as a pattern to mark fabric for your second shade.  If you haven't already, at this point make sure your fabric is well pressed!

I love these glue dots!  They're the same thing I used to cover the backs of my Louis style chairs without totally reupholstering them.  They're available at most craft stores.  Unfortunately,  I can't locate this "Multiple Surfaces, Super Strength" variety like I used, maybe they've discontinued that one.  If purchasing new,  I think I'd choose this variety.  The others that say "permanent" make me a bit nervous about if they would leave a mess on the shade later or not.  

Begin by placing a glue dot along the seam of the shade.  Just one at the top and one at the bottom should be sufficient for smaller shades, but if your shade is larger you might need one or two in the middle along the seam as well.  I like to kind of keep my shade in the middle of the cut piece of fabric, then carefully roll the fabric up around the shade to attach the end of the fabric to the shade where the glue dots are.  It's really easy to get the fabric crooked so it doesn't line up with the top and bottom edge, just take your time and make sure it's straight along the edges as you wrap it around. 

Once one end is attached and you know the fabric is straight, continue to roll the shade and keep the fabric taught.  I didn't use any other glue dots around the edges except for the ones in the back along the seam, your fabric should be tight and smooth enough not to move around once it's wrapped.

Once the fabric is wrapped all the way around, determine where it will meet the seam again.  At this point, I head to my ironing board and press the raw edge under where it will cover the other raw edge where I started.  

Then, use a few more glue dots to secure the finished edge on top of the first cut edge.  I made sure my glue dots were placed so that this section would attach to the bottom layer of gingham fabric rather than the white part of the shade.  This way, the only adhesive actually touching the shade are the 2 or three original ones along the seam.  I've had mine done for over a month and just checked them, and the dots that stick to the actual white shade still come off easily without any damage to the shade.  But, just in case... the only ones that touch the white shade are along the seam in the back and wouldn't be visible if they were to leave any residue in the future, but I don't anticipate that happening.

So here's the covered shade, in the back along the seam and in the front-

Now it's time to finish the edges!  If your shade is perfectly straight and has no slope, ribbon is a good option.  If you shade is more sloped it can be tricky go get the ribbon to lay down smooth, so a tape trim with a little stretch and give would be a better option.  

I used this colorful tassel trim around the bottom.  You can continue to use the glue dots, but I like to switch to my low temp hot glue gun from here on out.  It's quicker and easier.  Just make sure that you're applying the glue to the fabric and not getting any on the edge of the original shade.  Just a small dot every few inches along the edge is enough.  

I wanted to cover that tassel trim edge and also needed something for the top edge, so I considered a few different grosgrain ribbons.  The polka dot was fun but I decided to go with the solid green.  Attach it with a few drops of hot glue as well.  One caution- depending on your ribbon the hot glue might show through and make a dark looking spot where you use it.  Usually there's not as much trouble with this if you're using a low temp gun, but you might test it out first to make sure.  I just used tiny bits of hot glue on the edge of my ribbon to avoid it showing through right in the middle, again making sure that where I applied it the glue would attach to the fabric and not the actual shade.  

So that's it!  This simple removable method would also make it fun to change out the fabric seasonally or easy to change if you move the lamp to a different room. 

One thing to note: The shades I use are the typical linen covered shade for the base. If your shade is a different fabric like silk I would think this method would still work with no damage to the original shade fabric.  However, if your shade is the heavy paper type of shade I'm not sure the adhesive would peel off cleanly without damaging the shade should you ever remove it.  Just a heads up to test a hidden spot first if you're worried about damaging the original shade.  

One last thing, the glue dots work well also if you just want to add some trim to your shade on it's own.  Peel it off later if you change your mind!  Just an idea for something like these shades-

fabric covered lamp shade tutorial, gingham lamp shade

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been looking forward to this tutorial, as I have a shade I need to cover as well. Great job. The lamps look great with your mirror.

  2. This post is just fantastic. I have several shades I wanted to cover but your method is so simple and detailed, I can't fail. Thank you so much. Love the style!


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