Tutorial: Create a custom fabric lampshade

SEP 24, 2012 updated May 30, 2016

This week guest author Emma Jeffery from the blog Hello Beautiful visits to show us how she used old love letters to create a personalized fabric lampshade. 




Lampshade
My husband and I got together in the days when people still wrote letters to each other, and because we’ve both lived in various different countries (and not necessarily together, at the same time) we both accumulated a healthy stack of correspondence.

On a recent trip back to my parent’s house where I grew up, I rediscovered the large box of letters I’d amassed that he sent me over a 5-year time frame, chronicling my various university addresses, a summer stint as a nanny in France, a year I spent on a remote island in the Indian Ocean….The envelopes had postmarks and stamps from his various travels too — a windsurfing trip to Spain with his friends or snowboarding in the Alps. And because he tended to doodle on the front of the envelopes or use folded magazine ads as an envelope, there was an interesting mix of color and design in my collection.

I photographed various parts of many of the envelopes, concentrating on the addresses, stamps, postmarks and my husband’s handwriting and doodling. I zoomed in on various points of interest and panned out on others, for a more overall impression.

Stamp

Once I had taken approximately 50 – 60 photos, I edited them in Picasa by cropping the photos to highlight the most striking parts.

Mail collage
I then created a collage of the images. Setting the purple background color helped to make the images stand out from each other. Picasa allows you to easily move and turn each element of the collage to create an image you love. Although my usual design comfort zone is subtle and orderly, I very deliberately decided to go bold, random and large-scale with this collage. It felt good to let my design inhibitions go for this project.

Thrifted lampIn Microsoft's Paint program I resized the image to fit 1 yard of Spoonflower’s linen-cotton canvas. I wanted to use my fabric print for an oversized lampshade for my side of the bed in our room. I purchased the largest lamp base I could find at the thrift store – which cost me less than $3 plus the cost of a can of spray paint to change the ugly black and red design to white.

Lamp-combo-bigI selected a large lamp shade to recover and traced a pattern on large piece of paper. I started by rolling the shade over the paper and marking a line with a pen as I rolled it from one side to the other, marking the top edge and then the bottom edge. 

I then joined up the two lines at the sides with a ruler.

I cut my pattern out of the paper and checked it was the right size by placing it over the shade temporarily.

Assured my pattern was the correct size, I was ready to cut my fabric. I added a ¾” seam allowance all the way around the outside of the paper pattern so that I had extra fabric as an overhang. 

To adhere the fabric to the lampshade, I began by spraying the shade with a spray adhesive. It’s best to do this outside or in a well ventilated area.

Cutting-collage
I then rolled the lampshade over the fabric, checking its positioning as I rolled.
At the seam join, I pressed the top raw edge ¼” to the wrong side and glued it down neatly.

Fabric to inside
In order to neatly finish the top and bottom edges, I first folded the over hanging fabric
to the inside of the lampshade and glued it down.

Drying glue
Clothes pins and paper clips were helpful to keep the fabric in place as I waited for it to dry.

Twill ribbon
Next, I glued a length of twill ribbon over the raw edge of the fabric. It’s an easy and pretty way to hide the raw edge and prevent fraying.

Finally, I secured the lampshade to my new and freshly painted base and placed it in our room.  

Lamp3


About Our Guest Blogger

Emma Jeffery, Spoonflower guest bloggerHi! I'm Emma, and as well as working on the Fiskars Design Team, I blog over at hellobeautifulblog.blogspot.com/

I'm an obsessive sewer, often leaping into projects with more enthusiasm than talent, more bravado than skill and more good luck than anything else. This technique has worked well for me so far and more often than not, I make things I love, even if they're not absolutely perfect. And though I'm no expert, I have a passion for fabric, color and design. I know what I like and what I like makes me smile.

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  • Hi Emma, thanks for the tutorial. I would love to try this for my girls. How did you transfer the print to the canvas?

  • Vince Rappa

    Hi Emma,
    Fantastic job on the lamp shade, it looks as if your have way more talent then you are giving yourself credit for,
    I am a woodworker, so have no experience with fabric, all i know of it ,is that it is used in making the cloths i wear, i am working on a steam punk lamp and will be trying to cover a lampshade in some of the great fabrics the have here at Spoonflower, ,
    When you but on that piece of fabric to hide the raw edge was that just a wood glue that you used? Thanks for doing this tutorial it really is going to help me allot
    vince