DIY Fabric Wrapped Vintage Lampshade

April 26, 2011

Hello everyone! How was your long, lovely weekend? I feel like I’ve been basking in vacation bliss for days… plus we’ve had a few weeks of mid 70s, perfectly sunny weather so it’s hard to find much to complain about — and it love it! Just in four days I’ve been to the biergarten, dined outdoors, went on hikes, acted like a kid at a carnival, did some shopping, made crafty things at home, so I’m feeling quite inspired. In fact, I wanted to share a few of those crafts projects this week on decor8, the first is the fabric wrapped lampshade that many of you loved from the Liberty launch party that Sania Pell, Leslie Shewring and I added as part of the tabletop styling demonstration in-store.

DIY Fabric Wrapped Vintage Lampshade

Funny (and flattering to us!) but some guests thought the shade was a Liberty product but it actually wasn’t – we had spent a lot of time together and on the phone/through emails putting together many ideas as to what to hang above the table and in the end, we decided to make a lampshade using Liberty fabrics, ribbons, flowers and all sorts of fun stuff including a disco ball. We originally thought to use more than one (three to be exact) but with such limited time, we decided to go with a single shade and that is exactly what we did! The idea, as most ideas, were a result of putting our heads together to think of what would make an impact (for a store like Liberty) while looking somewhat “part” of their dining room section of the store. Since Sania and I both love wire frames from old lampshades, it was decided that we’d hunt one down and wrap the frame with fabric.

DIY Fabric Wrapped Vintage Lampshade

I bought one on eBay in Germany but it was easier for Sania to just buy one at a car boot sale in London and wrap the frame herself so that is what she did – and it came out beautifully as you can see above – I love how hers came out and can’t thank her enough for making it.

When I shared the Decorate launch party at Liberty last Friday, many of you loved the things that we showed during our demonstration — particularly the handmade elements. That is why I thought today I’d show you how to make the lampshade and then Sania will join us in the weeks to come to show how a few other things were made, including the flower brooches and the wire houses that hung above my signing table. But first, the lampshades. I’m not sure exactly how Sania made the one at Liberty, but I went with my gut and here is how I made mine shown below.

DIY Fabric Wrapped Vintage Lampshade

DIY Fabric Wrapped Vintage Lampshade:

1. First, I laid out my supplies: permanent quick drying fabric glue, scissors, 3/4 meter of Liberty fabric, vintage lampshade won on eBay for under $5!

2. Then I stripped the lampshade removing the ugly brown polyester cover with that sexy dark brown fringe (not!). That went into the rubbish bin where it belonged!

3. Next, I wiped the frame with a rag to remove dust — important to use a dry rag as you’ll have to wait for it to dry before wrapping it with fabric otherwise.

4. Then, I laid out the fabric that I wanted to use, in this case a Liberty print that I’ve had for a few months now, and snipped into it about one inch in from the edge. After the snippet was made, I tore the fabric to the very end to create a long strip. Don’t worry about the frayed edges, they add to the charm once the frame is wrapped plus you don’t really see them in the end anyway. I cut about 6 strips to begin with, each about 46″ long, to get started. In the end, I used about 3/4 of a meter of fabric for the entire lamp.

5. I started wrapping! This was quite easy. To start, I worked from the top of the frame down. I found that easiest because if you work from the top up you risk unraveling it before it has time to “set”. When you wrap, you can either tie in a tiny knot and wrap from them, carefully concealing the knot when you wrap OR you can opt to not tie it and simply use strong instant-dry fabric glue and then fold and glue the fabric onto itself, hold in place as you wrap, and then you can eventually let go and it stays in place. You can also iron heat bond to the opposite side of fabric, iron it on, and then cut strips of fabric and wrap that way as I imagine that would be a good option as well.

DIY Fabric Wrapped Vintage Lampshade

6. Save the top circular part of the frame for last (as shown) so you can wrap it and give it a nice finished look.

DIY Fabric Wrapped Vintage Lampshade

7. Now, you can embellish. You may want to keep it simple and add nothing at all, or you can add a simple small metal garland as I did from designer Tord Boontje that I’ve had laying around my house for a few years in different arrangements of things. I think the garland is a nice touch and once a bulb is in the lamp, it could look nice wrapped around that part of the lamp. I also want to note that I intentionally did not spray paint the interior of the frame where the lightbulb will go simply because I liked the “oldness” of it and find that it adds charm to not look 100% brand new. But if you want something more polished, just spray paint it as that is the only part of the lamp that you cannot wrap due to that being a total fire hazard! If neither of these looks are for you, add some flowers (faux of handmade from fabric). Sania made some beautiful flowers that I pinned to my shade at home and I think they look pretty.

DIY Fabric Wrapped Vintage Lampshade

TIPS: My goal is to buy a wooden lampbase that has a great silhouette and spray paint it high gloss gray or white and top it with my new “old” lampshade. If you really want to deck out your shade, add birds, ribbons, frayed bits of fabrics tied, a disco ball if you do not plan to use it as a light but as a quirky display, etc. You can even remove the center of the frame and with a ceiling mount kit (from IKEA for instance) you can turn this shade into a pendant light. Another idea is that you can hang it and wrap fairy lights in the inside to illuminate it at night. The goal is to have fun and personalize this frame – do what makes you happy!

Warning: Please be careful that you don’t use anything close to the bulb that is flammable if you plan to use the shade on a lamp base – so avoid tissue paper flowers and anything else that could start to slowly cook, and then burn, from the heat.

DIY Fabric Wrapped Vintage Lampshade

I hope that you enjoyed this lampshade DIY and that it makes you look at ugly lampshades a little differently now! Wire frames are a big trend, lots of designers are using them in some of the best rooms out there — but they usually spray paint them in bold primary colors like red and green. If you want to try wrapping them in your favorite fabric for a fresh take on this trend, go for it – I hope that you love this lampshade idea and that you give it a try at home — decorating should be fun, personal and most of all, should reflect your own style and taste so try something like this one at home and see what you come up with, right?!

(images: holly becker for decor8 with the exception of Liberty shots taken by Tiffany Kirschner-Dixon)


  • Reply Andreia April 26, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    So lovely! Great idea! I specially love the one in the last photo!

  • Reply Adrienne Audrey April 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    what a cute idea. I will be on the hunt for old lampshades next time I’m at the thrift store

  • Reply Katie April 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I was really hoping you’d share about this one! I think I’d love to make it as a pendant lamp.
    I think I would recommend using a soft sort of light bulb (low wattage with a frosted finish), so that you can look at the lovely fixture without seeing spots for the next ten minutes!

  • Reply decor8 April 26, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Katie that is a great suggestion – I use ‘natural daylight’ bulbs that are energy efficient and usually 40 watt and those seem to be fine without shades – as for frosted, I tend to like the clear ones better (I like seeing the filaments inside, I know, strange) but frosted would work of course, too! xo

  • Reply Celeste April 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    For years I’ve had the poor, pretty old shade waiting in the basement. I just never knew what to do with it. Now I know…

    Thanks! :-)

  • Reply juliette April 26, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    This is great – I actually made some fabric-wrapped hoops as part of a mobile for my niece AND I’ve been on the hunt for a good lampshade frame to embellish and use in my office, but I never thought to combine those ideas and fabric wrap the lampshade frame until I saw pictures of your Liberty launch. I love it!

  • Reply Amy - pride of place April 26, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    I am experimenting myself with a wire lampshade just now. I may have to try this one. Thanks

  • Reply Lisa April 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks for including a DIY! Love that. It makes decorating accessible, even if you don’t have a lot of cash.

  • Reply Glenda Childers April 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Such a lovely, easy and whymsical project.


  • Reply Brigitte April 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I must do this project! My bedroom is crying out for a pendant just like this!

  • Reply Becky D April 26, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    that’s really pretty – and actually seems like something I could do!! thanks for sharing!

  • Reply leah April 27, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Really cute. Will add to to my “to make” list….

  • Reply Alyssa May 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Where did you purchase your metal garland? That is very cute! Great idea

    • Reply decor8 May 1, 2011 at 7:37 pm

      @Alyssa – It was a gift from my friend Kat. I’m not sure where she got it.

  • Reply Lisa May 7, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Wow that’s awesome. Your addition of the disco ball is just cazy, love it!

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