Whether you need a quick refresher course or are completely new to lampshade making, today we’re taking you 'Back to Lampshade School' with a post filled with tips, techniques and insider knowledge ensuring every handmade lampshade you make is truly top-of-the-class! From using a kitchen mug to our top taping tips, there's no doubt our quick and easy lessons will take your lampshade making to the next level. We can feel a few gold stars coming on!
Press, press and press again
Whatever fabric you’re using for your lampshade, whether it’s fresh off the roll or it has been hiding in your stash for months, maybe even years, every crease and fold needs to be ironed out before using it in your Lampshade Making Kit.
Stubborn folds can be easily removed with a spray of water along the fold length and then pressed out with a hot iron.
Cutting your fabric to size
Cutting your fabric to size offers two distinct advantages for the lampshade making process. Firstly, the fabric is easier to handle, giving you clear sightlines of both the top of your fabric and where the Lampshade Making PVC will sit. Secondly, if you are lining up the edge of the PVC with a pattern, by measuring and cutting the fabric in advance you can ensure the pattern sits squarely along the top and bottom edge, where the eye is drawn to, on your finished shade.
Check how the size and scale of the pattern on your fabric will work, in relation to the depth and diameter of the finished lampshade, to ensure this can be captured in full.
Fabrics such as linen and medium-weight cotton have a tendency to fray, which can impact the professional finish of your lampshade and make the final ‘tucking in’ stage more tricky than it needs to be. For a fabric with excessive fraying consider using Fray Stop along the edges of your fabric – our professional makers suggest drawing around your fabric panel first and then applying Fray Stop along the lines, before repositioning the PVC panel. Similarly, watered-down EVA Adhesive is also an effective way of reducing fraying and can be applied in the same way.
Kit at the Ready
There’s little prep that needs to be done in terms of your actual Lampshade Making Kit but a fantastic tip we’ve picked up helps with the flattening of your rolled PVC Panel. Simply remove the panel from its plastic covering, re-roll with the white PVC facing out, stand in the mug and let it unfurl to fit. Leave for a few hours, or ideally overnight. Once unrolled your panels should be flat!
The double-sided tape provided in your kit is a key element in creating your lampshade, essentially holding it all together. Here are a few tape need-to-knows that will help you throughout the lampshade making process:
Leave a gap between the tape ends when applying to the lampshade rings. This helps you find the ends and also prevents a lumpy tape overlap.
When applying the tape to the short seam edge be careful not to stretch the tape, as you position it on the PVC panel. This can cause the panel to buckle at the seam and prevent the seam from sitting flat.
Try to avoid putting excessive pressure on the rings while rolling. The added benefit is by lightly pressing on the rings, you’ll find the tucking-in stage much easier.
Seemingly Good Seams
Whilst our kits allow you to create a straight fabric cut seam, to take your skills up a notch why not try a folded seam edge? Encasing the seam, by extending the fabric on the short edge, then folding in, this simple trick is used by Professional Lampshade Makers. Check out our Lampshade Hack #1 - Folded fabric seam edge tutorial and follow our step-by-step tutorial to learn how to achieve this finish or alternatively watch Sam, our Lampshade Demonstrator, explain this technique on our You Tube Channel.
For thicker fabrics and those that have a tendency to fray, increase the depth of the tab, so you have more fabric to work with when tucking the fabric under the rings.
Neat Inside Seam
An easy trick we’ve picked up to neaten the inside of a lampshade is to place our 19mm Lampshade Binding Textile Tape - Self-Adhesive over the seam. White is the obvious choice, blending into the background of the PVC panel, creating a seamless (pun intended!) shade inner. Some makers use a strip of Lampshade Making PVC, which you may have handy if you create your own bespoke lampshade sizes.
When positioning the tape consider how this will look from the outside of the shade when the light is switched on.
Professional and precise handmade lampshades are all about checking at each stage, as often there's no room for going back! Here’s our list of checks that can save you time and energy:
After applying the fabric always flip over the fabric and smooth it over with your hand to check for unwanted frays or tiny particles trapped under the fabric. If by chance you find any, then simply peel back the fabric, remove and re-adhere the fabric to the panel.
When positioning your rings on the PVC make sure the spokes of the utility ring are sitting away from the seam. This makes the next stage easier when tucking the fabric margin under the rings.
Before rolling the rings check you are moving towards the taped seam edge. It’s easy to get enthusiastic about rolling only to have to unroll and start again!
Ensure the edges of the shade align before closing the seam, to get a professional finish.
We’ve recently written an extensive blog on everything we know about tucking under - Tips and tricks to achieve a professionally tucked in lampshade edge - but there is always room for new learning – even we have to go ‘Back to school’ sometimes!
Our earlier tip of sealing the kisscut margins with Fray Stop will help tremendously with tucking in, but taking this a step further, Mono Handmade (@monohandmade) generously shared the following tip on our Facebook Lampshade Makers Group to avoid fraying after cutting the fabric at the spokes:
I use a tiny dab of clear nail varnish to seal fraying edges.
We’ll definitely be adding clear nail varnish to our lampshade making toolbox. For other common household tools that can be used, read our Top 5 Household Tools for Making Lampshades – you’ll be surprised by the selection!
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