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Book review - Sewing Lampshades by Joanne Heptinstall

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

On opening the book, Sewing Lampshades by Joanna Heptinstall, our hearts skipped a little beat. Hit with an array of colourful lampshade images and a foreword from Joanna Heptinstall that oozes confidence in her craft, we knew that we were in for a treat. Time to grab a cuppa and take a seat on the sofa to read, read, read!

Joanna Heptinstall was already a trained upholsterer when she stumbled across and old, damaged lampshade that needed some TLC. After plenty of research, she rose to the challenge and revived it, starting her lampshade making journey. This book is an accumulation of her knowledge, skills and her ability to share both, through brilliant step by step instructions and clear supporting imagery.

Focusing solely on soft shade making, the book is divided into three chapters of projects; tailored projects, pleated projects and loose projects. To get you started the ‘core skills’ of making a soft shade are covered over 8 pages and include binding the frame, making a template, sewing the top fabric, fitting aligning and trimming with braid. Each stage leaves you in no doubt that making a soft shade is completely possible and there are useful tips and troubleshooting guides, if things don’t quite go to plan.

Of all the books we’ve reviewed on our blog, this wins the prize for the most in-depth projects, with some projects being 5-6 pages in length. With 16 projects in total, each cleverly covers a slightly different techniques and frame type, meaning if you’re looking to salvage and old frame, it’s probably covered. And it’s not all instructional – there are plenty of creative techniques such as free machine and hand embroidery, sewing chiffon roses and dip dying muslin.

If you think that soft shades can look dated and miss the more contemporary mark, think again. Our favourite shade in the ‘Tailored projects’ chapter is the sculptural ‘Wool origami shade’, which is far from dull. Made by reversing traditional techniques and showing the seams on the outside of the shade, we particularly liked the trim made by simply sewing rectangles of wool together - an idea that could easily be added to any modern shade.

The ‘Pleated projects’ projects includes a myriad of pleated shade techniques staring with a basic pleated shade covering the core skills, again accompanied by detailed step by steps. From working with silk and swathing chiffon diagonally, to skills such as gathering, creating pleated stripes and using DIY Ombre fabrics, there are plenty of skills to learn and ideas to inspire. We loved the simple ‘Faux pleats with bias binding’ shade, that creates pleasing pleats with some easy incorporation of basic soft shade making skills. It’s the ideal entry level project to get you used to working with soft shade frames.

The last chapter covers ‘Loose projects’ and idea that we haven’t really come across before, but these sewn covers work a treat as quick pick me up for smaller shades and come in the form of slip over cover and a wrap around, making your shade coverings effortless to adapt if you change your décor.

And finally, if the book hadn’t inspired us enough, there are 6 handmade trim ideas, to add to your shades – hard or soft.

So, if you’re thinking of stepping up from using our lampshade making kits or hard shades, to working with soft frames, this book is a bible of techniques, advice and information. Helping you to gain an excellent understating of your new craft and form good habits, we think you’ll be making soft shades in no time.

Buy your copy of Sewing Lampshades direct from our website and check out our range of soft shade making supplies. Who knows what you might create?


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