How to make a DIY lampshade

Last week Cornish designer, Alison Bick talked us through her process of designing and printing a drum lampshade panel, from her inspiration and artwork to creating the design in Photoshop and sending it off to be printed onto a lampshade panel. This week Alison shows us how make a DIY lampshade using the printed panel from last week with easy to follow, step by step instructions.

How I make my lampshades from a lampshade kit and a digitally printed lampshade panel

Once I have received the lampshade kit and digital print (see last week’s blog HERE), I get my workspace ready. I lay out some cloth over my dining table, so that I know I’ve got a clean, soft yet level surface to work on.

What I love about this process is that you have to take it slowly, just relax and concentrate. We all have such busy lives, and making lampshades is one of those enjoyable jobs that you just can’t rush. Put the radio on and go with the flow.

Step One

First of all I check the fabric for any bits or dust, and lay it down flat on a clean surface. I don’t usually need to iron the printed fabric, as it arrives in a roll and should be smooth without any creases. If it is creased though, I give it a quick press with a cool iron, printed side down. To be extra safe, use a clean cloth over the fabric to press.

Step Two

Unwrap the adhesive panel, unroll and lay flat over the top of the printed fabric, with the adhesive side down. Position the panel over the print. My prints are quite dark, so it is easy to see where they are in relation to the edge of the panel. I don’t trim the fabric until after I have stuck the panel down.

Top Tip Use something clean to hold the panel down over the fabric. I use spare lampshade kit boxes.

I allow about 5mm of fabric over the edge of the short width of one side of panel, as I’m going to use this to fold over the panel later to make a neat edge when it is rolled up.

Step Three I use a bit of Foamboard to smooth the adhesive panel to the fabric, as I gradually peel back the checked back paper. This ensures that you don’t get any bubbles, and your fabric sticks smoothly to the adhesive panel. Keep peeling back slowly, making sure that the fabric remains in the same place and smoothing down with your hand or foamboard. Reposition whatever you are using to keep the panel down on the fabric (the boxes in my case).

I check that there are no bumps and the fabric is smoothly stuck onto the panel.

Step Four

Now I cut out around the panel. I remember to leave the 5mm at one end of the panel. At the same end, I also leave an extra 7mm on either side. (This makes a tidy edge later when you come to tucking your fabric edges into the rings.) I got this top tip from Fiona, a fellow lampshade maker.

Step Five

Using the double-side tape provided in my lampshade kit, I stick it onto the short edge of the panel where I want to fold over my fabric. (the 5mm extra mentioned above). I peel off the tape backing and smooth down the fabric. Then add another piece of tape across the top of that, but I don’t peel off just yet. (Once I’ve rolled the fabric around the rings, I’ll use this tape to seal the lampshade together.)

Step Six

I turn over my lampshade panel so that the fabric is facing up. I need to remove the two strips on either side of the panel, so I gently fold over the edges of the panel until I hear the snap. Then I turn the panel over again and pull the strips one by one, making sure that the fabric doesn’t fray as I’m pulling them.

Step Seven

The taping of the rings! So, putting my panel to one side, I lay it out flat in preparation for the next step. Use those weights (boxes again to hold it down as that panel is extra curvy). I now tape up the rings. I do the one with the lamp fitting in first, so that I can lay it on the table whilst I tape up the other ring. Pull off the tape cover.

Step Eight

I position both rings about 10cm from the short edge, the one without the taped hem. I don’t put it right to the edge of the panel, as I want a straight edge to the lampshade once the fabric has been rolled over the rings. (I leave maybe about 1mm, use your judgement to what you think looks right).

I do a double check, and ask myself, – is the lamp fitting bit pointing towards the inside of the lamp panel. (Don’t make the same mistake I did first time round and make a perfect shade with the lamp fitting bit hanging below the shade!)

Top tip Think about your design and whether you are making a Pendant Shade (hanging from the ceiling) or a Lamp Shade, and make sure you have got it the right way up.

Then I roll back, to the short edge first, and gradually roll both rings around the panel, making sure that I’ve got an even distance to the edge of the panel all along the way. (If you are just starting out, it is helpful to have someone else’s hand working with you on this rolling.)

Step Nine

Once you get to the end, remove the tape from the hemmed edge, and stick it to the lampshade fabric.

Step Ten

Folding and Tucking Top Tip Taking time on this will make your lampshade look neat and professional!

Keeping the lampshade close to me, with both hands on either end, I gradually roll it around, folding over the fabric so that it sticks to the taped rings. Then with the tucking tool, I tuck the fabric behind the ring. (Sit down at this point, as you might notice your back is beginning to ache if you are bending over your shade.) I just take my time, and gradually work the fabric in behind the rings. The longer sections that I left when I cut out the fabric will cover all fabric neatly so there aren’t any fabric edges sticking out where the two edges join together.

Once I’ve tucked in on both sides of the shade, I then put the lampshade in the upright position and stand up again to poke any extra bits that are sticking out. You will be able to see these bits clearer by standing and looking over into the shade. Snip the fabric where the lamp shade spokes are so you can fold on either side of the spokes.

Once you have tucked in all the folded fabric into the rings, take a step back and admire your handiwork! A job well done.

This is my Hellebore design, and I think it is my favourite. It goes well with our green wall and looks right at home with our mid-century style and adds a contemporary modern twist.

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Find Alison Bick Designs:


Etsy shop



Find loads of lampshade making video tutorials HERE

Learn how to market your online craft business HERE

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