Hand sewing is an essential part of making soft lampshades and in today’s post, we're sharing how to sew lampshade stitch or streetly stitch. The most commonly used stitch amongst traditional shade makers, lampshade stitch helps firstly secure the outer cover, and then the lining to the binding on the frame and it's the next stage in our Soft Shade Making Series, showing you how to make a soft lampshade from start to finish.
What tools and materials do I need for hand sewing a soft lampshade?
Any hand stitching will be crucial to holding fabrics in place, therefore using an upholstery thread which is stronger than regular sewing thread, will guarantee tangle-free, neat and durable stitches. By matching the colour of the thread to your fabric, particularly on the lining, the stitches will not be seen.
Natalie Price Cabrera, in her book Handmade Shades, recommends using ‘in between’ needles which are short and sturdy, whereas our expert lampshade makers on our Facebook Forum recommend ‘Sharps’ or ‘Darners’, both in size 7. Longer upholstery needles can be useful when working on a larger shade. A thimble is also the soft lampshade maker’s best friend, as pushing through the fabric and binding tape can be tough work and either a metal or silicon thimble will help prevent sore fingers!
How to sew lampshade stitch
1. Measure a length of cotton that is approximately double the circumference of the bottom of your shade. Thread the needle, but do not knot the thread at the end.
2. Remove the first couple of pins and starting on the inside of the seam, push the needle upwards through the fabric and binding, on a diagonal, leaving a fraction of the thread not pulled through.
3. Sew a locking stitch by sewing from the bottom towards the centre of the lampshade and then repeating on top of the original stitch with a back stitch.
4. Move from the top of the first locking stitch to the bottom of the next locking stitch, creating a diagonal running stitch.
5. Sew upwards through the layers of binding and fabric, using the same point on entry and exit, sew a backstitch.
Ensure you keep the gap between the stitches and the locking stitches the same length (this is particularly important when sewing on the lining as the stitches could become visible outside of any trim).
6. Continue around the frame, removing a couple of pins at a time and maintaining the tension on the fabric, until you meet the seam.
7. When reaching your starting point, backstitch by pushing your needle through the final stitch to hold it securely in place.
8. Sew on the diagonal away from the final stitch to hide your final stitch under the fabric.
9. Snip off your thread so it can't be seen.
Here's a quick watch version of all of the steps:
Can different length stitches be used?
For a larger shade, many lampshade makers extend the diagonal running stitch to be longer, whilst for a pleated shade, which has more layers to secure an additional small diagonal stitch can be added, along with a longer stitch between pleats.
Where else can Lampshade Stich be used on a soft shade?
As you become more experienced in making soft shades you may want to make a shade that has individual panels, that are then sewn using lampshade stitch directly onto the binding on the struts. Instead of working upwards you will be working flat onto the frame, sewing the locking stitches from left to right. Below is a great example of a hand-sewn panel lampshade from @lotties_and_totties.
Make a Soft Lampshade from scratch
Interested in making a soft shade? Today's post is just one in our Soft Shade Making Series that shows you how to master the skills and techniques to make your own Bowed Empire soft shade. Each post has a step-by-step tutorial, plenty of expert advice and is packed with tips to help you achieve a stunning traditional lampshade.
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