If you’ve ever owned a luxurious dress, blouse or shirt made from a special or fine fabric you’ll know it needs a certain amount of TLC that you wouldn’t consider giving to your other clothes. And the same applies to working with silk , satin and faux silk when making a lampshade. At the outset these already sound like tricky materials to work with but follow our hints and tips to get some fantastic results for stunning lampshades.
Indian Silk lampshade in Forest Green with Gold lining – Love Frankie – prices start at £45.00
Real or faux
If you’re making a shade in silk there are a number of things to consider. Due to it’s fluid nature, which can be difficult to control and marks easily even with the warmth from the ends of your finger tips. Real silk is often very fine (and expensive!) and if you’re making a shade for your home then you can afford to play with real silk, but if you’re a making lampshades to sell this might not be economical, particularly if you want consistent results every time.
This is where Faux silk comes into play as it will give more reliable results, due to being made from polysester rather than natural fibres.
James Hare ‘Astor’ faux silks are rated highly amongst our lampshade makers and come in a fantastic range of 102 colours as well as having authentic look and drape of natural silk dupion.
Trying out a fabric on a small scale is a great way to see if it works as you want to so why not make a silk Lantern from one of our Lantern Making kits? They’re a great way of testing out fabrics and new techniques and also nice to give to friends as gifts or adding to your product range if you sell lampshades.
Dependant on the thickness of the fabric that you are using you’ll find slippery fabrics such as satin and faux silk will behave very differently to standard woven cottons. Their fibres allow lots of movement, giving them their trade mark luxury feel and they don’t have the structure of the weft and warp of cotton and other woven fabrics.
If you’re using a particularly light-weight fabric consider applying a lightweight interfacing, usually used in dressmaking. This will stabilise the fibres and make the fabric easier to apply to the Stick It PVC.
Vliseline H180 is a lightweight interfacing that comes in two colour ways – white and black – so remember to choose the colour that suits your fabric best. To check that the interfacing colour isn’t shining through, test a small area first and hold up a bare bulb to check what the final result will look like.
To remove any creases use a low setting on your iron to be on the safe side and use a pressing cloth to avoid water and limescale marks. It’s always best to press on the wrong side of your fabric too.
Applying the faux silk and finer fabrics
Contrary to the usual way you would apply your fabric to your lampshade making PVC , expert lampshade maker Jane Warren of The Lampshade Loft and a prominent member of our Lampshade Makers facebook forum (click link to join) suggest applying the fabric to the PVC or laminate, as it more commonly known , to ensure a smooth and professional finish.
“When I make lampshades using thin or faux silk fabric, I use a different method of making my shades. Where normally you have fabric face down and the Stick It laminate on top with its paper side down, with faux silks I place the laminate on table, paper side up. Then I place the fabric on top with the right side facing up. After positioning it, I then peel the paper away and smooth the faux silk down using credit or store card. The reason for this is that faux silks can actually wrinkle and by using a card you adhere it properly with no wrinkles!”
You can watch Jane’s Instagram video showing you how to do this here. Make sure you give her a follow at @janeandthelampshadeloft.
Additionally, to get a professional finish when using finer fabrics, when tucking the fabric under Jane says:
“I also add a small layer of interlining fabric around the top edges of both rings, and that way when I pull up and over the thin fabrics, there is no puckering of the thin fabrics which is very common when you make them. ”
As well as using a credit card, Dannell’s Lamination Squeegee also does the same job. With it’s velvet covered edge you can apply pressure without damaging your fabrics. It’s also great for applying applying vinyl and even wallpaper too.
Finer fabrics can often fray so consider using a rotary cutter to cut along the edges of your Stick It PVC panel, with a very sharp new wheel blade and make sure you use a cutting mat on your clean flat surface. This is especially helpful if you haven’t applied interfacing as a stabiliser in advance.
“For hand lamination using Stick-It, putting the silk down with lots of pressure is essential as this is a contact adhesive. Also, an old lampshade manufacturer’s trick is that once laminated you roll up your panel overnight with the silk on the INSIDE.”