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Soft Shade Making Series - Sewing & Glueing a Lampshade Trim

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

Just the creative finishing touches are ahead of us as we come to complete the soft lampshade, featured in our Soft Shade making Series and today it’s trim time! Whether you want to ensure that your shade accurately reflects a bygone time or pulls out the colours in your chosen fabric, it’s the easiest way to add masses of personality to your shade. With countless types and colours of trim to choose from and plenty of placement opportunities we'll show you the techniques and tricks behind both sewing and glueing trims to your soft lampshades.

Which parts of the lampshade can I apply braids or trim?

Most commonly lampshades have trims along the bottom edge of the lampshade, with the top edge of the lampshade being popular too. To define the shape of the lampshade, the struts or seams between two panels contrastedcan also be highlighted with a trim.

What are types of trim used on a soft shade?

Gimp - a narrow and flat ornamental trim used in soft furnishings, such as furniture, curtains, blinds and lampshades to hide seams and upholstery tacks, but to also add decorative appeal.

Braid - wider and flatter than gimp, this often has embroidered details. Braid and Gimp can be very interchangeable terms.

Decorative – not an exhaustive list but tasselled, fringed, pom-pom, bobble trim, feathered, rope, ricrac, lace and beaded are just some of the decorative trims available.

Ribbon – often used as a second trim to cover the braid at the base of a tasselled, fringed or beaded trim grosgrain, velvet and satin are all popular options.

Bias Binding – made from the bias of fabric this is often used as a ‘self-trim’, from the same fabric as the outer lampshade, but can also be contrasted to match the lining or even another fabric entirely. We’ll cover how to add bias binding in our next Soft Shade Making Series post.

Is it essential to apply a trim?

If you have attached your outer cover using Streetly Stitch, as per our blog post series, and this is visible, then you’ll need to use trim to cover the stitching. This also applies to panelled soft lampshades which have been made by stitching individual fabric to the struts.

For lined and unlined lampshades Louise from Foresters offers this advice.

If the lampshade is unlined I attach it on the inside as this serves to cover the frame bindings, but for a lined lampshade always on the outside.

What is the best method of attaching the trim to the lampshade?

There are a few different methods, but essentially the choice is between either sewing or glueing the trims in place. Some of our Dannells’ makers favour the much more traditional method of sewing trims into place.


To sew the trim in place, many makers use the same sturdy stitch, Streetly or Lampshade stitch, to keep this in place. Depending on the weight and width of the trim you’ll need to adjust the stitch length and width. Streetly or Lampshade Stitch is useful for bindings that will then be covered with another trim, such as a ribbon. As using this stitch isn’t always possible, a small invisible stitch just around the top edge of a tightly stretched trim may be enough as echoed in the advice below from our expert makers.

Heather Luke of Design and Make, says:

Our premise, as all braids and fabric combinations are different, is to attach it to the frame just below the top edge of the gimp and into the weave using invisible stitches; stitching the lower edges isn't easy and is usually not necessary.

Jane Warren of The Lampshade Loft uses a similar technique:

I pick up tiny thread through the gimp, tiny stitch into top of the shade, then underneath gimp sew a larger diagonal stitch down, out through the base of gimp, tiny stitch through to shade and carry on like that working my way round. Having said that, if you stretch your gimp tight around - then top stitch only, it should stay in place. Or you can top stitch and then run a little glue under the base of it.


In her book the Handmade Lampshades, Natalie Price- Cabrerra glues her trims to her shades using the method below, taken from the La Gitana shade, which can be found on P116.

Working from the top down add the trimming to the struts, using a wooden coffee stirrer to apply small amount of glue a time. I peg the trim in place while the glue dries.

There are many different types of glue from strong super glues, such as Gorilla Super Glue (try the version with a handy brush included or with a nozzle hot or cold glue gun.

Expert Lampshade maker Elizabeth Pegg, of Silkworms and Cottontails uses a glue gun and has generously shared her 'how to video' so you can see how this works in practise.

I use a glue gun quite happily but I’ve just used Gutterman textile glue and been happy with that too.

Whichever method you use, Natalie Price-Cabrera offers this advice:

Make sure your frame is at eye level while you attach the trim, otherwise you risk positioning the trim too high up the frame.

What should I look for in a trim?

This will very much depend on the finished look you are going for. Gimps are very flexible because of the way in which they are woven, so if you have a lampshade with a scalloped edge or lots of curves, this is really useful either on its own or to cover the braid at the top of a tassel. If you are using ribbon to cover a strut or a braid, as above, you’ll need to make sure this is wide enough to disguise what’s underneath.

What you’ll need to add a trim to your soft lampshade

1.5 metres of trim or braid for a 10" Bowed Empire Frame

Pins (Lills or regular pins) or Wonder Clips


How to add a trim to your soft lampshade

For this tutorial, we are using a lace trim at the top of the lampshade, which is sewn into place and a braid at the bottom of the lampshade, which is glued.

1. Decide on the position of your trim and measure your length of trim by measuring around the shade and adding 3 cm. Cut the lengths.

2. Place the lampshade in a lamp base to apply the trim at eye level where possible.

3. Starting at one of the side seams, position the trim on the lampshade taking into consideration both the width of your covering ribbon and the location of the stitches on the edge of your lampshade. Pin or Wonder Clip in place.

4. Using single knotted upholstery thread and a needle, starting at the seam, push the needle underneath the trim and through the top edge.

5. Pull the thread through.

6. Take the needle back through the lampshade to create your first stitch.

7. Sew a diagonal stich behind the trim and pull through.

8. Repeat by sewing a small neat stitch to secure the trim and repeat by sewing another diagonal stitch behind the trim.

9. Continue stitching until the two ends meet. Fold the ribbon so that it meets the side seam exactly.

10. Cut away the excess trim.

11. Stitch small invisible stitches to secure the fold in place

Glueing the ribbon

1. Place a small amount of glue onto the back of the braid.

2. Position just beyond the side seam with the centre of the braid running along the frame.

3. Apply a small amount of glue to a 5 cm section of the frame, either with the glue nozzle or a coffee stirrer or lollipop stick.

4. Gently position the ribbon onto the glue, making sure it is level. Continue around the frame until you reach the seam.

5. When you reach the seam assess whether or not your braid can be folded. Ours was too thick to fold. To fold, follow the instruction above for the sewn trim or alternatively cut the braid so that it meets the side seam exactly.

6. Place a small spot of glue to braid in place. Here we used a lollipop stick to avoid adding too much glue.

7. Stick in place so the centre of the braid matches.

New for 2022 – Soft Shade Making Starter Bundles

As the popularity of making soft lampshades soars, we’ve made it even easier for you to make one of your own! Our NEW Soft Lampshade Making Bundles, include everything you need and are available in a choice of three frames - French Drum, Bowed Empire or Scallop – and are available in a wide variety of sizes. Pick from either black or white cotton tape and upholstery thread to suit your choice of fabric.

Armed with the Soft Lampshade Making Bundle’s top-quality material and tools, all you need to do is simply pick a fabric and follow our Soft Lampshade Making Series to develop your soft lampshade making skills and make a beautiful bespoke shade!


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