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Soft Shade Making Series - Making a Gimbal Cover

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Getting to grips with the professional finishing touches is what really makes a handmade soft lampshade sing! Falling straight into this category is making a gimbal cover or tidy to sit around the gimbal arms. This tiny detail, as well as serving a functional purpose, can also be a noticeable highlight adding extra personality to your soft shade. Follow the tutorial below to learn how to make a gimbal cover or tidy for the next steps in your Soft Shade Making journey.

What is a gimbal cover or tidy?

A gimbal cover or tidy is a piece of fabric that is used to hide where the lining meets the gimbal arm. In our previous post Making and Fitting a Lining, we cut the lining to slip under the gimbal arm. A gimbal cover or tidy sits around the gimbal arm, giving a neat and professional finish.

What can be used to make a gimbal cover?

Bias binding, ribbon or a strip of fabric the same from the lining or outer cover. The length needed is relatively short – between 10 and 12cm - and depending on how visible you want the gimbal cover to be this can either seamlessly disappear into the lining or stand out as a feature.

When is a gimbal cover fitted?

Depending on whether you fit the lining or the outer first (we have fitted the outer first on our Soft Shade Making Series) depends on when the gimbal tidy is fitted.

1st Lining

2nd Outer cover

3rd Gimbal cover - hidden by the outer cover, to create a neat edge

1st Outer cover

2nd Lining

3rd Gimbal cover, hidden by trim

If you are considering making a soft lampshade with no trim, the lining will need tofrom be fitted first, although there is nothing to stop you following this order and applying a trim afterwards.

What you’ll need to make a gimbal cover or tidy

2 x 12cm x 5cm length of ribbon, bias binding or fabric (for this tutorial we’re using strips of our outer fabric)


Upholstery thread - white or black


How to make a gimbal cover or tidy

1. Cut two strips of fabric 12cm x 5cm.

2. Fold the raw edges in by 1cm and finger press in place.

3. Fold the strip in half and again finger press.

4. Slot the strip neatly under the gimbal arm, making sure the fabric strip is equidistant on both sides and the arm sits in the centre. The folded edge of the fabric should be facing downwards towards the bottom ring of the lampshade.

5. Fold the two lengths of fabric upward towards the top of the shade and securely pin in place.

6. Stitch the gimbal cover using Streetly stitch, as shown in our blog post How to sew Lampshade or Streetly Stitch.

7. Cut off the excess fabric strips to line up with the edge of the lining.

8. Volia - your finished gimbal cover!

Using Ribbon or Bias Binding

A general guide for using ribbon or bias binding is to aim for around 1.5cm in width for a small or medium shade. For a large shade, a wider gimbal cover can work, but it’s worth testing a variety of widths. In terms of what the ribbon or bias is made from – cotton, polyester, satin etc – there are no limits, so have fun picking what will suit your shade. It’s one of the joys of making things yourself!

New for Summer 2022 – Soft Shade Making 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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