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Soft Shade Making Series - Making and Fitting a Lining

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

Next up in our Soft Shade Making Series is how to make and fit a lining to your soft lampshade. With several styles of lining and choices of fabrics, ranging from traditional to modern, in this post we'll take you through what a lining brings to a lampshade, which shaped frames can be lined and of course detailed step-by-step instructions on how to fit your lining.

Why does a lampshade need a lining?

Lining your lampshade gives it a complete and professional finish, hiding away the binding on the frame and any raw fabric edges. On a more practical level, a white or cream lining helps to reflect the light from the bulb and for sheer fabrics such as voile or lace, more commonly used for swathed lampshades, a lining is essential.

What’s the best material to use for a lampshade lining?

Lampshade linings are made of lightweight fabric that has some stretch, at least across the bias and traditionally, were made from silk or even lightweight wool.

Today fabric with a 4-way stretch is more common, such as lightweight jersey, lycra or polyester, although fabrics such as Tarna Lawn cotton are suitable too. Our white 2-way Stretch Lining Fabric is ideal for lining lampshades. It’s 100% polyester, can be bought by the meter and measures 160cm wide, making it ideal for larger lampshades or for several smaller shades.

For beginners, Joanna Hepinstall author of Sewing Lampshades has this advice:

'If you are new to lampshade making, I advise you to use a stretchy, unforgiving lining fabric such as a cotton jersey. Fine cotton jersey diffuses light beautifully and as it is very stretchy, does not have to be cut on the bias, so is more economical.’

Although most lampshade liners are plain, there is nothing to stop you from using a patterned lining fabric, particularly if the shade is for a pendant light or a standard lamp, where the lining will be visible from underneath.

For added safety, Fire Proofing Spray can be used to dampen the lining fabric before pressing, creating a flame retardant carbon barrier.

What are the different styles of lining?

Similar to soft shade outer fabrics, the lining is not limited to one style and there can be as much detail in the lining as the rest of the shade! Consider combining a plain outer lining with a gathered or pleated lining for an element of surprise.

Balloon lining – a tightly fitted lining that is attached at the top and bottom of the shade that sits away from the struts. This is one of the most common types of lining but won’t work for very intricate shaped lampshade frames.

Gathered lining – a soft wavy lining which can be paired with either a taut fabric outer or gathered or pleated outer.

Pleated lining - Purposefully pleated lining, with pleats tighter at the top working out towards the bottom, found commonly with a pleated outer covering.

Exterior lining – these are more common in multi-panelled shades where the panels are cut individually and sewn directly onto the binding around the struts. Each outer panel is paired with an ‘inner lining’ panel before being sewn, so this is visible from the inside. It’s worth noting that the binding is also visible when creating this type of lining.

Panelled balloon lining- using the same fitting techniques as a balloon lining, this is simply made up of the same number of panels in the frame and sewn together to create a circular lining that can then be fitted.

Which traditional soft shade frames suit a lining?

Even though a lining is pulled tight from the top to the bottom of the shade there are some frames that arch outwards - which are known as a dome, bell, or Tiffany - where the lining will naturally hang down and could be a hazard if it’s too near the bulb. This shape is more suited to an exterior lining, but it is possible to line if the fabric is taught as in the image below.

Also, more intricate shapes of frame, such as those with collars or bottle necks at the top will need some thinking about and may need a lining for the collar or bottleneck and then a second lining for the rest of the frame.

When do I fit a lampshade lining?

The outer cover must be fitted to the frame before the internal lining is fitted, as the lining will overlap the outer at the top and bottom of the frame. The exception to this is if you are creating an exterior lining, which is explained above.

However, Amanda Wheattie of @wyreandgimble has this useful advice, which will become clear once you’ve followed the tutorial below:

Before attaching the top fabric, place the lining over the frame and cut where the gimbals are. It’s then much easier when you come to attach the lining, once the top fabric is on. Some more minor snipping around the gimbals may be needed, but it's so much simpler to fit when pre-cut.

We would recommend making the outer cover and lining at the same time.

What you’ll need to make a soft shade lining

Lining fabric - we used Dannells white 2-way Stretch Lining Fabric



Small sharp scissors

Fabric scissors

Sewing machine

Matching thread

Walking foot (optional)


How to make a soft shade lining

Notes: The pattern for the lampshade lining is the same pattern used for the outer lampshade cover. Find out how to make this in our How to Make A Pattern blog post as part of our Soft Shade Making Series.

1. If you are using a stretch fabric, such as placeightweight jersey, lycra or polyester lay the fabric on the grain. If you are using a lightweight woven fabric, like a cotton or silk then lay the fabric on the bias, the same method used for the outer fabric. For either stretch or woven fabric the placement of the pattern in the diagram below applies.

2. Position the patterns on the reverse of the fabric so the direction of the bias or grain on both the pattern and fabric match. Pin in place.

3. Cut out the patterns and pin the wrong sides together.

4. Mark with tailor's chalk, within the seam allowance, marking the top and the bottom at each side, on both pieces of fabric.

5. Machine sew a 1.5cm seam along each side of the pattern.

Note: If you are using a stretch fabric, use a ballpoint or stretch needle. Your machine may have a stretch stitch, which is usually represented by a lightning bolt style line. If you don’t have this either a straight line using a small stitch or a zigzag will work equally as well. A walking foot can is also useful to prevent the fabrics from slipping.

6. Position the lining inside of the shade working from the bottom of the frame down. Match the side seams to the side seam of the outer shade (make sure any temporary bindings are removed) and match the marking to the frame.

7. Spread the fabric evenly by pining at each seam point and then at the two opposite sides.

Follow steps 8-10 to check the fit at this stage. If the lining seems too loose, sew the side seams again and increase each seam by 0.5cm. Once you're happy, transfer the frame marking and trim back the seam allowance.

8. Turn over the shade, a pull the lining fabric through the bottom. Pin again at both struts and on the opposite side to create tension in the lining.

9. Flip the frame and continue to pin around the bottom of the frame to ensure that the lining is evenly distributed.

10. Turning back to the top of the shade, mark either side of the gimbal strut with a pencil, pulling the fabric tightly up to the top of the shade.

11. Using a small pair of sharp scissors, cut down from the top between the marks, a little at a time, checking that when the fabric is pulled taut the fabric, it sits neatly around the gimbal. Cut the other side to match.

12. Neatly pin the lining on either side of the gimbal, continuing with additional pins to create a taut lining.

13. At this point illuminate the lampshade, to check for stray threads

Amanda Wheatie of @wyreandgimble stresses the importance of checking your shade before sewing in the lining:

After pinning the lining on but before sewing, ALWAYS illuminate the lampshade from within either on a lampbase, with a torch or even phone light, preferably in a dim or dark room and check for stray threads. A small stray thread can look positively huge on an illuminated shade and, once the lining is sewn on and trims added it's pretty much there for good unless you unpick your work. If the shade is pleated or gathered it will also help in the distribution of the pleats and gathers for a pleasing

14. Using Lampshade Stitch or Streetly Stitch, sew the lining to the frame. Check out our post How to sew Lampshade or Streetly Stitch for a full step-by-step tutorial.

We chose to pull the lining over the edge of the frame and sew it to the side of the frame, as we'll be adding want to add a bias tape or a trim. If stitching on the bottom of the frame, the stitches may be seen, but it’s personal preference and depends on your desired finishing touches.

18. Using small scissors carefully trim away the excess fabric.

In our next post in the Soft Shade Making Series, we'll show you how to make a gimbal tidy and then finish by adding a trim to our Bowed Empire Lampshade. If you've just joined us on our journey you go back to the beginning and make a soft with us from scratch here.

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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