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Soft Shade Making Series: Traditional Lampshade Frames

Updated: May 9

Lampshade making comes in many forms and although making ‘hard shades’ is a popular and easy way to achieve a stunning new lampshade, our NEW Soft Shade Making series focuses on getting you started making traditional lampshades.

Soft Shade Frames

Getting to know your basic materials is an important part when starting out in any craft, and can save time and mistakes in the future. There are a few different methods involved in covering a traditional lampshade and a range of gimbals and fittings. Our guide to traditional lampshade frames below will hopefully be the first step in knowing what's what!

Traditional lampshades come in many sizes and shapes that have been inspired over the years by history, different cultures and of course practical lighting needs. As a beginner soft shade maker, it's good to start with a simple lampshade frame of medium size, that allows you the chance to practise new techniques that are not in too small or large scale.

French Tapered Drum Lampshade Frame

The classic French Drum Frame has a gentle taper, with the difference between the top and bottom ring diameters, being just 10cm, for whichever size of shade you choose. A good starting point for beginners, this frame can be used to create traditional sectional fabric shade covers in two, four or eight pieces and pleated lampshades.

Scallop Lampshade Frame

The single Scallop Lampshade Frame is a traditional bell style shape with a flat top and the scallop refers to the curves at the bottom of the frame. The frame has 8 struts and is made from 3.25 mm top-quality heavy gauge wire, which is coated in white epoxy to prevent rust. Again this frame can be used with sectional fabric shade covers in two, four or eight pieces.

Bowed Empire Lampshade Frames

Gently flaring out at the base, the Bowed Empire Lampshade Frame is another classic bell-shaped shade. With a flat top and bottom, this frame looks great with a trim at the top and bottom or can be used to show off the swathed fabric, that can be layered and pleated to form a design.

Soft Shade Duplex Table Lamps

When making a table lamp using our range of soft shades frames, those denoted below with * can be used with a shade carrier. These come in a range of heights allowing you to change the height of your shade on the base.

Our shade carriers can also be used for UK and Euro lamp holders. Handily, the frame can also be adapted for a US fitting, the Harp & Finial System, by using our Duplex Converting Kit*. Find out more about how to use a shade carrier in our blog post.

*with exception of our 12" Lampshade Carrier, this specific size will only fit a UK fitting.

Soft Shade Duplex Pendant Lamps

To use a soft shade frame as a pendant light, which hangs from the ceiling you'll need a Spider Lampshade Duplex Adaptor, to use in conjunction with the duplex fitting.

Gimbals explained

You can download our Free Lampshade Fitting Guide here -

Fittings Guide
Download PDF • 635KB

Traditional lampshade frames often have a gimbal (or gimble) in the centre which houses the lamp holder and there are a number of different types. So you know what to expect when buying one of our soft lampshade making frames, here’s a breakdown of what each gimbal is:

A fixed straight gimbal is a rigid gimbal that is fixed to the top of the lampshade frame and drops into the middle of the lampshade, with the lamp holder at its centre. Lampshades with this fitting can only be used for table lamps.

A reversible gimbal is a moveable gimbal, that again is attached to the top of the frame and drops into the middle of the shade. The gimbal arms have rivets that allow the lamp holder to be positioned downwards for a table lamp, or upwards for a pendant lamp. This type of gimbal is only suitable for smaller lampshades.

A fixed reversible gimbal is where there is a reversible gimbal fitted, but due to the taper at the top rings, there isn’t enough room for these to swing around, therefore this can only be used as a table lamp.

Spring clip fitting - not a gimbal, but are generally found on smaller shades, such as our smallest french drum and scalloped lampshade frame. The clip fits over and sits on the bulb.

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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