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Tips and fixes to help prevent and resolve Lampshade Seam Issues

Once in a while, you may experience an issue with your lampshade seam. It could be due to the type or thickness of the fabric you’re using for your outer shade and whether you’re making lampshades to sell, or just for your own home, it’s tricky to know what to do. In this blog post, we’ve compiled tried and tested techniques and tips for use on the kind of lampshade seam issues our fabulous Facebook Lampshade Makers group experience, to help you solve them too.

Caving Seam

What’s the issue?

A caving or concave seam is when the line of the seam is pulled inwards and as a consequence this curves towards the centre of the shade.

Why does this happen?

This can happen because of the pressure on the seam, from tucking in the kisscut margins at the end of the lampshade making process. Other causes are pulling the double-sided tape tightly when applying to the seam, causing the seam line to tighten and curl or applying superglue on the seam which bonds too tightly.

What can I do to fix this?

Many of our lampshade makers don’t stick the seam in place until they have tucked in the kisscut fabric margin.

Expert lampshade maker, Jane Warren of The Lampshade Loft follows this method when working with seams:

Start tucking your fabric under the rings, say about 3cms from the seam. Go round leaving the last 3cms [untucked]. Do the same around other ring, then take off the backing on your seam tape and press seam down, then tuck in the rest around the seam. This allows all the tension of pushing in the fabric to be done away from the vertical seam and will allow a nice finish.

Using the same method as our Dannells Lampshade Making videos on YouTube, Ellen Scargill of Hillview Soft Furnishings

Start tucking at the opposite point to the seam and work round to seam. This makes sure your tension will be better by time you reach the seam.

A preventative technique is to apply your seam tape slowly and evenly, without pulling. The panel should be still lying flat after you’ve applied the tape and not raising up from your work surface.

Visible Inner Seam Edge on a Lampshade Making Kit

What’s the issue?

All of our lampshades are supplied with white Stick It Lampshade Making PVC and, particularly when using a thicker fabric or naturally frays, this might be seen from the inside of the shade at the seam line.

Handmade Lampshade with work in progress, with tweed showing through the lampshade seam
Image Credit |

Why does this happen?

This is caused by the fabric overhanging or the fabric being visible on the short edge, when it’s cut or fraying on thicker fabrics such as tweeds and wool.

What can I do to fix this?

One tip is to ensure that you cut your fabric as close as possible on the short edge, so why not try the advice from one of our American customers, Debra Anne, of D’Anne Design Studio

I cut with a rotary cutter and angle the blade just a hair under the PVC so the fabric isn't even with the edge.

If you do have any visible fabric showing, once the shade is made, either trim away very carefully with a pair of nail scissors or try running your rolled edge tool gently underneath the seam line from the inside to scoop any visible fabric underneath.

For thicker fabrics Alison Gove of Alison Gove Curtain Creations has this advice:

I cut the edge of the fabric 1/8th inch away from the template & pull a few lines of tweed out to fringe it, to make it a bit less bulky. I do sometimes add Dannells seam tape to hide the join if I’m not happy with it.

Many of our makers also cover the seams with either grosgrain ribbon, bias binding or Petersham ribbon in combination with either double-sided or Soft Furnishing Tape.

Visible Outer Edge on a Double Sided Lampshades

What’s the issue?

When using fabric or paper to create a double-sided lampshade, sometimes the fabric or paper from the outer shade can show at the seam on the inside, particularly if there is a bold contrast between the two.

Handmade doubke sided lampshade with a yellow fabric inner and patterned outer fabric
Image Credit |

Why does this happen?

This is caused by the fabric overhanging or just being visible on the short edge, when it’s cut.

What can I do to fix this?

If you’re using the folded seam method on the outer shade, our expert lampshade makers advise to the use the same method on inner shade. Donna Reynolds of Perfectly Personalised UK explains how to do this:

I usually leave a little extra [inner] paper and fold it round the edge [of the seam] so the outer material can’t be seen inside. The [inner] paper that’s folded round gets hidden under the external seam so you don't see it.

Emma Rockman of Rock, Paper, Scissors Shades and Robyn Ebsworth of The Art of Frippery use a different method to disguise any visible fabric on the seam. Emma says:

I've been known to use a strip of double-sided PVC with the inside coloured fabric stuck to it. I fold the fabric over the 2 vertical edged so it has a neat line, then stick it over the seam line.
Image Credit |

Seams Coming Open

What’s the issue?

Every now and then your lampshade seam simply does not want to stick, leaving a gaping hole in your lampshade.

Why does this happen?

There are several reasons for this. Some fabrics are coated in a protective layer which often contains polymer or silica, that prevents the tape from sticking. Also If the fabric is thick or fibrous, such as a wool or upholstery weight fabric, the double-sided tape provided in the Lampshade making Kits may not be enough to hold them, in place.

What can I do to fix this?

For fabrics that are refusing to stick our lampshade makers recommended the following products to seal your seam:

· Bostick Super Glue Non Drip Gel (a few spots along the seam)

· Gorilla Glue with a brush (a few spots along the seam of Soft Furnishing Tape (also known as SFT on the Lampshade Makers Facebook Group) to close the seam rather than double-sided tape

An alternative method, if you find that either glue or tapes aren’t working, is to sew your seam. Lampshade maker, Jane Warren of The Lampshade Loft has extensive experience making and sewing soft lampshades. By using this knowledge she uses a ladder stitch to close a bulky hard lampshade seam using a curved needle.

General tips for seams

Even though you might never experience any of the issues above, there are a few preventative things you can do to make sure your seam is perfect everytime!

Dannells Director, Jamie Dannell has a wealth of knowledge on lampshade making, says:

It’s never a good idea to leave the panels rolled up for a long time, even more so when it’s warm, because this really embeds the memory. It’s one of the reasons we recommend use of the Manufacturing Packs where the panels are packed flat. If you are buying boxed kits, take out the panels and flatten them at the earliest opportunity.

If you’re making to sell, Louise Watney of Louise Watney Soft Furnishings, goes the extra mile by building in time to check her seam before sending it to her customer:

I always make and leave for a couple of days to check if seam starts to gape and then glue accordingly.

And finally, we recommend that you ensure the edges of the shade align before closing the seam, to get a professional finish.

A Big Thank You

The generosity of our lampshade makers is unending and our 3,500 strong Facebook Lampshade Makers are always willing to jump to the rescue of new or even experienced makers to help them make the best lampshade that they can.

For this post, our lampshade makers shared photographs of the problems they have experienced, and tips, advice and techniques on how to fix them and we’re very grateful to all of the lampshade makers involved.


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