Lampshade Makeover: How to Re-Cover a Lampshade with Linen

December 14, 2020

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Lamp Shade Makeover Before and After

[ New linen-wrapped lampshade on the left, too-bright white lampshade on the right ]

I purchased a four-light, shaded sconce for our neverending en-suite project and as soon as Andy installed it, I knew something wasn’t quite right. The lampshades that were included with the fixture were just the wrong shade of white (neon white, as my friend Mindi called it) and didn’t suit the soft white wallpaper at all. I looked around our home at our other soft white or off-white lampshades and noticed that they were all wrapped in linen with a more tailored,  classic style. I consulted my best friend (the internet) watched several YouTube videos and came out the other side confident that I could give these lampshades a proper makeover.

Re-covering a lampshade is a very easy and quick DIY project, with each shade taking less than 30 minutes once you get the hang of it. And it’s so satisfying. Upgrading a basic, bright white shade to an off-white linen shade makes the whole fixture look much more expensive. I’m delighted with myself for adding this skill to my DIY tool-kit, and I’ll show you how to master this quick project yourself.

You can follow this guide to makeover any lampshade that has wire rings and a plastic (styrene) form. If you don’t have a lampshade on hand or you want to start from scratch and make your own lampshade, you can buy a DIY Lampshade Kit.

Lampshade Makeover Before and After

Lampshade Makeover: Replacing Bright White Fabric with Off-White Linen

DIY Lamp Shade Makeover Supplies


Deconstruct Your Lampshade

To begin transforming your lampshade into something much better, you’ll have to carefully take it apart. I was able to loosen the adhesive bond between the styrene and the fabric by holding the lampshade under a running faucet for a few minutes. Peel off any trim and gently remove the outer fabric and rings from the styrene. Be careful not to dent or crimp your styrene. The styrene on my lampshade was also lined on the inside and I decided to leave that fabric intact. The metal lampshade rings were wrapped in adhesive, there was no need to remove it, I would just have to cover it up with more adhesive later.

Prep Your Fabric

Use an iron (set to the correct setting for your fabric) to remove all wrinkles and creases from your fabric. Linen is notorious for wrinkles and can be a little tough to get smooth, the trick is to machine wash your linen fabric (I used the delicate setting on my machine) and then place in the dryer, removing it before it’s fully dry. Then, iron your slightly damp linen. If you’re working with dry linen, you can use the spray setting on your iron or a spray bottle to lightly dampen the fabric.

Lay the fabric out on a clean, flat surface.

Spray Adhesive

3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive on Lamp Shade Styrene

Next, you’ll spray the outside surface (the side you want to cover in fabric) with spray adhesive. I placed my styrene inside of a clean cardboard box to control any adhesive overspray.

Adhere the Fabric to the Styrene and Make Your Pattern

Lamp Shade Makeover Linen Fabric on Styrene

Place your styrene adhesive-side down onto the wrong side of your fabric. Smooth it out with your hands or with your ruler to secure the adhesive bond and to remove any bubbles, wrinkles, or creases.

Once your styrene is secured to your fabric, it’s time to get that ruler out and create your pattern.

Lamp Shade Makeover DIY Measuring Fabric

On the top and bottom of your shade, measure 3/8″ from the edge of the styrene and make a mark on your fabric. Note: use the fabric you removed from your shade to see exactly how much you’ll need to wrap around your rings. Larger shades mean larger rings so you may need more than the 3/8″ I used for my petite shades! Repeat along the entire top and bottom and connect your marks with a line that will be easy to follow when it’s time to cut your fabric. This fabric will be wrapped around the lampshade rings.

Lamp Shade DIY Measuring Fabric

On the right side of your styrene, make a line 1/4″ from the edge. You’ll use this fabric to wrap around the edge of the styrene, creating a nice finished seam.

Lamp Shade DIY Measuring Fabric

Then, on the top and bottom corners, add a 1/8″ x 1″ tab. This tab will ensure that you have enough fabric to wrap around the rings where the two edges meet.

You will not need any extra fabric on the left side of your styrene, so you can draw a line that is flush with the edge.

Linen Lamp Shade Makeover

Carefully cut along the lines you’ve marked.

Create a Tidy, No-Fray Seam

Lamp Shade Makeover No Fray Seam

Place a strip of double-sided tape right on the edge of the styrene.

Lamp Shade Makeover No Fray Seam

Peel off the tape’s protective backing and fold your 1/4″ of fabric over onto the tape.

Lamp Shade Makeover Double-Sided Tape To Secure Ends

Next, apply another strip of tape over your new fabric fold but leave the protective backing in place. You’ll remove this later when it’s time to join the two sides of your shade.

Wrap Wire Rings with Doube-sided Tape

Lamp Shade Makeover Wire Rings

Starting with the ring for the top of your shade, run a piece of double-sided tape around the circumference of the ring.

Lamp Shade Makeover Wrap Rings in Double-Sided Tape

Remove the tape’s backing, and use your fingers to press the tape around the wire ring. Set this ring aside, non-taped side down on your table. Apply double-sided tape to the bottom right using the same method.

Roll the Rings

Lamp Shade Makeover Rolling the rings

Making sure your top ring is at the top and your bottom ring is a the bottom, place your rings as close as you can to the top and bottom edges of the styrene being careful not to let the rings touch the fabric. When placing your top ring, make sure the starting edge of the shade does not fall in line with a spoke, otherwise, it will be difficult to tuck your fabric around the ring at that spot.

Lamp Shade Makeover Rolling the Rings

It can be tricky to keep the rings on track at first, but you can always peel them off and start again. Roll the rings to the end of the styrene.

Lamp Shade Makeover Securing the Edges

To join the short edges of the lampshade, make sure your wrapped edge is on top of your non-wrapped edge, then remove the protective layer from your tape and press the edges together.

Lamp Shade Make Over No Fray Seam

Now you have a very professional, polished, and no-fray join at the back of your shade.

Fold Over and Tuck Fabric Around the Rings

Lamp Shade Makeover Folding Over the Fabric

Gently press the fabric over onto the adhesive ring around the top and bottom, being sure to create a smooth edge with no bumps or folds.

Lamp Shade Makeover Cutting Fabric for Spokes

If your top ring has spokes, make a small cut in the fabric so it can be divided to either side.

Lamp Shade Make Over tucking the fabric behind the rings using a gift card

Next, you’ll need to tuck your fabric fully around the lampshade rings, hiding the raw fabric edge. You can use your fingers for this, but I found it easier to use a tool – I grabbed my IKEA Family card and used the corner to gently side the fabric edge fully behind the rings.

You’ll have a little extra fabric where the seams join, if you have trouble securing any bulk there, you can use fabric or tacky glue to hold it in place.

Finished Lampshade

Ta-da! You have your very own, much-improved lampshade.

Lampshade Makeover DIY

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  • Reply Linda Lowe October 8, 2021 at 7:25 am

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I want to make to shades for my chandelier, that has 12 arms!! So I have found several shades the same size but different patterns.

    • Reply thesweetbeast October 8, 2021 at 9:04 am

      You’re so welcome, Linda! I’m glad it was helpful, 12 arms, wow! That’ll keep you busy.

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