You can have the most beautiful vintage lamp in the world, but if the lampshade isn’t right no one is going to notice. A shade needs to fit right. And it’s form should follow it’s function. You wouldn’t choose the same shade for task lighting as you would for an accent light. And it should be such a good partner with the lamp that you can’t imagine one without the other.
Store bought shades don’t always hit those marks. Target, Home Goods and Ikea offer great basic and novelty shades that are inexpensive enough so you can change when you fall out of love. But a great lamp deserves a great shade, and sometimes that means taking matters into your own hands, heating up the glue gun or threading the needle. We know, we’ve been there. So we’re rounded up some DIY tutorials to inspire you and get you started.
1 Hand sewn sweet floral shade
A lampshade hand sewn in pretty Liberty of London florals from the Honestly WTF blog takes patience but oh my, the finished product is worth it. The small-scale floral is torn into strips and sewn to a metal frame. The good news, hand sewing is easy to tear out if you need to redo something. The bad news, this DIY makes the process look like so much fun you probably won’t be satisfied doing only once.
There is something particularly charming in the use of a traditional British floral to make a shade for a modern lamp base as styled for the blog. But this shade would also be amazing on a milk glass base. And think of the fabrics you could try–a small scale plaid, a tiny star print, an ombre.
2 Rustic stained stir sticks shade
HGTV offers up a pretty cool rustic paint stick shade. It’s straight forward DIY: pre-made shade, stain, paint sticks and glue. Mix them together and get rustic shade with interesting details purely from the shape of the sticks. This is one of those DIY projects that is on a tightrope between too crafty projecty and clever. I think with a with a dark metal base, I would probably love it unequivocally.
Imagine how adorable this would be with white stained paint sticks partially dipped in a rainbow of colors. Or if instead of stir sticks, colored plastic rulers or lengths of yard stick were substituted.
3 Cozy sweater lamp shade
Some days are magic. Get an idea, have a perfect thrift score and cook up a DIY that’s so simple it seems like cheating. That about sums up Beth Bryan’s sweater lampshade. Anytime you cut a sweater, you’ve got to stay on top of the raveling edges. But happily there’s an app for that, a generous application of glue, that is. Using the sweater’s ribbed waistband as the base of the shade is perfect.
Not every sweater is going to work for this. You need the pattern on the front and the back. You need to be able to cut it. It needs to fit snugly over the shade, so it shouldn’t have a lot of shaping. If I were going down this road, you can be sure I would be wandering the thrift store with my drum shade trying sweaters on for size. And I wouldn’t even attempt this with a bell shade. Also, Ms. Bryan truly nailed the styling–on that floor lamp, the sweater shade looks epic.
4 Ribbon wrapped shade
While some DIY ideas work best on shades for big lamps, ribbon shades are at their best topping off small vanity lamps or candlestick lamps. Ribbon designer Jane Mears’s ribbon shade tutorial features two flavors of shade: a sweet confection in pastels and pompoms and a more prim navy blue and cream shade with lovely crimping at the bottom.
A nice tightly woven ribbon over the additional layer of a paper shade is not going to let a lot of light through, so in practicality this is best for accent lighting. Doing some test wrapping before you whip out the glue and commit makes some sense–not every ribbon style is going to make an awesome shade. Imagine using a satin ribbon and finishing the hem by gluing on bits of broken clip earrings…with a thin glass lamp base.
5 Paper lantern jamboree
The Ikea Regolit paper lantern + Hemma cord set is the $14.99 investment that has launched at least a million DIY lampshade projects. An enterprising DIY blogger could easily post a new Regolit design a day. But here are three faves, and one project that will be my own future contribution to the Regolit oevre. Bonjour Quilts sews a tiny bunting for her lantern. Crafty Nest turned a marked-down poinsettia garland into a magical flower ball with bonus pompom companion lantern. iSuat posted an sakura flower lantern made with black gouche and tissue paper. And the final blurry photo is a bit of inspiration for my own DIY project in the making. The Caracas Arepa Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn has incredible pendant lamps made from plastic baskets and plastic flowers. I have been collecting vintage plastic flowers for months because I need to make one of these lamps, but mine will be on a Regolit and not a plastic basket for sure!