By Emily Jansson, Nancy’s Notions guest blogger

Is your décor in need of refreshment? Why not jazz it up with a new embroidered lampshade? You don’t even have to purchase a new shade—let me show you how to cover one you already own.

This great piece can be made in an afternoon, and looks like it’s from a fancy boutique. Start with a luscious piece of Essex Linen or textured cotton Osnaburg, and add crewelwork embroidery from the Artful Autumn Crewel Collection.

Crewelwork is traditionally a décor-centric type of embroidery. It reached its heyday in the 1600s, when British women typically hand-embroidered with wool threads on linen to create items for the home. Other uses included decoration on clothing items—waistcoats of silk, stockings, and dressing gowns done up in all manner of fashionable beasts and foliage.

American colonists continued the trend, and some of the most recognizable samplings known today are from the good old USA.

I chose to recolor the designs to suit my living room—with grayish-blue tones and pops of yellow and wisteria. You may recolor to suit your own tastes, or use the existing autumnal hues for a more traditional look.


Getting Your Shade Ready

  • Peel off any “binding” from the top and bottom of your shade. Not all lampshades have this binding. Discard.

Make a Pattern for Your Lamp Shade

  • Measure around the largest circumference of your shade (this is usually the bottom edge of your shade).
  • Cut a length of kraft paper that’s about 5″ longer than that measurement.
  • Spread your length of kraft paper out on a large, flat surface. You may wish to weigh the corners down with weights so that it remains flat.
  • Center your lampshade over the kraft paper with the seam down—you’ll want the seam to be going as perpendicular to the top and bottom of the kraft paper as possible.
  • Use a pencil to mark across the kraft paper at the top and bottom of the shade, and add crossmarks at the seam along the top and bottom.

  • Now slowly rock the shade to the right, marking the bottom edge of your shade as you roll it. Be careful to keep checking that your crossmarks stay registered with the shade’s seam. Rock the shade 2″ to the right, mark the edge of the shade. Go 2″ more, repeat. Do this until you go right off the edge of the paper.

  • Roll the shade back to the middle (make sure your crossmarks still match your seam), repeat with the top edge.

  • Now use your quilter’s ruler to add a 1/2″ seam allowance at the top and bottom lines of the pattern. These will be your fold-over edges.

  • Set the lampshade aside. Now you’re going to fold the kraft paper in half, using your seam marks as pinch points. Pinch at each end of the seamline marks, and fold so that it’s one continuous foldline. The kraft paper should now be folded in half, with the seamline you originally marked as the middle.

  • Cut along the outer seam allowance lines (top and bottom), all the way to the ends. The ends of your pattern will be uneven—don’t worry.

  • Open your pattern up and center the foldline over the seamline of the shade. Clip at seamline, top and bottom Note: I folded over the extra 1/2″ allowance.
  •  Clip your pattern to the shade from the seamline in both directions. At some point, the edges of your pattern will start to overlap each other. Clip at the top and bottom of the pattern so that it stays snug.

  • Undo all of the other binder clips that are holding the pattern to the shade, but keep the edges of the pattern clipped to each other. Lift the pattern from the shade. Rotate it so that the overlapped edges are now centered over the shade seamline.

  • Use a pin to pierce through both layers of pattern paper at the top seamline. Mark with crossmarks. Repeat for the bottom seamline.

  • Remove the clips, lay the pattern flat and connect your crossmarks to each other from top to bottom. Do this on both left and right sides of the shade pattern.
  •  Lay your quilter’s ruler 7/8″ to the outside of the right side’s edge, and draw a parallel line. This line becomes the folded, finished edge that will cover the left side’s raw edge.

  • Cut out along the new lines—now you’ve got your custom pattern!

Embroidering Your Fabric

  • Lay your pattern over your fabric, aligning the grain of the fabric to the middle of your pattern.

  • Trace your pattern onto fabric with a fabric marking pen, but do not cut the fabric.
  • Embroider your designs where you’d like them. Note: I concentrated mine at the front of the shade, which falls in the middle of your pattern.

Note: The pattern is marked but not cut just in case the embroidery shrinks your fabric ever so slightly.

Covering the Lamp Shade

  • Be sure to lay the pattern back over your embroidered fabric to check for any distortion—re-mark if the lines have to be modified.
  • Cut the fabric along your final markings.
  • Flip the cut piece over and use your quilter’s ruler to mark a scant 1/2″ from one short edge.
  • Fold this 1/2″ flap over toward the inside and press it crisp and straight.
  • Secure flap down with a thin layer of Fabri-Tac Permanent Adhesive. Note: You don’t want it to seep through to the right side of the fabric, so make sure to apply sparingly.  Use the point turner/seam creaser for a crisp edge.
  • Now comes the fun part: adhering the fabric to your shade. The embroidered fabric should be lying face down on your table, flat.
  • Spray your shade with spray adhesive in a well-ventilated area. Make sure it’s contained in a box or something similar so that you don’t get the adhesive anywhere it shouldn’t be. You may wish to tape off the top opening so that you don’t get any adhesive inside the shade as you spray.
  • Orient your shade so that the existing seam is facing up toward you. This will be the back of the lamp shade. To adhere the fabric to the front of your shade, simply center the shade over your fabric, and press it down.

  • Gently roll the shade toward the side of your fabric with the raw-edged end, smoothing as you go to avoid wrinkles and slippage of the fabric. Try and keep 1/2″ of fabric over the top and bottom of the shade.

  • Once you’ve adhered the raw-edged side, roll the shade in the other direction, toward the folded edge, smoothing to avoid wrinkles and slippage as you go. When you get to the very edge, the fold should overlap your raw edge by about 1/4″.
  • Spread a thin layer of fabric glue with the craft stick along the folded edge, and secure to the overlap.
  • Use the point turner/seam creaser to smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles between the fabric and the shade.

  • You can use the point to carefully press in the finer details so that everything lies nice and flat.

  • Now it’s time to secure the top and bottom raw edges. Starting with the top edge, spread a thin layer of fabric glue along the inside edge of the fabric with the craft stick. Fold over the top edge, securing around the wire frame. Use the point turner/seam creaser to ease the raw edge into the crevice under the wire for a neat finish.

  • Repeat with the bottom edge. Note: If the wrapped edge looks uneven, you can always glue a strip of hem tape, ribbon, or binding over the edge for a clean and polished look.
  • Et voila! Now it’s time to invite all your friends over for tea to admire your amazing handiwork. Get ready for the requests to start rolling in.

If you’d rather play around with some mini versions of this project, check out the Adhesive Lampshade and Nightlight Set or Fusible Wine Shade Panels at

Just imagine all the possibilities with embroidery, appliqué, and other surface techniques!

Thanks to Emily Jansson and the Nancy’s Notions Team for this DIY lampshape makeover project!

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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