DIY Lampshades: Ruffled, Recovered & Slipcovered

By Kate Riley October 7, 2009

Months ago, I acquired an amazing lamp for $30 dollars from a local antique fair.  I wanted so desperately to have a chocolate brown drum lampshade to top it off.  I even considered the $50 dollar version from Restoration Hardware.  But I never bought it because somehow I knew I would find a more inexpensive alternative.  So I waited.  And waited.  And this lamp has been sitting in my living room without a shade since April. 

antique fair lamp

Then it hit me.  Silly CG.  I had a leftover thift store shade – I should just recover it.  A few weeks ago, I sought out some shantung polyester that looks just like silk from Joann’s Fabics, I came up with my own version. 

Here she is:

chocolate brown drum shade

After I mastered the art of recovering a simple drum shade, I gave two other shades in my home a new look.   One I slipcovered.  The other I made to look like a couture gown, with shimmery silk like fabric that I pinched and gathered into tons of ruffles. 

Want to see all three ?

First, take a look at the base underneath this beauty.  Here is the original shade before the fabric addition.  I’ve spared you the horrid velvet and shiny gold accoutrements that used to be attached.  It looked like a bad band uniform.  Hit it, Professor Harold Hill. 

“Seventy six trombones led the big parade… with a hundred and ten cornets close at hand.”

I just love Robert Preston’s version of that song. 

But I ripped that trim and those tassels off before I took this photo.

old lampshade before  

Recovering a drum shade is the simplest of all.  Since the shade shares the same circumference at both the top and the bottom, you don’t need to worry about your fabric overlapping.   

To recover a drum shade, simply roll your shade along your swatch of fabric, make sure you have enough fabric to wrap all the way around, and trim with scissors.

roll fabric

Make sure your fabric is pulled tight to avoid puckering.

Attach the fabric with hot glue.

hot glue fabric

Double roll the edges under the bottom and at the top of your shade for a smooth seam.  Secure with more hot glue. 

fold fabric under 

Here’s my shade up close.  As good as silk, just less expensive. 

silk like

Happily sitting in the corner of our living room:

chocolate lampshade in living room

Next, I dolled up a discount shade from Target.  I found a beautiful linen patterned fabric that I wanted to use to make another shade for our guest space.   This shade was more traditional in style, more narrow at the top and wider at the bottom.  I bought it because it was oval in shape, had some interesting curvature, and was $13 dollars on clearance. 

discount lamp shade

To give it a slip covered look, I started by gluing the fabric vertically to the shade with hot glue.  Then I pinch pleated the top every 4 inches, or wherever there was a natural bend in the shade.

pinch pleat

Then, as I worked my way around, I secured the fabric to the bottom of the shade with more glue.  I was careful to ensure the fabric wrapped smoothly on the vertical.  Because the top of the shade was smaller in circumference than the bottom, the simple pinch pleat worked well.  And it gave the shade a more casual gathered look than the more formal drum shade above. 

secure the bottom

Once the fabric was fully pleated around the shade, I folded over the fabric in the back and secured the edges with more hot glue. 

foldover fabric

One thing I find with lighter shades that have been recovered is that your edges underneath will be more transparent when the shade is lit up.  So one trick I used was to overlap the edges inside with some craft ribbon for a more finished look.

ribbon trim

Here it is in our guest space:

guest house lamp

By the way, this cream ceramic lamp?  $6 dollars at a thrift store.

thrift store lamp price

I love to incorporate linen like fabrics wherever I can, and especially where they won’t rub up against anything and instantly wrinkle.  Up close, I’m just loving this texture. 

linen fabric

Notice how the craft ribbon helps hide the edges that you could ordinarily see from above. 

slipcovered after

guest house lamp shade

Finally, I repurposed a tan shade on a floor lamp that was too boring for me.  I’ve recently spruced up the hallway corner outside my master bedroom, and wanted to inject some glamour.  Me?  Inject glamour?  Unheard of.  Absurd.

Clearly, this next shade is not for everyone, but it’s me having a little fun. 

Here’s the Before and After:

couture before and after


Someone wrote to me last week and asked me about recovering a lamp shade.  Dear me, if only I could remember who, but this lovely friend inquired about creating her own version of this Estuary lampshade from Anthropologie described as ‘snug rivulets of meandering twill’.



I was inspired.  The thought it would be fun to recreate something similar.  But I wanted something less symmetric.  More like a couture gown.  And made with a shimmery silk like fabric. 

So I came up with this.

A little bit funky. 

Definitely different.

But I kind of like it. 

ruffled lampshade

All I did was form the pattern on the shade with the glue.  It was never the same with each application.  I was always changing the pattern ever so slightly to avoid symmetry. 

glue pattern

I pinched and puckered and worked my way around. 

pinch and pucker

Then I pleated the top with my fingers and hot glue as I went around. 

pinch pleat with glue

It all ended with some more gathering underneath, secured with hot glue.

gathering underneath


The quirky up close shot:

ruffles up close

It reminds me of this Ian Stuart gown.

ian stuart bride

But perhaps I’m puffing myself up. 

Ha ha ha.  Puffing myself up, indeed.

So for now, here’s the little reading corner where it sits.

sitting area from side


I just created this space this week outside my master bedroom.  It used to be my dreaded laundry corner where I would store my unfolded piles.  But I wanted to have a place to read books with my children, so I borrowed this chair from my mom.  Thanks mom ! 

ruffled shade in reading corner

And this golden side table came from, you guessed it, a thrift store.  It reminds me of something Kelly Wearstler would use in a room.  She’s always accenting with bronze and gold.    

thrift store table

Some favorite accessories:

favorite accessories 

The last bloom from my ‘Iceberg’ floribunda roses. 

ball jar and roses

I highly recommend this ever so soft chenille throw blanket from Target.  $15 dollars !

target throw

Who needs cashmere when blankets are this soft ?

reading corner chair

And look who’s already curled up in this lovely little corner.   

little cg

Just a few lampshade upgrades in the CG household. 

Now I know so many of you have recovered your own lampshades, but it’s way too late for me to research and find all of the links, so if you’ve also done your own version of a shade, do share, and add your link in the comment field. 

Here’s to upgrading our spaces with our hot glue guns in hand !   


  1. You have inspired me! I am SO recovering a lamp I have in my living room that I’ve never liked the shade! Yours are GORGEOUS!!!! And I LOVE a thrifty find.

  2. I love your lamps! My kids broke the lamp shade to my favorite lamp so now I have three great ideas to what to do to be able to fix it and make it better!!
    LOVE IT!

  3. Oh my! I LOVE the last lamp. I want to do that at my new house. I have a table that has a lamp built in it and my dad has refinished it. I am going to repaint it and I am on the lookout for an oval drum shade. I could doing something funky like the late one. It is beautiful. Thanks for the tutorial.

  4. Lovely! My favorite is the first one, simple, classic and timeless. I am on the lookout for some pretty lamps for the living room, and have been thinking about a shade to go with them. This post is a great inspiration!

  5. Now that is creative stuff. I spoted some ugly lampshades at the thrift store but I couldn’t envision a clear transformation.They were each $1.91 each. I’m going back RIGHT NOW to snatch them up.Beautiful work you do!

  6. Oh, my goodness! You are amazing, my dear! Your lampshades look fabulous! I thought you were just going to show the first one – which is awesome and then you kept going! That last one is so designer chic. You home looks so lovely as well as your little chair model!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  7. Thanks for the tutorial. The lampshades look fantastic!! I have one waiting for some love and now I feel empowered to cover it.

  8. I have that chenille throw! My cat looooves it. That’s pretty much the only similarity between your house and mine, because clearly I spend too much time watching tv and not enough time scouring Goodwill for amazing deals to makeover! Nice work – the drum shade is my fave.

  9. These lamps are great! I bought a lamp with a beautiful blue silk shade when I moved to San Diego, then proceeded to get paint on it. Maybe this post will help me figure out how to revive this shade…

  10. Oh my God, it’s beautiful! I have a ton of beautiful lamps sans shades sitting in my garage. I’ve gotta give this a try. Thanks!
    PS: My subscription widget recently crashed, and I lost all of my subscribers. Every last one. If you were subscribed, could you please subscribe again? Pretty please? I miss my friends. :(

  11. I am really loving the first two transformations. I’ve always wondered why lampshades bought from a store are so expensive and this will keep me inspired.

    Great job!

  12. Amazing. Really…you are so talented you should have your own show. Over at our blog…we confess that we are not crafty…but we get great responses to our video blogs. You really should consider doing some of these posts by video. Glad I stopped by. Come by next time you’re in the mood to surf.

  13. You did a great job, and are an official inspiration!

    I’m a diy-er and crafter and sewer from way back, so this really resonates with me! My favorite is the linen casual shade. Love the key art, too. I’ve got a giant stash of old, old keys I’ve collected for years. Time to frame them, I’d say!

  14. Amazing as always. I especially love the “ball gown shade”. How creative can one person be?

  15. WOW. I am in ‘aw’ of you converted lamp shades. What a great transformation! The third lamp is my favorite. Its so soft and elegant. Lovely.

  16. They look so good! was it really difficult to do? I have actually just bought them some new bamboo fabrics, made from bamboo fibre, so soft and lovely. I have been looking for a project to use this fabric so now I may just have to re create the ruffled lampshade, it’s totally brilliant what you have done with the first lamp. Your home is so lovely.

  17. I have been on the hunt for reasonably priced lampsades and have been coming up empty-handed. Thrift store, here I come!!! And to top it off, I’ll have a great excuse to buy one of the many fabrics I can always find to ooh and aah over at the fabric store and think I have nowhere to use them. Bonus!

  18. Wow! I love the lampshades. They all look lovely but the last gown inspired one is my absolute favorite. Your reading corner looks so lush and cozy. A perfect spot to curl up with a book.

  19. I LOVE the 3rd lampshade, even though the style wouldn’t fit in my home. But it is oh-so-loverly & very luxurious. It does indeed look like a million bucks! You always come up with such utterly amazing ideas!

  20. Amazing! You are so incredibly talented. I love all the shades but yes, the last one is just like a beautiful gown. The reading nook is so comfy and warm in appearance…such a great idea. I’m so tired of my bedroom…lots of wonderful ideas here!

  21. I love hot glue projects! No sewing machine needed here! So what I will do for my ugly lampshades, is glue right over the ugly 1980’s pleats that it came with. Have you seen those kind? They are the very stiff and skinny pleats that are made of material-covered plastic. If I make the pleats like you did, then they should hide the fact that it started out as a pleated lampshade. Am I making any sense?

  22. Thank you sooo much for writing in the step by step directions for the lamp shades. I am now ready to recover my first shade glue gun in hand!

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