3 Ways to Make a Cone-Shaped Lampshade

May 25, 2015

3 Ways to Make a Cone-Shaped Lampshade

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One of the most frequent questions we receive from readers is how to make or re-cover a tapered lampshade, also known as:

 

  • A Coolie lamp shade

  • An Empire lamp shade

  • A Cone-shaped lamp shade

 

With all the different names for this one simple shape of lampshade, we're already off to a rocky start!

 

The truth is, a drum-shaped lampshade, with its perfect cylinder shape, is by far the easiest shape to make at home. The top & bottom diameter of the shade is the same, so it's made with a simple rectangle-shaped length of styrene and fabric. It's very simple to plan out what quantity of materials you need, or buy a DIY Lampshade Making Supplies in that size.

 

But if you're specifically after a conical shape lampshade, things get trickier: the top and bottom diameter of the shade are different, meaning you must create a geometrically accurate arc from your styrene and fabric. It sounds intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. True, it takes more work than a standard drum shade, but the reward of making a custom lampshade just right can be worth it. Here are 3 ways to do it.

 

 

1. Use an Existing Shade: Replace Both the Styrene & the Fabric

 

This is the best option if you just wish to refurbish an existing shade by replacing the styrene (hard back) as well as the fabric covering. You can also use this process if you have another shade which you want to copy the shape & size of.

 

 

3 Ways to Make a Cone-Shaped Lampshade - Read about DIY lampshade kits and projects at http://ilikethatlamp.com

 

 

  • Create a template. Trace your lampshade on craft paper or several sheets of newspaper by holding a pencil against the ring and rolling the lampshade across the paper. Do this for the top and bottom of the shade. This will create a paper template.

  • Cut out the template with scissors and trace onto the styrene, then cut out the styrene arc. Remove the adhesive backing from the styrene and apply it to the reverse side of your fabric. Using a pencil or dressmaker's chalk, trace a half inch all around the top and bottom lines to provide a fabric allowance to fold over the rings. Add a 1/2" to all but one of the sides of the arc. Use scissors to cut this piece of fabric away from the styrene.

  • Take apart the existing lampshade so you're left with just the top & bottom rings. From here, use the same method to assemble your lampshade as the general directions for our DIY Drum Lampshade Kits - you can watch a video on how to make a drum lampshade here.


2. Use an Existing Shade and Re-cover the Fabric

 

If you only wish to re-cover the fabric of your shade (and not replace the styrene), you can simply cover over the existing shade with fresh fabric.

 

 

3 Ways to Make a Cone-Shaped Lampshade - Read about DIY lampshade kits and projects at http://ilikethatlamp.com

 

 

  • Create a template. Trace your lampshade on craft paper, by holding a pencil against the ring and rolling the lampshade across the paper. Do this for the top and bottom of the shade. This will create a paper template.

  • Cut out the fabric. Add a half inch all around the top and bottom lines of the paper template to provide a fabric allowance to fold over the rings. Add 1 half inch to one of the sides of the template arc, and trim the other flush. Pin the template to your fabric and cut out.

  • Use Spray Adhesive to adhere the fabric to the lampshade. It works best to spray the reverse of the fabric, lay it on a flat surface, and then roll the shade onto it. Start with the existing 'seam' on the finished shade, and roll the lampshade over the sticky fabric till you get to the other end. Fold over the overhanging fabric you created with the 1" side allowance, to create a neat finish.

  • From here, use the same method to assemble your lampshade as the general directions for our DIY Drum Lampshade Kits - you can watch a video on how to make a drum lampshade here. Since the lampshade is already assembled, you may find it difficult to push the overhanging fabric up behind the rings to create a 'rolled edge' finish. If that is the case, you can either just glue the overhanging fabric over the rings without rolling the edge, or trim the fabric flush to the shade and use 100% cotton grosgrain ribbon (5/8" works best) to cover the lampshade rings.


 

3 Ways to Make a Cone-Shaped Lampshade - Read about DIY lampshade kits and projects at http://ilikethatlamp.com

 

 

Another elegant solution is to cover a lampshade with decorative paper or wallpaper (via Minted).

 

3. Use the Magic Power of Math!

 

What if you know what shape you want your lampshade to be, but don't have an existing shade to trace from? Well, it's time to bring back high school math! This method is not for the faint of heart (or at least C-grade math students like me!), and uses some geometry formulas can help you determine your arc shapeYou'll need to know your target top diameter, bottom diameter, and height, in order to run these calculations. See this article which some clever mathematicians wrote about Using Math to Design Lampshades for an in-depth mathematical description. You can then use an App like Big Print to print out a properly scaled, flat version of your shade arc. Want to start making your own? Learn more about our DIY Lampshade Making Supplies (including a video demo!). Or if you just want to purchase Adhesive Styrene, you can do so in pre-cut lengths.