DIY Lampshade Making 101

June 01, 2013

DIY Lampshade Making 101



Most people don’t realize just how easy it is to make a lampshade.  A handmade, custom lampshade can really take any lamp from blah... to Wow!! And you can match it perfectly to your existing home decor using fabric remnants from drapes or throw pillows. Or you can take elements from your lamp's base to contrast with the shade.

This blue fleur-de-lis fabric, for example, goes perfectly with a DIY wine bottle lamp base for a french shabby-chic look:




If you have the right materials, making your own lampshade is a simple project that only takes around an hour. The key material for making a lampshade is pressure-sensitive styrene, also known as adhesive styrene. It's the stiff, plasticky material that most high-quality lampshades use as their base material. Although you can make a lampshade out of regular cardstock or paper, I don't recommend it. (To learn more about using paper as a base, check out my blog post, "Can You Make a Lampshade out of Paper?") Styrene is a far superior material when it comes to lampshade-making. 



  • Adhesive styrene
  • Fabric. Natural fabrics like cotton, silk, or linen work best
  • Lamp shade wire rings – the same size for the top as for the bottom
  • Scissors. Or if you have them, a rotary cutter & mat
  • Lampshade glue
  • A molding wand or orange stick
  • Binder clips

You can buy all of these lampshade-making supplies in the I Like That Lamp store






  1. Iron your fabric thoroughly to ensure there are no creases in the final product.

  2. Measure and record the circumference of the lampshade ring, and add an extra inch. Determine the height you want your finished lamp shade to be by measuring from the bottom to the top of your lamp’s harp.

  3. Trace these dimensions onto the styrene – you should end up with a long rectangle.

  4. Adhere the styrene to the reverse (non-patterned) side of the fabric by peeling off the backing slowly and smoothing with the other hand.  Make sure there are no wrinkles or air bubbles.




Cut out the fabric, adding a half-inch all the way around except for one of the short edges.





Glue the overhanging fabric on the short side to the styrene.





Wrap your fabric & styrene rectangle into a cylinder and attach a bulldog clip to hold it. Rest one of the wire rings on the arms of the bulldog clip. Hold the ring in place using a couple more bulldog clips around the circumference of the ring. Do the same for the other wire ring.





Section by section, paint on the glue and fold over the wire ring. Wait until the glue is tacky, then use your molding wand/stick to gently push the fabric up and underneath the wire ring.







Now put your thing down, flip it and reverse it! Do the same for the other end of the shade.

Once dry, install the lampshade on the lamp base and bask in the warm glow of your crafty genius… er, new lamp!





Want to learn more about making lampshades? See more Lampshade Tutorials or subscribe to the I like that lamp mailing list and receive a free guide to the top 5 tools you need to make professional-looking lampshades.