Sunday, February 10, 2008

Creating A Designer Lampshade

Level: Easy

When I recently redecorated a guest bedroom I realized how difficult it sometimes is to find all the accessory items to finish the job. In the case of the bedroom I needed two wall lamps above the bed to serve as reading lamps and general lighting.

I didn't want swing arm lamps that would hang out over the bed and be in the way. It seemed to be all that I could find. The other problem was that my electrical situation called for permanently or hard wired lamps and not wall mounted fixtures. Here is how I solved the problem of wiring as well as decorating.

I bought two, small wooden light fixtures that I knew could be painted easily. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that the shades were very uninteresting - plain white. All the beautiful fabrics I had been using in the room needed to be on these white lampshades so I got busy to see what could be done. I have covered lampshades before so I knew that was more than I wanted to do.

Going around the bottom of the shades with a narrow strip of the drapery fabric solved the problem. From my sewing experience I knew that to accomplish this I would have to cut my strip on the bias for maximum stretch. When you go around a curve such as the bottom of a shade it is necessary to have enough stretch in the fabric to hug both dimensions.

To cut a true bias you need to fold the fabric at right angles and cut on the fold. Measure around the shade to find the length of strip needed and then fold the fabric in order to get this length. It takes more fabric to cut on the bias but it is necessary. Use the leftover fabric to do another project in the room.

Now that you have a bias cut you need to make the bias strip. I wanted my shade to have approximately 3/4 in. trim at the bottom so I cut the bias strip 3 1/2 in. wide. Fold both cut edges toward the center and carefully press the strip. Either hot glue or heavy tacky glue can be used to attach the strip to the shade. Light white glue doesn't dry fast enough and might bleed through the fabric.

When the strip is glued to the shade half of the strip will be on the inside and half will be on the outside and both will have folded finished edges. If the fabric is tightly woven and won't ravel then you can just cut the strip after you have enough to go around the bottom but you might have to turn this end under and glue it in place. When gluing the strip on you might need to stretch it slightly in order that the folded edge conform to the shade shape. I think you will be pleased with the transformation from a plain white lampshade to a decorator's custom shade. So easy!!!

Now a quick word on the conversion of a lamp with a cord to a hard-wired or permanently-wired lamp with no cord. I purchased metal surface mounted circular junction boxes by Wire Mold and wired the lamps into these small boxes which I painted to match the wall color of the room. Because of this I didn't have to see cords running down the wall and I still had decorative stylish lamps in the newly finished bedroom. If you feel uncertain of doing this yourself call your friendly electrician and see if he or she can help. Good Luck!

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