Covering Lampshade Frame with Fabric, without Styrene

I would like to say that I chose not to use styrene on my lampshade because I read that new studies show that when warmed, styrene emits harmful chemicals into your home, and I am concerned about that. I would like to say that, but the truth is, they just don't sell styrene in Waco and I didn't want to wait for an online order. So go ahead and use styrene if you want, but if you are concerned about the new studies, or like me, just don't have any...read on.

I started off with a client's tired floor lamp. His daughter wanted it 'cleaned', but when I got a close up of this baby, I saw it was beyond just a cleaning.

I took it all apart, taking lots of pics of the process so I could see how it went back together. I'll show you what I did with it later.

This is the shade I had to work with. I was trying to save them a little money by recovering the existing shade instead of buying new, because this thing is 60" around, and shades can get pricey.

I started by cutting the old shade away and got down to the frame. If your frame is old, not the color you want, or rusty, go ahead and paint it here.

You will want to choose fabrics that are thin, show light through them, yet strong enough to withstand heat. I purchased muslin for the underlayment and a pretty fabric with matching trim. And this is where I screwed up. Because my fabric had a pattern, I wanted it to match up. I thought I could skip the making a template out of craft paper and do the underlayment and the fabric for the outside in a series of folds that would revolutionize the lampshade making world. But it reality, not so much.

My muslin was hot glued on, so I ripped that off and went with what the world has been doing for hundreds of years now, and made a template. (Rolling frame along paper, marking with a pencil as you go, leaving an inch of space all around, then cut out.)

Place template on back side of fabric, trace with pencil and cut.

I used the same paper template to cut out my muslin for the inside and went to town with the hot glue. Again.

And since I had wasted half my muslin piece on the first try, I had to use something else on the outside. I found some very thin cotton pillow inserts that I could just cut up and put on there. I used spray glue to place it and hot glue to secure it all around.

This whole time you will be stretching and tucking and gluing.

And now I could  finally get to my fabric. I hot glued it to the frame sparingly at first. You will realize as you go around stretching it into place, that you will need to make adjustments. Wait until you have it in place before you cut slits for the cross bars on top.

Match your pattern up as best as you can. It doesn't have to be perfect since this is the back. Fold under excess fabric and iron a crease before doing your final gluing.

Cut excess from around the top, leaving about 1/4 inch.

Add ribbon trim around the inside cuts. Top and bottom.

I added a pretty beaded trim around the outside.

And as far as the lamp itself goes, I used Rustolium's Bronze spray paint for most of it and gold for that parts that were already gold. The plastic piece that was on there was shot. 

This is supposed to be a nightlight at the bottom, so I disconnected that and used a gold dome I had leftover from when I did our kitchen light project.

That nut looking thing is there because the new wiring job, along with adding a taller dome piece wasn't coming together at the bottom for the bottom to screw together. It needed to be a little taller to make it all fit together. So, I made that gold too.

I think I found  a new favorite paint color with this bronze. It's beautiful!

It looks so fresh and clean! And here it is all together. It looks a little funny in my house because I don't have the glass piece with me that makes the shade sit taller. You want a shade to be sitting just below the switch, or just below any arms hanging down.

And here it is in its rightful home.

And I'm so happy he loves it. :)

I hope that this can be useful to someone! I have a whole series I'm doing with this gentleman's belongings. He is moving into a retirement home and is only taking key pieces. So I have all of those things, and am working on them now. He's so excited! So y'all come back soon!



  1. Hola! Well, that's an absolutely gorgeous lamp and the fabric you picked out for the new shade, whoo whoo! Love it! Personally, I also like the newly-painted lamp but I thought the whole point of "shabby chic" was just that age-burnished rusted out look that the lamp had achieved all on its own, LOL! Okay, guess I'm being mean :)

    1. Thank you, Jan! Lol...shabby chic. You should know mw better than that. ;)

  2. you did a very good job girl
    I have seen so many of those old lamps throw ed in a trash can at auctions because they were torn apart some how

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, if it hadn't belonged to someone else, and a challenge, I think I might have overlooked it at a sale. But I'm pretty proud of it. :)

  3. It looks great!! I have a lamp project in mind for later - I'll have to fight the urge to not use a template. Yeah, I'm like that too. Thanks for linking up to Gingerly Made's Show & Tell.

  4. That came out so beautiful! I love it. Thanks for sharing at the Twirl and Take a Bow Party! Hope to see you again next Tuesday.

  5. Why does it require a second layer of the muslin that goes on the outside? Why not just put your patterned fabric there?

    1. Thanks for the question! I put muslin on the outside of the frame as well, because it needed to be able to stretch across the frame arms a little more. Without it, The frame shape really pokes through the fabric. I also used it to spray adhesive to, to stretch it across better. I hope that makes sense.

  6. Beautiful job! I have started making lampshades and don't like the idea of having them all lined with plastic (styrene). But I didn't even think about chemicals. I was planning to try making some sewn shades, but now I think I will do it sooner rather than later!

  7. Thanks for the info on the styrene. I'm a 2-time breast cancer survivor and i was diagnosed with skin cancer last week, so I really don't need any harmful chemicals in my home :-) The lamp shade is beautiful!

    1. Demetra, you are my new hero! My hat's off to you! Good luck on your continued journey! Thank you for the compliment. :)

  8. I was just going to change a light socket on my friends floor lamp , when I took it home . But I was driving my pick-up not my car and almost 2 months later I discovered it was still there . Oops , so I decided to redo it . I learned about the no template thing . But with a rust burnt orange velvet and black trim with black beads for the shade . The lamp painted black with gold accents , it looked really awesome . Have been using your website as guidance . Thank You ! Debby C.

    1. Thanks, Debby! I'm glad I could help. Your lamp job sounds awesome! I hope your friend wasn't too upset. Lol


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