Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pleated Lampshade: How to

For the guest room, I knew I needed a pair of wall sconce lamps because the room is too narrow for a pair of bedside tables. Everything I looked at was over $100 a piece, and I just didn't have it in the budget. So I found these simple Ikea sconces for $14.99 a piece,

and turned them into something custom.

Here's the step by step tutorial.

First, let me say that I had never really noticed all the different ways that lampshades get pleat treatments until I was planning to make these over. I was originally thinking of something sort of gathered, not unlike the original Ikea shades, but the fabric I wanted to use (leftover from the headboard) is upholstery weight linen, and it would have gotten really bulky. Then I saw this:

[Elle Decor; Design: Sig Bergamin; Photo: Simon Upton]

I know, this room is GORGEOUS and there is so much going on and it's kind of crazy to zero in on the pleated lampshade.

But I loved the structure of the box pleat, and the way the spacing allows you to see some flat fabric, too, so I had a plan.

Here's what I started with.

First, remove the binding and the fabric.

Blank slate. Don't worry about getting all those little gummy edges off, they actually help when you add the new fabric later.

Cut your fabric in a rectangle that is the same height as your shade and long enough to wrap the shade times 2. There's no need to cut the fabric on a curve, the way you do when attaching new fabric flat to the shade--the pleats will make the curves work for you. (As a side note, if you want the pleats to lie down very flat, as in in the inspiration picture, working on the curve would probably help.)

To make the pleats, I played around with the fabric to see what felt like a good width with the small repeat, and cut a piece of cardboard to make a guide--in my case, 1" wide. Then I folded a box pleat around the cardboard. I lined the edge of the cardboard up along the center of the pattern to keep my lines straight.

Press in the pleat over the cardboard.

Remove the cardboard and press again.

Repeat. I left about one horizontal repeat between each pleat. With a patternless fabric, you might want to measure. I also re-pressed all the pleats with each new pleat.

Keep pleating until you have enough pleated fabric to go around the TOP of your shade.

Pin both sides of each pleat at the TOP.

Stitch down your pleats, ONLY at the top of the shade.

Starting at the lampshade's seam, glue down the stitched edge of your fabric, lining it up to the edge of the shade. I used a hot glue gun, working in about 2-inch sections.

To finish the edge, I chose double fold bias tape to completely cover the rough edge of the fabric and the shade. Using hot glue again, I glued all around the outside first, then glued the bias tape into the inside. On the first shade, I glued it in sections all the way around, inside and outside, as you actually see here, but that didn't work quite as well. When you get to the seam a the back, fold your bias tape under and glue down.

Use clips to secure while the glue cures. I had these clips left over from some drapery rings that I used with hooks in pinch pleats, and they worked great.

Apparently at this point I stopped taking pictures and decided I was home free.

Next, you want to line up the fabric seam along the back of the shade. I did not fold under my raw edge, but instead masked it with a pleat. Use hot glue to secure the seam.

Repeat the bias tape application on the bottom of the shade. The pleats open up at the bottom to allow for the larger circumference, so the folds will not be perfect. At first I stressed about this and tried a whole different method to keep the pleats really smooth and even, but in the end I think the whole idea is to let them be a bit looser at the bottom. I just added the bias tape and let them fall where they may.

I will admit, the backs of these shades could be a little more perfect, but since they're sconces you don't really see that side. Next time I would measure to make sure the pleats came out evenly and matched up correctly at the back. But that seems like a lot of math, to be honest.

Anyway, hope that all makes sense! I love that I got this total custom look with $14.99 Ikea wall sconces, scrap fabric, and a couple of dollars worth of bias tape. Plus, once I figured out how to do it, I think it only took an hour or two. So I say: go for it!


  1. dude!!!! this is so weird. i have those exact same ikea sconces and was hating on their plain-ness...i kept dreaming of something like this:
    so i googled sconce ikat shade..and found your little tutorial here.
    small crazy world.
    so...miss smarty would i do the pleats like the pleats in the image i linked??


Let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...