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Tutorial: Pen’s Scrap Fabric Shade

ShadeShadeShade Besides saving all the little scrappy bits from my own sewing projects, I’m also a sucker for the whole concept of a “mystery bag” and have known to buy such bags of other peoples scraps. With quite the stash of scraps at my disposal I’m always interested in new and exciting ways to put them to good use. When thinking of ways I could dress up Pen’s Nook I decided that a custom lamp shade would be a great addition. With Seb we attached a changing pad to the top of the vanity that was in the corner at the time and kept all the supplies stored within arms reach in the drawers. After the first couple of nights of needing to turn on the big overhead light we added a regular lamp to the vanity setup. This time around despite using a much longer dresser I still thought it would be nice to have some sort of overhead light leaving extra free space on top that could be used for something else.   To hang the shade I got the Portfolio 180-in White Hanging Light Swag Kit sold at Lowes. The design of the swag kit works great for shades that are designed to fit on a lamp harp since it has an open part (the C shape) that you can use to attach the shade. It also comes with everything you need including the hooks to hang the fixture. No need to call an electrician for fancy wiring, it plugs straight into the outlet like any table lamp. My only complaint is that the switch to turn on the light is pretty close to the plug part which means bending over close to floor level in order to turn the light on/off. I’ll be looking to see if there is a solution to remedy that issue.


One other light related solution I’ll be working on is making a diffuser for the bottom of the shade so Pen does not have to gaze up at the bulb during changes and swap the random bulb we found to test the light for a CFL one. If this project were for another space, but still would not be the main source of light, I may have opted for using one of those spiffy vintage looking filament bulbs. The shade itself took two afternoons for me to complete. Partially due to the fact that I burned the heck out of two fingers on my left hand with the glue gun making it very uncomfortable for me to continue tying fabric pieces for a few hours. I’d imagine that it could have been done in one if it were not for the accident. The most difficult part of the project is patiently tying on a billion fabric strips.

To make your own Scrap Fabric Shade you will need:
– Fabric scraps
– Hot glue gun
– Scissors
– Wire lamp shade frame (the two pictured in the tutorial were salvaged from old shades that had seen better days)

SONY DSCShadeStep 1: Gather up your fabric scraps and cut them into approximately 1″ wide pieces. To know how LONG to cut each pieces measure the distance between two of the wires on the widest part of the shade and add at least 5″ extra so you can comfortably tie the strips on.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCStep 2: (COMPLETELY OPTIONAL) Using fabric strips of your choice, no specific length needed, wrap them around the wire frame securing the ends with a dab of hot glue. Depending on the look you are going for you might want to do this step to cover up the more “industrial” look of the wire frame since some of it will peak through or you might have a shade like I did where I could not get some of the more stubborn parts of the old shade fabric off and needed to conceal it.

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCStep 3: Simply start tying your cut strips of fabric onto the frame. I wanted to have something of a “pattern” to the design so I used the same fabric pattern for each row but the sky is the limit. Feel free to be completely random.

SONY DSCStep 4: Do not worry about the tied ends being even once all the strips are tied on you can trim the ends to a consistent size. Keeping tying those strips on until you are satisfied with the distance between each strip. I did not want a completely solid look but I also did not want huge gaps between each row.

SONY DSC Step 5: Trim those ends and admire your new shade!

While this may be one of my favorite projects I’ve worked on in anticipation of Pen’s arrival, this is not the last project I’ve done. I will be posting more about Pen’s Nook in the near future…



      I’m really glad the colors came together so well. Thanks for stopping by!

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