How to Make English Cottage Pleated Lampshades ~ Easy DIY

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Rachel Stone

Hello friends, welcome back! Today we have a fun adventure!

I don’t know about you, but these chic, printed fabric lampshades have been appearing often on Pinterest & Instagram. They come in every size, color, and pattern adding unique personality and charm wherever they’re used. However, they are expensive ranging from $ 50 –  $350. I have a hunch we can beat that! First, let’s rummage through the local thrift shop for lamps & shades, pop in the fabric store, and see what we come up with!

Lamps come in every shape, size, and style. You are sure to find just the right one to suit your needs! Here are three milk glass lamps. The lamp in the center picture was at an antique store, but the other two were less than $5 at the second hand store. The lamp on the right I purchased a few years ago and it makes a great dresser lamp for a bedroom.

Both blue lamps pictured here I spotted at the same antique store, but in different booths. On the left the lamp was $75. Gorgeous, but beyond the budget. The blue antique oil lamp on the right has been rewired to be electric, and it was only $8. This one came home with me! The curvy vintage looking peach lamp was only $2.70 and it came home with me as well.  

From left to right: I really liked the bell shaped, scalloped base of this lamp and brass details. I imagined the base repainted in a frosted jadeite. The texture of the brass work and faux turn key lent a vintage vibe as well.

The red urn, or trophy, shaped lamp in the center would look elegant with a black painted shade for an easy English study style.

Another milk-glass lamp base with pretty diamonds pressed in the glass. The metal needs a coat of antique brass to give it new life while still looking “vintage”.

Here are the lamps I’ve chosen for this thrift flip. From left to right I paid:

  1. Blue ginger jar $16
  2. Antique painted lamp $10
  3. Chinoiserie “oil” lamp $8
  4. Vintage peach lamp $2.70

Now we have our lamp bases, let’s find shades! First, I looked through the shades I had on hand. 

For the vintage hand-painted lamp I had a bit of a Goldilocks moment… The first shade was too big… the second too small… but the last was just right! I simply swapped the harp fitting for a shorter harp to lower the shade.

For a balanced lampshade measure the slant, top, and bottom of your shade.

The height of your slant indicates proportion. For a traditional look this would be 1/3 of the total height of your lamp from finial to base. For a more modern look this could be up to 40% of your total height.

The top measurement on a steep empire style shade, like this one, should match the base measurement of your lamp.

The bottom measurement of your shade should match the distance from the base of your lamp to the bottom of the socket (which is where you screw in your lightbulb).

Here are the fabrics I’ve gathered to makeover the lampshades ~ I can hardly wait to see how they turn out!

One tip you might consider (that I learned along the way) is to consider the color of your fabric as this will effect the color of the lighting when the lamp is on. I ended up preferring the red polka dotted fabric as it gave the light a pleasant, warm glow. The green printed fabric is sweet, but it gives a greenish light that isn’t quite as cozy.

After measuring the shade for the width of the panel (plus two inches to work with), I cut the panel and began pleating. This is simple really, just time consuming. Make sure your pleats are the same size on top and bottom, or the entire panel will begin to twist ~ ask me how I know!

Half way through the pleating I could see that more fabric would be needed. I cut and added another panel, then finished and added the self trim for a tidy finish.

Now on to the blue & white antique chinoiserie lamp! for this one I changed up the pleat pattern by turning the pleats towards each other every other pleat. This gave an interesting chevron effect. 

It’s hard to choose whether this lamp, or the green vintage lamp is my favorite!

For the green vintage lamp I was inspired by this box pleated lamp. since the shade is a drum style I won’t have to worry about the tapered sides and making smaller pleats at the top and larger pleats at the bottom. 

This shade was the easiest of all since there weren’t tapered sides to deal with. If you’re new to pleating lampshades, I recommend trying a drum shade for your first project! 

Thank you for joining me on this interesting project ~ I hope you enjoyed it and learned as much as I did! Until our next visit,

Take Care,


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Author: Rachel Stone
Rachel is passionate about creating a comfortable and beautiful home for her family. She also loves to share the lessons she is learning with her wonderful audience both on this blog and her YouTube channel.

2 thoughts on “How to Make English Cottage Pleated Lampshades ~ Easy DIY”

  1. Love your Chanel and now your Blog. So much wonderful inspiration and information. I am a Designer but with English roots, as I grew up reading the Colonial Homes magazines my Mother placed in our Living Room. Later in life, I did marry French pieces along side my beautiful English furnishings. Still, I adore Gallery Walls, English Lamps, Pattern Fabrics, and Classic, Traditional Moldings. I find your Chanel very fun and love your inspiration pieces verses your thrift finds. Keep on posting and I’ll keep watching. Sincerely, Lisa from Dallas P.S. Happy Thrifting.

    • Hello, Miss Lisa!
      How fun to see you pop up here on the blog! Welcome to the Stone Cottage Home, I’m glad you’re here. Like you, I also enjoy a mixture of styles… English, (true) Farmhouse, Colonial, with a touch of primitive. I’m so thrilled you are enjoying the channel & I’ve got more visits in the works!

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