Illuminate Your Home: No Sew Pleated Lampshade DIY

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Rachel Stone

Hello Friends, I’m excited to share something truly special with you today. We all love the elegance that a pleated lampshade can bring to a room, especially when used with cottage style decor. Don’t they just radiate class and style? There’s something timeless about them, and they can transform an ordinary lamp into an extraordinary decor piece.

But, purchasing these pleated lampshades online or in a high-end décor store can pinch your pocketbook quite a bit. What if I told you you could create your own pleated lampshade easily at home? With a little bit of time, some materials, and patience, you can create a bespoke lampshade that matches your decor perfectly. Not only will you save a good deal of money, but you’ll also have the satisfaction of having made it yourself.

Materials and Tools: Everything You Need for Your DIY Pleated Lampshade

All right, let’s gather everything we need for this project. Creating your own pleated lampshade is simple, and having the materials and tools on hand will make the process go a lot smoother.

Here’s your DIY Pleated Lampshade shopping list:

  1. Fabric: The star of the show. Refer to the fabric selection section for guidance on choosing the right type and amount. Don’t forget to account for extra fabric to accommodate the pleats! I bought two yards for the large shade I was covering.
  2. Lampshade Frame: You can repurpose an old lampshade frame or buy a new one. A drum or bell shape work the best.
  3. Fabric Scissors or rotary cutter: These will ensure you get clean, precise cuts on your fabric.
  4. Ruler: A ruler will help you cut straight lines. Accurate cutting will help ensure your pleats are even and your fabric fits your frame well.
  5. Hot Glue Gun: To attach the fabric to the lampshade frame use a hot glue gun to give you a strong bond and fast drying time.
  6. Cutting Mat (if using a rotary cutter)

Once you have these items, you’re ready to start!

If you are using a second hand lampshade you will need to remove the old trim and shade material. Make sure to leave the lining.

Making a Pleated Lampshade: The Step by Step Process.

Step 1 Measure your lampshade from top to bottom. Add two inches to this measurement to give room for mistakes. This measurement will be the size of the panel you will cut out for your shade.

Step 2 Cut a panel across the full width of your fabric with the measurement you obtained in step one. Cut this panel into 2.5 inch strips.

Step 3 Place your fabric right side (printed side) down on the table and fold the raw edges of the fabric to meet in the middle. This will result in a strip that is two layers and half as wide as the original strip. Iron the folds to press them into the fabric. Starch will help hold them in place.

Step 4 Place a dot of hot glue at the top and bottom of the shade. Making sure your strip is straight, press it onto the lampshade frame. (Make sure you pull the top and bottom of the strip tight as you glue it onto the frame.) There should be about an inch extra on the top and bottom.

Next, place another dab of glue on top of the first strip and a little onto the frame and glue another strip overlapping the first one. If your frame is smaller on the top than the bottom you will need to overlap more at the top and less on the bottom. For my shade it was perfect to leave about ¼ inch of the first strip showing at the top of the shade and ½ inch at the bottom.

Continue gluing strips until you have completely covered the lampshade. Check often to make certain your strips are straight. Once your lamp is covered, trim the extra fabric from the top and bottom of the shade with scissors.

Final Trim

Start by measuring the diameter of the top and bottom of the lampshade.

Cut two strips to make the trim for the top and bottom. They should be two inches wide and two inches longer than the measurements you got from the lampshade.

Fold and iron the strips as you did to make the pleats for the lamp. Then, fold the strips in half again with one edge slightly offset from the other (see pic below). This will give your trim a professional finish.

Glue each strip along the top and bottom of the shade to cover the edge of your fabric strips. Apply the glue a couple inches at a time and press your fabric into the glue. Make sure that you start and end in the same spot on the shade for both trims. This place will be the back of your lampshade. When starting and ending our trim, fold under ¼ inch to tuck under the raw edge and give a tidy finish.

Close up shot of the trim on the back of the lampshade.

Fabric Selection: The Key to Your Lamp’s Personality

Choosing the right fabric for your lampshade is a crucial step in this DIY project. The fabric you select will not only determine the aesthetic appeal of your lampshade, but it will also influence the quality and color of light it emits.

Let’s start with color. If you prefer a softer, more diffused light for a calm and cozy ambiance, go for darker or richer colors. Navy blues, deep reds, or even a rich emerald green can cast a soft, warm glow that’s perfect for a relaxed evening. On the other hand, lighter shades like whites, creams, or pastels allow more light to pass through, creating a brighter, more vibrant illumination. They are perfect for study corners, or when you need that extra light while reading your favorite book.

The pattern on your fabric plays a significant role too. A large-scale pattern can become a statement piece and lend your room an edgy or bold feel. But keep in mind, from a distance, the intricacies of a large-scale pattern may not be apparent when the lamp is switched on. Instead, they offer a surprise element when viewed up close or during daylight hours.

Conversely, smaller patterns or textures can create a subtle, sophisticated vibe without overwhelming your décor. They can beautifully play up the light and shadows, creating a unique lighting effect. So, whether you decide to go big and bold or subtly sophisticated, remember to choose a pattern that complements your overall room décor, and the lamp it covers.

Ultimately, the choice of fabric is your chance to put a personal spin on your pleated lampshade. It’s your chance to show off your style and make a lampshade that’s truly unique. Be creative and let your fabric choice tell your story!

Tips and Tricks: Your Roadmap to a Perfect Pleated Lampshade

As we begin our project, I’d like to share some handy tips I’ve picked up. These tips will help you create a more professional looking lampshade.

  1. Test Your Fabric: Before you cut your chosen fabric, test how it looks when pleated. You can fold the fabric onto itself several times to get a rough idea of what the finished product will look like. If possible, hold the fabric over the shade with the lamp both off and on to help you visualize the final result.
  2. Check the Frame: If you are using a second-hand frame, make sure it is not bent. It will be really difficult to lay the strips straight on a bent frame.
  3. Check the Lining: Make sure the lining is the color you like and is in good condition.
  4. Measure Twice, Cut Once: This age-old saying rings true for any DIY project. Always double-check your measurements before cutting your fabric. Remember, it’s better to have extra fabric than not enough.
  5. Iron With Starch if Your Fabric is Thin: It might seem like an unnecessary step, but ironing your fabric with starch makes a world of difference. It helps to create crisper, more defined pleats and eliminates any wrinkles that might distort the pattern or shape.
  6. Patience is Key: The glue might take some time to dry completely, especially if you’re in a humid area. Rushing this step can lead to pleats coming undone, so let your lampshade rest until it’s fully dry.
  7. Clean as You Go: Any excess glue can be wiped off immediately with a damp cloth to prevent it from visibly drying on your fabric.  Once your shade is done check all over for those nearly invisible glue strings.

Remember, the joy of DIY is not just in the final product, but in the journey of creating it. So, take your time, enjoy the process, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. After all, it’s these little imperfections that add character and makes your pleated lampshade truly one-of-a-kind!


Now you have your very own DIY pleated lampshade! If you’re anything like me, you are now imagining every shade in the house pleated up in some lovely print or pattern. Enjoy!

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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.