How to Decorate a Lampshade

How to change the color and decorate a lampshade with fabric.

I bought the perfect white ceramic lamp for my craft room desk about a year ago. I loved this lamp. It was a real find at Walmart.  Nothing had to be changed or altered to fit my style.

I loved it for about 3 months until a cat named Trax jumped up on my desk and knocked it over. It crashed on the floor into pieces. It was truly a sad day.  My poor, perfect-for-my-desk, lamp – a goner! This is how I came to decorate a lampshade to replace it.


I have been searching for a replacement ever since.  I am picky about my lamps – they can’t be too big or too little – they have to be just right – so I searched and searched until a few weeks ago….

…when I spotted this one at Ross for $13.  It was very similar to the one that broke, but more streamlined.  The only thing I didn’t like about it was the black shade.  Time to decorate a lampshade.

Lampshade BEFORE


I figured I could just buy a new shade for it. I soon realized since it was such a bargain price lamp,  the wire shade was permanently attached to the lamp and changing out shades would not be so simple.  I figured I would cut it off with wire cutters and replace it with a small white barrel shade using a bulb shade clip like this.

lightbulb clip for lampshades

I looked at Target, Walmart, HomeGoods, and Lowes, but could not find a shade small enough.  Glad I didn’t cut the original off first.

Which takes me to the project of this post.  With a little bit of paint, fabric, and glue, I was able to cover the existing black shade to make it more in tune with my style.

This isn’t the first time I have covered something unsightly with fabric in my house. I did one project years ago with my Foyer Chandelier Chain and I made this adorable sunglass case with only fabric scraps.

Lampshade AFTER


One lingering problem that I still can’t get right, is the wire shade frame is slightly crooked. I keep bending it to straighten, but it is still crooked.  I will keep bending and tweaking until it stays straight!

supplies needed:

  • Lampshade
  • Fabric – enough to go around shade once with a 1/2-inch overlap x 2-inches taller in shade height
  • Spray glue
  • Ribbon- circumference of shade
  • Tacky glue
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears
  • Optional: craft paint and paint brush

1. This step is optional. Since the shade was black and there are white sections on the fabric, I didn’t want the black tones coming through the white.  I used white craft paint to paint the shade white to prevent this from happening.  Let the paint dry before adding fabric.  I thought about just painting the shade in a glossy color, but the floral design on the shade is raised. I didn’t like the way it looked.


2.  Cut fabric to the size needed. See supply list for measurements.

Blogger of DIY Decorating blog Diane Henkler of In My Own Style

Helpful Tip:

If your fabric is fraying – use pinking shears to cut. See how I keep my scissors sharp. You could also dab all the fabric edges with white glue and let them dry. When you cut – no fray.


3. Spray an even coat of spray glue on back of fabric and on shade. Let the glue get tacky.  Align fabric and roll the shade on the fabric to attach. Using a geometric pattern can make it a bit tricky to make sure the pattern is straight.  Smooth with your fingers.  Apply Tacky glue under seam edges of fabric to flatten and adhere.

4. Turn the excess fabric on the top and bottom to the inside of shade.  Use a paint brush to apply Tacky glue under the fabric, then press the fabric with your fingers to smooth.  I also needed to make a slit with scissors on the fabric right under the wire frame arms so the fabric would lay flat inside the shade.


5. As the top edge may be exposed to passersby,  brush Tacky glue on one side of cut ribbon.


6. Align ribbon over raw edge of fabric inside the shade. Press with fingers to smooth. Cut excess to line up with seam on the fabric cover.

More Home Decorating With Fabric Ideas

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  1. Theresa Skelly says:

    Yours turned out great! I recently bought adhesive styrene and wire rings on Amazon and made a pretty easy lampshade but it was actually a bit pricey. I want to cover a ver small shade that, like yours, is permanently attached. Can I just spread tacky glue (or maybe mod podge) over the shade instead of using spray adhesive? I hate the mess of the spray as well as buying more.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Theresa – To answer your question about using Mod Podge or Tacky Glue to attach the fabric to a lampshade – yes you can. Simply spread on a light, even layer over the surface and lay the fabric on.

  2. I am trying to find lavender lamp shades for my mom for Christmas, and having NO luck for the size I need.

    I may just give this a try, even though I am not very crafty. I bought some super cheap shades at Wal-Mart, so not a huge loss if I mess them up.

  3. Love the fabric you chose. You have a real knack for putting things together and making everything look great Diane!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Denise. I bought the fabric to initially redo my office chair, but I ended up using a throw rug I loved to do that. I bought the fabric at JoAnns. It was a special order fabric that I waited to buy when it went on sale for 50% off.

  4. Jay Harris 4 The Home Depot says:

    Great tutorial! With a little bit of ingenuity and the right fabric you can turn any ugly shade into an awesome designer piece. I’m looking forward to trying this out sometime soon when I bring out my sewing machine again. I’m re-pinning this onto our board.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Jay. No need to get your sewing machine out. I used spray and tacky glue to attach the fabric. :)

  5. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    I love the new shade. It is perfect for your office.

    I wish I could find some really inexpensive buys on tall, but thin or narrow lamps… with shades of course. I went to replace some lampshades on these two small, milk white lamps that I inherited from my parents (from when I was a little kid) and what a chore…. I found two that at Walmart and they are NOT right and I have never liked them from the start.

  6. Diane, so cute! I have been saving old lampshades in my basement and never thought of covering an existing one with fabric. Any ideas on how to use just the wire frame from the shade to create a new one? Most of mine are bell shaped. I was thinking of wrapping jute cording around and around and around…..makes me dizzy just thinking about it! There must be an easier way!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim – Your comment got lost in the bottom of my stream. Sorry I just got to it now. Covering bell shaped shades is harder to do than one with straight sides. There are many tutorials online if you do a Google Search for How to cover a Lamp Shade with fabric. Recently I have been seeing lots of ideas using the frame. If you have a large one – you could spray paint it and place a tray or table top on it to re -purpose it into a table. I know that Myra at My Blessed Life covered a shade frame by tying fabric strips top to bottom on the shade. Light would still show through, but a doable and unique idea. Instead of jute, you could use wide ribbon to wrap around the shade. Since it is wider, it would not take as long to wrap around. :)

  7. Krista @thehappyhousie says:

    Love it!! I did this for my big floor lamp in our living room. Such a fun change, isn’t it. Even if it was necessitated by unwanted events:)

  8. Nice job on the shade makeover! I have NEVER been able to find a replacment shade for any lamp I have ever owned- the width, the height, the angle of the slope-ugh! A nightmare to find a suitable replacement! I have done a couple of re-d0’s using burlap and was able to give new life to my lamps. I especially like how you finished off, so nicely, I might add, the inside of the shade that ‘no one’ will ever see! My mother always taught me (often to my dismay!) that the backside/inside/other side is just as important as what you DO see! I would tell her, but “no one” will see it and her reply would always be, “but YOU will see it, and YOU’LL know!” To this day, I always finish off a craft to make Mom proud!…

  9. I love your little lamp! I have a plain white drum lampshade from Ikea that I’ve been thinking I should try to cover to dress it up. Yours turned out so pretty! Thanks for the inspiration!