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Welcome to the Lampshade Loft Blog

My name is Jane Warren and I love interiors - especially how they are lit up and enhanced by lovely lampshades. I make shades and teach you how to as well, so sign up and learn how to make them in your own choice of fabric.

In my blog here I offer tips on how to make the best lampshades - oversized, using paper, if to line or not and other random subjects all to do with shades!

Please read about my collaborations and inspirations on this blog, and sign up to receive my newsletter to hear more news and tips!


By Jane Warren, Jul 17 2017 04:13PM

Hard shades can look different and unique
Hard shades can look different and unique
Soft shades are tailored to fit the frame and need expert sewing
Soft shades are tailored to fit the frame and need expert sewing

Many lampshade makers produce a range of styles of shade, from traditional hand sewn to the contemporary hard or laminate shades. So often we see references to them, but what is the difference?


Soft lampshades are traditionally hand sewn shades, using fabric that is stretched across the frame, which is then sewn onto the top and base rings. It is stitched into the fabric and underneath that, through the lampshade tape that has been tightly bound around the frame. The fabric is stretched on the bias and attached using sharp pins, and only sewn when the desired tension is found. Traditional sewn shades also sometimes have a 'balloon' lining, which is a - usually - cream stretchy fabric - that is also sewn onto the frame and proudly hides the working or metal struts and arms of the lampshade frame. Added onto these are the chosen trims - anything from glass beads to a simple gimp or braid to both hide the sewn stitches or to add a final flourish.

Also in the soft shade category is the gathered or pleated lampshade. These too are handsewn onto the taped frame, and are lovely using an empire shape frame. There is much work to produce a soft shade, but the results are wonderful - a beautifully tailored interiors item that brings a touch of class to any room.


Hard shades are so called because the material used to make them is a fire-resistant laminate (or plastic) or a stiff card. These lampshades come in different shapes and sizes - from square, rectangular to oval but the most popular shape we see are drums. Drum shades are made using little fabric applied to the laminate panel - which is then adhered to the rings, hand rolled with extra fabric tucked under to give a perfect finish. The making of these takes little time but can look exciting with different colour laminates inside the shade including gold, copper or bright neon colours. In addition, double sided laminate is available meaning the shade can have fabric both on the outside and the inside.

There are differences too between the pricing of the shades, the hand sewn soft shades can take some hours to make, especially if lined, whereas the hard shades can take as little as an hour. Soft shade making is a true interiors skill, with hand sewing and fabric manipulation requiring expert handling. The drum or hard shades are quicker, more a craft with no sewing involved but although are not so complex to make, they can still be made to look fantastic!

At the end of the day, what matters is what 'look' people are after - and finding the right shade, whether soft or hard, to add interest - and light of course to the room.

By Jane Warren, Mar 8 2017 02:36PM

I often get asked how to make lampshades using paper - either wallpaper or wrapping paper or paper maps - in fact there are so many items you can use to make shades! how about sheet music or old manuscaripts?

The best method I have found is to make the lampshade in the normal way you make a drum using fabric, but then instead of tucking in the excess fabric under the rings, just cut off the extra paper along the rings once you have rolled it. You can then use a bias binding to finish the shade.

As far as the paper itself is concerned, ensure there is nothing printed onto the back - maps for example, often have street names on the reverse - this will all show once your shade is lit!

I also iron paper before I use it, but if there are creases such as from the folded Ordnance Survey maps, which I use, it can add to its authenticity.

Take note of the width of paper - wrapping paper for example - is barely 50cm wide. This means you will only be able to make a small 15cm (diameter) drum shade but you can add pieces together (see previous post on making large shades) and positioning a seam opposite the main seam.

These paper shades are entirely fire proofed as you make them with the materials all tested by the lighting association, and your paper will not be a hazard.

They are fun to make and entirely bespoke! so come along to a class and learn how to make drum shades - including paper ones!

By Jane Warren, Jan 2 2017 12:02PM

Often I get asked to repair a much loved lampshade - they perfectly fit their current lamp base after all and therefore it makes sense to use the current frame, and make a new cover and lining.

There is quite a lot of work involved - the current lining and outer cover are removed, sometimes the frames are rusty and need to be re-sprayed and then a new lining and outer cover made - in fact there is often more work than making a new lampshade! However it is worth it, but why do these shades fall into disrepair? it is worth looking after them, and here are some pointers:

* ensure you use a cool to the touch eco bulb to prevent scorching

* try and have a 5cm gap between the bulb and the lining - use a candle bulb which are slimmer?

* if your outer cover is made from silk, position the lampshade away from the window, light and sunlight not only fade the colour but the silk can rot too - there are wonderful silk mixed or faux silks available these days to use instead

* dust your shade from time to time using a feather duster

* handle the shade with care - they can get knocked each time someone puts the light fitting to off and on

Following these basic principles should ensure a longer life for your shade, but if it does need repairing please do get in touch! I ask my customers to: send me photos of their shade by email along with the dimensions plus an idea of what they would like - and I will then send you a quote by return.

Meanwhile - happy new year to all my customers and visitors - here is to a happy 2017!

By Jane Warren, Oct 19 2016 06:29PM

These days one of the most popular drum lampshades are the really large pendant shades - made to be a huge feature in the centre of the room. Either placed low over dining tables or kitchen island units or just to be in the middle of the living room, they are startling by their size and really give the message - wow! often they are made with quite a plain fabric outside but have a wonderful colourful print inside, after all that is what you will be looking up into - and who wants to look up in to a large white space! but sometimes we want to make a shade with a lovely fabric outside too.

The problem? the wdiths of most traditional fabrics are printed to a width of 137cm. And the largest circumference measurement that will stretch around? = a 40 cm drum - a rather modest 45cm drum needs 143cm of fabric. Now while a 40cm drum looks fabulous on a standard lamp, if you want to have a big statement shade in your living room, that isn't that big. And you can make shades with diameters of up to 100cm! so in these cases, widths of fabric will need to be joined together to ensure there is enough to go around your large shade.

Without doubt the best place to position this join is right opposite the main seam. There is a quick technique that will enable you to do this and I have the perfect handout! please contact me if you wish to have a copy!

60cm drum shade made by me for a show home - a true statement!
60cm drum shade made by me for a show home - a true statement!

By Jane Warren, Oct 3 2016 03:12PM

These days, you can line a lampshade with all kinds of colours - bang on trend right now are copper and shiny bright colours of blue and gold, red and green. The drum lampshade has had a resurgence in being a central feature to many a room in interior design blogs and glossy mags, being placed low over kitchen work stations and dining tables. The drums are often plain on the outside but inside has been adorned with industial looking metals, bright, shiny (even when unlit). Popular too are the vintage-look blulbs, elements showing in large globes, beautifully hung from cotton covered cable in all kinds of colours.

These though are design elements only - and when I teach shade making I ensure that we discuss the light you wish to achieve in your rooms. Do you actually want a copper (ie off brown/orange) light in your room? isnt red going to look suspect? and green - make you feel a bit ill?!

The fact is, that whatever colour you have INSIDE your lampshade, will be the colour light ommited in your room. The bulb, when lit, will reflect the colour it is next to, downwards, upwards and outwards! Personally I like rosy glows and so choose cream or an off white linen inside the shade. Or if I love the floral fabric on the outside, I leave it unlined (if a hand sewn shade) or use a clear laminate inner for a modern drum and then the warm summer flowers drench your room in a light to match. And those bulbs? beautiful - I am a true fan - but they dont offer much light, so keep them as side lights!

The cream laminate interior of this shade saves us all from a ghostly blue!
The cream laminate interior of this shade saves us all from a ghostly blue!
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