The latest DIY tale.

A new entertainment center for the den gave me the chance to do some re-arranging in there recently.  In addition to moving around the furniture and artwork, I realized we needed another lamp to really make the room work, ideally a floor lamp. I just so happened to have one in the basement I’d been wanting to work in somewhere up here, but it needed a new lampshade.  I have this habit of finding cool old lamps for a song (or less) and then topping them with some uberly expensive lampshade – Exhibit A in this would be the very cool lime green ‘gloworm’ lamp in the living room found in the basement of a college boyfriend’s apartment building back in the day currently sporting a three figure silk lampshade. I assured my dear husband this would not be the case in this particular lamp, one that my friend Bonnie had sitting by her front door one day, awaiting drop off at Goodwill.  Because I cannot walk past a free lamp without bringing it home, I grabbed it of course. I had a shade that had once been custom made for a lamp that had been mine as a girl, that is currently housed in Edie’s room. The shade had seen better days but I knew, with some love, would work fabulously on the floor lamp.  Take a look :

IMG_6838 (683x1024)Definitely in need of some love.  I got it in my head I could redo it myself. After all, I’ve reupholstered a chair, so how hard could it be to recover a lampshade?  I’d take it apart and use the existing fabric as a template to make a pattern and in the process of disassembling, I’d learn how the shade had been put together.  It worked for a chair, certainly it’d work for a lampshade, right?

Somewhere along the way – I think at a Craft Swap Craft Cville put on – I ended up with a burlap coffee sack.  It had been sitting in the stash for a while now and it occurred to me one day that I should use it to cover the lampshade. I realized it could help make the room flow with another of the lamps in the room which has a burlap type shade. As I pondered this idea while walking from the gym back to the office one day, I strolled past Les Fabriques and there, on the clearance table on the sidewalk in front of the shop, was some trim for $1/yard that I immediately thought would work fabulously on my lampshade.  As for the lining, I knew I had something that would work somewhere in the stash (and so I did.) Materials assembled for under $5, I dove in.

Technical Difficulty No. 1 – Never underestimate the weakness of 20+ year old silk fabric that has been stretched taunt.  The original shade disintegrated in my hands as I attempted to disassemble it. Undeterred, I managed to salvage what I thought was enough to make a decent enough pattern out of tracing paper to move forward with my plan.

Technical Difficulty No. 2 – It would seem that in order to have the lovely logo on the front of the bag be upright and centered, I’d have to do some finagling of the construction of the shade.  There really was no satisfactory way to pull it off, so after running through all the options, I just decided to turn it on its side and have the logo be sideways.  This probably worked better though, as the back half of the bag was printed sideways and was going to be applied to the lampshade sideways, so in then end, the ‘grain’ of the fabric on the entire shade would be the same direction. Definitely a much better end result.

Technical Difficulty No.3 – When sewing with burlap, it’s best to attach the burlap to a backing fabric to stabilize it, THEN cut it.  When cutting burlap, it’s also best to cut it slightly bigger than what you will actually need.

So, this part I did backasswards.  I cut the burlap, then attached it to a stabilizing fabric.  I pressed on, convinced I could still pull this off, but with slightly shaken confidence.

I started at the top edge,  gluing the burlap layer first, then covered the inside raw top edge with the lining fabric.  I let both layers dry and then began the business of tacking down the bottom edges.  This was where it started getting tricky.  Remember when I said I’d made a template from the original pieces?  I thought I’d cut them big to allow for mistakes, but between the original fabric being in shreds and the burlap being unstable, it was not appearing I’d cut the fabric properly. At this point Pat stepped in to save the day. He spent a few evenings stretching the fabric out, pinning it down with clothespins until we got it just right. He suggested rather than gluing the bottom seam, I run an invisible stitch with sturdy, but clear thread – maybe fishing line? Because the lining fabric was actually a polyester suit lining fabric, I knew it needed to be somewhat more delicate. I ran down to Cottonwood – the quilting shop in Meadowbrook Shopping Center –  one afternoon and grabbed a spool of invisible quilting thread.

Technical Difficulty No. 4 – Invisible quilting thread.  I could only thread the needle in the middle of the afternoon on one of those abundantly sunny days. And then, trying to blind stitch with invisible thread? Yeah, you try it. I couldn’t do the entire shade at once, I had to break it down to three afternoons because it just hurt my eyes too much (and yes, I was wearing my readers.)

Technical Difficulty No. 5 –  A scalloped edge bell lampshade. It’s not as easy as it looks to recover. I’m sure you, the reader took one look at that first picture and thought that, I know my husband certainly did, but somehow I thought this was perfect for an entry level lampshade recovery project.  Yes, I do need my head examined some days because I have no idea why I thought it would be easy.  It wasn’t.

IMG_7507 (1024x683)Pat took on the duty of tacking the trim down.  Bless him, because by this point, my eyes and nerves frazzled from sewing tiny invisible stitches with tiny invisible thread and tiny needles that may have well been invisible, I was starting to have my doubts about the trim working with the rest of the shade.

I shouldn’t have doubted myself though, because the lampshade turned out quite nicely – better than I had expected. I couldn’t have done it without the assistance of my better half – really, I give him all the credit on this one. I might have come up with the idea, but he handled most of the execution.  And with the lampshade recovered and the lamp installed, I declare the den complete, which is a whole other level of satisfaction when you consider we’ve been revamping it since the end of July.

4 thoughts on “The latest DIY tale.

  1. suzicate says:

    I love what you did with this, what a great idea to use the burlap coffee bag! I admit I’ve thought of remaking a shade before and then chickened out. Kudos to Pat for helping you.

    • Becky says:

      He’s redone lampshades previously, but it was a far more simpler shape. Drum shapes appear to be the easiest and I think that’s what I’ll do next. It’s the funky shapes, you know the ones I like the most, that are the most challenging.

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