How to Upcycle Lampshades (No Sew!)

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lampshade upcycling

Two weeks ago I was invited to a sustainability workshop at Westfield London and they had a good selection of great topics: lampshade upcycling (which is what I chose), kintsugi (the Japanese art of mending with gold), baby clothes swap, vintage fashion market, sneakers cleaning with natural products and more. I have chose the lampshade upcycling workshop because I wanted to learn that for ages. Turned out it’s not as complicated as I thought but you definitely have to practice those skills to make it look perfect. And that takes time!

I was lucky enough to meet two cool ladies from ReVamp Boutique. Sarah, the owner has set up a fantastic concept store in Essex: they upcycle, repurpose and redesign furniture which they sell, hold workshops and educate, plus they have a holiday retreat for hire.  With their help I fulfilled my old dream of learning to upcycle lampshades.

lampshade upcycling

lampshade upcycling

lampshade upcycling

Why upcycle?

Well, first of all, it’s great fun, can be a hobby even. It’s for those who enjoy creative activities and love saving things being thrown away. I fall into at least one category – I don’t like to throw away things and always look for ways of reusing them or repurposing them I’m not very creative, but I enjoy an outburst of creativity every now and then. I also love learning more ways to upcycle and repurpose. Upcycling is such a buzz word these days, but as with a lot of things: there is nothing new under the sun. Generations going back people were more mindful about their waste and luckily my and the younger generations are catching up too. Yes, there is a bit of a time invested, but that’s just like with every hobbies.

Upcycling is a great way to keep an item in circulation and save from being thrown away, an important pillar of circular economy – of which I am a huge believer. We should reconsider our consumption habits to change the cycles of production. Unlike the linear economy model, the goal of circular economy is to divert used materials from landfills. This model aims to reuse, repurpose, or otherwise recycle commodities that might have otherwise been considered waste.

Is it difficult to upcycle lampshades?

Well, I had the perception, that yes, it must involve real skills given how beautiful the upcycled lampshades look. I didn’t think I had those skills, which is why I was so excited to attend Sarah’s workshop. Turns out, that this no-sew method is not difficult at all, however it still requires a bit of skills which can be improved by practice. 

How to upcycle a lampshade

This no-sew method makes it very straightforward and you only need a few things and a couple of hours of your time.

You will need:

  • and old lampshade (ebay and charity shops are your friend)
  • enough fabric to cover the lampshade (again, any sort of used fabric will be perfect, I chose an old scarf) – you might need to iron it first
  • a couple of types of glue, depending what could work best for the shade and the fabric: PVA, fabric glue and wallpaper glue. It’s handy to have all these as you might need to try all of them to find the best that really works
  • paintbrushes to apply the glue
  • sharp fabric scissors
  • optional: decorating elements such as patches, fringes, trims, sequins, etc.
  • soapy water to clean hands and fingers when they get too sticky

lampshade upcycling

lampshade upcycling

lampshade upcycling

lampshade upcycling

Method

  1. Pick up the fabric and try to see the best way of fitting it around the lampshade, make sure you have the correct length and width
  2. With a paintbrush not too thick, start applying a very generous amount of dissolved wallpaper glue to the lampshade, covering it entirely. Ideally as fast as possible so the glue don’t have the chance to dry
  3. Wrap the fabric around the lampshade, pressing it on gently and smoothen it out as you go
  4. Apply another layer of wallpaper glue once the fabric is sitting on the lampshade, straight onto the fabric
  5. Cut the excess fabric away, but be sure not to cut too much, you might want to do this bit by bit
  6. Smoothen the fabric over the top and bottom rim, and add more glue. At this stage PVA and fabric glue might work better and hold stronger. You just need to try what works better
  7. Cut away all the excess fabric

Tada! Let the  lampshade dry. Once it’s dry, you can add any decorative bits and pieces. I chose  an old, reclaimed curtain trim.

lampshade upcycling

How to Upcycle Lampshades

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