Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Lampshades: A Bright Way to Display Embroidery


Amazon Books

The first time I saw a hand embroidered lampshade was in a book on Schwalm embroidery, sent to me by Luzine Happel, an expert in Schwalm embroidery from Germany who writes beautiful books on how to do Schwalm work.

I marveled at the pristine whitework stretched taut over the frame of a lamp – and I thought, “Now, there’s an embroidery finishing technique you don’t see too often!”

If you’re unfamiliar with Luzine’s Scwalm website, you should check it out! She features a nice article on an embroidered Schwalm lampshade, here. This is the lampshade:

Schwalm Embroidery Lampshade, Luzine Happel

Is that not an enchanting piece of exquisite needlework, finished beautifully?

Not too long after encountering the Schwalm lampshade in the book, embroidered lampshades began to trend. Now, household trends are always fluctuating in and out, and like many decorating trends that have popped up and faded away again, embroidered lampshades aren’t entirely new.

But in the past couple years, they’ve shown up quite a bit in home decor and furnishing shops.

For example, a couple years ago, there was this folk embroidered lampshade at Ikea:

Folk embroidered lampshade from Ikea

This was one of those items I saw online and really liked. I thought it was darling and would look great in a kid’s room.

Then I happened across one in person. How to put it tactfully? The online version was a sight more pleasing!

The in-person version was a lot smaller than the online version seems (you could almost cup it in your hands, with a little overhang for the height of the thing), and the stitching? Well, it wasn’t nearly as clean and sharp as it looks in the photos, nor was it hand stitched (of course).

Anthropologie lamp shade with embroidery and appliqué

Then there’s this lampshade from Anthropologie. A combination of appliqué and embroidery brings to life a tropical, yet still somewhat subtle, collage of birds and blooms on this fantastic lampshade.

Between you and me, I love the thing! I don’t have the decor for it; I don’t have a house large enough for it; and I live in Kansas, where dust is the bane of all fabric lampshades. But I love looking at that thing for some reason! It makes me happy! I wonder how good it looks in person?

Anthropologie has offered a few different embroidered lampshades over the last several years. In fact, I remember a crewel embroidered lampshade that was very popular on Pinterest and social media a few years ago. It was from Anthropologie.

I can’t help wondering if their current line of textile “art” lampshades sprang pretty much from the popularity of that one, because it was everywhere online.

They’re Not the Same

The commercial lampshades available here and there that feature embroidered embellishments are not quite the same as the first lampshade in this article – the beautiful Schwalm whitework shade.

Obviously, the Schwalm shade is not mass produced. Every element is carefully and beautifully hand embroidered, and the whole shade is constructed carefully from the hand embroidered parts. There are no “shortcuts” about it, that you inevitably find on mass produced items. The whole lampshade is tailored into a beautiful one-of-a-kind piece.

So, when you look at something like Luzine’s embroidered lampshade, you can’t help being in awe of it. It’s stunning! It’s unique. It’s an heirloom. It’s not something that will trend out and end up in a garage sale. There will always be something “classic” about it.

But How do they Do It?

I’ve never made a lampshade. But I know it can be done. And better yet, I know there are books out there that can help you do it.

In fact, there’s a relatively new one on the market (came out this year), and this is it:

Sewing Lampshades book review

It’s called Sewing Lampshades by Joanna Heptinstall, and it covers all the basics (and beyond) for constructing (and even designing) your own lampshades.

Sewing Lampshades book review

Like any good instructional book, it starts out with all the basic supplies you’ll need to launch into your new career as a custom lampshade seamstress. (Ok, that’s said tongue-in-cheek…but hey! You never know!)

Sewing Lampshades book review

The author covers all kinds of shapes and styles of lampshades.

Now, if you were planning to create an embroidered lampshade, then any shape of shade is game for your imaginative and creative pursuits.

But, particularly for the embroiderer, I liked two projects in the book especially.

Sewing Lampshades book review

One is a project that repurposes a vintage embroidered linen that was past its prime into a lampshade. You can see in the photo above how part of that vintage linen is featured on a tailored lampshade.

Sewing Lampshades book review

The other project is just what I was looking for: a hand embroidered lampshade. In this case, one panel on the lampshade features a cute, juvenile image, hand stitched. Then, coordinating fabrics are used for the rest of the panels on the lampshade frame.

The embroidery, of course, does not have to be juvenile. It can be as grown-up as you want it to be! It’s the concept we’re after, to see how to design and create the lampshade that will showcase your own needlework!

Sewing Lampshades book review

The book is filled with step-by-step instructions and photos for constructing lampshades, from basic designs to more elaborate designs. There are hints and tips scattered throughout, to help the newbie get through what seems like a rather complicated process, but which isn’t as complex as it seems.

The instructions in the book present the process of creating lampshades in such a way that it is accessible and doable, for anyone who wants to do it.

Sewing Lampshades book review

And just for the fun of it – I liked this idea at the end of the book of making party lampshades. These are quick lampshades out of light materials that can be used for outdoor or indoor party decorations. They’re fun and festive! Not exactly embroidery related, but who doesn’t like a party now and then?

The Frames

For those who are seriously contemplating creating a lampshade, you can actually buy the wire frames already made. They aren’t that expensive. You can find suppliers in your own country by searching “lampshade frames” online.

There are even shops that sell lampshade making kits that are very affordable, so you could always test the waters with a simple kit before you launch into designing your Magnum Opus Lampshade.

Where to Find Sewing Lampshades

You can find Sewing Lampshades through the following book affiliates:

You can find it listed here on my Amazon Recommendations page.

And here is a direct link to the listing on Amazon.

Worldwide, with free shipping, you’ll find the book available here through Book Depository.

Will You? Would You?

So, I’m curious. Would you ever consider making your own lampshade, featuring your embroidery? I’ve been toying with the idea for a while. I’m still not sure I’d ever do it. But I’m definitely attracted to the idea! It would be … an adventure.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your take! Does the idea appeal to you? Or do you think it’s too much? Would you attempt it? Or no? Feel free to join in the discussion below – and if it’s a Big Fat “No Way!” that’s ok! I just want to know – yay or nay, why or why not. I’m all ears!

This article contains affiliate links, which means that Needle ‘n Thread receives a small commission for purchases made through those links, at no extra cost to you.


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(111) Comments

  1. I love the idea and the look but really hate to dust any these look like such dust catchers. I think it would be fun to try making one even if I gifted it to someone who enjoys dusting more than I do.

  2. I remember that schwalm lampshade and I love it. I wanted to make one for myself. I mentioned it to an Italian whitework embroidery teacher with whom I was taking a class with at the time. She commented that it wasn’t a great idea. She had seen pieces of whitework embroidery that were finished into lampshades that just didn’t come out right as the fabric was either not stretched properly or ended up sagging later on.

    1. As with anything, really, I think if it’s done right, it works well. As far as the sagging goes, that could be said for any lampshade, if care isn’t taken in the construction. It can also be said for any piece of embroidery finished into anything constructed! We can’t really let the potential for a bad outcome keep us from doing things, can we?

    2. Hello, and thank you for your comment, I was considering making the lampshade but I think I will invest my time in some other project. Regards, M.-

  3. I have a small nursery lamp that needs a new shade and this would be a perfect addition for my new grandbaby’s nursery. Thanks for the idea.

  4. I have thought about an embroidered lamp shade since I saw a few in a home design shop in the Puget Sound last summer. They were gorgeous! A team of sisters made these – one made the hand blown glass base, and the other the embroidered shade. The embroidery was closer to the style of a lot of your articles – chosen well and not over powering, Definitely made a statement! Thank you for this article – a good source if I get brave enough!

  5. Hi Mary, Still got the Ikea lampshade in my bedroom (most people still love it, even though I am 64!) Thought about having a go at embroidering a lampshade – now there’s a book to tell me how.
    Thanks for the info!

  6. Personally I’m curious how the whitework one looks when it’s turned on. The thicker, embroidered parts probably leave a shadow on the lampshade, and I’d love to see that. I’m also curious how much light escapes through needle holes.

  7. I like that Anthropologie cockatoo lampshade too…I might want to do wool applique with a Sue Spargo look on a lampshade. If you look at the item on Anthropologie there is a photo of how it looks with the bulb turned on and although the fabric is white it blacks out any light from glowing through the lampshade. I would like more light coming through…

  8. Hello Mary,

    Thank you for this review. That is amazing how to display embroidery like that. I saw a picture in a Hardanger Magazine ( in German to bad) that pictured a lampe shade made with Hardanger embroidery. I would love to make my own, but I do not understand the lingo.:-) But it’s nice to be able to see what other ladies can accomplish.

    So maybe some day I might just try one of her designs.
    Have a great day.

  9. I don’t think I have the skill to make one, but even if I did, it certainly wouldn’t be for me. I like to open my windows and I am afraid pollen would get on it and you can’t wipe or use a lint roller on pollen without it smearing or staining.

  10. Approximately thirty years ago, I made two, matching lampshades. I purchased the lampshade frame, then covered it with a fabric that matched the carpeting in my bedroom. These shades are approximately 10″ tall. I followed some directions I had found. Since the frames have interesting curves, I hand sewed the fabric to the frames. That was the hardest part. I remember sticking my fingers many times with either end of the needle. The fabric cannot sag, so I had to be very careful to continuously pull in tight. The shades are fully lined which entailed a second round of hand sewing. The final touch is a 3″ beaded fringe that I purchased in the Los Angeles Garment District. That was a very heavy bag to carry. I continue to enjoy the lamps. They look as good as new. If I do this again, it will be on a much simpler frame with less hand sewing.

  11. I can just imagine what a project like that would be like! My mind jumps to the lampshade in our bedroom that needs to be replaced. Then I am brought back to reality, I have a stack of things designed and in the works, I hate dust, and living in South Texas I have plenty of that. But still………………………………….it would be really fun to do………..so maybe some time, maybe next year, maybe, maybe not.

  12. I am a slothful housekeeper and my lampshades are festooned with cobwebs. If you try to wipe them off, they can stain your fabric. I have a paper punched lampshade I made many years ago and it still looks good, but so much exposure to light and heat has made the heavy paper change color…I would hate to see that happen to anyone’s beautiful hand work!

  13. I have wanted to make a lamp shade forever but just never got around to trying it. Combining wool applique with embroidery is my thing, so maybe I’ll get the book and give it a try! Thank you so much for all of your great info and ideas. You are such an inspiration!

  14. On my own no….but if there was an online class showing how to make up the lamp shade and offer the encouragement needed to c9mplete it. You bet!
    But no the less thanks so much for writing this article it was a really nice enjoyable read.

  15. Would I?!?! Absolutely! I’ve been toying with the idea of punching a design into my stiff shade and stitching it—sort of like the lacing cards for little kids but with finer threads. Now I have your article to spur another bright idea! Or a grand quest on a search engine Here’s a blog that popped up quickly and may be of interest
    Thanks, Mary, for yet another way to stitch a pretty life!

    PS: For the record, before I add any decor item to my abode I ask this question: Who’s gonna dust it? Dear Hubs has abbreviated it to WGDI. So when I put one of these lovelies on a lamp near me, it will truly be an act of love, not because it’s a trend. I’m already auditioning dusting tools. I think a big, fluffy makeup brush will work.

  16. Thanks for this very interesting newsletter on embroidered lampshades, Mary! I’ve been intrigued with the idea of embroidering on a lampshade for a long time, but hesitate to try it for fear that it would look terrible when the light is turned on and all the cross-threads and thread ends show. I’ve thought about just embroidering bands for the top and bottom of the shade, which seems like a much more manageable project. I’ll let you know if I ever do it!

  17. You know this is really a great idea. I love embroidering, but I also like to do something purposefull. My lampshades are getting old enough to replace, especially since we just moved into a active adult community. Our style has changed with the move and changing the lampshades will be great to add design and color to smaller spaces. Will be getting this book. Thanks, read your hint and recommendations regularly. marywallis

  18. What an amazing lampshade! I’d hate to have to dust it, though.

    I noticed that the Schwalm shade is unlined and while I’m not sure how it is attached at the bottom, it seems to be gathered with a cord in a casing or something at the top. That will certainly make fitting it to the shaped frame easier, but leaves the inside unfinished and so requires a fairly finished looking frame and really tidy seams.

    Having re-done a few lampshades in my life, I’d suggest a couple things for an embroidered one. First, keep it fairly small the first time around. The bigger it is, the harder it is to get the fabric evenly taut. A smaller size piece of fabric needs less stretching to be properly supported than a large one.

    A simple shape is also a good idea first time. Getting several pieces accurately placed over the ribs of the frame when your fabric is stretched can be tricky. Maybe make a test shade out of muslin or take apart an old shade so you have a pattern to get started with (It probably won’t be exact because different fabrics are going to stretch differently on the frame, but it will get you close.)

    Also, give some thought to how thick your fabric is, and whether it will block too much light to be functional for where you want to use it. If you don’t mind a shade that blocks a fair amount of light to the sides rather than diffusing it, you can buy kits with a polystyrene material you adhere the fabric onto. (Google DIY Lamp Shade Kit or something similar.)

  19. Yes, indeed, I would, and have, considered making lampshades! I have several silk lampshades that are over-the-hill and have contemplated replacing them myself but don’t have the technical know-how. Your article could not have been more timely! Embroidered lampshades, knitted lace lampshades, etc. Excited! Thanks, Mary!

  20. Over 10 years ago my husband and I retired and moved to the big old house where I grew up. There are over a dozen lamps here, mostly large, mostly nice, all 50 years old or more with lampshades that bear the ravages of age. It’s actually easy to replace all the important stuff from lightbulb socket to the plug, but pretty new lampshades are unbelievably expensive. I’ve seen embroidered, appliqued, patchwork, crocheted lace and knitted cable lampshades that are lovely, but the details of fitting, lining, reinforcing and trimming defeat me. I haven’t given up the idea of making lampshades yet, though. Maybe this book will provide the key to getting started? Thanks!

  21. Dear Mary

    This is food for thought what a lovely idea and I love Luzine’s Scwalm lampshade so beautiful. It looks like you can take it off and gently wash it which is what I would do. I would love to create something like this the embroidery is just exquisite and I really like the lampshade from Anthropologie so interesting. Embroidering lampshades would make a lovely special gift. Thanks for sharing with us these delightful lampshades and for the concept.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  22. Knowing me, I would love doing the stitching and then never make it into a lampshade. Finishing is always hard to me. I would spend endless hours stitching intricate cross stitch designs and then I never wanted to go to the trouble to frame them.

  23. Yes. I certainly would like to do that, and thanks for the book info! I’ve seen some Boutis lampshades and longed to try that as well. I thought about trying to make a cover to put over my lampshades, so this is right up my alley. Thank you.

  24. Oooh, I took an old lampshade apart, many years ago, and I had just this idea to re-cover the lampshade ….. can’t think it went well because I can’t remember what happened to it!

    I’d love to make a lampshade, but I do think one of the problems is getting enough light when it’s on, and I’d be worrying about it being a fire hazard.

    Although, with all that said, these shades all look wonderful!

    Barbara xx

  25. I made a lampshade in class. I was made from cardstock wt paper, cut designs with an exacto knife and lined inside with parchment. I loved that shade. Was just thinking about it this week when you addressed making lampshades. I may try it.

  26. Never thought about making an embroidered lampshade…..BUT….way back in college (I’m 86) I minored in Industrial Arts for Children. We had to make a lamp from Scratch including the base and shade. I remember making one from corrugated cardboard, shade and base….cardboard was rounded on a wooden frame. The shade, also from the cardboard, was shaped by itself. Whole thing was painted with shiny , clear…whatever I had at the moment in the classroom. My Mom had it in her living room for many years. If I were to do a shade now, I’d have to think long and hard.

  27. Having spent several frustrating weeks looking for lampshades online and in shops, it would be great to be able to make a custom-made one. I love the whitework one and bought a small shade that had a Battenberg lace piece placed over a manufactured shade around the side which I do like. Also purchased one of those medium-sized Ikea shades. Served the purpose but not really quality.

  28. The short answer for me is yes.
    NeedleWorkPress has a sampler that seems to fit a lampshade perfectly.
    Hope you can see the link.
    I think the name of the chart is Lucy Moore.

  29. Hah! I have a great floor lamp in my studio. It is an ‘oldie but goodie’ that has a nice but well worn drum shade on it. I keep looking at it and thinking that I need to do something about that tattered silk shade! This post *might* be what it takes to push me past ‘thinking about it’ and into trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. Thank you, Mary! I’ve needed a “nudge” in this direction.

  30. Hi Mary I would definitely try embroidering a lamp shade. Many years ago I made a Macrame one that I really enjoyed both the making and the hanging. Unfortunately we had a very bad flood in our area in 2013 and it ended up being ruined. This is a great idea for another place to be able to show our work. Thank you for the review of this.


  31. Way to guilt a person first thing in the morning. I actually had a really good idea about an embroidered lampshade and promptly bought a kit. I’ve finished the embroidery and am ready to go. In the interim, my son knocked a lamp off a table in his sleep, so I had all the supplies ready to fix his lamp. It wasn’t that bad. It’s not the best work I’ve ever done, but he was pleased when he took it home. It was a red lamp shade and he didn’t want to replace it with a white one.

    I found my luminary kit at “the lampshop”. And now, the embroidered bit sits hanging in the closet and the lamp bits in a drawer. I feel the lash. Oww Mary. Okay, okay, I’ll finish it.

  32. Yup, it’s on my list of things I’m going to do. I don’t think I will purchase new frames though. I am watching the second hand stores for the sturdy, old kind of shades that were made to last forever. Of, course I am looking for the right size & shape that I like, too.

    Thanks for keeping up such a lovely newsletter.

  33. Thank you for this review. I’ve always thought of lampshades as an under used canvas. I have always wanted to decorate one but have been frustrated with how. This helps and doing embroidery on one is a great idea. I’ll let you know my progress. You and your site have been a wonderful help to me when I started embroidering again after not doing it for over 20 years. Thank you.

  34. After looking at lamp canvases for years, I finally purchased one. I have to stitch it first, and there are projects ahead of it, but I would be willing to try to make the shade myself. I will purchase the book.

  35. Good morning Mary ~
    It is nice to see lampshades shown as a place to show off Needle Art. I did one several years
    ago for a magazine with Brazilian Embroidery on it. Will have to take a picture of it to show

  36. Well, I probably would not try…had a wonderful aunt growing up who did the cutwork designs on lamp shades…lovely work and designs, but just never appealed to me. I guess I just want maximum light, and they were not what I wanted for decorating. However, if you do something like this, just use a vacuum cleaner to suck up dust instead of wiping with a cloth. And have a care as to the kind of light bulb..incandescent can get quite hot, and if knocked over could possible ignite. The less than lovely CFLs are at least cool, if ugly. Thanks for a little trip down memory lane, Mary!

  37. A class was offered a couple of years ago to make a crazy patch lampshade that was really unique! I signed up for it but unfortunately the class didn’t make so I didn’t get to take it. I’ve thought about going off on my own but too many other projects always get in my way.

  38. Never considered embroidering my own lampshade – till now. Now brain buzzing with ideas! Might have to put them on hold till I’ve covered both stools which I’ve bought to display my embroidery. But a lampshade will be happening. Cheers.

  39. I have been contemplating covering a lamp shade for a long time. The lamp is about 70 years old and I want to do it justice by creating the shade to follow the period of the time. I have hesitated jumping into it as it is an eight sided shade. Finding suitable fabric is another problem. Most of the fabric shops cater to quilters while I would look for an elegant fabric like silk. I need to get busy as the current fabric is following apart. By the way, the four corners of the shade use beading and gold thread.

  40. Dude! Ever since I began embroidery I have wanted to make a lampshade! There have been a few things that have stopped me: 1. Afraid of fire. How do I make a lampshade that wouldn’t go up in flames? Strangely, this is rarely addressed. If it is mentioned, it is typically in a sentence such as this: “Make sure to use fire retardant materials.” I look around, and to my mind, everything in this room could probably be set on fire. I don’t really know for sure. I use a candle warmer instead of lighting the wick and the candle warmer makes me nervous. (I have actually blown the candles out at other people’s houses… I don’t think that there is a single match in my entire house…)
    2. What design do I put on a lampshade? I like my embroidery colorful with strong contrasts. I don’t think that would work to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. I’m pretty sure it would damage my retinas.
    I don’t know. But I DO think there will be an unfinished lampshade in my future. (Because, as always, at some point I will start crying. Because I’m overwhelmed. Because it has become The Only Lampshade That Matters. And it will be imperfect, as I am not a robot.)

    1. I have considered led lights. Apart from the fact that I don’t currently have any (shopping for lightbulbs… yawn…), I once heard someone describe the light from them as “alien autopsy”. No matter how “warm” they’re supposed to be… there’s still a little bit of alien autopsy going on. Just… in someone’s living room.

  41. Yes, I would love to cover a lampshade with embroidered fabric … what a super idea!!! There are several youtube videos with great instructions. Thanks Mary for, once again, sparking our creative ideas!!

  42. Yes! I would! In fact, I have been thinking about it for some time. We have a major cross-country move coming next year, and will be downsizing and also freshening up some furnishings. I have been contemplating ideas and thinking what a fun project a lampshade would be once we have settled on our new environment. I am so surprised to read of it here and to see this resource. Thanks, Mary.

  43. I’ve been mulling over the idea of making a lampshade. I have a sweet little bedside lamp that I found at a garage sale, but it has a very sad shade. I’ve made quilts, pillows, art work (all stitched) for my room, so why not a shade? It’s way down on the queue, but maybe someday?

  44. It never ceases to amaze me at how many different ideas you come up with that grab me immediately. I have ordered so many books and products from being introduced to them on your website. The idea of handmade, embellished lampshades is definitely something I would love to try. I do bead embroidery (the real thing with all beads), and I have toyed with the idea of making a tasteful lampshade out of beads. The book you featured looks like a great place to start. Thanks for leading us to the creative edge and encouraging us to jump off!

  45. WOW! This is so intriguing! I love unique finishes and a lamp shade most certainly is all that and more! an idea to stow away for retirement I think….
    thanks so much for sharing!

  46. I think it’s a great idea . I so need one for my “vintage style “ guest bedroom. (I would just buy an old lamp shade at a thrift store and tear off the fabric from the frame.) Now for the perfect pattern ….

  47. These lampshades are beautiful. I’d like to try one but feel I’d need more guidance than a book could give me — although I suppose YouTube might help. All this by way of saying, what about doing it as an online group?

  48. Love the idea of embroidered lampshades. You could match them with other items in your room (like cushion covers). Just read one of the comments about the fabric sagging. If the fabric is soaked once it is on the fame, it could probably shrink enough to tighten the looseness. Even if the fabric doesn’t shrink, I think I would be willing to put up with it for the sheer pleasure of seeing it. I am definitely thinking of trying the Schwalm work. Also, unlike a bought lampshade, you would be able to remove the fabric and wash it! Just make sure the fabric has been dipped in flame retardant liquid before lighting the lamp! Sorry, I can’t see any negative points to trying this. Thanks for the idea.

  49. HI Mary:
    What a timely article and a reference book! I have 2 hand turned wooden lamps my great uncle made and 3-4 old lamp shade “skeletons.” I have made a couple attempts to recover the frames, but haven’t liked the results, so thanks for the encouragement with a book to provide the technical skills that I definitely need!

  50. How did you know I had been thinking about stitching a lampshade?!?! I need to get this book! I hate the shades at the stores and it would be so fun to be able to make my own.Thanks Mary!

  51. It looks like wonderful fun, and most embroiderers have pieces they could use as a “learning” project. I’m ordering the book! Thank you, Mary!

  52. It’s tempting! The lampshade by my bed is showing some wear and tear. What if I embroidered something really neat and fixed it up?? Probably it would get awfully dusty, though. Hmmmm, I’m thinking about it!

  53. I’ve been wanting to make a lampshade for many year. Just had no idea how to! I think it goes along with my secret desire to make those glorious church lady hats. Not many milliner or lampshade teachers around here!

  54. Mary,
    I LOVE the Schwalm lampshade. Exquisite embroidery. I would love to have two of these in my bedroom. If I had them, I would not mind dusting them. Sadly, my skill level is not such to accomplish such beautiful work.
    Thanks for sharing the wonderful article with us.

  55. I think it’s an amazing idea and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do! Once, I spray painted a white shade gold and added beaded dangles from a ribbon. I loved it – but when the light was on, you lost the effect of the paint and just saw random blotches instead. So my concern with an embroidered lamp is how do you neaten the edges on the back to perfectly match the stitches on the front? The whitework lamp is gorgeous and obviously stitched very carefully, so I guess that’s the answer to that! But I also always wondered if light would damage the fabric, or fade the embroidery thread over time? It would be an interesting challenge for sure!

    1. I covered a lampshade by whipping the outer fabric to the struts, then blind-stitching the inner fabric to the outer so that nothing including the struts showed. This was a lampshade for a standard lamp so the light was directed downward and side-lighting didn’t matter.

  56. YAY! YAY! YAY! For years I have been looking for lampshades to coordinate the lamps in my living room, and to replace the dark ones in my sitting room. I like the eclectic look of different lamps and don’t want them exactly alike, but right now I have five different shades on five different lamps. I’d thought about making them, but didn’t know where to start. I hadn’t thought about embroidery, but that’s the perfect way to add some coordinating design/color while keeping the lampshade light enough to light the room. (The dark shades keep the light to themselves.)

    My one question is: Does it show how to make the frames? I’ve used kits, but have never been able to find frames in the shapes I like in large or jumbo sizes, which is what I need for two lamps.

    1. I think you can google how to make the lampshade frames. Lampshade making sites carry the supplies to make frames, so I’m sure there are instructions out there somewhere! In this books, she goes with ready made frames.

  57. Mary, I have been searching for instructions on making lampshades for quite a few years and have just not found anything. My grandmother made silk lampshades for her lamps and they are now disintegrating. I would love to replicate them, so this will really help. I have ordered the book. I do wonder what would be a good silk to use and where to find it. If you can help me out on that, I would really appreciate it.

  58. Love handmade lampshades. I did one in CQ with elephants as the theme. I used beaded elephants, tatted elephants, embroidered elephants, cross stitched elephants; 6 panels in total. Looks wonderful at night when I turn the lamp on. I stared at the finished pieces for nearly 2 years before I finally bit the bullet and stitched them together and then onto the lampshade. It’s not perfect but I don’t care. I love it!

  59. Back when I was immersed in French Handsewing, Princess lace, and delicate whitework on batiste, I had a frilly lampshade “cover”. You didn’t stretch it onto a metal frame, but popped it over a plain shade (tightening the top with a ribbon drawstring to hug the top edge of the shade. “Boudoir Lamp” size. Lacy, frilly, and can be washed!! I did have to consider what embroidery stitches to use on it because heavy embroidery will appear as dark spots when the lamp is illumination. I mostly used shadow work and outline stuff. It was a lot of work, as each and every edge had to be fine-finished, but it still delights me!!

  60. I think tackling such a stunning project as the Schwalm Lamoshade would be both a trial and a labor of love.
    The embroidery is magnificent and to be able to say “I made this” would be incredible!
    I feel tempted, but first will have to make a small Schwalm project.

  61. The white work lampshade is gorgeous, but I would be concerned about yellowing from the heat of the lightbulb. I would want it to last forever, so perhaps a cool LED would be a better choice than an incandescent bulb.

  62. Yes, I think displaying our needlework or “vintage” needlework on a lamp is a great idea! I like the look of this instruction book too. Great idea and I might just do it!

  63. I made a “Crazy Quilt” lampshade – and I just love it ! Mostly involved gluing fabrics and embellishments on a plain readymade lamp shade, but I like the idea and just may try my hand at embroidering one “from scratch” !

  64. I would love to do this because I love doing embroidery that can be put to a practical use. However I’m no good at the finishing that would need to take place to turn it into a shade. I’m curious though, if you could embroider a ready made light shade? I have some cheap plain white ikea ones that are spare… perhaps I will give it a try unless anyone knows of why it wouldn’t work?

  65. Hi Mary,

    I have some old dome lampshade shapes that I can’t throw out. Plus heaps of material. So have been tempted for a while and yes, in time, I would be interested in buying the book (and trying a new skill) as there appears to be a number of “tips of the trade” which can often assist in the “making or breaking” of a project.

  66. Hi Mary,

    I learnt to make lamp shades about 40 yrs ago, I made a lot at the time for our new home, but not with embroidery. I bought a new frame just after we moved 4 yrs ago a rather fancy Victorian style one it and the lamp were one of the first things unpacked as they were the last packed. Anyway it stood for some weeks just an uncovered frame on the lamp. In the end I through a square crochet doily over it with a chiffon bow around the stand up collar, there it has stayed for the last 4 yrs!

    I do have a small bedside lamp that needs a new shade – on this I planned to do some embroidery, but like the standard lamp I haven’t gotten around to it! But it is planned for.
    I have always thought it a great idea.

    Cheers Judy
    Qld Australia

  67. Yes, indeed I am interested – just wasted (?) at least 1/2 an hour bopping around. I have two lamps awaiting new shades; a beautiful antique china from my grandmother and a wooden one made by an old friend’s father. They are languishing because they not only need new shades but also new hardware. Otherwise I would have boughten a plain shade.

    Would I attempt it – yes, because I do try things that are quite a stretch. Will I get to it? That is another question entirely.

  68. When I look at Luzine Happel’s shade with the light shining through it there are so many possibilities. You not only have the look of the embroidery or lace but there is the effect of the light shining through it. Would your embroidery become a silhouette? What about backwork or pulled work? What about tiny translucent seed beads in there somewhere?

  69. I had a student whose mother made lampshades. She said one of the difficulties was that wherever you mistakenly put your needle through left a minute hole that later allowed light through. Not good.

    Embroidering one would be a giant challenge for me. Not going to try it, but wish I had a place for the one from Anthropology.

  70. What a great article! I would definitely consider doing this – I have two small lamps in need of new shades. Oh, my! Yet another project to add to my list (LOL)!

    Thanks for reviewing this technique!

  71. I certainly would do this lampshade embroidery! I would, however, have to find a way of easier cleaning the dust off. The thought struck me that maybe that Scotchgard spray used for upholstery might be a possibility. I don’t know right now if it is even available anymore or how it would affect the embroidery. It only adds to the adventure part of this “new” idea for me.
    Bev J.

  72. I love the lampshades. I’ve saved quite a few articles about making or decorating shades, this book looks like a great resource.

    I’m seeing many comments about dusting the shades – am I the only one who vacuums them rather than dusting them? It works so much better than dusting, even on plain fabric shades. Confession time – when I get behind in the housecleaning 🙁 , vacuuming works better than dusting on just about everything – much easier on my nose & sinuses as well.

  73. What a great idea – I’ve seen crocheted lampshades and have made a couple of those but for some reason never thought of embroidery for a lampshade. I love this book…..

  74. I have 2 small shades that need replacing and are hard to find. Have been considering embroidering for a while. This helps.

  75. Yes, I’ll be giving it a go. I’ve been wondering how to make use of some of my embroidery pieces and this seems to be a good idea.


  76. Hi Mary Haven’t posted for a while, just thought I would let you know that the lampshade you like looking at is all Australian flora and fauna. They are a Sulphur crested cockatoo the bikie of the bird world and can be very destructive but have a sense of humour and are great to watch. The other one is a Major Mitchel cockatoo not as common as the other. Great talkers and mimics if you have one as a pet . My kids inherited one from an old beekeeper and he used to carry on conversations with him and his daughter ,after living with us for a while he would call out :Dads home”. The flowers are Banksia ,Grevillea and Gum blossom . And I want it !!! guess I will have to make it myself . Love your emails and it is great that life is looking up for you love to you Chris M from Australia

  77. Hi Margaret
    I have been embroidering lampshades for many years. I have two patterns available on my Etsy site (www.taetia.etsy.com), “Chinois Chic” and “Onesie Parade” and I am teaching a third, “Star Light” on Needlework Tours & Cruises NZ Tour in February 2019.
    I am about to start stitching a fourth, it’s already drawn up and laced into the frame, to match the “Song of Spring” embroidery, which is available at Create In Stitch (www.createinstitch.com.au), as I want to do a room full of embroidered accessories–wall picture, lampshade, maybe a curtain tassel and I have finished a toadstool stumpwork piece in the same pink shades as part of that theme.
    Many years ago, you mentioned my work in an article about designing–my “Butterfly Girls”; you might remember.
    I found your lampshade article interesting. The Schwalm example is magnificent.
    Kind regards
    Taetia McEwen

  78. Hi Mary, Wow what a coincidence that you talked about embroidered lamp shades this week, I actually just completed one in 1″ Scale for Dollhouses this week also. I have never seen one in real life OR Miniature. I hope that I can show it to you.

    Shelly N

  79. Yes!
    This topic has been on my mind for the last 5-6 years. I’ve looked on line for this task plus had discussions with friends and professional dressmakers. My current lamp shade shape is a bell and I feel the shape will be difficult to work. I haven’t felt confident enough to take the leap and try making the shade.
    How would you compare this book to other books on the topic?

  80. I like the idea. I think it would be fun, and I would love having something like that in my house. I would do it, I like to be different and love having and doing things that other people wouldn’t have. I like to do new crafts that I can use in my house.

  81. Hi Mary,

    I’ve done a number of embroidered lampshades over the years. There is one in my book “Mountmellick Embroidery: Inspired by Nature”, and another in my book “Early-Style Hardanger”. I often have the Hardanger one on display at my craft show stand. It’s very eye catching and gets so many comments.

    I have also made embroidered lampshades for my daughter, and a niece and a nephew. Those ones are all in shadow embroidery, which works beautifully well for a lampshade.

  82. I have recovered several lampshades it is fun. But this is a new twist ,I think I must get this book. Because I’m sure I don’t have enough books . Anything from wood working, crochet, knitting, sewing ,painting and every other craft that has came along . I tried to tell my husband I needed to get them before I retired as I would be on a fixed income ! He informed me I would need to be retired 75 years before I got everything I have done up. He was probably rite but not telling him that lol . and to your question yes I will be trying this .

  83. Hi Mary, I’ve made several that have been in my embroidery books. I made a FlossTube video about my Hardanger one just recently, because it is a project that garners a lot of interest. https://youtu.be/4U8FvPaJYj4

    I think it’s a lovely way to enjoy your embroidery every day, by having it on display like that. And they look great whether unlit or lit.

  84. I would love to do this. I’ve been looking at various lampshade making books as the shades really have to be well done to be used. I have three table lamps in the drawing room which could do with new lampshades and the idea of a panel of embroidery alternating with one of fabric seems doable. I’ll try this.

  85. That whitework shade is lovely, especially when lit! If you follow Luzine’s blog a bit deeper there’s instructions on how she assembled the shade. Rather than sewing it to the frame in a traditional manner, she uses cord or elastic to cinch the top and bottom closed – which means you can remove the shade and wash it and not worry about the dusting! This wouldn’t work with all frame styles though.
    She does not include a lining but I would imagine one could be added to the inside of the frame if desired while maintaining the washability of the outer portion. Quite brilliant (pardon the pun)!

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