How to Make a Swag Light Shade

by Kim Blakesley

A simple and fashionable lampshade to make for your swag lamp is a drum lampshade. This particular lampshade allows you to add color or texture to the surface with various types of material. The light from your swag lamp will radiate from the top and bottom of the shade, thus providing excellent lighting.

1. Determine Lampshade Diameter

The dimensions of the inside lighting apparatus will determine the shade width. Measure the widest portion of the lighting apparatus. Make sure to add the lights if the lights extend to the side rather than hang in the middle or below the light fixture. Add 8 inches to the measurement, which will allow 4 inches on either side of the light bulb. This is the minimum distance necessary to prevent the lampshade from catching on fire. Select a set of lampshade rings as close to your measurement as possible. For example, if the measurement across the lighting apparatus is 10 1/2 inches, add 8 inches for a total of 18 1/2. Purchase top and bottom rings that are 18 to 20 inches in diameter.

2. Determine Lampshade Height

Determine the height of the lampshade by measuring the height of the lighting apparatus from the top tip where you will hook the lampshade to the bottom point. Add 4 to 6 inches to the measurement so that some part of the lampshade extends past the bottom of the lighting apparatus.

3. Covering

Measure the circumference of the rings or figure the circumference by multiplying the diameter times 3.14. For example, if the diameter is 18 inches, multiply 18 by 3.14 for a total of 56.52 inches. The answer is the length of paper required to go around the outside of the drum lampshade. Cut a piece of heavy paper 1/2 inch longer than the circumference measurement and the predetermined height. If you would like to cover the paper with a piece of fabric, add 2 inches to the height measurement. Cut a piece of fabric 1/2 inch longer than the circumference and 2 inches wider than the height measurement. For example, if the measurement for covering the lighting apparatus plus 4 inches is 16 inches, add another 2 inches to the measurement for a total of 18 inches.

4. Making the Shade

Attach the heavy paper to the top ring. Squeeze a line of glue along the back top of the heavy paper. Sandwich the glue between the top ring and the heavy paper. Line up the top edge of the paper with the top edge of the ring. Use heavy duty paper clips or clip-type clothespins to hold the paper in place. Position a clip every 2 inches. Repeat the process for the bottom ring. Set the lampshade aside for two hours to provide enough time for the glue to dry, then remove the clips.

5. Covering the Shade with Fabric

To cover the shade with fabric, turn your cut piece of fabric over so the back side of the fabric is facing up. Spray the fabric and the outside of the lampshade with spray adhesive. Allow the spray adhesive to rest three minutes before attaching the fabric. Carefully center the fabric over the lampshade. Approximately 1 inch of the fabric will extend past the rings of the lampshade. Press the fabric into place. Finish the top and bottom edges of the lampshade by pressing the fabric to the back of the shade. The spray adhesive will hold the fabric in place. Set your lampshade aside to dry 30 minutes before placing on your swag lamp.

About the Author

Kim Blakesley is a home remodeling business owner, former art/business teacher and school principal. She began her writing and photography career in 2008. Blakesley's education, fine arts, remodeling, green living, and arts and crafts articles have appeared on numerous websites, including DeWalt Tools, as well as in "Farm Journal" and "Pro Farmer."