Friday, October 26, 2012

My Lamps Wear Underwear!

Even as we struggled to find a color palette that worked with J's dark leather sofa and our living room's cave-like light, I knew I wanted to use bright blue as our main accent color. It's bright, it's happy, it's color we both like (important!), and it ties in to the fact we live at the lake. So one of the first things on my "We Really, Really Have to Buy" list were lamps for the living room. I wanted a matching pair, and I didn't want to spend more than $12 for the set. Lamps are one of those things where I just can't spend money. Thrift stores, yard sales, and other resale places are full of lamps. Most of them, undoubtably, are hideously ugly. But if you look past horrid colors and terrible patterns, you'll see nice shapes. Zero in on the nice shapes. Lamps are so very easy to fix. So we found this set of lamps for $10. For the pair! Yes ma'am! So while the 1980s flower power pattern isn't my taste, the classic Chinese vase shape is. No complaints there. And they even came with shades.
Ugly pattern, cute lamp...painting supplies at the ready!
After bringing the lamps home I taped over the cord and bulb socket with painter's tape, sanded them down with my trusty sanding block, wiped them off with a damp cloth, and spray painted a few light coats (light coats and staying in motion while painting are the keys to a successful spray painting experience!). That still left the shades. Finding lamps with shades is awesome, and rare. Shades are expensive! These, though...they look older than the lamps, and they were brittle to the touch, yellowed, and made me think I smelled smoke every time I looked at them. They needed help.
Painted, but the stinky shade remains

We lived with them for awhile. My first thought was to buy some remnant fabric and recover. Then, as I folded J's undershirts, an idea was born. I raced to the living room and pulled a shirt over the lamp shade. J looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Well, the shirt was way to big! So then I looked through his drawer for a smaller shirt. The medium was practically a perfect fit.

 The first step was to cut the collar and sleeves from the shirts. Then I cut and ripped the old, nasty fabric from the lamp shade. After a quick wipe down, I set to work on recovering the frame. (I really, really wish I'd spray painted the frame at this point.)

Naked Shade!
I pulled the shirt over the frame, pinned into place with straight pins, and then trimmed excess fabric from around the pins (this step made it much easier to sew the fabric). Pull the fabric tight, and keep good tension as you pin around the top and bottom of the shade frame. You don't want the fabric to gap. After raiding my embroidery stash, I found some pretty blue thread that matched the color of the spray paint I used on the lamp bases. Leaving the pins in place, I used a simple back-stitch to sew the shirt to the lampshade frame.

This is a simple, back-stitch diagram:


The needle comes up from the bottom of the cloth at A, C, and E. Check out Jenny's superior tutorial for much, much better diagrams.

 After sewing the top and bottom hems, pull out the straight pins. Here's a close up of my stitched shade:

Do any additional trimming needed. are done! These are the cheapest lampshades ever! And so easy! I spent maybe 90 minutes doing both, and I was watching Bravo at the time. So...I was probably distracted by the nonsense displayed by a random Housewife of Some Place. I did these about six months ago, and the shades still look great! Here's lamp one, with the light on (the ugly curtains behind are soon to be history, thanks to the Fall Pinterest Challenge, which I will unveil on Tuesday!):

No sagging, no bagging, nothing. The total cost of a pair of matching lamps, with new-ish shades? $13. $10 for the lamps, $3 for some cheap spray paint. I used J's shirts and already owned thread for the shades. Here's lamp two.

See this post at Snap and Someday Crafts.


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