Tuesday, 6 August 2013

an upholsterer's 'can do' attitude (or how it pays to say 'yes')

up until very recently i have been happily ignoring drum shades, finding them a bit too clean cut and papercraft-ish. but these days, not only am i rustling them up for interior designers and their grand clients, i am also teaching crafty-minded souls how to make them too.

how did this happen? 

the truth is, my newly acquired skill came about because i cheerily said 'yes, i can do that' when actually, i couldn't. not yet anyway.

there i was, tapping away in my shed, when a very lovely chap called to ask if i could re-cover his lampshade. 
'yes, of course... i shall be right over,' said i.
it was only when face-to-face with the lampshade in the lovely chap's interior design shop that i saw that what he wanted recovering was in fact a drum shade. o dear. i can cover every shape of traditional shade frame, but drum shades are not the same at all. they are bafflingly smooth-sided. they seem inpenetrably card-ish. they don't even have proper sewn seams. 

'crikey', i thought.

'ah, lovely,' said i. 'i'll bring it back finished very soon'. and trotted off with a bag of the lovely chap's very expensive James Hare silk under my arm with which to cover his shade.

oh lordy...

and so how to teach yourself to cover a drum shade very quickly began in earnest. happily i discovered that it is very easy indeed to create a professionally flawless drum shade the very first time. (there's no wonder craft workshops are bursting with folks keen to have a go).

i bought a kit which happened to be of exactly the desired size from needcraft, cleared the kitchen table of crumbs, and set to work. the kit came with a very handy 20+ stage photographic walkthrough of instructions, so i skipped the You Tube lesson and went for it. 

two hours of serious concentration, snipping, smoothing and careful re-reading of the instructions and the job was done. despite misbehaving on the ironing board, the precious silk stuck to the sticky-backed card with no bubbles or wrinkles. and it was far easier than one could imagine to roll two sticky wire hoops along the edges of a fabric covered panel and end up with a perfect seam at the end. 

and the result?
the lovely chap was thrilled with his perfectly-finished James Hare silk-covered drum shade. yay!

indeed, he appears to have spotted my adventurous spirit and is brewing a 'rather bespoke, sculptural and unusual concept' for his forthcoming christmas window, which will, of course, require an upholsterer's 'can-do' attitude towards lampshades to accomplish. 

'yes indeedy... i can do that!'

oh and here's a little tip to share with novice for drum-shade makers everywhere: 
one thing the needcraft instructions didn't point out was that you will achieve a smarter joining seam by folding the fabric over the edge of the card, instead of having a raw edge on show at the overlap. happily i'd worked this out before snipping the very fray-ish silk fabric. 

tame fraying edges and use tape to fold over and
stick down the raw edge at the overlap


  1. Ooh, very nice! I fancy some of these in Liberty lawns, please Miss. :-)

  2. you know, we could have a lot of fun with that idea. let's make some with treasured scrips and scraps and see what we end up with... perhaps an idea for @theFarm, even?


oo yes... do let me know what you think. i'll endeavour to write back to each and every one :-)