Saturday, 25 July 2015

Lampshade tutorial #1: Jenny Wren (Part Two)

If my last post inspired your crafty soul to have a go at making your own  'Jenny Wren' shade... hooray! Your frame will now be beautifully bound and ready for covering with treasured fabric scraps. As promised, this post explains how to do just that. My Jenny Wren combines sugar sweet vintage sheeting with an odd-ball piece of embroidered table linen. Choose whatever makes you happy. As long as your fabrics are of a similar weight, all will be fine.
'Part Two' is pretty straightforward, but I would be fibbing if I said  little sewing know-how wouldn't be useful. Just take it steady and be as accurate as you can. Here goes:

How to make your Jenny Wren lampshade: Part Two


5. To make a template for your fabric panels pin a scrap of sheeting, on the  bias, to the wrapped shade. It's tempting to start in one place and work around... but no. Instead, place a pin top and bottom, side and side. Then work from the middle of each side to the corners, gently stretching as you go. This method will enable you to achieve an evenly-stretched piece of fabric sheeting. To check that yours is sitting happily straight and perfect, look closely at the weave of the fabric - the lines should be running diagonally and be straight and not wavy.

A little tip about pinning Insert pins so that they are pointing in towards the centre of the panel, braced like tent pegs or tug-o-war people. This will allow them to sit firm and not scratch you quite so often.

6. Mark around the outline of the panel with a pencil. Unpin and then cut out the shape following the pencil line. Your shape should resemble the shade frame panel and be symmetrical when folded in half. If it is very wonky have another go, concentrating on keeping the stretch and tension neat and even.

A little note: Most shade frames have six or eight panels all the same shape, so just one template will do. Mine was an oval empire so the four side panels were different to the two centre panels. This meant I had to make two template: one for the centres, and another for the sides.

7. Use your template to cut out all your panels. You will need to leave about an inch seam allowance up the sides and two inches top and bottom for finger-pulling room. To be accurate, use a water-soluble fabric pen to mark the two side seams. A dotted line will do. Mark the two top corners clearly with tailor tacks. Arrange your fabric panels in a pleasing order and pin together, making sure the tailor tacks all meet up. 

Machine sew using a small stitch and easing stretch into the seam as you go. Sew from edge to edge, not just along the dotted lines. Once done, sew another line 2mm to the outside of the first seam, again easing stretch in. Sew all the seams so that you will finish with something that resembles a skirt. Dab out the marker pen, leave the tailor tacks in and press. The picture above shows the panels laid flat before the last seam is sewn.

8. Now you can stretch your fabric cover onto, or into, the frame. Start by pinning the top of each seam at the tailor tack to the top of each vertical on the inside of the ring. Pin with the pins facing inwards and down. Then pin the bottom of each seam, pulled to give a little tension, to the bottom of each vertical strut. Fill the gaps along the rings with pins working an even stretch across the shape. Now spend time adjusting the pinning, aiming for an even spread of tension until the cover is smooth and wrinkle free. You are finished when the fabric is taut with no puckers or wrinkles.

Another little tip about pinning As you adjust, only take out one pin at a time. It is usually only necessary to pull the bottom only to create enough tension. The tailor tacks should stay in position around the top edge. The seams should line up with the vertical struts. 

9. Navigating the shade carrier. To fit the cover all the way around you will need to navigate around the gimbals, or shade carrier. Essentially you need to cut down form the top edge of the fabric to the point where the fabric meets the gimbal at the top ring. Do this once you feel confident that you have pinned and stretched the cover to a reasonable fit. Mark the place where you are cutting down to, remove one or two pins to either side and then use sharp scissors to make the cut. Once cut and re-pinned you will be able to continue adjusting your pinning to create a perfect wrinkle-free cover.

10. Use a sharp needle and strong sewing thread (I use upholstery weight thread) to sew the cover to the inside of the wrapped top and bottom rings. Use small stitches only taking out one pin at a time. To avoid getting pricked too often, sit with an old cushion on your knee or stand up to your workbench.

Once sewn all the way round, trim the top and bottom edges to 0.5cm from the stitching, fold back over the stitches and use a very fine line of UHU to stick down. Remember that when light shines through the fabric, any overlap will show, so make sure your raw edge is no deeper than the top or botton rings. If you don't wish to line your shade you can cover this raw edge with braid, ribbon or bias binding.

11. To line your shade used exactly the same technique. I used a lightweight cotton jersey fabric. I created another template so I had just two panel and two seams. Once pinned and stretched, I trimmed the edges to just 0.5mm, tucked them in and stitched them in place using a small curved needle.

12. Now you can embellish your fabulous inside out shade with a feathered bird, papery butterfly or fabric blossom... indeed any cheery item of handmade happiness to gladden your heart. 

Tweet tweet! xx

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Lampshade tutorial #1: Jenny Wren

It is my intention to share useful handy tips and wrinkles (as doris would say) to fellow lampshade makers, especially those still getting the hang of this most rewarding craft. The plan is to start by working step-by-step through a handmade tailored silk shade trimmed with handmade frills. As it's been a busy few days in the Shed, this happy shade is still on the workbench so I've decided to share a little number already tucked up my sleeve... 

'Jenny Wren' was first created for Tend magazine. It is quite original, in that no-one to the best of my knowledge has ever created an inside out shade. Indeed it is one of my trade mark shades (and so it goes without saying that it should only be made for personal enjoyment). A little lampshading experience will stand you in good stead, however even utmost beginners can join in and create a beautiful and impressive 'bird cage' Jenny Wren by just wrapping the frame in bright fabrics.

As this project is quite involved, I have decided to split it into two posts. Here is...

How to make your Jenny Wren Lampshade: Part One


You will need: 
An old lampshade frame
Fabrics for the cover and to make binding strips (lightweight cottons and linens are ideal)
Berry-headed pins
UHU glue
Old sheeting to make the template
Cotton jersey lining fabric (optional)
Strong sewing thread, needle and scissors
Clip-on birds, butterflies, flowers or other lovelies

1. Start with a tatty old shade. Any shape will do as long as you love it. Use old scissors to strip of the old fabric and a blunt edge to scrape off any glue. My shade is an oval 'banded' empire, which means it has an extra ring around the bottom edge... great for perching on.

2. Choose your fabric. The cover is a patchwork of panels, so make the most of treasured scraps. Choose fabric of a similar weight and character, with similar stretch when pulled on the bias. I combined various scraps of vintage sheeting with a little bit of embroidered table linen. It was all looking rather polite so I threw strong shades of silk into the mix for binding.

3. Rust has a habit of creeping through so paint your shade frame with a quality primer of stain block.

4. Now bind your frame with strips of fabric. This all-engrossing job can take a couple of evenings. Start by cutting your fabric into 1in (2.5cm) wide strips on the bias. Bias-cut strips bind neatly and fray less.

Bind the verticals first, wrapping around the top ring to start off, securing with a dab of UHU and a pin. Fold the trailing edge of the strip under to hide the raw edge and wrap, keeping it constantly tight and evenly bound. It takes a while to get the knack, so don’t feel too bad if you have to undo the first one. Once you get the hang of it, try combining two colours to create a candy stripe.

Once all the verticals are bound, bind the top and bottom rings, hiding all the raw ends as you go. Finish with your end at the back of the ring, fixed with a dab of UHU or a stitch.

At this stage if you wish you can attach a pretty handmade accessory and stand back to admire your work. If you'd like to carry on and make the complete Jenny Wren shade this is what's in store next week…

Making the template, sewing and stretching on the cover. Happy frame binding xx