How to Make a Folding Lamp Shade

There’s no shortage of lamp shades at thrift stores and they’re usually very reasonably priced, which makes them the perfect DIY project! I have been swooning over pleated lamp shades for a while but they are pretty expensive! I’ll show you how to make your own for less money.

How to Make a DIY Pleated Lampshade Without Sewing

I found this little lamp base at a thrift store for $10 and couldn’t pass it up. It didn’t come with a lampshade so I bought this tapered lampshade online. For some reason when I bought it it was only $25 and now it’s double the price…suspicious! But you can check out thrift stores for cheaper ones.

DIY Savings Lampshade Makeover


There are several different ways to make a pleated lampshade and I followed some of the other tutorials first, using the whole fabric and folding it over. If your lampshade is in the shape of a drum then this method is perfect. But if you have a more tapered shade like me, you’ll want to follow my method.



Cut your fabric into strips. You want your strip to be about 2 inches longer than the shadow on either end. I made the strips about 2.5 inches wide but you can adjust this depending on how wide you want the pleats to be. Keep in mind that you will be folding the strip in half, so that will be your fold size.

DIY fabric folding lampshade


Glue your first pleats to the lampshade. I started from the back seam. You will want to start with a strip of glue vertically in the shade and place your strip right side down on the glue. You will then fold your piece in half and glue it as well. You can also glue under the pleats to keep them flat in the shade.

You can definitely fold your pleats in half and press them first before gluing if you want the pleats to wobble in your shade.

DIY Pleated Lampshade


Repeat this process gluing all the strips down and partially overlapping them. I find that with a tapered shade, you need to angle your strips a bit. So with each fold, you want the top to cover the previous fold more than the bottom.

Making Your Own Pleated Lampshade

To help you do this, apply your glue obliquely to the previous fold. Check out the photo below for reference!

Folding Lamp Shade Tutorial

Once you’re back to where you started, you may have to adjust the crease size/spacing to fit everything.

Pleated Fabric Lampshade


Trim excess fabric from your folds on the top and bottom but leave about an inch.


Fold your pleats in the shade and tape them on the inside.

Making a Folding Lampshade

At this point you now have two choices. You can leave it like this and clean up the inside edge, or you can add the outside seam with your bias tape. I didn’t like how my stitches turned out on my first try on this color, so I decided to leave it as is.

I did want to clean the top inside edge because you can see it from the top when you look at the lights.


Using your bias tape, cut your piece of fabric at a 45 degree angle to the bias. This allows it to stretch more since you’ll be placing it on a round, tapered object.

Bias Tape Lampshade
Fabric Cuts on Bias at 45 degrees


Using an iron, press the fabric down to mimic the shape of tape.

Bias Tape on Fabric Stitches


Using your hot glue gun, place bias tape around the inside edge of the fabric to cover the frayed edges.

Using Bias Tape on Lamp Shade Seam

You can also do a bottom edge but I prefer not to because it’s invisible. Look how cute that is!! I like that the crease is not completely glued together and gives the shade a lot more dimension.

How to Make a Folding Lampshade

I gave my base a quick paint update using a sample set of paints I had and mixed in some baking soda to add texture.

This is how the top seam looks from above – nice and clean!

Pleated Lamp Shade Does Not Sew
Pleated Lamp Shade Does Not Sew

And the fiddle! I’m obsessed with this cute little lamp in pleated color! Isn’t that adorable?

Lights in Kitchen Trends

I get a few questions as to whether the heat from the bulb is safe with a cloth in the shade. My bulb is pretty low wattage and doesn’t seem to get too hot but you could also use an LED bulb which would be perfectly safe!

From the start, I knew exactly where I wanted to put this little lamp. It looks absolutely perfect in our new kitchen and if you don’t have a light in your kitchen I highly recommend it. I hope you were inspired to make your own pleated lampshade!

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