Laurie Notaro's DIY Lamp Shade (A Semi-Disastrous How-To)

Categories: DIY, Literary

Laurie Notaro is an author, crafter, and expert at finding a good cocktail. She grew up in Phoenix, but is currently based in Eugene, Oregon. Each week, she'll be joining us to share a crafting adventure, draw a flowchart, or remember a few of her favorite things about Phoenix. Today, she her adventures in lamp shading, for lack of a better description ...

Laurie Notaro
Tucson, 1997: When I was an editor at magazine, I spent most of my lunch hours combing through Value Village on Fourth Avenue. It was the king of thrift stores, and it was rare that I didn't walk out of there with something amazing in my hand.

Enter the green lamp. A sprightly, fun, jadeite green ceramic lamp with an adorable finial and a rotting cord. I don't remember if the lamp came with a shade, but for the $3 I bought it for, I'm sure I barely cared if it didn't. It sat in my apartment for a year, my garage in Phoenix for six and in my basement in Eugene for eight. I loved the lamp, but not apparently enough to clothe it.

Finally, several weeks ago, I bought some linen on sale that would be perfect for the fun lamp, and couldn't wait to get started on making a shade.

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Laurie Notaro

Have I ever made a shade before? No. But how hard could it be? (Note: this was before the Hostess factory closed and the world was a brighter place where things still seemed possible.)

I looked up some tutorials online, got the gist of it and marched myself to another thrift store to buy a shade that I could reuse. I found one for $3.99, took it home and stripped the facing of it off. I nicked my finger with the same pair of insanely sharp scissors that once fell off a shelf and stabbed me in the foot, but am not worried about lockjaw because of the tetanus shot I had to get after the foot stabbing.

Laurie Notaro

Step one: Time to make a pattern! I decided to travel down the "no sew" path so I could post it on here and make it an easy project for those who don't sew.

All you'd need are some pins, scissors, and a glue gun. You could build a country with that if you did it right! A lampshade should be easy! I traced the opening of the lamp frame onto my pattern paper, and after measuring from the top to the bottom, decided on how long I wanted the shade to be. Measured it all around. So big I needed a second piece of paper to accommodate it all -- it was that big.

Step two: Cut! Cut the inside of the circle, cut the outside. Awesome. AWESOME! Cut cut cut! Done cutting. Drape it over the lampshade frame to get your first look at how it looked.'s not exactly what I expected. It looks like a little ghost. But I'm not even close to being done yet, I'm still in the lamp fetus stage. It could still be a fish!

Step three: I iron a fold on the top circle and hem. I put it back on the frame. My husband walks through the dining room, stops, and says, "Oh. That will be a nice skirt, but I think you'll need to make the center hole bigger."

I smell the hint of a disaster.

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