Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

Pro-quality DIY pleated lampshade tutorial!

I have a really wonderful tutorial to share with you today! Have you seen the pleated lampshade trend coming back strong?? Floral, plaid, colored, other beautiful fabrics on pleated lampshades are everywhere right now and looking so fresh in their own retro way. I’ve seen them running about $175 each though, so if you want the look you may want to DIY!

You definitely don’t have to be an expert at sewing to do this project. In fact you can fake it with probably no sewing experience! But there are a couple things that you can do with some basic sewing tools (and some slightly fancier ones) to make it easier on yourself and a much better product! 

I’ve seen a couple different methods for pleated shades going around and Nancy's (@thehillsidehouse) is by far the best. If you read my blog or follow me on Instagram, you probably know how much I love Nancy. She has added so much rich color, texture, high-end detail, and personality to her new build home, and she does it all herself. She’s also an expert seamstress and great at sourcing fabrics! She doesn’t have a blog of her own so I asked her if she would do a guest tutorial on my blog (remember how we used to do those back in like 2010?). This is a great way for me to introduce others to Nancy, and I am so excited to shout this method!

The entire tutorial below was written by Nancy. Thank you so much, Nancy!

DIY pleated lampshade tutorial

Hello everyone! I’m Nancy from The Hillside House and I’m going to be sharing a step-by-step tutorial for my version of a pleated lampshade that I covered over on my Instagram page. Suzannah reached out to me several weeks ago and asked if I would be willing to share my DIY pleated shade method and I immediately replied with a resounding, “Yes, that sounds fun!” While I personally don’t have a blog, I do know how convenient it is for readers to have a place to slowly read and follow instructions for a project like this and so I hope you all enjoy. You’ll have to reach out to me on Instagram to show me your beautiful results! I came up with this tutorial after examining as many pleated lamp shades as I could. While there are a multiple different ways, I found this technique created the type of pleated look I admired the most.

You will need:

Let’s start with a list of the materials that I used:


I wanted to make a pleated lampshade for a wall sconce I installed in our entryway and so I used a small shade. You can adapt this tutorial to accommodate a larger lampshade as well and I will make sure to give you notes about where you may do so. I started with a lampshade that is about 6 inches tall and 4.5 inches wide at the top.

With those measurements in mind, I made my first cut to the fabric. I like to leave about an inch of extra length just because it makes me feel better knowing that I absolutely have enough fabric once it’s on the shade. For my 6 inch tall shade, I cut fabric 7 inches long across the width of the fabric from selvage to selvage. The fabric I used was 54 inches across and it was more than enough for my little lampshade, but if your shade is much larger, you may have to cut two or three strips and then sew them together on the selvage ends before getting any further into the tutorial.

Now comes what I consider to be the most fun step of this whole tutorial- using the ruffle foot! Having this little(or not so little) attachment kinda blew my mind when I first bought it. Oh, the possibilities! I first started by making ruffled pillows, moved onto this pleated lampshade, and am looking forward to making so many other items including some clothing for myself. You can see it there in the palm of my hand and also installed on my sewing machine. On my sewing machine, I needed a little flat head screw driver to remove my other foot and attach this one. It looks crazy and a bit intimidating, but I promise it’s easier than it looks.

I recommend searching for and watching YouTube tutorial on how to insert the fabric and how to take advantage of the options on the ruffle foot. For this tutorial, I’m just going to focus on the settings I use for all the pleated lampshades I make. I adjust my ruffle foot to insert the most fabric for each ruffle by putting it on the 8 and set it to make a pleat every 6 stitches. With your settings in place, you can place your fabric within the ruffle foot and slowly start. I personally don’t like to put the “pedal to the metal” with this foot and instead like to go nice and steady as I gaze in amazement as the ruffle foot does it’s magic. Within seconds, you have perfectly pleated fabric that looks like this…

Isn’t that so awesome?! As you can see in the photo, I like to sew as close to the edge of the fabric as I can. You’ll see in a later step why this is beneficial to the end result.

Next up, is making your bias tape. Now, I go into a lot of detail about how to cut fabric on the bias and also explain why it’s important to use it on specific types of sewing projects in my Instagram stories that I saved in a highlight. But here, I’m going to give you the general info. Fabric cut on the bias or at an angle is way more stretchy and allows you to go around corners much easier. If you create a welt for pillows or upholstery, the bias cut fabric also prevents bunching or wrinkling around corners or curves.

To cut fabric on the bias, take your square piece of fabric and fold it in half like a triangle. Lay your fabric on your cutting mat and then cut two inch strips of fabric. Sometimes, if your fabric is not wide enough, you’ll have to sew multiple pieces together to create one long piece.

Once you have sufficient fabric to cover the top and bottom perimeters on your lampshade, you can move onto really finishing your bias tape.

To create a nice clean edge that will go over the edges of your shade, you need to fold and iron your strips first in half. Once it has a nice crisp center line, fold the edges in toward the center and iron again. (The bias tape will eventually go over/finish the edges of your lampshade.)

Okay, we’re getting to the dangerous part. Haha. I say that because after a couple glue gun burn incidents in college, I gave it up for many years. Even now, I rarely take it out and am definitely reminded to not instinctively put my finger to my mouth after burning it with hot glue. You don’t also want a burned lip. 😣

The glue gun is definitely your BFF for this project. It literally is the glue that holds everything together. HA. The first step is to glue your ruffled fabric to the top of your shade. I like to add a bead an inch or two long and then gently press the fabric to the very top of the shade. I slowly work my way around and then stop about half an inch before I meet the starting point.

The next step is the pleating. Are you excited? First, I glue the end of the fabric along the seam of the lampshade.

To create the pleats, I like to add a bead of glue an inch long along the lower part of the lamp shade and then quickly pull the fabric down to touch the glue and basically pinch it to create the pleat. I’ve found that elevating the shade up on something and then adding a pillow on top of it as a weight gives me the leverage to pull the fabric taut and straight down. It’s good to go slow and really make an effort to make your pleats go straight down. It’s really easy to have your pleats start leaning to the side a little and you want to avoid that. Work your way slowly around the entire perimeter and then stop just before you reach the starting point again.

At this point, I gauge how much more fabric I will need to make one more pleat and make it look the best I possibly can. It’s not the same exact result with every lampshade, but I’m going to show you how I did it for this particular shade. I first folded over a bit of remaining fabric on the top and then glued it down.

I finished the bottom the same way I did the rest of the way around by adding a bit of glue at the bottom and creating the pleat. I folded whatever fabric I had left underneath and then added a tiny dot of glue underneath the fabric at the center of shade in order to prevent the fabric from coming out.

Cut whatever fabric is hanging over at the bottom of your shade and getting as close as possible as you can.

We can see the finish line now. Hold your lampshade up and admire all those pretty little pleats you’ve just made.

The finishing step is gluing your bias tape around the top and bottom perimeter of your shade. Remember how I mentioned that I like to sew as close to the edge of the fabric as I can? You can see this is a good idea because you want your bias tape to completely cover the thread that runs along that edge. I like to very gently tug at the fabric as I glue it around the perimeter. Don’t ask me why, but I have found this really creates the best end result. Once you reach the end, fold your bias tape over a tiny bit and then glue down over the place where you started. 

Lay your shade on a flat surface and then again glue the bias tape down on the inside perimeter. The second photos shows you how it should look once it’s all glued down and how I work around the prongs that stick out.

Repeat the same process for the bottom part of your lampshade. I like to work in a counter clockwise direction and press the pleats down in the opposite direction as the top pleats. This makes them really “pop.”

Put your glue gun down, admire your beautiful pleated lampshade, and do a happy dance! I also suggest running to your lamp or sconce and immediately putting it on so you can step back and admire it.

Thank you Suzannah for giving me the chance to share my pleated shade tutorial on your blog! If you have any questions you can always reach out to me @thehillsidehouse on Instagram. I can tell you that the more pleated lampshades you make, the better you’ll get at it and the more you’ll want to make. I look forward to seeing some of your beautiful DIY’d lampshades over on Instagram.

Thank you again, Nancy! Readers, hope you enjoyed this and say hi to Nancy @thehillsidehouse!

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