This Little Light of Mine

Well, my motivation lasted a couple of days before I had to pull out my scarf and gloves AGAIN in April…

I’m counting down the days (only for 4 more!) and tasks (54…65?) yet to do before the pressurized wall gets installed, and I decided to take a tiny break from list-making and mental furniture/bookshelf reorganization to share another little DIY project.

Mom and I put this together this little lampshade upgrade during my visit home in the beginning of February.

My original nursery inspiration involved classic navy blue and gold. (I think my husband’s Notre Dame influence is sneaking into my decorating!). Mom remembered this lamp base living in the attic and thought it would be a perfect addition to our nursery.

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I love it! It’s exactly the classic look I was picturing for our nursery. However, if you remember…we purchased this bright graphic rug that really doesn’t have any navy or gold in it:


I needed to find a way to make this lamp look like it belonged in the nursery with this rug.

The best solution that Mom and I could come up with was a fun little lampshade. We hunted Mom’s treasure box (the attic) for a shade we liked, and we came up with this guy:


He’s not much to look at here, but he was the right shape and the size, so I began to deconstruct him. This is the fun part where I always get carried away pulling things apart. You’ll notice I had to put things back together a bit for the photo above. The trim was already halfway detached. It’s so hard to remember to pause and document when you are making progress!


The edges pulled off easily and the pleated fabric just fell off once the trim wasn’t there to hold it in place anymore.


We kept the top and bottom trim in case we needed it later (I wish I hadn’t been so quick to toss it for a later lamp project that wasn’t as successful as this one).

And then we were left with this:


The shade is a bit dented, but since we planned on covering it with fabric this wasn’t an issue at all.

Finding the right fabric for the shade was the toughest part of this project.

As usual, I knew what I wanted to find:

  • a small graphic pattern that would “fit” on a lampshade
  • possibly an ikat
  • must have navy blue, and at least 1 or 2 colors of the actual rug
  • I wouldn’t be upset if I found a navy/gold polka dot or a gold and white dot (even though it isn’t accomplishing our task of pulling in the rug)

Knowing what you want to find, and actually finding something that fits your vision, can be a truly frustrating process (especially for my shopping buddy! Sorry Mom!).

After we’d been in the store pattern hunting long enough that I was seated Indian-style on the floor in the middle of an aisle, Mom knew we were close to a breakthrough (or a breakdown) and started asserting her opinions a little more loudly. I had been shooting down every fabric she suggested.

It took her wrapping some of the fabric around the lampshade (that we brought to the store – I highly recommend this!) for me to finally see her vision. She’s so good. It wasn’t as a graphic or an ikat, but it was interesting and perky and all the right colors. It was also 29.99/yard. Yikes!

Of course, as we were standing waiting to have the fabric cut we spotted a navy blue knit with gold polka dots. Now what?!

Luckily, the lady in front of us took long enough for me to come back to my senses and remember the whole point of our lampshade. We NEEDED to tie in the rug! We also found an online coupon for 50% off one cut of fabric. That coupon brought our 5/8 yard from $18.74 down to $9.37. Our grand total with trim and piping was just under 14 dollars. Not bad!


Source: – Solarium Rydell Summer Outdoor Fabric

It looks extremely beachy in this photo, but I think there’s more of a navy hue to the darkest blue. We are hoping the sky blue will bring in the existing wall color (that we aren’t changing since we want the living room/nursery to feel like one room). You can see the actual hues of our fabric in the photos below.

Now to begin the project!

We traced out the shape of the lampshade, by carefully rolling it across the tracing paper and following the top and bottom curve. (This took four hands and a lot of double checking, so there are no photos).

We ended up with this template: notice the extra length that we added at the top so that we could fold the fabric over the shade for a clean and finished edge. IMG_2003a

Then we cut it out and laid it on top of the fabric (having already decided our favorite alignment for the stripes).


We left a little extra fabric around the edges for security. The LAST thing you want to do is cut your template or your fabric too small for your shade. We didn’t have enough fabric for a second try, so we erred on the side of caution. We also used weights (in the form of bowls and pitchers) to hold down our pattern piece. You can’t let that thing budge!


Once we had our fabric cut out and ready to go, it was time to cross our fingers and make sure we liked the way the stripes were lining up and lampshade was looking overall.


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We decided it looked pretty good, so we clipped it into place exactly where we liked it, took out some spray adhesive to bond the fabric to the shade, and then glued down the edges with Fabri-Tac.


We let it sit overnight and starting working on the finishing touches in the morning.

The original 14 dollar fabric store purchase included green bias tape and blue piping that we planned to use to finish the edges of the lamp. Now we just needed to decide what we liked best.

Green on the bottom:


Blue on the bottom:


Neither one was really speaking to me.

Luckily, Mom had a stash of bias tape and she found another option.IMG_2017a IMG_2018a

Sometimes creativity requires a little mess making.

We finally had a winner. The baby blue and navy blue tied in enough of the base and enough of the fabric shade to make it feel cohesive.

I wrapped half of the bias tape under the shade and carefully glued it in into place.


After half an hour of sitting and tacking everything down with Fabri-Tac, this little beauty was all set to go.


The lamp will arrive in NYC with my parents in 10 days! I can’t wait to see how it and all the other projects they are bringing work in the nursery!!


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