How to Make a Pleated Lamp Shade

There’s no shortage of lamp shades at the thrift store and they’re usually super affordable, which makes them the perfect DIY project! I’ve been swooning over a pleated lamp shade for a while but they can cost quite a bit! I’m going to show you how to make your own for a fraction of the price.

How to Make a DIY No Sew Pleated Lamp Shade

I found this little lamp base at the thrift store for $10 and couldn’t pass it up. It didn’t come with a shade so I purchased this tapered lamp shade online. For some reason when I bought it, it was only $25 and now it’s doubled in price…suspicious! But you could look at thrift stores for a cheaper one.

DIY Thrifted Lamp Shade Makeover


There are a few different ways you can make a pleated lamp shade and I followed some other tutorials first, using the fabric in one piece and folding as you go. If your lamp shade is a drum shape then this method works great. But if you have a more tapered shade like I do, then you’ll want to follow my method.



Cut your fabric into strips. You’ll want your strips to be about 2 inches longer than the shade on both ends. I made my strips about 2.5 inches wide but you can adjust this depending on how wide you want your pleats to be. Keep in mind you’ll be folding the strips in half, so that will be the size of your pleats.

DIY Fabric Pleated Lamp Shades


Glue your first pleat down onto the lamp shade. I started at the back seam. You’ll want to start with a line of glue vertically down the shade and place the right side of your strip on the glue. You’ll then fold your strip in half and glue that down as well. You can also then glue underneath the pleat so that it stays flat against the shade.

You could definitely fold your pleats in half and press them first before gluing if you want them to lay flatter on your shade.

DIY Pleated Lamp Shades


Repeat this process by gluing all your strips down and partially overlapping them. I found that with a tapered shade, you need to angle your strips slightly. So with each pleat, you will want the top to overlap the previous pleat more than the bottom.

Making Your Own Pleated Lamp Shade

To help you do this, apply your glue at an angle on the previous pleat. See below photo for reference!

Pleated Lamp Shade Tutorial

Once you get back to where you started, you may have to adjust the size of your pleats/spacing to fit them all in.

Fabric Pleated Lamp Shade


Trim the excess fabric off your pleats on the top and bottom but keep about an inch.


Fold your pleats under the shade and glue them down on the inside.

Making a Pleated Lamp Shade

At this point you now have two choices. You can either leave it like this and clean up the inside edges, or you can add an outside seam with your bias tape. I didn’t love the way my seam turned out on my first attempt of this shade, so I decided to leave it as is.

I did want to clean up the top inside edge though since you can see it from above when you look at the lamp.


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

Bias Tape Lamp Shades
Cutting Fabric on the Bias at 45 degrees


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

Bias Tape on Fabric Seam


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

Using Bias Tape on a Lamp Shade Seam

You could also do the bottom edge but I opted not to since it’s not visible. Look how cute it looks!! I love that the pleats aren’t fully glued down and it gives the shade some more dimension.

How to Make a Pleated Lamp Shade

I gave my base a quick paint update using an array of paint samples I had and mixing in some baking soda for some added texture.

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

No Sew Pleated Lamp Shade
No Sew Pleated Lamp Shade

And viola! I’m obsessed with this cute little lamp with a pleated shade! Isn’t it adorable?

Lamp in the Kitchen Trend

I got some questions asking if the heat from the light bulb is safe with the fabric 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 very safe!

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