Weave a Rickrack Lampshade
by Diane Gilleland
If you have a lamp with a ho-hum shade, try dressing it up with this simple weaving project. Use brightly colored rickrack for a casual look, or try a series of neutrals for something more sophisticated.
Paper lampshade preferably a solid color
Paper or plastic embroidery floss bobbin
Large skein of pearl cotton embroidery thread
Assorted widths and colors of cotton rickrack
Note on Yardage:
The number of yards of rickrack you’ll need depends on the size of your lampshade. You can take a general measurement by wrapping the rickrack loosely around the shade.
Step 1: Wind the embroidery thread onto a cardboard or plastic bobbin — it’s much easier to work with that way.
Step 2: Tape the end of the thread firmly to the inside of the lampshade with masking tape. Make sure there’s about a 4″ tail of thread extending beyond the tape, as shown here. The bobbin should be facing the bottom edge of the shade.
Step 3: Wrap the thread around the bottom edge of the lampshade and up over the front.
Step 4: Bring the thread over the top edge of the shade, and wrap it back down over the inside. Continue wrapping the thread around the lampshade in this manner. As you wrap, be sure to keep the thread very taut – not tight enough to warp the lampshade, but tight enough that there’s no slack at all in the thread.
Step 5: Continue wrapping the thread around and around the lampshade. We’re creating the vertical part of the weave, also known as the warp.
As you wrap, keep the thread in reasonably vertical rows. The wraps will be closer together along the top edge of the shade than the bottom. It’s not necessary to measure this — just keep them visually straight. Slight variations won’t be noticeable in the finished project.
Step 6: Also as you wrap, watch out for the “fitter” — the metal part of the shade that will attach it to a lamp base. Your warp threads shouldn’t wrap over the fitter in any way.
Step 7: When you’ve finished wrapping your way around the shade, firmly tape the end of the thread to the inside. Place this tape about an inch away from the piece you placed in Step 2, as shown. Leave about a 4″ tail of thread extending beyond this tape, too.
Step 8: Tie these 2 ends into a tight square knot, maintaining their tension. It’s easiest to do if you ask a friend to hold the threads down so you can pull them as tightly as possible. Once the knot is tied, remove the tape and trim away the excess thread.
Step 9: Lay out your rickrack and move it around to determine how you’ll place it on the shade. If you need to, press the rickrack so it’s completely flat.
Step 10: Rickrack likes to fray, so put some Fray Check on all the cut edges.
I prefer to work with long strands of rickrack, cutting them to the proper size once they’re woven in place on the lamp shade.
Step 11: It’s a good idea to use a fairly wide rickrack (1″ or more) for the first row of weaving. You’ll place this row in the center of the shade. Place a safety pin through one end of the rickrack.
Using the pin as a guide, gently weave the rickrack over and under the warp threads. Pull it through a little at a time, taking care not to pull the warps too hard.
Step 12: When you’ve woven your way all the way around the shade, remove the safety pin. Do not trim the ends of the rickrack just yet.
To make sure this row is nice and straight, measure the distance from the top edge of the shade to each peak in the rickrack. Adjust the strand as needed.
Step 13: Apply a little tacky glue under this rickrack. You don’t need a lot of glue, just a few dots here and there. Any place you can easily glue over one of the warps, as shown, go ahead and glue.
Let the glue set for about 10 minutes. Then, trim the ends of the rickrack and glue them down as well.
Step 14: Weave in the next row of rickrack, starting at the same place you began the first row. Weave opposite to the first row, as shown. This means wherever you wove under the warp in the previous row, you’ll weave over it in this row.
Repeat Steps 11-13, but don’t worry about measuring anything — from this point, you can straighten each new row visually. You also won’t need to glue every row of weaving; for many rows, the warp threads will hold the rickrack in place just fine. But if you’re working with wider rickrack, you may want to add a little glue here and there.
Keep adding new rows of weaving until you’ve covered the shade.
Step 15: When you join the ends of each row of rickrack, keep in mind that they may or may not match perfectly. Narrow rickrack will usually match, but wider rickrack may not. If the ends don’t match, feel free to trim them to the closest shape you can make, as shown here. Make sure you treat all cut edges with Fray Check.
Add as many rows of weaving you need to cover the lampshade. And keep in mind that you can place the rows in any configuration you like. There are tons of design possibilities!
If you like off-loom weaving, check out my eBook on the subject, Weaving Un-Loomed.
About the Author
Diane Gilleland produces CraftyPod, a blog and bi-weekly podcast about making stuff. Her first book, Kanzashi In Bloom is currently out in bookstores.