Cynthia and Co.

Cynthia and Co.
"My Junk Inspired L I F E"


Lampshade Redo With Recycled T Shirts

Today's project is to redo a lampshade with a recycled T shirt.  Taking one large shirt, a few pearl beads and a yard of salvaged grosgrain ribbon...

Starting off we'll use the T shirt sleeves to create the flowers.  There are two different sizes -  to start we'll do the large rosette.

Cut sixteen 1"x10" strips and stretch the fabric until it curls.  The large flower will use two strips of material per flower.  You'll need a white glue - I used a no sew glue from Walmart.

Secure the two strips at the top and braid (or twist) all the way to the end and then secure the bottom ends with glue.

Curl with strands into a floret, twisting the two as you curl.  Glue the finished rose to a scrap of T shirt fabric.  Repeat and do eight rosettes.  Once the glue has dried cut away excess backing.

For the smaller rosette we'll cut eight 1"x10" strips and pull tight so the fabric curls.

Wrap the curled strip around your index finger, leaving a hole for the pearl, and wrap the tail to the back of the coil.  Glue the coil to scrap T shirt fabric and allow to dry.  Repeat and do this eight times for eight completed small rosettes.

Once the glue has dried cut away excess fabric.  Add the pearls to the center.  Cut eight squares of grosgrain ribbon and glue flower assemblage to the grosgrain ribbon.  Set aside.

The lamp was a thrift store find that was cute enough as is, however, the shade was soiled with grease and smudge so I decided to use a recycled T shirt to give it a slightly altered, informal look.

Cut fabric off the shade's frame leaving original silk fabric around the top and bottom of the frame.

Cut one side of the T shirt and wrap around the bottom of the shade with the T shirt hem on the bottom portion of the shade.  Cut excess width of  fabric from the shirt (leaving extra for seam allowance) and sew fabric into a tube shape.  (The height of the fabric will be the height of the shade plus about eight inches.)

Top stitch over the sewn seam and press your T shirt tube to remove wrinkles.

Lay the shade on the T shirt tube to measure and cut strips (for ties) along the top of the tube.

In the example photo above you can see I cut strips just to the top of the shade.  When I actually started to tie the shirt fabric I found the cuts needed to be deeper so I cut approximately one inch past the top of the shade to make room for the tails to wrap around the top of the shade's frame.

Using your no sew fabric glue, affix the hem of the shirt tube along the bottom rim of the shade keeping the hem as straight as possible.  Press with your fingers and allow to dry.  The photo above is the shade being held upside down with the tails dangling prior to being tied.  Note:  when adding your tube to the shade think of the shade as a square and start gluing on one side, then glue the opposite side, then the third side, and fourth side so any excess fabric you may have can be eased around the circle.  (This is the same technique you would use if you were upholstering a seat cushion.  Make sense?)

When making your ties pull the fabric taught as possible and tie in the same direction -  always have tails to the left (or to the right depending on your technique).  Note:  if I make another shade using this method I will probably remove the original fabric along the top of the shade.  In the photo above you can see a little of the silk showing through the ties.  Also, when making ties you'll tie one side, rotate the shade and tie the opposite side, etc. and then tie in middle sections.  This helps you get your ties evenly scattered along the top of the shade.

The ribbon I used was a little more than double the shade's circumference.  Pleat the ribbon and glue (with either hot glue gun or your no sew fabric glue) to the inside of the shade along the T shirt hem.  Evenly gather and affix to the fabric.  

Add your large and small rosettes gluing them along the hem of the outside of the shade.

Voila!  You are done!


  1. This is such a fun project! The lampshade looks great.

  2. Thank you! Best of all
    it was super easy.

  3. I love this project! Great idea--I wish I could think like that when i'm at a thrift store! I found ya via M&T Spotlight. You got a new to check out your t-shirt hats.... =)

    Would appreciate a follow back!

  4. Hi Carolyn. Thanks for stopping by and for telling me where you found my project. T shirts are my ultimate recycled material!