Helpful Information

What type of fabric is best for lampshades?

We are often asked this question.

Ministry of Handmade has been making lampshades for many years and based on this large reservoir of experience, here’s the tips for choosing great fabric to make your lampshade.

Best tips:

  1. Type – Cotton, linen, cotton drill, polyester cotton. They tend to “behave” well during the making process.
  2. Weight – Light to medium weight is best. Heavier fabrics don’t let as much light through and they tend to be stiffer, so harder to work with.
  3. Weave – Tight weave is better than a loose weave. Loose weave fabrics tend to fray more and they don’t hold their form well.

Fabric to avoid:

  1. Indoor/outdoor fabrics
  2. Really lightweight satins and silks
  3. Heavy upholstery fabric
  4. Fabrics that have voids, or are holey


  1. Fabric with a strong grid design, i.e. vertical and/or horizontal lines are best suited for drum shades. If using this type of fabric on an empire shade be aware that the grid will slope away from vertical the further round the shade it travels.
  2. Fabric without a strong grid eg. florals and abstract designs are suited for both empire shades and drum shades.
  3. Fabric with a large design is not always suitable for small shades.

If you have any questions about this please contact Julie

Cutting Fabric for Drum Shades

1. For drum shades that are up to 40cm diameter, you can cut the fabric across the roll as shown in this diagram:

2. For shades that are over 40cm in diameter, you will most likely need to cut the fabric running down the roll as shown in this diagram:

Fabric layout for Drum Shades

Calculate fabric requirements yourself

If you can’t see the shade you need in the list above – a simple guide to calculate the minimum amount of fabric for shades is:

Fabric width = 3.3 x diameter
Fabric length = height of lampshade + 8cm


Drum shade is 38cm diameter and 32cm high.
Fabric width = 3.3 x 38 = 125.4cm
Fabric length = 32 + 8 = 40cm

So minimum size fabric required is 125.4cm wide x 40cm long. Most fabrics come about 137cm wide, so the lampshade could comfortably be made from 0.4 metre of fabric.

You may need more if you want to capture a particular part of the design on the fabric.

How much fabric do I need to make a drum lampshade?

This is a very popular question. Please refer to the guides below.

Reference Guide for Drum Shades

Diameter Nominal height of lampshade Minimum width of fabric Minimum length of fabric
20 cm 20 cm 72 cm 28cm
23 cm 22 cm 78 cm 30 cm
25 cm 22 cm 89 cm 30 cm
28 cm 24 cm 96 cm 32 cm
30 cm 24 cm 104 cm 32 cm
33 cm 24 cm 111 cm 32 cm
35 cm 26 cm 119 cm 34 cm
38 cm 26 cm 128 cm 34 cm
40 cm 28 cm 137 cm 36 cm
43 cm 30 cm 144 cm 38 cm
45 cm 32 cm 152 cm 40 cm
48 cm 32 cm 160 cm 40 cm
50 cm 32 cm 169 cm 40 cm

How much fabric do I need to make an empire lampshade?

Reference Guide for Empire Shades

Empire size
Nominal height of lampshade Minimum width of fabric Minimum length of fabric
13/18 cm 14 cm 61 cm 37cm
15/20 cm 15 cm 65 cm 30 cm
15/25 cm 18 cm 75 cm 33 cm
20/25 cm 18 cm 82 cm 34 cm
20/30 cm 19 cm 90 cm 37 cm
25/35 cm 23 cm 107 cm 42 cm
30/40 cm 28 cm 125 cm 47 cm
35/45 cm 31 cm 141 cm 50 cm
35/50 cm 33 cm 150 cm 58 cm
40/50 cm 33 cm 157 cm 54 cm
45/60 cm 34 cm 180 cm 63 cm
50/60 cm 35 cm 188 cm 59 cm

Empire shades create a curved shape when flat. All our lampshade kits come with the curved shape of lampshade PVC already cut to the right size. You use this PVC as the guide for cutting the fabric.

We can create template for any size/shape lampshade – just ask!

How much fabric do I need to make a Hero Lamp?

Reference Guide for Hero Shades

Hero size
Nominal height of lampshade Minimum width of fabric Minimum length of fabric
18 cm 30 cm 63 cm 35 cm
18 cm 40 cm 63 cm 45 cm
18 cm 60 cm 63 cm 65 cm