How to Make a Large Chandelier Drum Shade


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I don’t know if you’ve ever started searching the internet for a large drum shade to put on a chandelier, but I did and I found out that buying one would be very expensive and there weren’t too many choices in the cheaper range.  So I made one myself with Plexiglass, fabric and wire (and a sewing machine and glue gun – although you could probably just glue the seam with fabric glue if you don’t have a sewing machine).

First, I got a large shade with the bottom ring big enough for the shade I wanted at Goodwill.  It cost 1 or 2 dollars.  If you don’t have time to start searching stores for a shade big enough, that’s okay.  You can go to your local home improvement store and buy some heavy gauge wire that will hold its shape in a circle (the larger the shade you make the heavier gauge wire you’ll need).

Either take the circle out of the bottom of your old shade or make one the size you want with your wire and then trace it out on your Plexiglass.  The Plexiglass will act as the top ring that holds the shade on the chandelier and the wire ring will be the bottom ring the helps hold the fabric of the drum shade.  While, I didn’t use the thickest plexiglass, it was thick enough so that it stayed flat when hung from the middle.  If you get it too thin it will bow down over time from the heat of the lights.  But the lamp shade I have in my dining room has been there for 3 or 4 years and it still looks the same.

Next, you’ll cut out the circle on your plexiglass with a jig saw.  The most important tip I can give you is to GO SLOW!!!  Do not push the jig saw  or force it to go faster or you will crack your plexiglass. (I’m pretty sure I had gotten a special blade for my jig saw that cuts plexiglass.)  I did see on a TV show after I did this where they cut plexiglass by sandwiching and clamping it between 2 pieces of plywood and then cutting the circle (in this case you’d trace your circle on the plywood and not the plexiglass).  That should prevent it from cracking if you try to go to fast.  After cutting out the circle, carefully drill a large hole in the middle so you can hang it on your chandelier.

For the fabric shade part I got a fabric with some lines on it so it would make it easier to sew perfectly b/c I just followed the lines.  I highly recommend getting fabric that is transparent.  I tried making a shade like this with heavy fabric and didn’t like it because it blocked too much light and made the room feel dark.

I first sewed the top hem to just give it a finished edge.  Then for the bottom of the shade (where the wire will go) I made a channel so I could fish the wire in it when I was done.

Once I had the top and bottom seams sewn I connected the side to make the cylinder shape (make sure the diameter of the fabric is the exact diameter of the plexiglass, if it’s too small you’ll get an hourglass shape to your shade b/c it’s being stretched and if it’s too large it will look bunch up).  Very important, I did not sew the side seam all the way to the bottom, I left the channel opened so I could fish the wires in.

Then, I glued the top of the shade to the plexiglass, using the lines on my fabric as a guide so the shade ended up being even all around.  (You can go back after it’s hanging and make some adjustments by pulling the fabric up in the spots where it’s too long or not hanging right and glue it on top of the plexiglass.  As seen here:)

Next, I fished the wire through the channel at the bottom and took some duct tape and hot glue and taped/glued the wire ends together so it’d hold the fabric in a taunt circle.  I’ll admit I had to get the seam ripper out and undo my channel seam a little bit so I’d have room to do this in the channel.  Then I just folded the fabric back over the wire and glued it shut.

Of course, that spot where I glued the seam closed didn’t end up looking that great, so I took a small square of fabric that I had sewed seams all around (so it’s a square with 4 finished sides) and glued it over that spot, wrapping around to the front too.

To install the shade you actually need to turn off the power to that light, uninstall your light.  Then you’ll need to pull the wires out of the chain all the way day until you can twist off the top ring off of the chandelier.  Then run the wire through the hole in the plexiglass, screw the ring back on and thread the wire back up through the chain and reinstall the light.

Anyway, I could have taken more pictures, but hopefully this makes sense.  Feel free to ask questions :)

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