How to Make a Drum Light Shade

I have a fun project today to share with all of you who are looking for a way to cover or hide a hideous light fixture. Since we are currently renting a house we are stuck with the old ugly shiny brass light fixtures that were here when we moved in. I know we can replace them easily enough…but it’s more work and expense than I want to tackle right now. We probably won’t be in this house past the year lease, so I need a DIY solution to beautify my dining room and cover the ugly ‘chandelier’.

So I did some internet shopping and decided my only hope was a drum light shade….but I’m too cheap to go buy one and recover it in the fabric I wanted. So here is my solution…a tutorial on how to make your own drum light fixture for less than $10!

Supplies you’ll need
-embroidery hoop (I used an 18” hoop from Joann’s for $5)

-fabric (I used a flat sheet I got from Goodwill for $2.50)
-ribbon or fishing line to hang it up
-large staple gun
-sewing machine & thread

The first step is to alter the embroidery hoop. Once you know that the hoop is large enough to fit around the widest part of your light fixture, you will need to remove the two wooden blocks that are stapled to the outer hoop. There isn’t really a trick to getting these off, just go slow to make sure you don’t damage the hoop. These hoops are made with very light weight wood and will split pretty easily.

Once that blocks are removed from the outer hoop, you will need to make a cut the inner hoop. I used an Exacto knife and it took about 6 passes to get through the wood. Here is what your hoops should now look like.

To make the shade, you will need to cut a piece of fabric to fit your fixture. Measure how tall your light fixture is {making sure to cover all the ugliness!}, and measure the circumference of your hoops. This will give you the height and length of your piece of fabric. Add at least 4” to the height of your shade for seam allowances. If you want to have a gathered shade like I made you can make the length of your fabric anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times your hoop circumference. Once you have your final height and length, cut out a rectangle of fabric.

Fold and iron down 2” on the top and bottom of the long sides of the fabric. You will need to create a rod pocket at the top and bottom of the fabric for your embroidery hoops to go into. Measure the width of your hoops and add at least ¼” to make your rod pocket. The wood that these hoops are made out of will not slide easily against most fabrics, and a too small rod pocket will make it impossible to get the hoop through. {Trust me because I had to sew this seam 3 TIMES to get it right!}. Repeat these steps to make a second rod pocket on the bottom of the fabric.

Now you need to feed one hoop into each of the pockets to make the shade. I did both at the same time and inched them along to the end. The wood does not slide well against fabric, and it can take a little bit of tugging to get all the way around the hoops. I also had one side of the fabric cross the gaps in the hoops to help hold it all together. Once you have the fabric on the hoops in a way you like, use your staple gun to staple the two ends of the hoops back together. It is tricky to line them up perfectly for one staple to catch both ends of the hoops, but it’s the best way I could come up with to secure the wood hoops.

You should now have a finished drum shade…on to the installation. I used thin black satin ribbon to install my shade, but thicker ribbon or finishing line would also work. Using the staple gun, fire 4 staples into the inside of the top hoop of the shade (through the fabric). Make sure to get them right across from each other…it will help you get the shade hung up evenly. Loosen the staples just enough to thread the ribbon through and tie a piece of ribbon to two of the staples. Thread the ribbon through the chain on the light fixture and attach to the staple on the opposite side of the shade.

You could also use a much thicker ribbon and attach four pieces to the shade and create a large bow where they meet in the center. Or using fishing line to hide the installation and not draw away from the shade. Whatever works the best for your design.


Once the shade is hung up you might have to tweak it to get it level, but that’s all there is to it! A quick and cheap way to cover an ugly light fixture without making permanent changes. I’ve already got my eye on some other ugly lights in this house to cover up!

I hope this helps some of my fellow renters!

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26 Response to How to Make a Drum Light Shade

August 18, 2010 at 12:42 PM

You have some great ideas. I'm a new follower from Welcome Wednesday. If you get time to stop by my blog that would be great.


August 18, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Very nice! What a great idea to use embroidery hoops!

August 18, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Coming to you from Take It From Me blog Hop. If you want another blog hop, I would love it if you would visit mine:

My blog hop with be up every wednesday! Thanks!

August 18, 2010 at 2:56 PM

I'm visiting from welcome wednesday. Beautiful idea! i will try this too :o)
Pls follow me back at

fashion & decor designer

August 18, 2010 at 4:28 PM

Very cute!! you got the wheels turning in my head now, lol. new follower here from welcome wednesday blog hop, please follow me back when you get a chance at

August 18, 2010 at 7:14 PM

This is great! I am featuring it at Grab my 'featured" button.

August 19, 2010 at 6:40 AM

How clever you are! Nice job! :-)

August 19, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Original & classy...great work! You should come to my "Restyle Your World" linky party on Monday...saying goodbye to summertime with a look at our fave summery projects, decorating, art, photography, crafting, etc.


August 19, 2010 at 4:09 PM

Cute and clever! Nice job.

Thanks for linking up to the “Cheap Thrills Thursday” party at Black Kats Design. I hope you had fun and will join in again next Thursday!


August 19, 2010 at 4:47 PM

i love this! what a clever way to spruce up a room!

August 20, 2010 at 9:29 AM

Very nice! That is such a clever idea!


August 20, 2010 at 9:53 AM

As a fellow renter I know what you mean! I have an ugly hanging light fixture that could really use this treatment. Looks great!

August 20, 2010 at 10:09 AM

What a great idea! I'm coming over from Design it Chick and I'm your newest follower!

August 20, 2010 at 2:01 PM

Just stopping by from New Friend Fridays. Nifty idea! Too bad that I live in the house and we couldn't survive without our ceiling fans. Already a follower. Happy Friday!

August 20, 2010 at 4:28 PM

This is a rockin' tutorial! How come my Goodwill doesn't have sheets like that? lol

I'm your newest follower from Boost My Blog. Can't wait to read more. Have a great weekend!

August 20, 2010 at 6:44 PM

I'm happy to be your newest follower from friendly friday. Please follow me at

August 21, 2010 at 4:03 PM

Thanks so much for sharing this "COOL" idea! Hop over and enter my GIVEAWAY…I think you will like it!


August 23, 2010 at 9:07 AM

Sweeeet! I hopped over from Sew Can Do's linky partay. Thanks for sharing such a great idea.
SITS GIRLS ROCK!!:) I'm your newest follower!
Happy Monday

August 24, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Neato idea=) Visiting from All thingz related=)

August 24, 2010 at 12:22 PM

That is awesome!!!

August 24, 2010 at 7:11 PM

Great idea! Don't you just love Goodwill?

August 25, 2010 at 9:59 PM

Such a cool idea! I love the use of embroidery hoops!

Thanks for linking up at Craftastical!

August 26, 2010 at 9:45 AM

Love this idea very clever!

August 30, 2010 at 4:51 PM

We are so glad you joined us for Anything Related! Come back tomorrow for another great party!

August 31, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Very fun shade! It looks great! Fun! How great to be so brave too! I'd get a piece like that hoping to do something fun and chicken out and go with boring! I love it! Thanks for linking up to Topsy Turvy Tuesday's!

June 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Very clever idea! I don't rent, but love your creative thought behind it. ;) I found you on So Very Cheri's blog and I'm a new follower of yours.


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