I’ve been meaning to tackle this project for months, but I was worried it wouldn’t work out the way I pictured because I hadn’t really done much embroidery other than some cross-stitching when I was like, ten. Luckily my fears were unfounded, and it turned out even better than I imagined. It was the perfect project for cold winter days while mainlining a tv show on netflix (I watched all of Call the Midwife,which left me terrified of childbirth, oops). The random nature of this lampshade means that even if you use my constellation templates, every version will be different, and it would certainly be fun to mix in more constellations. Here’s how to make the stars your own.
Lampshade (drum-shaped is best, in blue or black; I used this one in navy)
Glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread (DMC E940, one skein should be plenty, or you can just use white thread)
Constellation templates (part 1 and part 2)
Fray-check or fabric glue
1. Measure the circumference (distance around) and the height of the lampshade with the measuring tape.
2. Cut out a piece of tissue paper that matches these measurements, and wrap it around the lampshade to make sure it fits. (This is much easier if you’re using a cylindrical/drum shade, rather than one that’s tapered.)
3. Print out the constellation templates. You may need to resize them, depending on your lampshade. Cut them out and arrange the cutouts beneath your piece of tissue paper. They’re not in chronological order on the templates, but the proper order is Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces. Trace over the patterns with the pen.
4. Wrap the tissue paper around your lampshade and securely tape it in place with the masking tape.
5. Begin embroidering on the lampshade, right through the tissue paper. I used three-ply embroidery thread (separated from six-ply). If you don’t know how to embroider, here are some great instructions for a similar project.
Because most lampshades have two layers, cloth on the outside with plastic on the inside, if you poke through the shade in the wrong place you’ll end up with little holes where light shines through. It’s not a big deal, and I like the effect, but if you want to avoid it, from the top of the template, pre-perforate the holes for the design so you can bring the needle up from the back through the correct hole.
Vary the types and sizes of stars in your constellations by using different types of stitches. For larger stars I used a star stitch, and I made my french knots with one, two, or three wraps depending on the size of the star.
6. After you’ve finished embroidering all of the constellation designs (it took me awhile!), carefully remove the tissue paper. Pull it off to the side, rather than up, to avoid damaging your knots. Pick off any pieces stuck under the thread using your fingernails or a pair of tweezers.
7. After you’ve removed all of the tissue paper you can either stop there, or take it one step further and add more stars between the constellations. Even though my fingers were already sore, I chose to add more. These were just totally random, and I did a mix of different types of stitches with two-ply thread. Most were just single running stitches, but I mixed in cross stitches, star stitches, and french knots of various sizes.
8. After you’re done with all of the embroidery, trim your knots and seal them with a little bit of fray-check or glue on the inside of the shade.
Assemble your lamp, and light it up!