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Jim Lawrence Knowledge base

Lampshade FAQs

What shade do I need for your wall lights?

Wall Lights are generally best partnered with Candle Shades, which are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, normally measuring between 15-20 cm across the widest point of the shade.

They generally have a candle clip fitting which enables the shade to sit directly on the bulb as described above.
Single Cottage wall light
Candle clip shades on wall lights

What fabric should I choose for a shade?

Before the ‘rules’ it’s important to bear in mind there is no such thing as the wrong shade. If you love it – it’s the right shade. Experimenting with lamp shades in new fabrics, shapes and colours is great way to instantly update your home’s style.  With over 70 fabrics at Jim Lawrence, we are pretty confident we have the right fabric for your perfect shade.

Both the colour and fabric of a lampshade influence how it diffuses light. Historically, lampshades were white or neutral in colour as these are the most effective at spreading light through a room, while a dark shade directs light downwards creating pools of light.

Before choosing between a translucent or opaque fabric for your lampshade, think about the purpose of the lamp. If it is for reading or to shed ambient light, you should choose a translucent shade as it will allow light to escape through the sides of the shade, diffusing it evenly across a space. Opaque shades are made from material that prevents light from escaping from the sides. Instead, it is emitted from the top and bottom of the lamp creating pools of light that give a sense of drama to a room. If you're using the lamp as accent lighting and don't need a lot of light in the room, an opaque shade is ideal.

We strongly recommend that you order a swatch before ordering any of our fabrics to help you decide if it is right for you. Once cut to length, our fabrics are non-returnable unless faulty.

Dupion Silk

Pure silk dupion is a uniquely beautiful fabric that has a luxurious textured quality and richness that cannot be reproduced in other materials. Not surprisingly, it is the most popular silk in the world as it has a fabulous natural sheen and distinctive weave that makes it much sought after in both period and contemporary homes for soft furnishings and bedding.

 The fabric is made using raw silk yarns that are turned into a fine thread which is tightly woven together to produce a crisp fabric with a highly lustrous surface and a prominent textured slub that is irregular in appearance.

Silk slub

As a natural fibre, there may be variations in shade or weave which are characteristics of pure silk but not to everyone's taste, especially if you are after a more uniform look.

As a raw fabric, fading and deterioration may occur over time, especially in sunlight, so we do not recommend you use silk dupion for lampshades in or near a window or for curtains and blinds.
Silk fabric showing slub
Silk dupion shade

Dupion Silk Slub

Faux silk shades slub

Faux Silk Slub

Faux Silk

Please take a look at our lovely collection of faux silks which we have sourced for customers wanting the look and feel of pure silk in a more robust fabric.

We recommend that all silk curtains and blinds are lined and interlined to protect the face fabric but even then, fading and may occur over time especially in darker colours.


Linen is a beautifully soft, yet tough, natural fibre made from the stalk of a flax plant that has long been highly prized in Europe for its versatility. Used everywhere from bedding to upholstery and lampshades, it wasn’t uncommon for families to pass their linen to the next generation as an heirloom, such was its durability which is two to three times stronger than cotton.

With a thicker, slightly stiffer yarn than cotton, linen is a delightfully porous, lightweight fabric that softens with use and wicks away both heat and moisture, making it ideal for lampshades. It is also naturally hypo-allergenic. The weave has a subtle slub when looked at up-close which lends a charming simplicity to modern day interiors, perfect for creating a fresh, informal feel in a room. As a lightweight material, linen will diffuse light more evenly throughout a room than a thick fabric such as velvet or tweed, so is ideal for ambient lighting.


Known for its versatility and durability, cotton is one of the most commonly used fabrics for lamp shade making as it is easy to clean and drapes and gathers well, lending itself to pleated and decorative designs. Cotton has a uniform appearance and is smooth in texture. It is lightweight and durable with a tighter weave than linen making it a lovely alternative for shades.

Cotton lamp shades bring a rustic and understated beauty to any scheme, so choose a cotton shade for a laid-back living room or bedroom, or a space that tends to accumulate dust. Because it is easy to clean, cotton is the perfect choice for locations that may get dirty.


Velvet has always been a luxury fabric. Traditionally woven from silk and requiring and incredible thread count to produce its tufted, dense pile, for centuries it was only affordable to wealthy families and was often associated with royalty. Since the industrial revolution and advances in textile manufacturing, it has become accessible to everyone and nowadays is not always made from silk thread, but cotton and synthetics as well.

Velvet has seen a resurgence in popularity recently thanks to the trend for dramatic interior colours based in far eastern colour themes. Characterised by its rich depth of colour and 'nap' - the rough/smooth feeling you get when you run your hand down a length of velvet fabric - velvet is one of the fabrics most favoured by our shade makers who love the feel of it.  A velvet shade will add softness to a room in daylight and help create a gently atmospheric glow when the sun goes down. An opaque fabric, it will not diffuse light as much as cotton or linen but will channel it through the top or bottom of a shade creating a dramatic effect.

Tweed and Wool

Tweed is an iconic British fabric that has been central to classic country style for centuries. It was invented in the 18th century by Scottish farmers to help them endure the harsh winters as it is both warm and water-resistant. It is a natural fibre textile, made from wool with a soft open yarn that is tightly woven and dyed. There is no ‘typical’ tweed as it comes in a variety of weights, weaves and colours which range from plain and lightweight to colourful and heavy.

During the 1830s Tweed became highly fashionable among the British aristocracy who used it for clothing for hunting and fishing, and for staff uniforms on their country estates. It remains the fabric of choice today for soft furnishings where people want to achieve a subtle but stylish, country modern look in their homes.

Jim Lawrence has teamed up with Lovat Mill in the Scottish Border town of Hawick to bring you a selection of beautiful, contemporary wools and tweeds that take inspiration from the rich colours of the surrounding Scottish countryside. The cloth incorporates between five and forty colours to produce herringbones and checks that will add subtle reflections of the natural world to your home's interiors.
Wool lampshade

The Rules

Simple shade setting

1. Keep it simple

In order for your lamp base and shade not to compete for attention we find that with lampshades, opposites attract. An ornate or busy lamp base will generally look better with a plain shade, while a simple base gives you the chance to really go to town with your shade. Be bold with one but not both.
Shade with visable texture

2. Texture is important

The texture of the material you choose can have a significant effect. Fabrics with a natural slub like linen or silk will look as interesting during the day as they will at night – but you may not want the slub to show when you lamp is switched on. In this case a plain cotton shade will result in the most beautiful night light.
Shade with heavy or textured fabric & subdued lighting

3. Consider the fabric

It will affect the brightness of your lamp. With all the patterns and lovely imagery available, it’s easy to forget the practical aspect of the lamp – that it needs to allow as much light through as you require. A darker coloured, or thicker type of fabric will stop as much light emitting from the shade than a lighter, thinner material. For areas that need a brighter light, choose a lighter colour fabric.
Swatch samples

4. Order a sample

The very best way to make sure your colours match is to get a swatch of the fabric. Did you know we send swatches of any of our fabrics out, free of charge? Here at our Suffolk showroom, we keep a bank of all our swatches. Take a couple home and try them out, it’s really the just the best way to find your perfect match.
Multi pendant shades lifestyle

5. The devil is in the detail

Think of details you may need such as diffusers to hide an unsightly bulb or stop too much light spilling onto a dining room table or bedroom, or stylistically, a shade that reflects the colour of its base, or cable on a pendant fitting can make all the difference to your interior.

Will you cover my own shades?

We will always try our best to accommodate your wishes so if you have a fabric you would like to use on one of our shade frames, the best thing to do is send us a swatch along with your contact details, so we can make sure it is suitable. If you can't send us a swatch, by all means send us your fabric, but we may have to return it if we think it won't work.

As with the advice given above, generally stripes do not work well if the shade has sloped sides and fabric with a large pattern repeat will not look good on a small shade.

For more information on the bespoke lampshade service we offer, please read our Bespoke Lampshades page in the Knowledge Base.

Are shades supplied with your lights?

Generally speaking, all lights that incorporate a glass or metal shade are supplied with the shade included, whereas for lights and lamps that take a fabric shade, the shades are sold separately as we have a huge range of different sizes and colours to choose from in the hope you can find the perfect match for your home.

What size fittings do your shades have?

Lampshades in the UK generally come with two types of fitting; they are either made with a shade ring that screws onto the lamp base beneath the bulb fitting, or they have two wire loops that are called  a 'butterfly' or candle clip fitting that you gently pull apart so that the shade sits directly on top of a candle shaped bulb

We supply shades with both fitting styles. All our Tapered and Candle Shades have candle clip fittings, while our other shades have shade rings.
Coloured glass pendants
Diagram showing gimbal

What is a gimbal?

This is another name for a shade ring.  In order to make our shades as versatile as possible, the majority of our shades are sized to take an E27 screw in bulb which is 27mm wide at the base - the largest size available and commonly used throughout Europe.

But, because we in the UK generally use a narrower B22 bayonet bulb that is 22mm wide, we fit each shade with a reducer - a plastic ‘C’ shaped ring that sits inside the metal shade ring - to make it narrower. That way you can use the shade with the reducer if you have a light with a bayonet bulb or remove the plastic reducer if you have a screw in bulb.

How high is the gimbal inside the shade?

In the majority of our shades, the shade ring sits 4cm up from the bottom rim of the shade (or 4cm down from the top if it is a cylinder shade being used as a pendant). Our smaller shades have different measurements so you will need to call us to confirm the height.

What is a candle clip fitting?

Our Candle shades are supplied with candle clip fittings, two loops of wire like elongated butterfly wings that can be pulled apart slightly so that the shade sits directly on the top of a small bayonet (SBC) candle bulb.
Candle clip fitting
Shade with candle clip fitting
Pendant with diffuser
Isabel Linen shade with diffuser

What is a diffuser?

A diffuser is a semi-opaque disc that is perfect for disguising the glare of a light bulb and are most commonly used over dining room or kitchen tables. They sit inside the bottom rim of a pendant shade and draw your eye to the lampshade not the bulb. Our diffusers are only suitable for cylinder shades.