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Silk Lampshades – Box Pleats, Part 1

There are as many styles of pleated lampshades as there are styles and sizes of lampshades…too many to count!  We are going to give you an overview of lampshade pleats – starting with silk lampshades and moving to the hardback shades.

The first general category of silk pleats is the Box Pleat, which seems to be growing in popularity in the last few years.  So, what is a Box Pleat?  A box pleat is created when you manipulate a piece of fabric such that a pleat or fold is formed on both sides of the fabric, and then the ends brought together underneath the flat piece of fabric where another fold or pleat is created at the point where the fabric meets; the remaining fabric on both sides then points outward – and so it goes around the perimeter of the lampshade frame.

There are several types of box pleats, and “over box pleats.”  The most basic type of box pleat is one where you see a continuous flow of ½” to ¾” pleats.   You can chose from a wide variety of fabrics to create your box pleat, but one of the more preferred fabrics is a soft linen.  We have pared a custom designed (by M. Gabaree Lampshades) modified empire lampshade with a linen box pleat with one of our Ralph Lauren pierced celadon lamps; the effect is wonderful below:

Image 1 Linen Box Pleat wih Lauren Celadon Lamp

The same type of basic box pleat can also be applied to different shapes of lampshades, as you can see from this beautifully pleated and trimmed hexagon and this silk coolie lampshade and finally this silk drum lampshade.

Image 2 MG Pleated Hex (1) Image 3 Custom Box Pleat Silk Lampshades Image 4 Drum Lampshade with Box Pleats

Another type of box pleat is the “Euro” or “English” style of box pleat wherein the a box pleat is followed by an open space of the same width, followed by another box pleat, open space, etc.

Image 5 EURO-BOX-PLEAT_Eggshell_Linen

Yet another style of box pleat is the “open” box pleat.  In this type of pleat, the pleats are adjacent to one another across the top of the lampshade, but they “open” up at the bottom.  This type of pleat is most easily seen when the bottom of the lampshade is larger than the top of the lampshade as with a coolie lampshade or a larger imperial empire lampshade.

Image 6 F0613-w400 Image 7 Open_Box_Pleat_Web_Picture_1_medium[1]

Ah – but the list of box pleats goes on – we will explore other box pleat styles next week!


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Silk Lampshades – Smocked Pleating

Silk lampshades with smocking are special.  The technique of smocking is essentially a type of “double pleating”; the first layer of pleating is most often a box pleat – typically a “closed” box pleat, but they can be made with open box pleats as well as “drapes”.  And then, the second “smocked” layer is created when the sides of the box pleats are brought together creating a diamond like pattern in the pleating.  The light coming through a smocked shade is dramatic – whether the shade is made with a full smock or smocking at the top and bottom, or just one “pinch” in the middle.  But, even when the light is off, the beauty of the smocking is evident.

With a fully smocked lampshade, the pinches in the pleating are created near both the top and the bottom of the lampshade.

Image 1 Full Smock

Smocking can also be applied to only the top or the bottom of the lampshade, as shown in the following two images.

Lamp_2_cr_eggshell_large[1] Image 8 smocking with colored thread

As noted above, the smocking treatment can be applied to not only a closed box pleat, but also open box pleats as shown in this lampshade created by M. Gabaree Lampshades.  This silk coolie lampshade that Michelle has designed utilizes an open box pleat as well as a “centered” smock – wherein the “pinch” applied to create the diamond pattern is found in the middle of the lampshade.

Image 7 MG Pleat Sampler

A rolling box pleat can also serve as the first layer of pleating overlaid by a full smock treatment.

Image 6 Box-Drape-with-Smock[1]

Another unique look is created when the smocking is applied to a large box drape.

Image 5 Rolled-Box-Pleat-Smock

Smocking as a shading technique allows the opportunity for multiple variations.  In the following image, you will see one shade created with a full smock on one part of the shade, coupled with a small bottom smock on the other half of the lampshade.

Image 4 MG Smock Pleats

While most smocking is applied to solid colored fabric, the use of a different colored thread can create a dramatic effect, and effectively enhance the lamp base and room décor.

Image 3 Bottom Smock


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Silk Lampshades – Shirred and Side Pleats

Silk lampshades with either shirred pleats or side pleats are the two oldest styles of pleats.  While today we do see customers a bit more interested in the box pleats, there are many wonderful “looks” that can be accomplished with either a shirred pleat or a side pleat.

Silk shirred lampshades are made by loosely gathering or bunching a relatively sheer fabric – sometimes silk, sometimes another type of lightweight fabric.  The most simple shirred silk lampshade is an empire shade with a white shirred fabric.

Image 1 Shirred Silk Shade

But, by selecting unique fabrics, the shirred lampshade can take on a totally different character!  This is a shirred lampshade made with a blue and white fabric for the store by M. Gabaree Lampshades – a wonderful look for a simple bedroom lamp.

Image 2 Shirred Blue and White

And, these small chandelier shades are also created with shirring – but what wonderful fabrics!  And, the addition of a “rouched” trim, gives an even different look!  Of course, shirring can also be applied to different shaped shade frames, as you can see from this small hexagonal chandelier lampshade.

Image 4 MG Pleated Hex Chand Shade Image 3 MG Pleated Chan Shade

Another general type of pleating is the side pleat.  The side pleat is a straight tailored fold, created by doubling the fabric back on itself; the width of each pleat is consistent around the entire lampshade.  In the image below, of an oval drum lampshade, the width of each pleat is relatively small – perhaps ¾”.

Image 5 Side_Pleat_Oval

The side pleating on this silk coolie lampshade are wider – 1.25”.  When a lampshade with side pleats is lit, you will see uniformly separated light and relatively darker areas.

Image 6 Side-Pleat-125[1]

Side pleats can also be applied to lampshades in very creative and wonderful ways.  In this silk hexagonal lampshade, the result is alternating sides of side pleats, and then stretched fabric.

Image 7

Depending upon the fabric selected and the type of pleating used, the result can be a lampshade that uniquely applies a wonderfully finished look to your room!


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Silk Lampshades – Box Pleats, Part 2

We introduced the most “basic” types of box pleats – the simple box pleat, the Euro or English style box pleat, and the open box pleat.  But there are more variations on the theme!

The Rolled Box Pleat is characterized by “softer” folds, as compared to the more “crisper” folds of the standard box pleats styles.  While this type of pleat is not as common today, we still have requests for the pleat when we are replicating a replacement shade for one of our customers.

Image 1 Rolled-Box-Pleat[1]

That same box pleat can be further modified, but applying a “gathered bottom” to the pleat – not the closed box pleat as at the top of the lampshade.

Image 2 Rolled-Box-Pleat-Gather-Bottom[1]

And, taken yet one step further, we can modify the rolled box pleat (top and bottom) by adding a smocking detail at the top and bottom of the lampshade

Image 3 Rolled-Box-Pleat-Smock[1]

Another general type of box pleat is the “Box Drape”.  A drape is created when you apply an overlay, or a “drape”, a second and separate piece of fabric to a standard lampshade.  For example, you can apply a box drape to a stretched imperial empire and create a dramatic effect with shadows!

Image 4 Box-Drape-over-Non-Pleat[1]

Taken one step further, you can add a smocking detail to the drape at the top, the bottom or both top and bottom.

Image 5 Box-Drape-with-Smock[1]

A box pleat drape can also be applied over another pleat, as is the case in this lampshade, featuring a box drape over a Belgian pleat.

Image 6 Box-Drape-over-Belgium-Pleat[2]

And finally, it is not just the box pleats that have variations!  This is an example of an open box pleat with a smocking detail in the middle – a beautiful shade custom made by M. Gabaree Lampshades for our store in Concord.

Image 7 212_MG Smock Pleats