Past & Present is a collection of essays on decorative art history and DIY projects by Design Sponge columnist, Amy Azzarito. Grace Bonney, founder of the very popular Design Sponge website, first met Amy while working on a video project at the New York Public Library. The two became instant friends, as Grace was impressed with Amy’s knowledge and passion for design and the history behind it. Thus the column, Past & Present, was born. In this book, Amy highlights some of her favorite styles in the history of decorative arts and pairs her essays with advice from various designers on creating DIY projects that reflect the eras she writes about.

We chose to create one of the projects, using our 100% organic cotton jersey, to make a Shaker-style hanging lamp.


For this project, Azzarito highlights the Shaker community – a group of charismatic Christians, originally members of the Quakers, who emigrated from England to America in the 18th Century. The Shakers lived orderly lives with emphasis on efficiency, cleanliness, and celibacy (thus they have all but disappeared). The community relied on orphans, who they took in, and other converts to maintain their beliefs and way of life. They also believed in complete gender equality, which has been rare in history. The Shaker way is reflected in the furniture they made: clean, simple, functional design.

The Shaker inspired lamp was designed by BBBCraft and is modified here in Alabama Chanin style.



Lampshade (we used an old one about 8 1/2” long, 4” at the top, and 11” at the base)
1/2 yard to 1 yard 100% organic cotton jersey, depending on the size of your lampshade
Lamp kit
60 Watt filament bulb
Ceiling screw hook for hanging
Rotary cutter, Ruler, Scissors

Remove the fabric covering of your lamp shade using scissors, or tear it away, so that you are left with the bare metal armature.

Cut your cotton jersey into 1/2 inch strips. Tie the strips end to end, creating one long piece, or knot together piece by piece as needed as you wrap. The knots add texture and interest to the final piece.

Using the cotton jersey strips, tie a double knot around one of the vertical spines at the top of the shade. Keep the jersey strip very taught and wrap around the entire circumference of the metal armature, wrapping around each vertical spine as you move down the lampshade until you reach the bottom. Tie a double knot at the bottom. Use a box knot to tie each piece together, leaving the tails exposed.

Wire the lighting, screw in the light bulb, hang from the ceiling or use your favorite lamp.


Past & Present is a Melanie Falick Book published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abram’s.

2 comments on “LAMP SHADES + T-SHIRT ROPES

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  1. Laura

    This is awesome, I just ripped ugly fabric off an old lampshade a few days ago
    And thought about the jersey ropes but wasn’t sure how it would look.