Sunday, 4 December 2022

The lampshade bag - part 1, the design

Yes, it's happened again.

Detail from the Great Tapestry of Scotland

For once, there is actually some justification for an entirely new project, other than my usual, "I just fancy doing it". I'm going to a fancy dinner in a couple of weeks - so fancy that the dress code is 'black tie'. Ooh er.

Reader, I do not inhabit that sort of world. This will be, at most, the second black tie event I have attended in my entire life. (I was a friend's 'plus one' at a formal dinner when we were students, but that was so long ago that I can't now remember just how formal said dinner was.) A quick google has revealed that for women, 'black tie' equates to 'long dress'. I don't possess any modern long dresses and, given that on current form I won't need one again for another 35 years, I don't intend to make one. So instead, I'm going to wear the one long dress I do have, my faux-Fortuny Delphos.

The one problem with this plan is that I don't have a suitable evening bag. My sunray bag is completely wrong and my wedding bag, while definitely a good match for the dress, is just too small - it dates, obviously, from a time when I could rely on Mr Tulip taking care of paraphenalia. So a new, appropriate, bag is needed.

Because I possess a brain which carefully stores useless information while gleefully discarding why-I-went-upstairs in the time it takes me to get upstairs, I remembered that as well as clothes and textiles, Mariano Fortuny also designed light fittings. This seemed like a good starting point for a possible bag design. If I had the time, I would love to make something based on this shape.

Silk Fortuny lamps on sale in Venice

But I don't, so instead I'm using these as my inspiration.

More Fortuny lamps - painted silk and wooden frames

As ever, I began by considering what I would have in the bag - glasses, phone, keys etc. I had this small carboard box to hand, and discovered that it was just the right size to hold everything.

My starting point

Using the dimensions of the diamond I'd drawn on the box, I tried to sketch out the overall design.

Attempting the design in two dimensions (and failing)

I realised however that this would simply replicate the box shape, which wasn't what I wanted. It was only when I drew the base onto the box that I could see what I needed to change.

The corners need to be 'cut off'

I really struggle to visualise size and capacity, so the only thing to do was make a mock-up, as I would with dressmaking. I rescued an old cereal packet from the recycling drawer, and set to work on my 'toile'.

Showing the lower part of the structure from two different angles

I added further large triangles at the top to complete the bag shape, and then smaller ones to make the 'lid'.

The completed 'bag'

The basic structure will be made from the same very sturdy pelmet interfacing as I used for the sunray bag. The next step is to cut out the pieces, and cover them with plain cotton. I can then start thinking about the outer layer.


  1. It's a different design for sure! Looking forward to the finished bag.

    1. Unfortunately it's had to go on the back burner for now, but I still hope to make it sometime.