I’m going on vacation soon. WooHoo!!! My husband and his entire extended family had this yearly tradition of spending 3-4 days together in New Braunfels, Texas, floating the river, visiting Gruene Hall, and wreaking havoc on Schlitterbahn. The hubs and I always joked that we ruined the tradition because we planned our wedding for the same weekend a few years ago and the New Braunfels trip was put on hold. Then, the next year everyone had “things to do.” You know how it goes… people get married, have kids, get new jobs, start college, or make the playoffs in little league baseball. Life just happens. Last year, we re-started the tradition on a different week with only my husband’s parents, siblings, and their kids, and THIS YEAR I am super excited about returning! It has been something we all look forward to throughout the year, and its almost here!
Well, I also got a new camera this year! My very first DSLR camera, albiet used, has been so much fun to learn and get used to! A few months ago, I made a custom neck strap cover that I L-O-V-E! It is so much more comfortable than the generic strap, and I love my little lens cap pocket! It has come in so handy!
I’ve been trying to find a cute camera bag to go with my new toy ever since I bought it, but they’re either cheaply made, ridiculously expensive, or look EXACTLY like a camera bag. (Ahem, I don’t necessarily want people knowing I’m carrying around a $500 camera…I’d rather be sneaky about it). The pressure of our upcoming vacation really had me looking hard for a camera bag! I want to be able to take my new camera without worrying that it will get smushed or scratched or, heaven forbid, stolen. But nonetheless, I couldn’t find what I was looking for at a decent price. I really don’t know why making my own things doesn’t come to mind sooner, but when I finally came to that realization, it made so much sense! So, I set out to make my very own, customized camera bag! I found several great tutorials of Pinterest like this one at The Crafted Sparrow, or this, less detailed one at Andrea’s Notebook, but I still had to tweak them all to make it work for me.
I used one of my old purses that I love, but rarely gets used. (Actually, two of them) It’s a tad too big for what I’m used to carrying now, but it is PERFECT for a camera bag! I created a padded insert plus a couple of lens koozies, and voila! A cute, functional camera bag that doesn’t scream STEAL ME! 🙂
Here’s What You Need
- Foam padding (I used an upholstery foam cushion with a 1″ thickness because that’s what I was able to find, but it was definitely overkill. I would recommend 1/2″ or 3/4″ thick at the most.)
- Piece of cardboard (optional)
- Fabric of your choice. You’ll need about 2 yards. I found this pattern on clearance for 57¢ per yard. Its not my most favorite pattern ever, but it works!
- A cute purse that is wide enough to fit your camera, and at least 6 inches deep. Preferrably deeper.
- 1/2″ wide velcro. I used the peel & stick version, but highly recommend the iron on kind instead. It’ll stay on much better.
- Sewing machine and thread (You CAN sew this project by hand, but it is SO much easier with a machine!)
- Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks (optional)
- A rotary cutter and mat or scissors (or both)
- Ruler/tape measure
Let’s Get Started!
I want to apologize in advance because some of my picture files somehow got “corrupted” when they were downloading from my camera, and therefore I’m missing pictures of a few steps. For this reason, I recommend you read through all of the directions before you start so it makes more sense. I hope you’ll be able to figure it out! It’s not too hard 🙂
First, I measured and cut the piece of foam that would sit on the bottom of my bag. It ended up being a 6″x10″ rectangle. I also cut a piece of cardboard the same size and hot glued the two together. Since the foam isn’t very rigid, this just helped strengthen the bottom of my bag, and protect my camera better since it will always be resting on the bottom.
Next, I cut the sides. They’ll be the same length as your bottom rectangle (i.e. 10″ for me), but the height is up to you. I made mine long enough to cover my camera, but short enough that I could still access the pockets on the inside of my purse. For me, these pieces were 5″x10″ rectangles. (I cut my side pieces in half so that they ended up being only 1/2″ thick just so I would have more room in my bag for other camera stuffs. This is where actual 1/2″ thick foam would come in handy. Mine aren’t very evenly cut so they look kind of weird… good thing they’ll be covered in fabric!)
Lay out your three pieces side by side. Leave about 1.5″ in between, and another 1 to 1.5″ on all edges, then cut two pieces of fabric to cover this area. For me, this was 21.5″ by 12.5″ Sew these two pieces of fabric together on three sides (the top and both sides. Leaving the bottom open), with right sides facing each other. Next, turn your fabric right sides out, and tuck the foam pieces into the pocket.
Sew along the longer edges of your foam so that the foam fits snuggly and can’t slip around. You’ll probably have a fabric gap in between the pieces. This is a good thing! Don’t worry 🙂
So the next part is where most of my pictures were corrupted, and also just so happens to be the most difficult part to explain. 🙁 Fortunately I repeated these steps with the end pieces, and I have a picture or two that survived of that later on…. (Also, Becca at The Crafted Sparrow uses this technique in her tutorial, which I mentioned earlier.) Basically, you’ll want to fold the open end up like you would a present, and sew along the edge, which creates a little tab on the end.
Then, you can either hand-sew a slip stitch, or you can cheat, like I did, and just hot-glue the tab over to make it look more finished. 🙂 (See end piece pictures below)
Next, I created some end pieces and a divider. Cut three pieces of foam, all the same size. They’ll need to be a tiny bit shorter than your bottom piece of foam, and the same height as your side pieces. For my project, I cut three 5″ by 5″ pieces of foam. Then we’ll be covering these in fabric so you need 2 pieces of fabric per foam piece. I measured an extra 1.5″ on each side for seam allowance so that means I cut 6 pieces of fabric measuring 8″ by 8″.
Next, you’ll repeat the steps mentioned above for TWO of the foam squares. Sew two fabric squares together, right sides together, on three sides. Once that is finished, turn the fabric right side out, and stuff your foam in the pocket. These will be your end pieces.
To make a divider, you’ll put the fabric, right sides together, and sew only TWO opposite sides shut, then turn the fabric right side out, and put your last foam piece in the middle.
For all of the open sides you have left (you should have one open side each on the end pieces, and two open sides on your divider for a total of 4 open sides), fold them up like a present, as mentioned above, and sew the “tab” closed.
Does it make a little bit more sense now? Maybe?
Leave your divider piece like it is for now. We’ll need those tabs later! But on the two end pieces, you can hot glue the tabs down like you did on the first piece. (Please ignore my dirty counter lol)
Now to attach the velcro! Use the fuzzy velcro to attach long, parallel strips to the sides of your main piece. Like this:
Using the fuzzy (non-sticky) pieces of velcro on the inside helps ensure that stuff won’t randomly get stuck to the inside of your bag.
Next, attach the flat (sticky) velcro pieces to opposite sides of your end pieces. (Sorry, no picture. Boo.) Then, attach a flat (sticky) piece of velcro to each of the tabs on your divider piece. It helps if you put one piece of velcro on the front, and one on the back, just so it’s easier to adjust, and can be a tad more flexible than say, the end pieces would be, but this isn’t a huge deal.
Now, put it all together!
Now you can drop this whole insert into your purse, add your camera, lenses, and all of the “extras” you might need, and go! 🙂 Notice, all of the interior pockets and zippers are still accessible. Perfection!
For my grey purse, I used the insert without the end pieces. Since the purse is smaller, and tapers on the ends, the insert sort of naturally conforms to the purse, and creates plenty of protection without those end pieces. There’s not as much room left over for extras, like my manual or charger, etc, but it still works really well!
An Extra Step
Now, you could easily stop here and have a fantastic camera bag for any occasion; however, I decided to take it one step further, and sew some lens koozies to protect my lenses on their own. Just in case I don’t take my extra lenses with me for whatever reason, I know they’ll have their own, individual cases for protection outside of the bag.
For this part of the project, you’ll definitely need 1/2″ thick foam. The 1″ is just too thick and won’t wrap very well. Again, I decided to just cut my 1″ foam in half. It’s not the BEST solution, but it works!
Measure the length of your longest lens. This will be the width of your foam. Next, determine the circumference of your lens at its widest point. (For simplicity sake, I’ll tell you that MOST zoom lenses & prime lenses are going to have a very similar measurement. Mine were all very close to 11″ around…so you can go with that if you’d like). I added a little bit of extra length so it would wrap around better, therefore, my piece of foam measured 12″ by 5″. Again, for simplicity sake, I made two koozies the same size instead of cutting a separate one for each individual lens. This cover fits my largest lens so I know it will also fit the other two smaller ones. Also, please note that I have 3 lenses, but I only made 2 koozies because one of the three lenses will be on my camera at all times.
Repeat the process above to cover your foam. For my two koozies, I needed four pieces of fabric measuring 12.5″ by 7″ (Place the fabric right sides together, sew shut on three sides, leaving one of the short ends open, turn right side out, then stuff the foam in). Next, sew close to the foam, to keep it from slipping. You’ll still have about an inch or so of fabric left over.
Take the open end, roll the raw edges inside, and sew together to create a finished edge.
Adding your velcro is the last step! Put one strip of the flat (sticky) velcro on your tab of extra fabric.
Flip the foam piece over, and on the opposite end, attach two pieces of fuzzy (non-sticky) velcro along the length of your foam.
Roll your lens up, and it’s good to go!
Now I can carry my camera around New Braunfels in style and passers by will be none the wiser! That is, not until I whip out my camera and start snapping hundreds of pictures 🙂
What Do You Think?
Look easy enough? Have you made your own camera bag? What should I do differently next time?
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