written by: Lori Soard•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/19/2011
Both professional photographers and hobbyists have a hard time finding just the right camera bag to carry all the accessories and items they need. You can make your own camera bag with the exact design you're looking for. This article outlines the steps.
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Why You Should You Make Your Own Camera Bag
While there are many ready made camera bags on the market, there are just as many reasons you might want to make your own camera bag. Many photographers need more pockets and sections than a typical camera bag offers. You may want to carry extra lenses, batteries, flashes and even business cards and samples of your work. Or, perhaps you like something with a more interesting design. By making your own camera bag, you can use the materials of your choice.
Be sure to read through this entire article carefully before beginning your project. There are tips throughout that will help you create the perfect camera bag for your needs. You may even want to print the article, so it is easier to refer back to as you're completing the project.
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What You'll Need
To make a basic camera bag, you'll need the following:
A zippered bag pattern. You can find patterns at your local fabric store or download patterns online. There are videos that show how to cut out a camera bag. There are also downloadable patterns, which can be easily adapted to your needs, from sites such as Henrietta's Handbags and All Crafts. Once you have found a pattern that you like, you can easily change it by sewing inside pockets, either zippable or not, or adding extra sections.
Material of your choice. Darker colors tend to wear better, but make sure you get a material that you can clean easily
Needle for hand sewing or for a sewing machine, if you own one
Zippers and buttons
Cardboard for sections
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What type of material will you use for your camera bag? While leather may be durable, it can be difficult to sew and keep clean. Material is likely a better choice for most digital camera enthusiasts. It can be easily washed and dried to freshen the bag. Keep in mind that it will not be waterproof, however, unless you choose a material such as sail cloth or a tarp-like material. Again, this type of material is hard to work with. Another option may be to add a waterproof plastic on the back side of the lining to create a barrier between the mishaps of the outside world and the inside of your camera bag. You could also spray the outside with a coating of Scotch Guard or other moisture protection. This will not make the bag waterproof, but may help you in a quick dash in the rain.
Materials that wash and wear well include:
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How to Create Sections
If you would like sections inside the bag, you can easily create them to be sturdy. First, find some flexible, but sturdy cardboard. One of the best sources for this type of cardboard comes when you purchase a new shirt or from a gift box. Alternately, you can use the side of a cereal box.
Measure the width and height of the bag and cut the cardboard to match.
Fold material in half and lay on flat surface.
Place the cardboard on the material.
Cut around the edges, leaving approximately 1/2 inch on each side.
Remove the cardboard and sew three sides with the material inside out (pattern facing in).
Finish off (knot) the stitch and turn material right side out.
Insert cardboard into open side.
Fold the material along top edge in and finish that edge with a whipstitch. You can see a nice illustration of a whipstitch here.
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Pockets are very easy to sew. Long before you sew the lining into your bag, you'll need to decide how many pockets you'd like to carry batteries, business cards and other items. Once you've decided on the number of pockets, cut them to the size you'll need. Hint: It is better to have a bigger pocket than you need, because a pocket that is too small simply won't be used. Follow these steps to make your pockets.
Use an iron to fold under a 1/4 inch hem around all four sides of the pocket.
Stitch around the pocket to create a neat, uniform edge.
Sew the pocket onto the lining, leaving the top edge open, unless you have sewn a zipper into the pocket, in which case you will sew all four sides onto the lining. Be very careful here and think about which side of the lining will face you when you open the bag and where the top of the lining will be located. A pocket that faces open side down into your camera bag will do you little good.
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Keep in mind the different places you'll be carrying your camera and how long you'll have it on your shoulder. If you will be carrying it while hiking, for example, you may want backpack style straps, which can also impact the overall design you choose for your camera bag. However, if you will only need the bag while carrying inside or to and from a particular location, a simple purse-like strap may serve your needs just fine.
Ultimately, the advantage of making your own camera bag lies in the many choices of design, material, straps, number of pockets and even size, and that you get to choose what works best for your photography style.