Friday, March 18, 2011

Making my Camera Bag

Also known as the seven levels of sewing Hell!  I like how a lot of my larger sewing tutorials lately have been less then encouraging but it's the truth, some of this stuff is HARD.  I'm not at all trying to be discouraging but perhaps through me you can see the effort that it takes for people to actually craft these things.  Next time you wonder why that bag is costing you over $100, I hope you can fondly look back at my post and remember just how much expertise does go into it.

Just fair warning this is a DOOZY of a post so it is very picture heavy and long.  I completed it over a course of about 4 days 4-5 hours each, lot's of head scratching and bad techno with kitties for company.

I took my idea for this coming from this Etsy Seller : Stash and the bag Below.

Photo from Mariforssale

It seemed simple enoug, rectangular bagwith padding built into it for protection of my precious camera.  Fun wool fabric to make it stand out and look more classy then your normal bag.  Wow was I ever wrong.  the functionality of any bag is to have pockets, lot's of pockets.  Especially since this would potentially be a lap top bag and purse all in one along with the camera bag.  I wanted it to be as small as possible with lot's of functionality to serve all these purposes at once.  To keep clutter down a vast range of pockets was needed.
This was the picture for the innards of the Stash Bag I was re-creating for myself
Photo from Mariforssale 

These are my raw materials before I started, some gorgeous green and brown wool plaid, matching olive green duck cloth and a olive green leather for my bottom (that was my addition to make it a little more classy looking and protect the bottom)  The pattern was pretty simple I only used 4 pieces, two sides, the majority of the body and then the flap.  I used these also to make the pockets

After cutting my pieces to their appropriate sizes with seam allowance I instantly needed to face all the wool because it is much lighter in contrast tot he duck cloth.  I used a single sided fusible iron on facing in the exact size of the pattern which in retrospect for stability I should have made the facing the entire amount of the fabric. 

Facing and putting together the pockets so that they are seamed into all the sides for more stability and to give it a more clean look on the inside.

After the interior is sewing up with the velcro in place for the extra padding of my camera case.
Working on the exterior pockets I had to face the wool again and put the duck cloth in as lining to give it a sturdiness and longer wear.  The Duck cloth also has practically not stretch or give so it is perfect to help keep the shape of the pockets no matter what junk I shove into the outside

Finished pocket onto the fabric lined and pressed before the outer shell of the bag is sewn up.

Using my Teflon foot I am now top stitching the leather onto the outer shell before the final construction.  I also switched to a thicker upholstery grade thread for both the upper thread and bobbin sewing it at the lowest speed to ensure the feed togs are working through all those layers evenly as well that the presser foot isn't applying too much pressure when it goes over the bumps and ridges of the seams.  Another key thing to remember is that you need to switch your needle to the appropriate fabric type, since Leather was involved I put in my Leather needle.

Here you can see how my machine is a BEAST going through the layers of leather, wool, facing, duck cloth, wool and facing again.  Especially that folded over section where the pocket makes them all doubled.  I'm proud to say my Innovis 80 didn't choke up at all. 

Here is the out shell all sewn up pocket and all.
Showing off the duck cloth lining in the larger front pockets

Now the stuffing of the foam. You have to account to make it smaller then your pattern pieces.  Since I was stuffing the foam in after instead of sewing it in there was a little math involved. My foam was 1/2" thick so I needed to cut it all at least 1/2" less which I ended up doing 1/4" on each side because I didn't want it to be too small over all and just awkwardly float.  I wanted the bag to be tightly stuffed but not wrinkled inside.  This took a couple test cuts and stuffing before I figured it out to be the 1/4" all around.

Practicing the sizes of foam before the sew up.

After getting it right I sewed three of the four sides together leaving the back open to insert the foam pieces and the final cover flap for the bag. 

Before I close up the bag I attach my little magnetic snaps for the closures.
This is the inside of the front large pocket.  If I had been careful and thought of this ahead of time I would of tripled faced the wool with another piece of duck cloth and attached them before forming the pockets so that this wouldn't show at all.  It's ok, first time to make this sort of bag and everything else is going well.  Plus you would never see that anyways. it's just an annoyance to me that might catch some papers open.

I was thoughtful enough however to do that with the flap so that there was no nasty little bracket showing on the exterior of the flap. and they closed very nicely together.

After that it was time for my last large seam on this bad boy!  I tucked my flap into the seam carefully and marked and measured everything very closely to make sure the closure would be functional and not too loose or tight.  I had to pin the foam down almost the entire seam about 1/2" below it and then also pinning the seam with a lot of difficulty.  Usually you can see both ends of the seam to it's easy to do it but when you have that extra fabric flap obscuring your view of the bottom and the foam wanting to pop out it is a hassle.  I did about 4 passes before I finally got an un-wrinkled top stitch seam that I was happy with.  Also going from corner to corner was a challenge making sure my back stitches were nearly perfect around those corners and secure.

Almost done!  I just now needed some way to carry my bag.  I made my own loop holder thingies from some scrap duck cloth. I folded them similar to a bias tape stuck in my hardware and tucked one end into the other and pressed them nice and flat.

Pinning them onto the bag was a bit of a mess.  you have the duck cloth, foam and wool to deal with and it is not for the light weight pin.  I upgraded myself to near upholstery sized pins of a longer length.  You have to be careful once again to not cause any wrinkles what so ever in your pinning on the front or back.

Now since most of the bag was complete sewing these straps on was a bit of a circus act.  I had to take off my front section to my sewing bed like you would when doing something like a set in sleeve and push my machine to the very edge of the table to give is as small a space as possible to fit into the bag and rotate while sewing the straps on.  It would be a good idea if you have clamps to clamp your machine down to the table to make sure it won't fall if you get really enthralled in the sewing (hey it nearly happened to me)

I used a stool that was luckily the right height to help support the bag up while I was sewing.

All the precarious layers and pinning

And the Final piece of the inside was this Padded pocket with velcro to hold the camera in place inside the bag.  It can very easily come out and be tossed into my normal purse to protect my precious camera on the run as well!  The pattern for this was just as annoying as the bag itself and the foam was harder to work around since it was much smaller.  Ignore the blue line on the sides, it's just mark-b-gone that I didn't wash out yet.

And VOILA!  The final Bag


  1. very cute I would not have the patience to whip up something that awesome! It looks great!