Here’s a quick-and-dirty little tutorial post for a bag I sewed up last night. It’s not a knitting post, and I can’t even begin to call myself a sewing expert, but I’m quite pleased with how the pouch turned out so I thought I’d share!
I have some travel coming up (ermahgerd, I’m going to England next week!) and wanted to make a trim but protective pouch for my camera and lens, so that I could keep it in my purse or tote bag. While I have a fantastic camera bag, it’s too bulky to fit into another bag, which means it would have to act as my entire carry-on for my flights. This way, I can keep my camera with me, but it doesn’t monopolize my luggage allotment! It also doesn’t hurt that a fabric pouch doesn’t scream “steal me” quite as loudly as a great big camera bag.
I’ve seen a number of DIY inserts around the web that have separate velcro tabs to hold multiple lenses, etc., but to be honest, I only own one lens (for now!) and I wanted something that was a bag in its own right, not just a divider for an existing bag.
The actual pouch was very much improvised, with supplies I happened to have on hand.
- Literally, supplies I had on hand: two kinds of quilt batting (I used the one on the left), a sheet of craft foam from the dollar store, and some odds and ends of fabric.
- I cut out the shape I wanted from the craft foam, which I used to give structure and rigidity to the bag. (You could cut this as one strip, but my foam sheet wasn’t the right proportion, so it’s in two pieces.) I also cut out a couple of layers of quilt batting, the same shape but slightly deeper.
- I sandwiched the foam in between layers of quilt batting. In the end I used four layers, two trimmed to the size of the foam and two extending beyond it so that they would be caught in the seaming. I put two layers of batting on either side of the foam, for cushioning.
- You can see how the shape of the pouch will correspond to the shape of the camera. There’s not much point giving exact measurements here, because different cameras and lenses will need different dimensions.
- I put the foam-and-batting sandwich in between two layers of fabric (some random quilting cotton from my basement box of mystery items), and pinned and basted it all into place before trimming it down to size. Note that when you fold everything in half, the inner layer will need to be smoothed out, and (because this is a thick sandwich) it will stick out farther than the outer layer.
- Ditto. I had to do the basting by hand because this was all too puffy and unwieldy for my sewing machine to handle easily.
- Once the sides of the pouch were basted, I made a thick rolled hem at the top. I folded the fabric sandwich down, and down again, then whip-stitched it in place. The rolled hem extends out from the top edge of the foam by about 1.5″, so it protects the top/back of the camera.
- I trimmed all of the excess fabric and batting, and machine stitched along my basting line. Then (because I don’t have a serger) I zig-zag stitched the rough edge over and over, to secure the rough edges. Not pretty, but it doesn’t need to be, because it’s going to be hidden inside the cover anyway!
- The camera in its snug little nest — you could stop at this point if you just wanted protection, and didn’t care about the appearance.
- I realized that the foam would make this all too bulky and stiff to turn inside out, early in the process, so I decided to make an inner protective envelope and then an outer drawstring bag to hide the ugly edging of the envelope. (Besides, even if I had been able to flip this inside out, the edges would then have been visible from inside the bag, where the camera goes!)
Luckily, my sister bought me a lovely stash of fabric during the years she lived in Japan, and I found a cheerful polka-dot print in a heavy cotton (or linen?) that was both sturdy enough and large enough for the outer bag.
- I made a really, really basic draw-string bag. I traced the inner envelope, added a seam allowance, and about 3-4″ of length. The long edge is the fold of the fabric (just as with the envelope), so I just had to seam the bottom, the diagonal, and the short side, then fold the top over twice and sew a channel for the ribbon drawstring.
- I couldn’t find my button-hole attachment for the sewing machine, so I sewed my buttonhole by hand. If I were sewing it by machine, I would have done it first, and THEN sewn the drawstring channel.
- The padded envelope is a snug fit inside the outer bag, so it won’t slide around. You can see the little ribbon drawstring I added, too — another find from my basement box.
- In goes the camera! The strap folds over across the camera body to add a little bit of extra padding.
- Tada! The camera is snug and secure, and the whole thing is trim enough to slip into a purse, backpack, or tote bag for the trip.
Like I said, quick and simple. Even with the hand-stitching, this only took me about 2-3 hours, and I was pausing frequently to (a) tweet updates and (b) consider the process.
Speaking of tweeting, my sister Gillian and her “sewcialist” friends were very helpful with this process!
Erin of Dog Under My Desk had some great recommendations for padding materials, and if I had time before my trip and wanted to make a more permanent solution (something I may still do!) I would certainly have sought out these options:
- Soft and Stable — sewable foam for making purses
- Inn-control — apparently out of production, but still available in some stores; this is essentially the same as Soft and Stable, if I understand correctly
- Headliner foam — the stuff they use to line car roof interiors!
Erin is also pondering writing up a proper pattern for her own interpretation of a camera pouch; I sure hope she does!
Another suggestion was blue camping foam — this would function like the craft foam, but provide substantially more padding. I think it’s quite similar to what is used in commercial camera and computer bags. I think I’d still wrap it in at least one thin layer of quilt batting, just to soften the corners and make it more appealing.
I also considered heading to the dollar store or thrift store to find an insulated lunch bag or even quilted placemats to chop up and refashion — and this is probably what I would have done last night had my basement not come up trumps in such a spectacular way.