Yes, like some of my fellow photographers, I’ve been drooling over some very cool & stylish hand bag/camera bags that retail for upwards of $150. I actually picked out and was preparing myself to hand over $169 for an Epiphanie bag when I noticed Jamie at Mommy’s Camera posted about making your own bag. Duh. I am firmly a
cheap frugal mom who’d take two days and make something rather than shell out the big bucks. Of course I can make my own!!
I knew what I wanted in a bag, so I set out to find one that I really liked. I had my mind set on pink when I came across this plum-colored bag. It has the shorter handles as well as a detachable shoulder strap. It’s almost empty inside except for side pockets and has a nice square bottom. I wanted a zipper closure because I can never seem to keep my current purse snapped shut once its stuffed full. This even has a few outer pockets as well. I found it at Target and paid $29, which, truthfully, is more than I’d normally pay for a handbag, but my budget was “anything less than $169” so it fit. (Those would be Jackson’s decorations on the door.)
Next I hit the fabric store for my supplies. I thought I was going a bit overboard on supplies, but these turned out to be pretty close with the size of the bag. I got 2 sheets of the high-density foam for padding (I used most of both), 2 yards of sew-in velcro (some leftovers, but I use this stuff often) and 1-1/2 yards of a cute cotton print that looked good with my bag. I think one yard would have been plenty, but again, I can use it for other things. I chose a light colored fabric to make it easier to see the bottom of my bag (I’m good at loosing stuff in there). All of this came to $31, but had I used my fabric coupons I may have gotten it for a little less. I have plenty of white thread, so I didn’t buy any. (Yoshi was a stow-away.)
I measured the bottom and sides of the bag, leaving room where the padding stopped below the zipper opening. I cut foam for the bottom (4.5” x 14”), long sides (9” high x 14” wide), and the narrow sides (4.5” wide triangle). I used medical scissors which snipped through the foam pretty easily, but I would imagine regular sewing scissors might make it a workout. When cutting the fabric, I left generous flaps when I stitched the foam inside like a pillow case. This way I could attach the sides and bottom to make an insert that I could remove from the purse if I needed. This also makes is easy to stash things outside of the foam (like my Nook or wallet).
If you plan to add velcro lines on the long sides of your purse, put them on before you sew your foam cases together!! I had to seam rip twice because I forgot! I was getting excited to get done. I used the soft side of the velcro and made two strips about 3 inches apart along the length of each side.
I folded the flaps together to give the insert a finished look.
I think the insert part was the most work, after that you just need small rectangles of foam to use as dividers.
I cut the fabric generously on the sides of the dividers to give room to sew 1” flaps with the scratchy side of the velcro. These were quick and easy to make with only one seam. I sewed the fabric inside out, then flipped it around to give a snug fit around the foam and a nice clean seam on the bottom.
Here are my finished dividers and the insert in my purse.
Here’s a shot of the bag packed and ready to go. There is still plenty of room to slide things along the outside of the padding as well.
Purse? Why, this is actually a camera bag!!! All told I spent $60 in supplies, but I could have gotten away with less. As I see it, I saved $100!!