Ever since I got my new Nikon D3100 for Christmas, I’ve been trying to devise ways to safely take it everywhere I go. Dad bought me a nice Nikon camera bag with plenty of room for my camera, extra lenses, filters, etc…but being a typical girl, I can’t be bothered to carry around my purse AND a bulky camera bag. I started carrying my camera in my regular purse, wrapped in a towel or an old t-shirt or (gasp) not wrapped in anything at all.
Then the Camera Safety Patrol informed me that it wasn’t such a smart idea and I’d be sorry when my camera met it’s tragic death. Which is true.
I turned to the internet in search of a camera bag that was a little more stylish…maybe something that could do double-duty as a camera bag AND a purse. Low and behold…they exist! I found fun, cute and functional options at websites like Epiphanie and Jo Totes. Only thing is…they’re kinda expensive…and I’d rather be spending my money on lenses and accessories and classes! Not purses.
So what does a girl do when she comes across a great idea but doesn’t want to shell out the dough? She makes her own of course!
Last week I went to good ol’ Target and took a look at the purses. I was looking for something that was big enough to hold my camera, my telephoto lens, and the pared-down-but-necessary contents of my purse. It had to have a zipper closure, be not-too-atrocious looking, and preferably have some outside pockets for my keys and cell phone.
Viola! I found it!
I heard gray is an “in” color right now too. Bonus.
After I found the purse, headed over to Mom’s fabric shop and holed up in a corner with little more than some 1/2″ thick foam, a borrowed sewing machine and a good idea.
I picked this foam up at Joann’s Fabrics with a 40% off coupon. I decided that 1/2″ foam would give enough padding for the sides of the bag without taking up too much room inside, and I’d double up so the bottom of the purse would have 1″ of padding.
Then I took a measuring tape and measured the inside of the purse and wrote down the dimensions. I cut the bottom and four sides out of the foam and set the rest aside. Then I picked out some fun fabric for the inside of the purse and cut it to cover the foam. I decided that instead of covering each piece of foam individually, I would make a long pillowcase-like tube and insert the pieces of foam one at a time, making a seam in between each one.
Then I just had to sew the ends together, and I had a fabric-covered foam box!
I made sure it fit the box okay…
And then I hand-sewed it on.
I didn’t worry too much about the ugly looking seams or the quality of my hand-sewing (or total lack thereof)…once the padding is inside the purse, you won’t see any of that!
Once I had the bottom in, I tried it in the bag one last time to make sure it fit…despite the fact that I measured the inside of the bag first, by box didn’t fit right the first time. It was too big, so I had to tear the attaching seam out, cut off a piece of the foam, and re-sew it (which is why one end of my box has the seam in the middle instead of in the corner, as you’ll see in the pictures below.) I would definitely, definitely recommend checking the dimensions multiple times as you go along so you don’t have any surprises later!
Here is the finished sides and bottom, ready for some dividers!
I made the dividers for the bag the same way I made everything else…measuring the size I needed, sewing a little fabric pillowcase, inserting the foam in, and sewing it closed.
Once I made the two dividers that I wanted, I pinned them into the box right where I wanted them…my camera would go in the middle compartment, my wallet, sunglasses, etc would go in one side compartment and I could use the third compartment for extra lenses and filters, a water bottle and a book, or whatever else I needed to carry with me that day.
After I got the placement right, I hand-sewed the dividers in. If I were to do this project again, I would add some velcro strips to the inside of the box before it was fully assembled, and velcro strips to the sides of the dividers. That would make the dividers adjustable, and it would negate the SUPER TEDIOUS hand-sewing I had to do to get the dividers in. My loss is your gain…my advice is to use velcro!
Finally, it’s ready to stuff into the purse! It ended up being a perfect fit. I also decided that I wouldn’t sew the padding into the bag, that way I could transfer the padding to other bags if I found something else that was around the same size that I liked.
And here it is all packed and ready to go…it turned out PERFECT!
For less than $40 ($25 for the purse at Target, $6.00 worth of foam at Joann’s, and less than $8.00 for fabric and even velcro if you decided to go that route) I have a bag that is my everyday purse on the outside, but BOMB-PROOF enough to carry my Nikon around in without any worries on the inside!
If you have a DSLR you carry around with you every day and you’re the least bit crafty (because I’m really not crafty at all, just determined) then I think this is a project you’ll enjoy!