Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pinterest Challenge

Today I am so excited to be participating in my first ever Pinterest Challenge! Not sure what a Pinterest Challenge is? Well it's simple really- you just choose something that you've pinned on Pinterest and actually make it! It's not an official "thing" created by Pinterest, instead it's an idea started by two other bloggers (Katie Bower and Sherry Petersik) that I first read about here.

The project I chose to do is one that has been on my project list for about six months. It has just taken a back seat because it is much more of a just-for-fun project than a necessity, and as you know I've been working long and hard on getting our kitchen in shape. So not much time or money has been going into things that don't have to be done. Anyway, I decided to just go for it so the supplies weren't sitting around my house staring at me anymore!

So without further chatter, I give you...

DIY Camera Bag

My inspiration for the DIY Camera Bag came from this blog post, but I decided to make a few tweaks to my project to hopefully avoid a few of the issues she experienced. My plan and vision was to create a protective & organizational insert that I could drop down into a store-bought purse to make it into a cute yet functional camera bag without permanently altering the purse itself (just in case!). 

Mission: accomplished! Here's how...

First things first- supplies needed are:
   1) A bag or purse you want to transform into a camera bag. One that is pretty roomy and has a flat    
       bottom works best.
   2) Scissors and tape measure/ruler
   3) Fabric of your choice
   4) Some type of foam or padding to protect your equipment
   5) Cardboard to make templates
   6) A sewing machine and thread

I'm going to do my best to explain how I did this step-by-step and will keep captions/descriptions above the photos I'm referring to.

STEP ONE - Choose a bag and fabric
I bought the adorable Nine West purse from Amazon for $30.  Not really a steal, but it's super cute and a quality bag that isn't going to fall apart on me. Then I chose a fun fabric to create my organizational/protective insert.

STEP TWO- Create pattern and templates
I pulled the lining of the purse inside out so it was sticking out the top of the purse. Then I used a simple tape measure to measure the seams 1) down the sides, 2) length-wise across the bottom, and 3) width-wise across the bottom. With those measurements I could create a pattern for my fabric and make templates for the protective foam padding.

I used the cardboard templates to trace onto a piece of foam and cut out the right shapes and sizes I'd need to cushion the bottom and sides of the bag, as well as make some protective dividers to place between different accessories in the bag. You don't want your lenses banging around in there!

The foam I used was just one big square of foam that would be used to make a seat cushion or something similar. I used utility scissors from my tool kit to cut the shapes out. They were somewhat imperfect but would definitely do the trick for this project.

STEP THREE- Draw, trace, and cut out your pattern
I used the measurements I took of the seams in the purse to create a pattern on regular paper. Then I pinned the pattern to my fabric and cut it out. My fabric was folded in half, so I only had to trace and cut twice to get four identical layers of fabric. Two would make the outside layer and two would make the inner layer... I promise that will make more sense later :)

This cut-out piece of fabric doesn't exactly match the pattern above. I had to make an adjustment because my measurement was off. I needed those little notches at the bottom corners to be the same length. To add that length (on the horizontal line) without taking away from the overall length across the bottom of the bag, I simply cut on an angle as you can see below.

STEP FOUR- Start sewing!
Once the fabric was cut out, I first sewed the bottom corners (basically closing that triangular gap), then both sides. This made sort of a bucket, which would become the outside layer of my organizational/protective insert.

For the fabric that would be the inner layer, I did the same exact thing, except I left one of the sides open. That's important later so you can stuff the foam pieces inside and still have nice finished seams :)

This left me with two identical bucket-shaped pieces of fabric. One with the printed side out (outer layer) and one with the printed side in (inner layer).

Now that I had my two pieces, it was time to attach them to each other around the top edges making essentially one big piece (that kind of looked like conjoined twins... just sayin). It's kind of hard to see, but notice on the twin that's on the right side, you can see that open side seam at the top. It's about to come in handy! Also notice the way these two twins are put together. Both have their printed side out so that when I nest one inside the other (there's that outer layer-inner layer thing I've been talking about!) the printed side will be visible all around.

STEP FIVE- Insert foam padding
I very carefully stuffed the foam pieces (I had one for the bottom and one for each of the long sides of the bag) into the open side seam. I line them up and placed them as carefully as possible using the seams because once I closed up that open side seam it would be much more difficult to shift the foam into place. I decided to put the bottom piece in first, followed by each of the sides. Once that's done you should have something that looks like this! Now you can easily see the whole inner/outer layer thing :)
**Side note:  it would also be possible to make individual covers/sleeves for each of the foam pieces and then just place them down into the bag or use their seams to attach them together rather than making one big insert piece like I've done here.

STEP SIX- Close it up!
It's time to close the side seam that I left open back in step four. It's not super easy to do, but it can be done. Basically you have to fold down a tiny edge of the fabric, pin it together and sew a seam. 

Once the seam was closed up, I stuffed the insert down into the purse to get an idea of the fit. I had some extra fabric on the inner layer (it should have been cut slightly smaller to account for the foam) but tucked it down between the bottom and side pieces and it looks fine. I could also pull it tighter around the bottom of the insert and pin it or sew a tack to keep it snug.

STEP SEVEN- Protective accessory dividers
These were as simple as cutting out squares of fabric (two layers at a time) and sewing around them. Again I left one side open to stuff the foam in, and then folded it down to create a seam. 

Once they're done you can simply place them down in the bag between your accessories! In this picture (top to bottom) I have my external flash, an extra lens, and my DSLR camera itself. The foam dividers do not attach to anything (it's an option, but I couldn't come up with a good way to do it, and I'm a commitment-phobe who likes to have options), but they sit nicely between my accessories to prevent them from bumping into each other. They're also great because they're soft enough to mold to the shapes of the items I place in there. You can also tell there's some spare room in there. I could probably fit another lens in there, and easily a few smaller items like an extra battery or remote.

And with that, I have a camera bag that looks like this!

I am so excited to use it on my next photo shoot and hope that I've "Pinspired" someone else to give this a try! :)

Also-- don't forget to check out the projects made by Sherry, Katie, Cassie, and Erin - the girls of the official Pinterest Challenge Team! Thanks to them for giving me the friendly shove needed to stop pinning and start doing! (Not that I'll ever stop pinning... ;)


  1. I'm all, "huh?!!? Wha!?!?" but I'm mad impressed! My camera bag was left at the top of the Burj Khalifa. Like I drive by there very often...alas, I am without a nice camera bag. I like yours better anyway. I would prefer to mail you a purse and have you mail back a camera bag, FYI. Looks adorable!


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