Bag into camera bag: camera insert not-quite-orial

For Christmas, my mom got me this super cool bag (from Boden, sadly sold out now):

It’s quite a bit bigger than the purses I usually carry (I’m a smallish purse person, I don’t tend to carry my whole life in my purse – that’s in my work bag…), but looking inside I realised that it was a perfect size to carry all my purse stuff plus my camera (a DSLR)! I have a couple great camera bags (including one that looks like a purse, which I love, from here), but they hold all my myriad accessories and lenses as well as the camera, so they’re big and heavy and not necessarily what I want to bring on a casual trip to visit friends. So I determined that I would make a small foam insert for this bag to hold just my camera with one lens attached. After some googling, thinking, and yes, sewing, I had this:

A safe little cozy for my camera, leaving room for my water bottle on the side. I did document how I put the insert together, but what follows is not quite a tutorial – it’s less “you should do this” than “I did this”, so I’ve coined the term “how-I-did-it-orial” for it. Yeah, that’ll catch on, right? Anyway, see how-I-did-it after the jump…

I found a few different approaches to bag inserts for cameras on the internets, but the one I used as my starting point/basic method was this one. Rather than making adjustable velcroed sides, though, I just sewed the sides on to make a simple box.

I started by setting my camera on its side on my cutting mat to get its dimensions. Rounding up, it measured 5 by 7 inches, and I decided to make my box 4 inches tall. I cut my foam (I got some weird alterna-foam from Hancock’s since they were out of 1 inch regular foam – it’s like a really firm batting, and it worked fine, though it had a slight curve to it from being rolled up at the store): one piece 5 by 7 for the bottom, two pieces 4 by 7 for the long sides, and two pieces 4 by 5 for the short sides. I then cut my fabric. I decided to make the short sides connect directly to the bottom by making a tube and separating the foam pieces with just a line of stitching, so I cut two long strips of fabric 6 inches wide (I added an inch to the foam measurement as seam allowance, 1/2 inch on each side) by about 17 inches long. I also cut four pieces 5 by 8 inches for the long sides. I got all the pieces out of a third of a yard of 45″ fabric, with literally just a postage stamp sized piece left over.

I then sewed the long fabric strips right sides together on one short side and both long sides (using a 1/4 inch seam allowance), turned, and topstitched around those same three sides (stopping about a half inch from the open end). I then inserted my first short side foam piece and scooted it all the way to the end, stitched across close to it, inserted the bottom foam piece, stitched across, and inserted the other short side foam piece. I folded the open end in and topstitched across the end, closing the tube up.

I then repeated the process for the remaining sides, but this time I stitched around almost the whole piece, leaving just a hole in the bottom to insert the foam (so I wouldn’t have to struggle so much to fold the whole long side in and topstitch once the foam was in).


Oh, and I also added a small pocket for a memory card to one of the long pieces before I sewed them together. It’s very cute, but in practice my memory card kept falling out of it, so I recommend making the pocket a bit deeper than I did.

I now had two small pillows and one long three section pillow, all with edges I would use to attach them to each other.

I started by attaching the long sides to the bottom piece (middle of the long strip). You can sort of see how I did it – I pinned the seam allowances together and squeezed them under my presser foot. I tried to get the stitching as close to the topstitching line as possible, but it was a challenge. I really had to squash the foam – an extra hand would have been nice!

I did the same with the other long side. Then I folded up one of the short sides and used the same method to attach it at one side, then repeated on the other side. I wasn’t able to sew all the way to the bottom corners because of the awkwardness of the shape and the foam (so you can poke a finger through each corner), but it’s not like the box has to be water tight, just camera-tight!

I then sewed up the remaining sides.


And I stuck it in my bag. My now-camera bag!

  1. Amy said:

    I love it! I have a super cute but larger than I’m typically comfortable carrying camera purse, but I really like the idea of making any purse a camera purse with something like this case. I’ll let you know if I end up making one. I imagine I will! Thanks!

  2. joey n said:

    GREAT idea! I hate carrying my big bulky canon rebel bag. This is way cuter.

  3. Evie said:

    What a fab idea. This is going on my “to do” list! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I just made this and love it! If you flip it inside-out, then you wont have all the sewn together, raw edges! i also sewed buttons on the ends with a little strap so I could grab the whole thing! Great tutorial!

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