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The Makebetter Project: The Camera Bag

July 22, 2009

canon bag

When David and I finally made the big purchase plunge a few months ago on a new canon digital slr, the first thing I thought of was ‘what are we going to carry it around in’? A canon bag was thrown in with the purchase ( see above) and although it was practical, it left me completely unexcited about lugging it around. Enter my little ‘make better project: the camera bag’.
leather camera bag
From the start it was recognised that David was probably going to do must of the lugging, so I had to keep his classic, “worn” tastes in mind. After a fruitless search for a nice camera bag, I decided to take a nice bag and give it some extra support. I searched all over town for a worn leather bag but either the shape wasn’t right or they were growing mold in them (seriously !) so I turned to the Internet and ordered a leather satchel from grafea. I selected the bag specifically for it’s rigid shape, as well as the side pockets, perfect for storing spare camera cards.

camera bag ingredients

After receiving the bag I was able to do some measurements to allow me to get the rest of the ingredients.

  • Dense Foam. I luckily work next to a foam store,  but there is always the Internet. Keep in mind the size of your bag and how big your camera is when figuring out your thickness of foam. You can always layer pieces together to make it thicker.
  • Fabric. I bought some run of the mill cotton twill fabric ( probably best to avoid synthetics which may cause static). You could go really cute with a great pattern or colour (perhaps even vintage since you don’t need that much), but alas mine is suited for Indiana jones.
  • Permanent spray adhesive
  • Xacto knife
  • Scissors

The steps:

Pretty simple really…After measuring the interior, I cut out four foam pieces to cover the inside panels.  To ensure the panels stayed in their positions, instead cutting out foam pieces the length of the bag, I created them shorter so that they all lean against the other one. I then created the bottom so that it fit in the middle of all the pieces, not below it- yet another form of keeping every piece where it should be.

Cut out the fabric to allow for overlay around the edges- but I didn’t worry about covering all sides as it just created unnecessary bulk. I just made sure that the fold over went far down enough that you couldn’t see the foam when it was in the bag.

Spray the fabric, lay foam in the middle and wrap like a present. When you have all the pieces wrapped, spray one side edge in order to stick to the other and repeat on the other ‘L’. I placed a few straight pins in the side to reinforce the joint. You should now have three units- a bottom and two ‘L’ shapes.

I simply inserted my two ‘L’ pieces and then inserted the bottom inside, and miraculously my pedantic measuring made for a snug fit. You could glue these sides into the bag but I quite liked the flexibility of being able to remove them on whim without leaving a trace. Instead, I have added two pieces of sticker Velcro in as extra measure.


side pockets


• The bag has worked a treat so far and has made for a much more welcome addition to our holiday photos! See! It wasn’t all about looks… we avoided the whole ‘walking rob me sign’ when using it on holiday, trains etc.

• Depending on your camera, you could create more foam panels lined with velcro to insert inside the bag to create different compartments (house your lens, camera body etc…)

• I’ve been caught out in a half an hour deluge of rain and it was dry as a bone, but since then we’ve placed a large ziploc bag in the back pocket to be able to protect it in just in case.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2009 1:58 pm

    Brit I love this bag! You did a great job making it suitable for Dave to carry around and the color of the leather is perfect. What camera did you end up buying? We are looking to buy a digital slr and I can’t seem to decide on a brand. I keep flip flopping between Nikon and Canon. Your pictures from your travels were great and look professional, a quality I’m looking for.

    • Pillar Box Post permalink*
      July 23, 2009 1:01 pm

      Glad you like it, i’m on a bit of a warm mid leather kick at the moment. My current mini satchel purse is the same colour (which yes, does mean that david and I look a bit matchy matchy when together, eek). We went the full hog and bought a canon 50d, which is probably much higher spec than you or myself need…David got an unexpected payment from work after they forgot to tell him about a gym allowance for a year, so we used that to “upgrade”.

      As for the canon vs. nikon debate I think you are in safe hands either way, but be warned you do join a bit of a club where you are forced to say yours is better against the others! My dad is crazy obsessed with cameras and does research on the topic for fun and he has a canon but admitted that my brother in law (colleen’s husband) has a great camera as well that is nikon. We got a canon because it makes sharing lenses and things better since Dad has one and also because we liked the feel. The bodies of the two brands are made of different materials which handle a little bit different. I’d go to a store and man handle and see what you feel comfortable holding, because they can be heavy for the little lady arms!

  2. July 22, 2009 5:16 pm

    wow! i love this! if only i had half as much talent at putting things together…i would definitely love this over my current SLR bag. it’s so bulky and ugly.

    • Pillar Box Post permalink*
      July 23, 2009 1:02 pm

      it really isn’t hard, just find a bag that has a good shape because that will obviously make it a bit easier. You might even be able to find something in a second hand store, and then the cost is dirt cheap! If you decide to go for it and need further instructions or details, I’d love to help. Long live the pretty necessities!

  3. Tim permalink
    August 19, 2009 11:12 am

    I owe you a Big thankyou…:)

    I found your post by accident and its inspired me to do the same to a satchel for my samsung netbook n310…. I can never find a laptop bag that I like…..They are so boring and generally ugly… I bought the slightly larger satchel (ART) from the same online store and padded is out to your instructions. And its a perfect well protected but very cool way to combine my work and play…so many people comment on it !

    thanks again for the great ideas

    • Pillar Box Post permalink*
      August 25, 2009 9:21 pm

      Thank you so much for that lovely comment…it made my day! I’m so glad you were able to get something useful and interesting out of me…you’ll have to let me know if you find any new modifications, or flaws *eek* that could be resolved. I feel like the camera isn’t the only piece of equipment that will get the treatment from me. Send us a photo if you get the chance, cheers!

  4. August 30, 2009 5:08 am

    Thanks for the good information.

    Just an addition if you guys are looking for digital slr camera adivices and information, feel free to visit my site.

  5. January 29, 2010 12:45 am

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post. i was thinking about asking for this bag for valentines day and now i know it’s perfect! i need to hunt for fabric & foam to make the inserts like you did too. thank you!

  6. April 13, 2010 1:16 am

    Saw your comment via swissmiss. Right on! Very cool, manly bag. Nice work.

    Jen N.

  7. November 14, 2010 10:14 pm

    my first digital SLR camera was an EOS450D, now i have an EOS550D which also shoots high resolution video ”.


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