Introduction: Denim Camera Case
I made this padded denim camera case to match a laptop sleeve I have made.
Design criteria: I wanted a very simple, almost minimalist case - no extra pockets for batteries or SD cards; just a padded case with a simple closure that would be easy to open and close.
This is a reasonably basic sewing project but I am assuming you know how to work a sewing machine - straight stitch, zig-zag stitch, etc.
Step 1: Materials and Equipment
- Denim recycled from a pair of jeans
- Fleece blanket for padding
- Cotton material for lining
- Short length of 2mm elastic cord
- Large button
- Sewing thread
Standard Sewing Equipment:
- Sewing machine
- Fabric shears
- Thread snips
- Sewing needle
- Iron and ironing board
- Chalk or fabric pen
Step 2: Cut Fabric
First I cut the fabric roughly to size. I ironed the denim and cotton lining to make sure it was flat and uncreased. For the main body of the case, I cut out a long rectangle, about three times the length of my camera - this gives a generous margin for stitching and later adjustments. The quilting process requires some extra margin because the fabric layers may move around.
I used a double layer of polyester fleece to make the padding inside the case. I sewed a test piece on my machine to make sure it could handle the thickness and the fabric would feed nicely through the feed dogs (which can be a problem for slippery fabrics like polyester).
I sewed the two layers of fleece together so they would stay together during the quilting phase.
I also pre-cut the fleece so that it would end up short of the sides of the case, reducing bulk when sewing and finishing the sides.
Step 3: Sandwich Quilting
The next step is to the quilt the layers together. I made sure everything was placed correctly and pinned it in place. Then I did a line of stitching across the middle of the fabric sandwich, using a zig-zag stitch. You can use any stitch you like - fancy stitches, straight stitches, contrasting thread colour, etc.
I marked straight lines on the fabric using a ruler and a chalk marker. This helps keep the lines straight and parallel to each other.
The fabric layers do end up sliding around a bit and may not end up matching together at the edges - that's why I cut the fabric with a fairly big margin.
Step 4: Triangle Top
To close up the case I am going to use a triangular flap with an elastic loop. First I cut out matching triangular shapes from the denim and cotton material. I stitched their edges together inside-out, with the loop on the inside. I checked with the button to make sure my loop would be the right size. I stitched over the elastic several times to make sure it wouldn't come loose later on.
I trimmed the ends of the elastic loop. I used a lighter flame to melt the ends of the elastic and stop them from fraying. Then I turned the triangle right-way out. Now is a good time to iron it flat.
Next I cut a piece of fleece padding to fit inside.the triangle and stitched this in place. I found that it was best to start at the raw edge, sew down, across and then back to the raw edge. This way there are no loose ends of thread which could come unstitched later - the loose ends will be safely enclosed inside the seam when we join the flap to the case.
I made the triangle quite a lot longer than necessary so I could trim it to size later.
Variations: You could sew a traditional buttonhole into the flap rather than using a loop of elastic. I think the loop is slightly faster to undo (vital when you suddenly need to take a picture!)
Step 5: Edge the Opening
The next step is to finish one of the edges around the opening of the case. Trim back the padding, then fold and pin the edges so that the raw edge of the fabric is on the inside. Iron the folds to make sure it will stay in place while you're sewing.
Now you can top-stitch the seam closed with a straight stitch, very close to the edge.
This edge will be the front edge of the camera case.
Tip: Make sure you avoid the polyester fleece when ironing - it will melt into a sticky mess!
Step 6: Stitch the Sides
Now that we have one edge defined, we can stitch up the sides. With the fabric sandwich 'inside out', place your camera on the sandwich and fold it over so the finished edge is sitting at the right spot. Make sure the padding is centered on the camera and pin one side.
Mark a straight, ruled line over your pins and then stitch this with a basting stitch (the longest stitch on your machine). Put your camera back in and repeat for the other side. Now you can (carefully) turn the case the right way out and test that your camera fits nicely. It is easy to remove the basting stitches to adjust how loosely or tightly the case is around your camera.
When you're happy with the fit, you can stitch the sides up with a tight stitch. Leave an inch unstitched around the top for the next step.
Step 7: Stitch in the Flap
Now that the sides are defined, you'll be able to see where the final edge needs to be. Follow the same procedure as the first edge - trim the padding and excess material, fold, pin and iron in place.
Check with the triangular flap to see where the button is going to end up. You'll probably want to trim the flap a bit.
Then insert the triangular flap into the seam before pinning and top-stitching the edge.
If you wanted to add a belt loop, you could stitch one end of the belt loop inside the same seam as the triangular flap. Keep in mind that with denim, this could get very bulky. You would also want to add the belt loop before stitching up the sides.
Step 8: Finish the Sides
Now you can finish stitching up the sides. Trim the excess fabric away from the side seams and overlock or zigzag the raw fabric edges.
If you don't have an overlocker (serger) you can use a zig-zag stitch to finish the edges.
Tip: If using an overlocker, make sure it can handle denim. You can get denim needles which are much less likely to break!
Now is a good time to tidy up all the loose threads inevitably hanging off the case.
Turn the case the right way out, you're almost done!
Step 9: Sew on the Button
Next I sewed on a big button for the elastic loop to hook onto. You'll probably want to pin the button on to make sure it's in the right spot. I used a double length of thread to speed things up.
My button ended up quite tight to the camera case, it would have worked slightly better if it had been a bit looser.
Here's a handy Youtube video about sewing on buttons.
Step 10: Box Corners (optional)
I noticed that my case had very pointy corners at the bottom. I decided to add boxed corners to see if they would look better.
Turning the case inside out again, you simply fold the corners so that the side seam forms the halfway point of a triangle. Then you sew across the corner. My camera is about 1 cm thick, so I sewed across a 1cm triangle. Repeat for the other corner.
The tricky part is getting your stitch line at 90 degrees to the side seam, otherwise your corners can look a bit skewed. Possibly worth a basting stitch so you can remove and adjust if necessary.
Here's a video from CraftyGemini showing the box corner technique on a larger project.
Once you have your stitched corner correct, you can restitch the seam with a tight double stitch, then trim off the excess fabric from the corner and finish it with a zigzag stitch to stop the raw edges from fraying.
Step 11: Belt Loop (optional)
I didn't add a belt loop to this case, but here's some notes on how to add one.
It's reasonably straight-forward to sew a tube and then turn it inside-out to use as the belt loop, just make sure you use a reasonably wide tube - the denim is very difficult to turn inside-out for smaller tubes. A dowel or pen is useful for the turning-inside-out process.
The belt loop will require a different order of operations - you'll want to top-stitch the edges, stitching the flap and the belt loop inside the seam, then stitch the belt loop onto the body of the case, and finally stitch up the side seams.
Step 12: Final Thoughts.
I'm quite happy with how my case turned out. The quilting lines and side seams are much straighter than my previous project, because I ruled straight guide lines. The loop and button work great. My box corners are slightly wonky but that's OK - it gives the case a bit of character. :-)