Introduction: The Ultimate Camera Bag
This camera bag is made in waxed canvas and leather details. It features a padded insert to protect cameras and lenses, and it utilizes Sam Brown buttons for a quiet, secure closure system. It was my intention to make the ultimate camera bag for the street photographer, so after making a prototype, I changed a couple of things and tried to make the perfect bag for my use.
Step 1: Cutting the Material
I started with cutting up the fabric for the bag. For the exterior parts I used stone waxed canvas, and while a little more expensive than regular canvas, it adds such a nice feel, plus it is more water resistant. For the insert and lining of the bag I went with a maroon canvas. I also used some beautiful brown leather for various details and the strap.
Step 2: Padding
To pad the bag I'm using a nice upholstery foam. Actually, I'm adding padding to the bottom of the bag for extra protection. However the sides are simply lined, and instead I decided to make a padded insert with dividers for pockets to add protection.
Step 3: Lining the Bag
Once I had all the pieces cut up, I first sewed the lining on to the main pieces, the front, sides and back of the bag.
Step 4: The Curved Flap
To create the curved flap, I first used a round glass container to mark out the corners, and then I carefully cut the lining, leaving about 1/2 inch of the outer material. Then I folded and sewed the curved flap. This is one of those areas on the bag that's really visible, so it's nice to take extra care and try to make as clean a seam as possible.
Step 5: Sam Brown Buttons
For closure (attached on to the outer front pocket), I decided to go with Sam Brown buttons. It such a simple concept, like a knob that you slip a leather flap on to. I made a hole for the button, which I secured on, and then I punched holes in the leather around the edges so I could sew that on to the fabric. I also made two straps to go above, to hold the flap in place, and I used rivets to secure those.
Step 6: Front Pocket
Once the leather button system was attached to the front pocket, I secured it to the main front piece by sewing two seams in the middle for two pockets.
Step 7: From Flap to Sides
The transition point where the flap (where the waxed canvas is folded as an edge inwards) becomes the back, and gets connected to the sides, is a little finicky to get right. I made sure to measure the point carefully, then I made a cut, secured the edge with lots of zigzagging, and then connected the sides with a seam, so the bag can later be turned right side out.
Step 8: Insert
So now I have the main skeleton of the bag completed, and it's time to think about the insert.
I decided to sew padded pockets for the front, back, bottom and sides filled with thick foam. I also wanted to be able to move the dividers within the insert depending on what you're bringing with you in the bag. So I went with velcro for that on the front and the back piece.
Once I had all the "pockets" created, and connected, I sewed two dividers, complete with the opposite velcro sides for easy alteration.
Step 9: Leather Parts
There are several leather details on this bag. Here I'm doubling up some pieces (by gluing with contact cement initially, and then punching and sewing the sides).
The two small pieces are for the sides to connect the hooks to the bag which will connect to the main strap. The longer pieces are for the straps to connect to the Sam Brown buttons. These pieces will be sewn onto the main bag, and dangle down to reach the buttons. To slip on to the buttons, I punched some holes and made some relief cuts so the holes were just big enough in order to slip on the button,
Step 10: Shoulder Strap
Then I'm cutting up two pieces for the main strap, so it can be adjustable with a buckle. And while it's really nice to be able to use a piece of leather like this, another option is to use an old belt here, that would also work.
I sewed on the ends of the strap pieces on to brass snaps.
I'm also making a wider shoulder strap piece, about 7 inches in length, so the main strap can fit inside, for a more comfortable feel when wearing the bag. To create that, I simply punched holes through two pieces of leather and sewed the sides together, leaving the ends open to enable the strap to go inside.
Step 11: Buckle
In order to be able to adjust the length of the strap, I'm adding a buckle and several holes on the opposite piece. I put the ideal length in my mind, in the middle hole, and that way it can be adjusted a bit either way.
And I'm using rivets to connect the buckle to the strap.
Step 12: Side Flaps
Now lastly, side flaps. To protect the sides of the bag from water entering, some sort of side flaps are quite important.. So I sewed on some simple pieces on to the sides of the bag, and these kind of fold inwards when you close, so there won't be a big gap.
Step 13: Conclusion - Watch the Video
To see the end result, as well as the process, make sure to check out the video where I go over the journey of making this bag, and how it was to use once completed!