Introduction: Custom Photobag From Recycled Material

Hi Folks! This instructable will show you a lot of good tips and tricks for sewing your custom photobag. You can use new materials or have even more fun doing it partly from recycled material – like I did...

Step 1: Material and Tools

You need the following materials and tools:

  • Zippers
  • A foam sleeping pad to make the padding
  • Beavernylon for the inlet
  • Bias binding
  • Nylon strap band
  • Some waterprooffabric for the bag
  • Lots of velcro
  • Large paper, a pencil and a ruler
  • A sewing machine, scissors and other sewing stuff
  • A shoulder strap
  • A seam ripper

Step 2: Plan Your Bag and Prototype It

First you need to figure out, what your bag is going to look like.

I spend some time sketching bags/details I liked.

Once I had a rough idea about how it should look, I started to plan how to construct the bag – which shapes/pieces it would be made of – and in some cases, how I would sub divide some of the shapes to allow the bottom to be made out of a different material.

I did the detailed drawing of the parts in Illustrator so I could print the individual parts on large paper. This made it easy to adjust the size of the bag to fit the equipment and to make a prototype.

Step 3: Recycling Material

I wanted to make the bag look unique and cool, so I decided to reuse a pair of trousers – especially the part with the pockets... I also had an old laptop bag with some nice straps and zippers.

If you want to reuse material rather than buy new stuff, you have to carefully rip your recycled material appart without damaging it. Use a seam ripper or/and a hobby knife for this.

Step 4: Six Layered Protection

Let us have a quick look at the overall construction of the bag's protective layers...

  1. On the outside, the bag will have a coating (cover) of artificial leather and the reused pants
  2. Then there will be a thin layer of padding to give the bag a supportive structure and protection
  3. The inside of the coating will be made of waterproof raincoat fabric
  4. Then there will be an inlet made of beaver nylon on the outside
  5. Padding in the middle
  6. Beaver nylon on the inside of the inlet

So we need to cut out one copy of every piece of the blueprint for each material (the fabric should be slightly bigger to allow sewing and the padding slightly smaller to fit between the fabric...)

Step 5: The Principles of Sewing a Layer

Cutting and sewing the waterproof layer (coating/cover inside)

The following section will explain how to sew the waterproof layer, but most of it applies to the other layers as well (I am assuming you have some sewing experience – otherwise you might want to get some assistance from someone who has ...)

  1. Print every element of the blueprint in 1:1 and cut it out to make all the necessary templates
  2. Transfer the templates to the fabric with tailor's chalk – remember to add 12 mm for the seam
  3. Cut out the fabric
  4. Cut out the velcro, that will fix the inlet in place inside the bag
  5. Sew the velcro onto the fabric
  6. Sew along the border of the pieces to complete the layer

I decided to position the velcro close to the corners so I would be able to fit an iPad into the space between the inlet and the cover...

Step 6: Completing the Cover

Repeat the previous step

  1. To sew the outer layer of the cover, repeat the previous step with the fabric from the pants and the artificial leather. Remember to sew the seams on the correct side (shit happens...)!
  2. Now the inside and outside should fit into each other leaving a gap to fit the padding into.
  3. If every thing is o.k. sew the two layers together on the sides, but not the ends – otherwise you won't be able to fix the straps onto the bag.
  4. Sew the top piece onto the top of the bag
  5. Squeeze the straps into the gaps at each end of the bag and fix them with a strong seam so the weight of the bag won't break it...

Step 7: The Inlet

Most of the previous instructions also apply for the inlet...

  1. Cut out the padding
  2. Transfer their shape onto the beaver nylon with tailor's chalk
  3. Place and sew the velcro onto their right position to allow you to fit in the separators afterwards
  4. Sew the inside and outside pieces together (reverse)
  5. Fit in the padding
  6. Sew the corners of the inlet together

You may refer to this Instructable for more instructions on how to make a custom inlet for your photobag

Step 8: Fit Everything Together

Now to the fun part...

In theory everything should fit together...

Step 9: The Finished Result

Well, that wasn't so hard. I finished the project in about 8 hours...

Zip It Good! Contest

First Prize in the
Zip It Good! Contest