Introduction: Make a Backpack-style Bag for Your Drum (with Matching Cushion)
My mom has a Djembe and she wanted a way to transport it and keep it safe. I did some shopping around for a bag, and decided that I could make her one as nice (if not better) than what was commercially available.
It doesn't matter if you are a Busker, Troubadour, Minstrel, or just want to bang on the drum all day; you will enjoy the easy transportation and comfy place to sit that this bag design offers.
I am by no means a professional seamster, and I am sure there are a few things that I didn't do correctly, or could have been done a better way; but I have used a sewing machine once or twice before, and this is how I did it.
If you know a method or technique that I should have used feel free to let me know in the comments so I can apply them to my future endeavors.
Some nice added bonuses from making it myself:
- I can make it using a fabric that mom likes (90 percent of the bags i saw for sale were plain black)
- A store bought gift has a hard time stacking up against a present that you took the time and effort to make yourself
- I was able to add features she could use, like the seat cushion
Since we live several hours apart,I did not have the drum available when I was making the bag so all I had to go off of was the basic measurements of the drum that I was given
14" upper diameter
7" lower diameter
11" height lower section of the drum
13" height upper section of the drum
I made and assembled everything with the exception of attaching the backpack straps to the bag until I had a chance to see how the drum fit in the bag and how the bag would ride as a backpack.
It was a good thing that I waited because I ended up having to move the top of the straps up about 3 inches from their originally planned location all the way up to near the drawstring channel.
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Step 1: Materials I Used
- 2 yards cover fabric (swirly purple star pattern cotton)
- 2 yards inner fabric (black duck canvas)
- 2 yards drawstring cord
- 3 yards 1" nylon web
- appropriate colored threads
- 1 package of 2 strap adjusters
- 2 8"x10" sheets of 1/4" thick foam sheeting - or other appropriate filler for the backpack straps (i used what I had available) you can even use batting
- 1 hot seat cushion (find them at the sporting goods store)
- 1 2" thick piece of dense foam large enough to make a cushion base for the drum
- 1 plan for how to assemble the bag
Step 2: Making the Body
Given the basic measurements I had the circumference of the upper portion of the drum is 44" and the lower portion is 22"
Since the bag does not have to be absolutely snug I added 2" to the bottom circumference and 3" to the upper circumference measurements to make it easier to get the drum in and out of the bag.
I added an extra 6 inches of height to the fabric to the top for the drawstring channel and to close over the top of the drum.
I failed to account for the foam at the base of the drum in my measurements so the top does not close as completely as I planned it to but it is still closed enough to hold the drum and cushion in place in the bag.
So if you use my design add 8 inches instead of 6 to the top of the fabric.
Trace your design onto your fabric. I did my design onto the inside fabric (the black canvas). As you can tell from the pictures sometimes "measure twice and cut once" is not enough. This one was more like measure twice, draw once, realize it is misaligned, redraw it several more times without getting it right, walk away briefly to cuss quietly under your breath, come back and give it another go, almost get it right that time, bang your head against the table several times in frustration, look up dazed and slightly cross-eyed, draw it out one more time and quietly giggle maniacally to yourself because you hit paydirt.
Pin you fabrics together and cut along you now correct lines.
Run your fabric through your sewing machine to secure the edged together.
Pin together the lower portions of the bag and stitch the inner three edges together (don't worry .. we will get to the fourth in a few moments)
Step 3: Adding in the Drawstring Channel at the Top
While the fabric is still open, fold in enough of the top edge on each side so that you can run a vertical stitch down 2" from the top of the bag so you don't have a raw fabric edge where the drawstring will come out of the bag.
Fold the top inch of the upper edge down . Pin your fabric and sew to create the drawstring channel.
I'm sure this wasn't the typical method, but what I did was placed the cord into the fabric before pinning and sewing so that I didn't have to thread the cord through once the channel was made.
In order to avoid sewing the cord in place i placed the pins in between the cord and the presser foot so as long as I kept the pins to one side I was sure I wouldn't accidentally stitch into the cord.
Once the drawstring channel is completed, pin together the open edges and run a stitch down from the bottom of the drawstring channel down to the bottom of the bag.
Step 4: Making the Bottom for the Bag
I needed something to make a 7" circle for the bottom of the bag.
I found a lid for one of my pots that fit perfectly into the bottom opening of the bag.
Using the lid I traced out a bottom for the bag, pinned the fabrics together, and cut the circle out slightly larger than my traced template.
Starting with the outer edge, I pinned the bottom to the bag. After a few minor adjustments I had the bottom pinned in without any puckers or folds in the fabrics. Sew and trim away the excess fabric from the bottom fabric.
It turns out my original line was right on, but I thought it would be easier to have a little extra material that needed to be trimmed away rather than cutting a circle to small and having to cut out another bottom.
Using the same pot lid I marked out a circle onto the dense foam to pad the bottom of the drum. I found a really easy way to trim this type of foam is with a bread knife.
Step 5: Cushion
Taking the hot seat cushion I got at the sporting goods store, it was time to re-skin it to match the bag.
Placing the fabrics together inside out, I traced out a circle with a 17" diameter.
Pin the fabrics together, cut them out, and sew 3/4 of the circle edge together.
Flip the fabric right side out and start to stuff the cushion into the cover. I placed the cushion so that the attached handle was sticking out of the opening in the cover.
Continue to stitch the opening closed.
Step 6: Backpack Straps
Taking the thin sheets of foam, cut 3 equal strips from each sheet.
Using the outer fabric create a sleeve to fit three of the foam strips snugly. Make sure to make the sleeves longer than the foam so that you have material to connect the strap to the bag on one end and attach the nylon webbing at the other end.
I put a stitch down the length of the sleeve to hold the foam in place and give it a nice look aesthetically.
Cut two 4" lengths of nylon webbing. Don't forget to use a lighter to seal the edge of the webbing to avoid fraying.
Thread the webbing around the upper portion of the strap adjustment buckle.
Fold the bottom edge of the sleeve fabric in to create a nice tapered effect. Place the webbing around the tapered fabric and stitch a box around the edge and then stitch a X inside the box.
Cut webbing to make the bottom of the backpack strap assembly. I cut each side slightly over 2 feet long, you may need a longer or shorter length depending on how much room for adjustment you want. For the end that passes through the adjustment buckle I cut the webbing on a slight angle just for looks.
I folded the fabric at the top of the sleeve into the sleeve to double up the fabric where I was going to stitch it to the bag. I pinned the backpack straps about 3" apart from each other at the top and approx 12" apart at the bottom.
The top of the strap was secured to the bag by stitching a rectangle and then stitching 2 side by side X's inside the rectangle.
The webbing for the bottom of the backpack strap was secured to the bag using a Box-X stitch (I would call it an X-box stitch but the last thing I need is a copyright infringement battle with Microsoft) adding a second stitch line at the bottom of the box for added strength.
Step 7: All Done
Put the drum in the bag, put the cushion on top of the drum to protect the drum skin, pull the drawstring and tie it closed.
You are ready to head off to your drum circle in style.