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Turn a purse into the perfect padded camera bag for under $30!

I should start this by saying that I am not the first by a long shot to do this, and I’m glad I’m not, because I don’t think I would have come up with it on my own.  Google is your friend :)

As a photographer and a woman who happens to love bags, it’s always been hard to figure out the best way to carry all the goodies in your regular purse, plus carry a camera around.  Yes you could use a traditional camera bag, or wrap your camera in a big scarf and chance it in your purse, which is what I’m guilty of.  Silly I know, but it’s actually ooh so common.  But both options left something to be desired.  I didn’t want to carry a second bag that screamed “Hey I’ve got a camera in here!”, and because it’s nice to stick to your style of dress right down to the bag you carry.  Also as a mother of two young boys, a second bag for me to try and not loose is just asking to much!  I found that I wasn’t taking my camera out for everyday stuff as much as I wanted to because of these reasons.

I started looking into purses that double as camera bags and there are some fantastic ones out there like Kelly Moore and Epiphaine, especially if you aren’t a DIY type.  But personally for the price of $160 and up I’d like to have a leather bag that I can use with or without the padding for many years to come.  Thanks to a few fellow lady photogs I found my way.  And remember, you can use a bag that you already have, just make sure it’s big enough for the amount of gear you want to carry.

I started with finding the perfect leather bag (thank you mom and dad for the birthday present!) which I got for a wicked sale price.  Then I measured a couple existing purses and decided to make the padded insert a size that could fit multiple bags for more flexibility.  Next I hit up the foam shop for high density foam, and the fabric store for fabric and Velcro.  Total for all the supplies was only $26 not including the cost of my new purse, and I have tons of fabric left over!  I’m going to make a couple little pouches with the leftovers to carry cords, batteries ect.  I chose two different fabrics, a soft flannel for the inside, and a fun pattern for the outside.  This ended up making it slightly harder because I had to wing it with the instructions a bit, but in the end it turned out great!  If you do decide to give it a try, my tips would be to make the base piece with two layers of foam for extra protection, and to make sure you measure around your bottom piece of foam well.  I measured short and ended up having to add in another section.  I think this was a result of me trying to sew at midnight!  Also I had forgot what size Velcro to buy and mine ended up being a bit thin, so I’m going to add in another row of peel and stick for more grip for the dividing panels.

After 2 weeks of using it, I couldn’t be happier!  I’m no longer worried about my camera getting banged around in my purse, or having to keep track of a second bag.  I will still use a couple traditional camera bags when I need to carry all my gear for work, but day to day this is perfect.

It really was pretty easy and so worth it for the savings, so I hope this will inspire a few of you to give it a try.  I’m not going to post a step by step because make it and love it already do such a good job, but here is a snap of the finished product.  Note how the tin of beans acts as what could be another lens.  hahaha  Hey, I had to work with what I had on hand since all my extra gear is not with me.  The open hole is where my body with attached lens fits in multiple ways, and the wallet and sunglasses case section could easily hold a flash.  This particular bag even allows me to carry all this plus my iPad, wallet, and sunglasses in the non padded area without looking or feeling to huge to carry out and about.  Super flexible!

Happy sewing and I’d love to hear if anyone gives it a go :)



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