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DIY Purse Camera Bag {Tutorial}


posted: 11/06/12

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
DIY Purse Camera Bag | A tutorial to make a fancy purse camera bag out of a second hand bag!DIY Purse Camera Bag | A tutorial to make a fancy camera bag purse out of a second hand bag!

Have I mentioned that my dear friend, Cathy, started a blog?

It’s called Lemon Tree Dwelling. And for a new blogger, she’s kind of killing it. (I’m probably too old to say that. Who am I kidding? I’m definitely too old to say that.)

Like me, Cathy is a stay at home mom. She’s an amazing stay at home mom. I’m always hearing about these super fun and creative activities that she’s doing with her kids. So, I was so happy when she started her blog. Not only was it something I thought she’d be really good at, but it was something for her.

Cathy just celebrated her birthday, and I really wanted to get her something to support this new endeavor. Something to show her how proud I am of her doing something for herself.

So the first thing I did was redesign her blog. (Do you hear that? It’s the sound of me patting myself on the back. I’m kind of proud of my newfound talents.)

I topped off the new design with her own custom watermark that she can easily add to her photos using PicMonkey.

Incidentally (cough . . . shameless plug . . . cough) I’m selling these watermarks in my etsy shop.

But I really wanted to give Cathy something tangible. And then I thought of the perfect blogging accessory! A fancy schmancy camera bag purse!

I found this bag at Goodwill . . . and I’m just a little bit embarrassed to admit this isn’t even the first bag from Goodwill that I’ve given Cathy for her birthday. That’s just how we roll.

The thing I really liked about the bag was that it had the main section in the middle, perfect for the camera and the extra lens. And then it had these little pouches on the side, that could hold a wallet, phone, and keys. Or you know, a diaper, ziplock full of baby wipes, and a small container of Cheerios. Whatever.

There are a lot of purse camera bag tutorials out there. I found this one from Vanilla & Lace the most helpful.

The exact measurements are going to be different depending on what type of camera you have, what you are trying to store, and the size of the purse. But I can tell you what I did, and you can use it as a guide.

Here are the supplies I started with:

  • 1 yard of super swanky fabric (it wasn’t that swanky, but I thought it looked funky and cool)
  • 1 yard of 1/2 inch foam
  • 1 package of 1/2 inch wide velcro
I had a lot of extra fabric and foam when I was done. I could have easily done with 1/2 a yard of each. But now I get to use it to make one for me!!
Start by measuring your purse. I found it helpful to measure the outside.
After measuring the purse, I cut the size pieces I thought I would need out of cardboard and put them in the purse to see if I was on the right track. And I’m glad that I did too! The side pieces were about an inch too high for the purse to close. (What is pictured below are the sizes I went with.)
Then I cut my foam to match the cardboard and my fabric an inch and a half longer than the piece of foam in each direction. So, for example, the foam that was 12 inches by 4 inches had fabric that was 13.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Make sense?
The piece that is pictured is one of the long 12 by 4 side pieces. I wanted velcro to run along each side of the inside of the bag. So that the secitions could be velcroed in wherever. (It will make more sense further down.)
Once the fabric was cut to 13.5 by 5.5 inches (for the two pieces, I cut four pieces of fabric and two pieces of foam), I sewed a 12 inch piece of velcro down the middle of one right side of the fabric. I used the soft side of the velcro since it would be running the whole length.
Once the velcro was sewed in place, I put both right sides together (for one piece of foam, there was one piece with velcro and one without), and sewed around three sides (1/4 inch seam allowance), leaving one end completely open.
Shove the foam in.
Fold the fabric in slightly and pin, then sew it shut. The edges will be decently hidden within the bag, so I just machine sewed it to close.

Again, I only sewed velcro to the pieces that went on the side.

Once you make all four sides and the bottom, it’s time to make the pieces that you can move around to hold your camera and extra lenses in place. I only made two that will make for three compartments.

The purse I was using was 5 inches wide, so I made two 6 inch dividers. I did them the same height I did all the other pieces, though I wish I would have done them slightly shorter.

The fabric I cut was 9 inches by 5.5 inches to cover a 6 by 4 inch piece of 1/2 inch thick foam. The excess on the sides will be used for velcro.

I sewed the two right sides together using 1/4 inch seam allowance, and left both ends totally open. That allowed me to make the foam really centered.

Now fold the edges in a bit like you did with the other pieces, and pin it close on both sides. I actually used the pins to push the foam in a little and bend it out of the way. Then pin a piece of velcro in place (be sure to use the opposite of what you’ve already used! Ha!!). Now sew it up, baby.

Look at all your hard work! (In reality I’m a wannabe seamstress, and this took me maybe two hours.)

Now . . . how to get them to stay put in the bag . . . . I did, in fact, contemplate hot glue.

But I went a classier route, and decided to hand sew them into the lining. To start, I pinned them all in place,

and then pulled it inside out to make sure they were placed properly.

And then I just carefully stitched them into place. For the stitches that went around the top, I flipped it all back inside the purse.

And there you have it!


Seriously. This post took me longer than the bag!

Happy Birthday Cath! I love ya!

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


    Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you & seeing what you made!

  1. The Mandatory Mooch says

    What a terrific transformation. I can’t wait to try this myself. This post will be FEATURED on Tasty Thursdays this week. Thanks so much, Nichi

  2. Mandy says

    Ooooh, nice! I like it. I think I will make one from an old diaper bag I have :)

  3. FrugalFoodieMama says

    I agree with Dorothy- bahahaha! I am saving my blogging earnings for a new camera & perhaps I can coax my mama into helping me something like this after I have bought it. ;)

    • Lisa says

      Lol! Maybe I should list one in my Etsy shop and save your and Dorothy’s poor mothers :)

  4. Brenna says

    YES! I just got my DSLR and this is perfect. I do love to accessorize. My husband will be happy, now I don’t have to by one of those super expensive bags.

    • Lisa says

      I know, right?? I really wanted to buy my friend one of those fancy bags, but they are expensive!! I’m happy I figured out how to make it, and it’s super easy!

  5. Rachel Willis says

    Great bag, Lisa. I am totally impressed!

    • Lisa says

      Thanks Rachel!

  6. Trish - Mom On Timeout says

    Love this Lisa! I’ve always wanted to try this only…I don’t sew! By the way, you’re an AWESOME friend!

    • Lisa says

      As of a year ago, I didn’t either!! I promise, if I can learn, so can you :) {And thank you, it’s nice to be an awesome friend to another mom, because she really appreciates someone going out of their way for her!}

  7. Pineapple And Coconut says

    This is FABULOUS!!! I have had my eye on an Epiphanie bag forever – but they are so pricey. My friend Liz made one like this a few years ago, and I have been wanting to make one – I just have yet to find a good purse. I need to to Goodwill for more than just food props!

  8. Holly Waterfall says

    This is seriously amazing! I never would have thought to turn a regular purse into a camera bag. Yeah, I’m going to have to do this soon. Thanks for such a great tutorial!

  9. Tammy Northrup says

    Lisa, like Dorothy you had me until you mentioned SEW. YIKES! How about I send you the materials and you make one for me? : )


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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners