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DIY Camera [Purse] Bag

by Allie on February 2, 2011 · 92 comments

in Fun Stuff,Get Crafty,Photography

For months, I carried my camera in my purse wrapped in t-shirt bags. They’re great for groceries and miscellaneous items, but not the best protection for my most prized possession!

I searched for months for a decent looking DSLR camera bag. I was looking for a bag that didn’t look like a camera bag, but rather a purse. That way I could just carry one bag. Carrying two bags at the same time (a purse and a camera bag) is really awkward. I’ve been asked about it before in public…awkward.

I finished making this bag a couple months ago, but somehow put off writing this blog post! Since I’m still up in the air, I figured it would be the perfect time to show you how I’ve been carrying around my camera.

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I found a few gorgeous camera bags online that I repeatedly gawked at over and over again. There was only one problem, they were $160-$200.

Sure, I could afford one (barely), but I knew there was a cheaper way to make one myself. You know, a way that wouldn’t cost more than two months worth of groceries. Inspiration came from this post.

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I bought materials from the craft store and a purse from Marshalls. I wanted a purse that was wide and had a couple pockets so I would be able to fit a lens or two along with my point and shoot camera, my cell phone, my wallet, etc.

I also got 1 yard of fabric, sew-on velcro, 1 yard of quilt fluff, and a 1″ thick piece of foam.

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Our sewing machine has been broken for over a decade, so I actually hand sewed the inserts for my bag. All I have to say is…

OUCH.

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It’s doable, but if you have a sewing machine by all means, USE IT!

I lined the sides and bottom of the bag using the green foam and the quilt filling. I covered the inserts with the fabric, like a sealed up pillowcase.

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I also made divider pads with velcro ears that I can rearrange based on what’s inside my bag.

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For the most part, I put my camera in the middle section. I use one side for an extra lens and the other side for my wallet and cell phone.

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The bag took me awhile to make only because I had to sew it by hand…and I could only stand to do that for ~30 min. a day. Had I used a sewing machine, this project would have been completed in a couple hours.

Now I can carry my camera in something stylish and protective. No more camera stuffed inside my t-shirt bag, stuffed inside my purse along with 50 billion random things.

All for less than $40.

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Tell me: Have you made any crafts lately? If you own a DSLR, what do you carry it in?

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{ 88 comments… read them below or add one }

1 megan @ the oatmeal diaries February 3, 2011 at 6:33 pm

You are so crafty! I love it!!

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2 suki @ [Super Duper Fantastic] February 3, 2011 at 6:41 pm

That’s fantastic! A nice way to camouflage a camera bag. :) I might have to do that for my next camera bag. :)

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3 hippierunner February 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Wow- you are a genius! I love how the print matches your blog colors!

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4 Allie February 4, 2011 at 11:00 am

Haha I didn’t even realize that! I only noticed that it doesn’t match my camera strap : /

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5 Clare @ Fitting It All In February 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Super impressed, Allie! I had never even thought of repurposing a purchased purse!

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6 Liz February 3, 2011 at 7:01 pm

That’s such a great idea! I need to learn to sew…

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7 Celina February 3, 2011 at 7:12 pm

genius!!! so impressed!

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8 Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn February 3, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Can I just say that your camera bag purse mishmash is absolutely GORGEOUS, I wish I were still a wizard with sewing needles but unforch that skill will need to be regained. Good job girl!

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9 Heather February 3, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Allie you’re my hero. I think you’re on to something serous here :)

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10 ILoveChocolateee February 3, 2011 at 7:18 pm

ooh I really like it!

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11 Meg February 3, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I am super impressed!!! wicked good job!!

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12 Katie @ Healthy Heddleston February 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm

This is genius Allie.. I absolutely love it!!

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13 Courtney @ The Granola Chronicles February 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm

What a fun craft – I love this!

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14 Heather February 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Ohmygoodness! You are a GENIUS girl! If I carry my camera around, I usually just put it in my purse, but I’m always SO scared about scratching it up! I don’t know the first thing about sewing and a sewing machine is as foreign to me as a control panel on a spaceship, but I HAVE to make this! I love the pattern of fabric you went with too! It matches your blog! ;)

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15 Manissa February 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm

This is awesome! My grandma made me a similar thing, but she made me a ‘pouch’ so I can dump my camera in it and use it with any of my bags :) If I had sewing skills I’d TOTALLY give your idea a go :)

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16 Matt @ The Athlete's Plate February 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Cool! Too bad I am a guy ;)

I carry my DSLR in a camera bag. LOL.

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17 Kate (What Kate is Cooking) February 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm

It’s so pretty! I hope your flight goes well. I know from experience that 15 hour flights are hell!

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18 Christine (The Raw Project) February 3, 2011 at 7:59 pm

What and awesome project, very crafty! I have a boring camera bag for mine, but would love something like this.

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19 Ash February 3, 2011 at 8:02 pm

very impressed!

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20 annie February 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm

so crafty! sooo cute!

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21 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean February 3, 2011 at 8:35 pm

what an awesome project!! looks beautiful…i love the fabric AND the purse :)

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22 Julie (A Case of the Runs) February 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Creative! I break through my purses so quickly that I’d probably need to re-make these over and over again, though!

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23 Allie February 4, 2011 at 11:01 am

Yeah I got a pretty cheap purse and I’m regretting that decision now!

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24 Casey @ Insatiably Healthy February 3, 2011 at 8:49 pm

One word: Genius!
When I finally save up enough money for a n SLR I am definitely making that bag!

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25 Lauren February 3, 2011 at 8:58 pm

This is the CUTEST bag! I love how creative you are. :)

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26 Hannah February 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm

SUPER cute!

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27 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 3, 2011 at 9:35 pm

That is absolutely ingenius – you’re officially my hero.

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28 Brittany February 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm

AHH genius idea!

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29 Lee February 3, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Dude this is awesome!

I carry two bags – a purse and a camera bag which is a pain. Sometimes I stick my license and phone in the camera bag and ditch the purse, but it doesn’t fit well and I still don’t have a place for my keys.

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30 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin February 3, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Martha Stewart would be proud! ;) It looks great!

The most crafty I ever get is making collages and inspiration boards. Other than that, I’m hopeless.

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31 Jess @ atasteofconfidence February 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm

So cute!

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32 Maddie (Healthy Maddie) February 3, 2011 at 10:49 pm

That is awesome! I want to make one.

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33 Kori February 3, 2011 at 11:25 pm

You did an AMAZING job on your camera bag!! It looks expensive and high-end to me, but it’s so neat that you actually made it. Awesome idea and perfect execution! :)

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34 Mary @ Bites and Bliss February 3, 2011 at 11:47 pm

This is awesome!! I have a camera bag..but it’s the big boxy kind. Definitely not stylish enough to carry around.

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35 Melissa February 3, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Wow! You’re so talented! I need to make a bag like this… but hand sewing? Hmm maybe not! You should go into the camera bag business!

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36 Kristina February 4, 2011 at 12:25 am

Could you get any more creative?! That’s awesome!!!! Hope your flight is going well!!!!

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37 maria @ Chasing the Now February 4, 2011 at 1:21 am

Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been looking at camera bags over the last month because I’d really like to buy one to protect my new camera, but damn they are expensive! I just can’t do that! But, I have seen some inserts (like the one you made) that will slip right down into another bag. I was nervous they might not work, but after seeing this I will probably order one. Because to be honest my sewing skills are lacking and I don’t have a machine.

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38 Mandy (theamazonprincess) February 4, 2011 at 1:24 am

OMG you”re so genius! I need to do this just for my purse. It gets cluttered fast. :/

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39 Jessy February 4, 2011 at 8:45 am

Wow, what an awesome camera purse!

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40 Anna February 4, 2011 at 9:07 am

Oooh, I love this idea! Thanks so much for sharing! =)

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41 Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine February 4, 2011 at 9:47 am

That is AWESOME- I love it!! I remember seeing those camera bags when you tweeted them awhile back, but I forgot the name of them. I still haven’t asked my parents for a birthday present yet, so I don’t know if I should try to be crafty and go your route or keep searching for a ready-made one!

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42 Holly @ Couch Potato Athlete February 4, 2011 at 9:48 am

I have sewed many things by hand so I am super impressed that you did this all without a machine! It looks beautiful!

I have a point and shoot, so I keep it in its slim little case in my purse. Super easy!

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43 Julie @SavvyEats February 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

Bookmarking this. Such a brilliant idea!

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44 courtney February 4, 2011 at 10:05 am

Seriously such a great idea!!!

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45 Beth February 4, 2011 at 10:05 am

That is such a great idea, and it looks so much nicer than a typical camera bag! Nice job on getting crafty :)

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46 Wei-Wei February 4, 2011 at 10:08 am

Bookmarked, THANK YOU!

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47 Marilyn February 4, 2011 at 10:24 am

That is very impressive! I would never think of something that crafty!

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48 Charlene February 4, 2011 at 10:26 am

I totally love that DSLR handbag. You should sell some on etsy ;) I made a similar one when I went to Europe and was scared about pickpocketers stealing my stuff if I was looking overly touristy wielding a DSLR. I made a padded pouch which just slips over the camera and I can shove it into any handbag that I use at the time (providing that I have a big enough bag). Your bag is probably more secure though… hope you enjoy HK & the CNY celebrations :)

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49 Charlene February 4, 2011 at 10:46 am

and all the best with your grandma. (just realised my last line may sound insensitive in the context of it all…sorry :( – its like 2am here :S)

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50 Allie February 4, 2011 at 11:05 am

I definitely didn’t read it like that…no worries! I looked into selling on etsy but I read something about the entire thing having to be handmade? Not sure though. If so, I don’t know if I’m capable of sewing a purse!

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51 Shannon February 4, 2011 at 10:40 am

I LOVE that bag. I just want to buy the supplies and have you make me one! ;)

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52 Amy February 4, 2011 at 11:27 am

That’s awesome! My BF bought me a really nice camera bag for Xmas, but I think I just might try this for a more stylish one when I’m walking around town. The other one is really good for hiking, biking, etc though.

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53 Asia February 5, 2011 at 12:12 pm

You amaze me!!! You could sell these and I will be your first customer!!

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54 Mabelle @ dance, love, dine February 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Great Job! Very creative! And wow. I cannot believe you sewed that by hand. You had to be super focused :)

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55 Leila @ Spinach and Skittles February 6, 2011 at 3:02 am

You are brilliant. That is all.

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56 SOL March 15, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Hi, I was looking for just something like this for my videocamera and the rest of my belongins. It is a great idea and I will try this. Don´t worry, I will show you the result, and I will use two old neoprene swimming suits of my child that I didn´t want to throw away… and now I will use them!

Thank you for sharing this with everybody.

SOL

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57 calicodaisy handmade April 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm

What a marvelous idea. I have been tempted to buy a kelly moore boho bag for my daughter for graduation, but this is so much more affordable and still looks great.

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58 Caitlyn (The Spoonful of Life) April 21, 2011 at 7:29 am

I love the idea of making your own camera-bag-purse! I have been the quest to find the perfect camera bag, but have failed miserably. I am making this stat! Thanks for the idea!

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59 Mela Kamin April 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

SO CLEVER & resourceful – beautiful too!

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60 Kendra April 30, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Thanks for this post! I was searching for cute, feminine camera bags today, and went into sticker shock. I couldn’t bring myself to pay $160 and shipping for something that I might not like when it arrived.

I used a couple DIY blog suggestions, but mostly yours as a reference while making my own camera purse today.

Your whole blog is great. Awesome photos!

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61 Allie May 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Thank you! I know what you mean…the bags on the market are $$$$. Your bag looks fabulous.

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62 karla August 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm

This is awesome!!! & a lot more simple than all these patterns I keep finding. This seems like something I can handle, finally!

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63 Leanne September 16, 2011 at 5:07 pm

This is amazing! I too have been drooling over a $160 bag – and for a stay at home mom who just used my DSLR on my kids, that is totally unreasonable! However, I am quite crafty so I am totally going to try this!!!

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64 Victoria September 24, 2011 at 11:18 am

This is great—I was just looking online and have only been able to find super expensive bags. I might have to try this!

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65 Gina October 28, 2011 at 12:24 am

Wow, that is really nice!!!! I got a pretty nice camera bag for my DSLR, of course it looks like … a camera bag. Now, I just need to figure out how to actually use this nifty camera – I’ve only had it about a year and a half……….. lol

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66 Melissa November 5, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Just found this post and am going to make my own this weekend! Brilliant idea!

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67 Karen November 16, 2011 at 11:42 pm

This is the BEST IDEA EVER!!! Thanks for sharing!!

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68 Make and Do Girl December 14, 2011 at 1:15 am

Thanks for posting this great idea. I’ve been doing the same camera-inside-something-soft-inside-my-purse thing. Seems like I’m just asking for trouble.

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69 Rebecca December 16, 2011 at 6:49 pm

See I knew it could be done – now I just have to figure out for a backpack with wheels so it will accommodate the laptop too. With the new rules for carry on and luggage I need to combine camera bag and laptop case.

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70 Tini February 24, 2012 at 8:04 am

Dear Allie, I just posted about your absolutely sweet DIY Camera Bag Idea. I love it and I thing many german girls, too!!!!! Hope that this is all right with you…

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71 Laura February 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I love this!! I have shopping for a new camera bag that was nicer than the HUGE Canon one I use. I was in sticker shock too. After the last wedding I went to, I was sick of the industrial look of mine. I am going to make this. Thank you so much for sharing!

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72 Allie February 29, 2012 at 1:37 am

Have fun making your bag!

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73 Bethany February 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I just wanted to tell you that I pinned this on pinterest (because I am SOOOOO gonna do this) and I got the most repins I’ve ever had (and in a super short amount of time). I just found your site today and I’m so glad I did. You are an ispiration to me. I just started my own travel blog (with my own photography) and I am looking forward to reading more of your tips. This camera bag is genius! In fact I just got back from a girls’ trip where I was complaining about not wanting to bring my camera bag but my camera wouldn’t fit in my purse. It was actually one of my girlfriends that e-mailed me your post. Keep up the good work!

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74 Allie February 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Thanks for pinning the tutorial, Bethany! I visited your blog and it looks great. Let me know how the bag turns out.

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75 ccenger March 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm

you hand sewed that! i don’t blame you not wanting to do more than 30 minutes a day – kudos for a wonderful job!

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76 Alisha March 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm

That is very cute! What kind of purse is that? I love it! I love your colors also, they go very well together :)

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77 Angela April 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I wanted to say that I loved your camera bag and used it as the inspiration for a creation of my own. I have posted in on my blog with a link back to your original post!

http://arussoriginal.blogspot.com/2012/04/sewing-miracle.html

Thanks for the great blog, I’m always inspired every time I visit!

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78 Tina April 19, 2012 at 12:32 am

I’ve been jonesing for a pretty new Kelly Moore camera bag, but 250 is well outside my family budget, so I made something like this for a great bag I already own. I’ve done a few of these in the past, and one thing I’d change is the velcro. I use a 2 inch wide velcro. IMO, the more the better. I like 2 stripes, side by side (esp if I’m doing this for myself b/c sometimes some dividers are shorter than others ;) ) The other thing I add is velcro at the bottom of the insert and therefore the dividers. All the extra velcro makes the whole thing feel more stable when you put the dividers in.

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79 Allie May 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Thanks for the feedback, Tina! I agree, wider velcro strips would work better.

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80 Candy May 16, 2012 at 10:23 am

Great idea! My plan is to make one this weekend. Question, though. Do you attach the inserts to the side of the bag in any way? Are the velcro-ed or do they just sit inside the bag?

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81 Allie May 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I didn’t attach the inserts to the bag with velcro and it stayed put. I wanted the option of taking it out and using it as a regular purse (though you can do that if you use velcro). Let me know how your bag turns out!

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82 Candy May 16, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Made it this afternoon and it turned out great! Thanks for the tutorial….I really appreciate it!

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83 Tastefully Julie June 4, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Wow! I was just looking at Kelly Moore bags but didn’t want to drop the dough. I would totally buy this one, I like it better!

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84 Janell December 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I know this post is almost 2 years old, I just stumbled on it through a Bing search. What a great idea. I’ve pinned it to Pinterest!

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85 Allie December 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Thanks, Janell! Let me know if you end up making one.

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86 maggy March 21, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Thanks for the photos. This awesome and a big money saver!

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87 Linda Arthur Tejera January 14, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Hi, I ran across this entry through Google. What a great idea. I’ve been going in circles wanting a purse to carry my new camera but the prices of the ones I like? OUCH! I was wondering if you could tell me the dimensions of the bag you ended up using. Thanks!

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88 Allie January 19, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Hi Linda! I have since given the bag away. I would recommend looking for a bag that looks like it could fit your camera and two extra lenses (one on each side). You can always use those sides for your phone, accessories, etc.

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