My large camera takes such good photos but carrying such a large camera bag everywhere is sometimes not always convenient. When I want to carry my camera the large bag with all my gear can get a little heavy as well. I decided to make a bag that could be used as a purse and a smaller camera bag when needed, especially when I am carrying it for several hours at a time.I started out with this basic messenger bag pattern that I have made and altered before into two other purses. I changed the flap design on the first bag I made from this pattern (the one on the right.) The second one I made smaller and also altered the flap, changed the strap and changed some of the pockets (the black and lime green one.)I did another remodel of the basic messenger bag pattern for this bag. The new bag is again smaller than the original design and I designed a different flap. It is not as wide across the width and the sides taper some plus I changed the strap construction on this one. I kept checking it to make sure my camera was easy to access and fit the bag as I made the changes.I drew up the basic shape of the flap and chose the fabrics I wanted to use in this bag. The batik sea turtle fabric was my first choice and the rest of the fabrics were chosen to coordinate with it. I purchased this fat quarter of the turtle fabric when we were in Hawaii a few years ago and have been waiting for the perfect project for it.I wasn’t sure how I wanted to construct the flap so started with wedges of the different fabrics and seamed them together with corded bias strips between each section. I added the turtle fabric to the top as an appliqued triangle and cut out the flap shape (I altered the shape later to make it better fit the bag.)I did cut out the corded seamed section under the turtle triangle to eliminate bulk and as it was sitting on my sewing table I got the idea to use it in the purse somewhere – hated to waste all that work so designed the back panel using the cut out from the front. Here is the beginnings of the back in the photo below.I used headliner fabric to interface the body of the bag to help keep it’s shape. I almost always use this in my bags as my bags sure hold their shape and don’t get all saggy after using for a while. It is similar to Soft and Stable but is available at JoAnn Fabrics and more convenient for me to purchase. I do some simple quilting to hold it in place and trim it out of the seam allowances to reduce bulk. Trimming it out of the seam allowances really helps as it can get pretty bulky when several seams come together. As you can see I used plastic needlepoint canvas in the bottom of the bag to help it hold it’s shape and make a firm base for the bag plus this time I added a strip near the top to help keep the bag from collapsing. You know how when you close the flap the front and back just colapse in together? This keeps those sides squared up to the front and back. So far that top strip is working really well. I machine stitched the plastic to the inside with no problem as the plastic is soft enough that a needle goes right through easily. I will use this idea again when I have a boxy bag that I want to stay boxy looking.I did quilt the lining to a light weight fleece and added the pockets. On one side I made a patch pocket but instead of stitching the entire bottom closed I left one section open. This works great to carry my wallet. It doesn’t flop out of the pocket and is easy to access and the bottom of my wallet rests on the bottom of the bag. I have done this on a couple of bags now since one of my sisters told me that is what she has done. Works great! You could also carry a checkbook like this or any other long item you don't want lost in the recesses of your bag.Trimmed the flap down to a better size for the bag before adding the lining and binding the edge.One thing that always bothers me when carrying a heavy bag is how it cuts into your shoulder after a while. I noticed that my camera bag had an extra padded piece that the strap is threaded through and it fits over your shoulder as you are carrying the bag. I thought why couldn’t I make something like this for my bag too. I used 3 gradated layers of the headliner fabric stitched together to make it padded enough then cut a front fabric and back fabric the same size to cover the shape. I first was going to add another strip a little shorter to make a channel for the strap to slide through like the one on my camera bag. A bolt of lightening hit me and I saw the piece of the excess strap that was laying on my table and decided why not use that instead and then this extra padded strip could be easily removed when I just want to use it as a purse. Threading the bag strap through these smaller strips is so much easier than threading it through a long tunnel like the camera bag one had. Last step was to add binding to hold the strips of the strap to the cover fabrics to finish it off.
After carrying this as a camera bag while in Paducah I am really happy with this extra strap padding – best idea ever! If you have a strap that unhooks on one side you can make a padded piece for any of your bags too. Here is the finished bag all done and I love it.
A flap covered pocket on the front, zippered pocket on the back, zippered pocket in the lining and the patch pocket in the lining will hold lots of things plus the large space that my camera will fit into.To finish off the zipper pulls I made a “puller” from a bead and some wire. These make opening and closing the zipper a little easier and it dresses up the bag a bit more too.Will enjoy using this bag for a regular purse or to carry my camera and look pretty while it is doing it!