DIY Padded Camera Bag Insert

This post may contain affiliate links. Privacy policy.


Ever have the issue of wanting to take your big, DSLR camera with you, but don’t want to carry two bags? Want a bag that can fit your camera, your ipad/laptop, plus you’re other purse essentials…but can’t find one for less that $100+? Well, then this post is for you!! With just a few supplies & a little bit of time, you can transform your favorite purse or tote bag into a camera bag too by making you’re own padded camera bag insert!

DIY Camera BagThis post is LONG overdue! In fact, I made this last July, right before leaving for our Disneyland and BlogHer trips! The inspiration came from Sara, the Clever Pink Pirate, and her DIY camera purse tote! I had long been eyeing JoTotes and Epiphanie Bags, but had a hard time deciding to shell out that kind of money if I wasn’t sure I would like the bag. So, when I saw Sara’s at an event just before BlogHer, I knew I had to make something similar! I bought a large black bag at TJ Maxx and, with the help of my mom (who has all the sewing skills), we came up with this great insert to put inside. 9 months later, it’s still awesome and it will be traveling with me to SNAP this week! The bag with the padded insert is perfect for conference traveling because I can fit my camera with an extra lens, wallet, iphone, business cards, pen, notepad, and laptop all inside!!!

DIY Padded Camera Bag Insert Tutorial

What you’ll need:

  • 1-2 yards of your fabric of choice (amount depends on the size of the fabric & of your bag)
  • 1″ High-Density Foam ( I used purchased by the yard at JoAnn’s or this would be great too:
  • Velcro (I didn’t measure the amount we used, but you’ll probably need about a yard)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine
  • Hot Glue (*Note: You could actually probably do this project completely no-sew if you wanted, or you could sew the whole thing. We did a mix of sewing & hot glue. 🙂 )


  1. First, decide how big you want your insert to be. Because I wanted to carry so much in my bag, I wanted an insert that didn’t take up the entire inside of the bag (and I wanted it to be a true insert and easily removable). Once you have a feel for your dimensions, then start cutting!
  2. Start out by cutting two equal-sized rectangles out of the foam (mine are 13″ x 6″).
  3. Then, you’ll need to cut your fabric to encase these foam rectangles. Make sure that you leave about an extra inch on each side, plus a little extra to attach the bottom. If you wrap the fabric around the foam, then you’ll only need to sew (or hot glue) the bottom & the sides. Plus, you’ll have no seam showing on the top. For the sides, stitch the fabric right along the point at which the foam stops and then around the outside edge (so the two fabric pieces close together). Basically you’ll then have an open case on the bottom with two approximately 1″ flaps on each side.
  4. Once your pockets are ready, you’ll need to add velcro. You’ll want to add strips of the loop (soft) side of the velcro to the flaps of one pocket. Then, on the opposing pocket flaps, add strips of the hook velcro. This way, you can attach your two foam rectangles together, giving you the basic insert shape. Then, you’ll also want to run two strips of velcro (a couple inches apart) along the length of each pouch (this is to attach your dividers to). Because the camera equipment might come into contact with some of this velcro, use only the loop (soft) side for this.
  5. Now, you’ll need to basically repeat steps #3 & #4 to make dividers for the insert. This will create the separate areas for the lenses & camera. You’ll cut two small pieces of foam (the same size). We modeled mine after the inserts in my “official” camera bag, so they ended up being 4.5″ x 3.5″ with an extra 1.5″ flap on top.  You don’t need the extra flaps of fabric on the side for these. So, cut the fabric, leaving extra space for your top flap and just enough extra to close up the sides and bottom. For this, you’ll cut the foam so that there is an additional flap at the top and actually carve the foam down (so that the top 1.5″ isn’t as thick). Then, you’ll stitch right along the transition between the thick & thinner foam, creating padded flaps that the camera can be set on. Once all that is set, you’ll put hook velcro along each side of each divider.
  6. At this point, go ahead and stuff any pockets with foam that you haven’t already. You should have 4 total, but all open at the bottom. The easiest solution for this was just hot glue! 🙂
  7. Once everything is glued, then velcro the pieces together and you have an insert! 🙂 And, really, at this point you could technically stop if you wanted. It would look like this: I decided though that I wanted it to have a padded bottom as well! We had extra foam & some plain black fabric, so why not?! Just extra protection for the camera equipment!
  8. So, for the last step, we cut a piece of foam in that football shape to sit at the bottom of the insert. Then, we covered it with some plain black fabric, just hot gluing the edges. Since it wouldn’t be seen it didn’t need to have nice looking seams! 🙂 That’s it! Then you’ll have an awesome, padded camera insert to turn your favorite bag into something that can not only hold your “fancy” camera, but other goodies as well!

The beauty of an insert like this is that if you don’t plan on carrying your camera, you can just take the insert out!  It’s been a great solution for me! 🙂 I can’t wait to take it with me to SNAP this week!

Linked to:  *Tip Junkie, *Today’s Creative, *Not Just a Housewife, *Oopsey Daisy, *Flamingo Toes, *Lil’ Luna

Explore More


I’m Sara, a mom to three adorable boys living in the Arizona desert. As a former teacher, I love sharing my passions with others. So, have a look around for creative inspiration about cooking, creating, celebrating, traveling with kids, and more everyday mom endeavors!


Get freebies, new recipes, and fun ideas sent right to your inbox!

Looking for Something?


13 Responses

  1. I only have the DSL camera and no other pads or laptops. But I still think this is GREAT> It took forever to find a bag DH and I liked for taking the camera and all the accesories along. (Would have been less expensive, too.

  2. This was a great project! I had an Eddie Bauer messenger bag that I use for my iPad and other supplies. I can fit my Nikon DSLR and two lenses inside. This helps to create a nice boy bag that I can use! Thanks a lot!

    1. Awesome, Rick! Thanks so much for commenting and letting me know! Glad it worked out for you!! 🙂

  3. This looks great! I want a more personalized camera bag, rather than the boring black ones, so now I can transform my Timbuktu bag into a camera bag. Awesome!

    1. Awesome, Amy! So glad you found the tutorial! I’m still using mine and it’s held up great (as has my camera)! 🙂 Good luck!

  4. Quick question. While I feel comfortable with sewing, hot glue sure would simplify things. How is that hlolding up to daily use? Did you also hot glue the Velcro? On other projects I’ve had that pull out. I’m shooting for a large piece maybe a piece of luggage just to keep things straight at home so there will be a few inserts.

    Great article. Thanks!!!

    1. Hey! Great questions! The insert has held up really well. I don’t use it daily, but have taken it on some major trips & it’s working great! Hot glue would definitely simply things. Not sure if it would hold up as well or look as nice, but I think it would definitely work. As for the velcro, we had a very strong self-adhesive kind. The backing on it was extremely sticky. And so far, it’s holding too. But, I honestly don’t adjust it much.
      Hope that helps at least a little! Glad you found the article! 🙂

      1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I successfully turned my Harvey’s seatbelt bag into a very durable, stylish camera bag for our trip overseas. I made the sides 12×7 and The insert fits snugly, but I am confident my equipment is well padded. I might try this again with half-inch foam on the sides to reduce the bulk, but keep the one-inch foam on the bottom for safety. By the way, I’m clueless with a needle, so I did the entire project with my handy dandy glue gun. It isn’t as pretty as yours, but since I’m the only one who’s going to see it, no big deal. The entire project cost less than $12, far far less than a premade insert that probably wouldn’t have fit my purse anyway. I am tickled pink! (And purple, red and orange, too!) Thanks again!

  5. I was wondering about those fingertip covers you have on during hot gluing- I could really use those! 🙂

  6. I got a new purse my DSLR fits into that doesn’t scream I have an expensive camera in here! I just put in my bag loose during a test run but I think I need to make a set of inserts to keep all of the other stuff from piling on top of my camera.

    Long live Hot Glue Gun Helpers!

  7. Thank you for sharing!! I’ve started a project like this for my mother in law(she doesn’t know it yet). The bag I’m using is a weekend size duffel bag. She has a lot of expensive gear. I’ve got my foam cut outs the sizes and shapes I want but honestly I’m a little scared to move on to the next step. I’m comfortable with seeing by machine or hand but the Velcro placement is throwing me for a loop! Could you help clarify the placement of the Velcro for the divider edges and how that’s done? I can’t find a picture or tutorial step by step?

  8. Great tutorial!

    I’ve got to try this. I can’t sew anything except patching up tears in clothes.

    I finally found a purse for my DSLR and want an insert to protect it and the extra lenses.

    I also don’t want people knowing I’m carrying a DSLR when I do.

    I can use a glue gun so this should be pretty easy. ?

    Thanks for posting this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *