DIY Domke/Billingham bag for under $10

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by jordanstarr, May 26, 2010.

  1. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a tendency to do random and archaic things, partially because I'm handy, partially because I'm cheap. But this is a step-by-step process on how I built a Domke/Billingham hybrid bag for under $10 in less than 2 hours. I really like the APUG community and the things it has taught me, so maybe I can pass on the favour and share my experience in this project.

    Intro: I went to Value Village and picked up my necessary materials -a bag and materials for a liner. I then ventured to the dollar store for velcro. I used some thread and needles I had at home and some extra inserts that I also had.

    Picture#1: This is the bag. I bought it for $2.99. It was an H&M bag with 2 nice from pockets for a meter, filters, film, etc. It also has a back pocket that I can put a notepad and pen in. Inside there's some hidden pockets for secret things I cannot discuss here. I wanted a nice shoulder bag that is discrete and does not look like a camera bag. I take photos in some sketchy areas, so I wanted something low-key that would draw any heat from anyone who might want to jump me.

    Picture #2: All my materials and pricing. This is all in one trip to Value Village. You could continuously shop and find the perfect materials, but I'm impatient and had the day off, so I made due with what I could find. I scored the cover for free because the Cashier didn't ring it in. I was okay with not saying anything and saving the money as I was pretty keen on doing the bag for under $10 to prove a point. The velcro is not shown yet, but that was $1.00. Regardless, it all still would have came to just under $9.50 + tax for a GRAND TOTAL OF $9.98, $7.50 after my fortunate savings. I know I got pretty lucky with finding my materials and everything, but it was only one trip. If you wanted to invest more time and effort, you could definitely find the lightest and most efficient materials.

    Picture #3: Because the bag was very thin, I needed padding. The padding was a cover that is meant to be stuffed with padding -perfect! The only problem is that it is quite heavy and the materials sheds, which I don't want all over my gear. So, I got a pillow case that fit over it perfectly. For padding I used some old bubble wrap I had kicking around the house. I chose bubble wrap because it was light and offered the extra padding I needed with no extra weight. The downfall is the noise it makes. (NOTE: I will later regret the bubble wrap and it's crinkling, but I was almost finished when I realized how much noise it made. It isn't as bad as I make it sound, but if you have another alternative that is light and mailable, use it).

    Picture #4: The bottom will need support, not only for shape and protection, but to hold the inner liner in place as well. I measured the bottom and went from there.

    Picture#5: I used some old matting board (acid fee of course!) as it's light and offers just enough support. I tapped it into the bubble wrap to keep it in place, then put it in the cover for a perfect fit. I zipped it up and then cut the zipper off so that it wouldn't potentially scratch anything. I put the pillow case cover over it.

    Picture #6: Once tucked in the pillow case, I cut the end and stitched it shut. Perfectly soft, no cloth shedding. A masterpiece.

    Picture #7: I'm not the greatest seamstress, so finding the perfect fold as a pain in the ass. But I did it after 30 minutes of adjusting it in the bag, fitting it properly and finding a fold that wouldn't leave open ends isn't as easy as this photo makes it look. I think at this point I was also a few beers in, which didn't help. I also almost failed grade 12 geometry, which would have came in useful. Any sober person with some fabric and geometry skills could have done this in 5 minutes. I held it with safety pins for now, but will stitch it later when I'm sure it will work properly. Do not have metal or sharp ends in your bag (ie. glue, safety pins, buttons, etc.) as this will scratch your camera.

    Picture #8: I took some inserts I had extra from other bags. I know you all have them, so don't send me messages like "not fair man, you had those for free and if you had to buy them it would put the bag up to $20". And if I didn't have them, I could have used the extra fabric from the pillow case to fill with cardboard (or similar) and stitch my own. It would have looked nicer and matched that way too. And I would have saved $1.00 on velcro, but let's not argue and accept the fact that I'm resourceful. I got the velcro at the dollar store.

    Picture#9: I stitched the velcro to the bag. Although the adhesive was pretty damn strong, I thought I should be safer to secure it. I positioned the dividers first so I knew where to put them. It's not a good idea to freestyle this.

    Picture #10: Then I put in the dividers. I currently have a Canon P with a 50mm f1.8, 35mm f1.8 and 21mm f4.0. I have a Konica S3 with a fixed 38mm f1.8 attached. I wanted to make sure my bag held all this stuff. I will eventually replace the Konica S3 with a second Canon P body and telephoto lens when I have the money.

    Picture #11: Despite fitting it for 30 minutes, I still have problem spots where the liner appears to be too big, so it starts to wrinkle. I will later stitch these to the side of the liner of the bag, but it will still cause some deformation. I'm okay with this though. If, at this point my biggest mistake is not having the creases perfect, I'm pretty awesome.

    Picture #12: The finished product on it's side so you can see the size. It's a little bulkier and heavier than I would have liked, but it's well padded and supportive.

    Picture #13: At the time, some of my rangefinder equipment was still in the mail. So, I put in my SLR system, which is bigger and heavier. Check it out. The fit is a little tight for an SLR system of this magnitude and taking in and out the lenses wouldn't be the easiest task of my life, but it works.

    Things I love about the bag:
    -UNDER $10!!!
    -Lots of pockets for accessories
    -Very padded liner
    -Perfect size for my system
    -I have a few inches at the top that will fit a small jacket, hoodie, book, and other things you might want to take with you on a photo outing.
    -Style is discrete, yet sexy.

    Things I don't love so much:
    -It's not as durable on the outside as a Billingham or Domke bag (although I've toyed with the idea of waxing it).
    -Not waterproof.
    -front pockets don't close (so I have to be careful if I'm biking with it, so accessories don't fall out).
    -Bubble wrap noise. It's quieter when everything is done, but I shouldn't have overlooked that detail.

    I hope you all enjoy this read and get inspired to make your own DIY bag. Not that I don't like Domke or Billingham bags, but come on. Not everyone has $300 for a bag.
     

    Attached Files:

    • 1.jpg
      1.jpg
      File size:
      167.6 KB
      Views:
      247
    • 2.jpg
      2.jpg
      File size:
      167.5 KB
      Views:
      133
    • 3.jpg
      3.jpg
      File size:
      138.1 KB
      Views:
      106
    • 4.jpg
      4.jpg
      File size:
      141 KB
      Views:
      99
    • 5.jpg
      5.jpg
      File size:
      151.5 KB
      Views:
      92
    • 6.jpg
      6.jpg
      File size:
      170.6 KB
      Views:
      72
    • 7.jpg
      7.jpg
      File size:
      135 KB
      Views:
      106
    • 8.jpg
      8.jpg
      File size:
      171.1 KB
      Views:
      112
    • 9.jpg
      9.jpg
      File size:
      113.8 KB
      Views:
      119
    • 10.jpg
      10.jpg
      File size:
      117.6 KB
      Views:
      137
    • 11.jpg
      11.jpg
      File size:
      134.1 KB
      Views:
      158
    • 12.jpg
      12.jpg
      File size:
      130.4 KB
      Views:
      135
    • 13.jpg
      13.jpg
      File size:
      148.5 KB
      Views:
      221
  2. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,442
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    Calgary AB,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    wow, very cool. thanks for sharing. I bet the time it took you to write this up almost equals the time it took to build the bag lol.
     
  3. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ....well to edit the photos, type and post, yeah....almost as long.
     
  4. David William White

    David William White Member

    Messages:
    1,179
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Location:
    Hamilton, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Good job. Years ago I (of course) bought a Lowepro bag to hold my two bodies & pile of lenses & stuff. I don't think it has left the house in 5 years. I'm not as clever, but I lined an army surplus shoulder bag with neoprene foam and no one has ever been tempted to steal it from me. My 4x5 + holders go into a $12 MEC shoulder bag.
     
  5. jamesgignac

    jamesgignac Member

    Messages:
    281
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    Location:
    Beijing, Chi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nice one!

    I made a backpack before a trek across Canada a few years back, well two packs - one large, one smaller and padded (thin, hand-felted wool between canvas...not exactly dust-free) - used copper pipe as framing for the larger, but it worked very well and helped me gather attention and became a great conversation starter. Thanks for the post - I hope you inspire some DIY'ers to follow suit!
     
  6. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

    Messages:
    2,933
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    Misissauaga
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree about improvising camera bags. I have a kids rolling backpack that can be dragged along the sidewalk, or converted with straps to carry. I line the inside with blue closed cell foam ala Canadain Tire camping sleeping pad, and divide up the interior with foam core board inserts held together with clear packing tape.

    I have different inserts for: the Crown Graphic and holders, the Mamiya C330 its lenses and a Metz 60 Pack and head flash, and one for a couple of 35mm bodies and assorted lenses.

    I also buy beater camera bags at camera shows. Who is going to hit up a guy for a 35 year old canvas style camera bag?
     
  7. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ...thanks for all the Canadian support and encouragement.
     
  8. TSSPro

    TSSPro Member

    Messages:
    229
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Location:
    Carbondale,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Cool bag. I've been wanting to make my own bag in a domke style, just havent gotten up the motivation to do so.
     
  9. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,598
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Very interesting, I'm going to try and make one out of a suitable bag that doesn't scream cameras for street shooting, waterproof enough for our climate, like some sort of ex army medical pack, and modify the interior with dividers, I have two Billingham bags, but would still enjoy doing this as a project, I hope with my wife's help
     
  10. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,997
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  11. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,598
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've seen a Danish Army Medical pack on a U.K army surplus website that looks just the job,I was trained as an engineer, and I love making things.
     
  12. David William White

    David William White Member

    Messages:
    1,179
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Location:
    Hamilton, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    $20.99? What are you, a Rockefeller? :smile:
     
  13. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,997
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I wish

    I found an army surplus bag years ago for under $20. I love the frugal creative of APUGers. It's more creative to hack another use for camera bags than buy one. Besides expensive camera bags says "Please rob me" :smile:
     
  14. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,598
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You Ain't much of a photographer if you can't improvise.
     
  15. mesh

    mesh Subscriber

    Messages:
    272
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Location:
    Adelois
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Great looking bag too - dare I say you could start a new business ;-) Or does that defeat the purpose?!
     
  16. Krzys

    Krzys Member

    Messages:
    506
    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Location:
    Brisbane, QL
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I would fail trying to find a shitty bag of ANY kind for under $20aud to start with. The only place would be a garage sale...no store is this cheap.
     
  17. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,598
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    One thing that amuses me about the current crop of Urban Disguise and Lowe pro Classified type camera bags is that are made not to look like camera bags, they look like laptop bags and I would think it more likely that some crazed druggie would mug you for your laptop that would be much easier to sell for him than your camera.
     
  18. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Benjiboy...I don't think the bag I made looks like a laptop bag at all. It's way too flimsy and bulks like I have a football in there, not long and flat. I think of the flat, stiff black bags when I think of a laptop bag. But if a crackhead tries to rob me I'll just scream that "IT'S A 1950s FILM CAMERA!!" or just pull out the little tank and camera whip his ass.

    Krzys...I got the bag at Value Village, a second hand clothing store in Canada. It's pretty much like a big garage sale, but more expensive. I'm sure you can find something similar in Australia. You can always get the bag on the other link posted above and get lining from ebay, quick and cheap build for under $50. But you might as well spend a little more and get a "professional bag" if that's the case.
     
  19. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

    Messages:
    388
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Location:
    Oceania
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    great skills jordanstarr, like your style:smile:


    a sticky or section for `stuff i`ve made from a sows ear' would be really interesting.
    Regards
    CW
     
  20. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,598
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I wasn't suggesting your bag did look like a laptop bag I was speaking in general. I was once talking to my wife about buying an Think Tank Urban Disguise bag, http://www.tempecamera.biz/URBAN_DISGUISE_60_THINK_TANK_BAG_p/825.htm and it was she who pointed out how much it looked like a laptop bag, and I tend to agree.
     
  21. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ...yeah, that's definately a laptop looking bag. It holds a laptop, so it makes sense though. Mine might be able to hold one of the new Ipads in it, but definitely not a laptop.
     
  22. alexhill

    alexhill Member

    Messages:
    177
    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Location:
    New Hampshir
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Thank you for sharing. The best part is it doesn't scream "EXPENSIVE CAMERA-STEAL ME". I'm really glad you took the time to share this. I've been needing to downgrade to a less conspicuous bag, and this is perfect. If you are so inclined there is a website dedicated to DIY and makes publishing step by step easy with whatever Creative Commons license you want. Instructables is free to join and will let you share you hard work with lots of other DIY-ers.
     
  23. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,434
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    NE U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's a little thin, but this stuff looks like it might be useful for padding in a DIY bag; http://scientificsonline.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_3037000

    FWIW, the logic of the Urban Disguise bags has always escaped me, though maybe I should consider putting my laptop in a bag that looks like a camera bag:rolleyes:
     
  24. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,598
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format