Camera Strap – Cut and Sew
by Carly DeGraeve | no responses | March 9, 2013
Having a custom camera strap made from the colors and fabrics that match your personal style is a great addition to your wardrobe and it keeps your camera at close reach.
**Disclaimer** This camera strap is made from leather. Leather is strong and durable. However, if your camera lenses are very heavy or the camera may have stress exerted on it during wear (moving it around quickly, excessive downward force placed on the strap by jumping or dropping the camera, etc) you should stick with commercially made camera straps with nylon connection points. Nylon has a much higher tensile strength than leather and should be used if there will be a lot of force placed upon the camera. This strap is designed to be worn in casual situations (like walking around taking photos in a low stress environment). Your camera equipment is expensive and the authors at HowDidYouMakeThis? cannot be held responsible or liable for damages if your strap breaks. Use your best judgement!
Leather (or Vinyl) – 17″ x 7″ | 45cm x 18cm
2 buckles – about 1/2″/1.25cm wide – the buckles shown in the project are 5/8″/1.6cm wide
Cotton Batting (or Polyester Batting)
Polyester Thread – Fur/Leather working thread if you can find it
Basic Leatherworking Tools:
Straight Edge Blade
Pen/Thin Point Marker
Needle Nose Pliers
Basic Sewing Tools:
Sewing Machine (can also be sewn by hand)
Safety Pins (big ones)
Before you cut the leather test to make sure the thickness of leather fits through the connection points on your camera. Tooling leather (which is vegetable tanned) tends to be very thick where as chrome tanned (which I used) tends to be thinner. Check before you cut!
Step 1) Cut the Leather
Lay out the pattern pieces on the back/suede side of the leather and trace with a pen or marker. I made my camera strap with scraps of leather from a previous project which is why they are on a variety of pieces. When laying out your pattern pieces on the leather use care to cut the leather in an efficient way so you can use scraps for future projects.
It is best to cut leather with a straight edge blade (box cutter, Xacto knife, rotary cutter) and a ruler for the straight lines. Hold the blade perpendicular to the leather while cutting. Curves should be cut carefully freehand. Whether using a ruler or guiding the blade freehand don’t expect to cut through the leather in one pass (rotary cutters excluded). Take a couple careful passes with the blade until the leather is cut through.
Cut out all pieces.
Step 2) Prepare the Leather for Sewing
For the best results when sewing the leather pieces together you should pre-punch the stitching marks. If you make your own pattern it is worth the time to lay out the stitching marks. If working from the pattern I created the stitching marks are already laid out.
Place the leather piece on a sturdy surface like a cork panel (a pile of old newspapers or scrap fabric would also work). Use an awl or a leather needle (held with needle nose pliers) to pre-punch the stitching points.
Mark all of your leather pieces.
Step 3) Cut and Sew the Fabric Strap
Cut out the fabric and batting pieces for the main strap.
Fold the fabric in half, matching the cut edges, and sew.
Press the seam open.
Stack the 2 layers of batting and treat as one piece.
Use safety pins to pin the batting to the end of the fabric tube. Only pin through one layer of fabric and make note of the direction the safety pins are positioned in the photo below.
Turn the cut end with the safety-pinned-in-place batting into the tube of fabric. This is a bit tricky but slowly work the fabric to turn the tube right side out over the cotton batting. Work a little bit at a time and pay attention to the seam allowance as you go and adjust it so it does not bunch funny.
Unhook and remove the safety pins.
Step 4) Attach the Leather Patch
Find the center of the fabric strap by folding it in half and marking it with a pin.
Find the center of 1 of the leather patch pieces and mark it (I used straight pins through the pre-punched stitching holes).
Position the center of the fabric strap in line with the center of the leather patch. Use clips to hold it in place or very carefully pin it with straight pins (don’t add holes in the leather – those never go away!).
Position the other leather patch on the opposite side of the strap.
To ensure that the leather patches are aligned when you begin to sew, use straight pins to align corresponding stitching points. Measure every 10 stitches on either side of the strap and use pins to keep things aligned.
Cut a piece of thread long enough to sew the leather patch in place twice plus a bit extra for a tail/knot. Begin sewing at a place in the strap where you will sew through the fabric. Work your way around the patch sewing with running stitch.
When you have sewn all the layers together use an awl to pull the stitches taught. Begin near where you started sewing and pull any looseness out of the thread.
By the time you work your way around, the amount of slack you have removed will show you why this is an important step.
Sew around the patch again to fill the gaps in the stitching line.
Use an awl to work the slack out of the second set of stitches before you end your thread and bury the tail.
Step 5) Punch the Leather Connectors for the Buckle
Leather punch tools are pretty easy to find in craft stores. They make cutting hole through the leather so much easier.
Before you punch holes for the buckle punch test holes in a piece of scrap leather to make sure the size you select is not too big or too small. Put your buckle through the hold. The hole should be large enough for the buckle to work properly but not much larger than that (a too large hole will weaken the leather over time).
Using the pattern piece as a guide for placement, punch a hole in the leather connector to hold the buckle.
Use the same size hole to punch the holes in the other leather connector pieces.
Step 6) Sew the Leather Connectors Together
Now you are ready to sew these two pieces together.
Determine how long your keeper needs to be. The pattern piece for the keeper is the desired width of the keeper but the length of each keeper depends on how thick your leather is. Stack the 2 leather connector pieces together. Wrap the keeper around the leather connector pieces.
Cut the keeper leather to a length which is just long enough to wrap around the connector pieces. Cut 3 more keeper pieces that match this keeper.
Working with the leather connector piece which will hold the buckle:
Position the keeper with the back/suede side of the leather touching the suede side of the leather connector. The keeper should be positioned so the cut edge is centered on the back of the leather connector. Begin your thread by sewing through the keeper and the leather connector.
Position the buckle on the leather connector. Send the needle through the fold-back to hold the buckle in place. With suede sides touching send the needle through the long leather connector.
Sew the pieces together with running stitch (just as the leather patch was sewn) moving toward the point where it connects to the strap. A few stitches above the first keeper, position the second keeper in the same way.
As you work toward the curve to the widest part of the leather connector, place the fabric strap between the two layers of leather connectors and position everything in a straight line. It can be helpful to lay everything along a ruler for alignment.
Continue working around the connector pieces sewing the fabric in place.
To sew the other end of the keeper in place can be tricky. Wrap the keeper into a loop and burry the end of the keeper between the 2 layers of leather connectors. Try to align the cut edge with the other edge of the keeper. Send the needle through all 3 layers of leather. The needle must angle out to avoid sewing through the top of the keeper.
Send the needle/thread through the loop of the keeper. Sew through the 3 layers of leather again to secure the keeper and continue sewing.
Use an awl to pull your stitches taught again – just as you did for the leather patch.
Sew around the leather connectors again to fill in the stitches.
That’s it! You have a lovely camera strap which matches your personal style and keeps your camera handy so you don’t miss grabbing a snapshot of anything amazing.