Patterning a Camera Strap
by Carly DeGraeve | no responses | March 6, 2013
If you want to carry your camera in a way that keeps it handy and easy to use a good quality camera strap is needed. However, so many of them are unattractive and the nice ones are so expensive! Why not make one for yourself? The following pattern is for working with leather (or vinyl) and fabric.
**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?|Luxe DIY cannot be held responsible or liable for damages if your strap breaks. Use your best judgement!
Materials/Supplies: (Basic Pattern Making Tools)
Large Scale Paper
Camera straps on average are around 42-50″/107-127cm long and anywhere from 1.5-3″/4cm-8cm wide.
To make a pattern for a camera strap let’s begin with a rectangle guideline for the desired width and the shortest length the strap will need to be.
The box below is 42″ long by 1.75″ wide:
Most of the strap will be an easy rectangle to construct. The main focus on creating a pattern is to build the ends that attach to the camera or leather connector pieces. I’ve converted the guidelines to dashed lines and I’ve marked 8″/20cm from the edge of my guideline rectangle. This area is where I am going to build the connection points for the camera. For patterning the strap ends, I’ll be “zoomed in” on the strap and only show the necessary parts of the pattern.
Measure your camera connectors- you need to know the width of the piece of leather that can fit through the loops on your camera designed to connect to the camera strap. Measure the width of the hole not the width of the entire connector piece. My Canon camera is 7/16″/11mm wide.
Draw a rectangle to represent the width of leather that could fit through your camera supports – mine is shown below in gray with a new guideline to denote the center of the camera strap (so everything is balanced).
To use a buckle to secure the strap and to allow for an adjustable length we need to make sure it is properly positioned and accounted for as we create the pattern. The smallest buckles I could easily locate locally are 5/8″/16mm wide -close enough that they will work for this but if you can find something closer to the correct size be sure to use them! I’ve added a box 3″/7.6cm from the end of the strap to denote where the buckle will sit.
The main camera strap is wider than the supports for going through the camera loops. Using the original guidelines of the size/shape of the main camera strap for reference draw in a widened end of leather to connect to the main strap.
What we have just created will be separated and modified into two pieces – one that will hold the buckle, the other that will go through the camera and the end with weaving through the buckle to be secured. Trace off the part from the buckle to what will join the camera strap.
You drew a large rectangle guideline to begin patterning the camera strap. Fold that rectangle in half lengthwise matching the short edges together. Trace the leather connector shapes we just patterned onto the other end of the template rectangle.
One part of the connector needs to go through the camera loop and connect with the buckle. To accommodate this we need to extend the leather strap pattern piece. How much longer does the strap need to be? The strap goes through the camera, connects to the buckle and is long enough to offer some length flexibility therefore it has a tail of a few additional inches. Below is an illustration of the expected turn back of the pattern piece after it has been threaded through the camera loop.
That length needs to be added to the pattern piece. The shape of the end is optional.
In the space between the two leather connectors we need to create the strap. This can be all leather, all fabric (not recommended-fabric wears holes), or a combination. We know how long the strap should be in total, we know how much of that length is used by the leather connectors and we decided at the beginning how wide the strap should be.
This camera strap will be made from fabric with cotton batting for padding. A leather patch detail will be added in the center of the strap at the point where the strap will rub to reduce wear patterns and holes in the fabric.
The fabric runs the full length between the leather connectors. Create a rectangle that is the correct size and shape for the strap and overlaps with the leather connectors.
When fabric rubs on things like your shoulder or neck it breaks down and eventually turns into holes. The leather patch which will be in the center of the strap is positioned so the point where the strap is most likely to be in contact with you is protected from wear. This oval shape should be about 12″/30cm long. I chose to have rounded ends on my patch but any shape could work.
At this point we need to separate the pieces, add necessary seam allowances, and mark a stitch pattern on the leather pieces. As I walk you through the finishing touches of each piece, trace off the pattern piece and make adjustments to each piece. Keep your initial sketch/layout intact as you may need to refer back to it for clarification.
Let’s begin with the fabric strap piece.
The fabric strap will be sewn into a tube and flattened into the shape of the strap so we need to double the width of the strap piece.
You will need to actually sew this piece of fabric into a tube so add your seam allowance. Typical commercial sewing pattern SA of 5/8″/1.6cm is okay, I personally prefer a 1/2″/1.25cm SA.
Why no seam allowance at the short ends? We are going to wrap each end in leather connectors and the cut edge of fabric will be enclosed.
To make the camera strap a bit more comfortable when you have your camera and heavy lens attached, add a bit of padding in the form of cotton (or polyester) batting. This is lofty and needs to be a bit narrower than the camera strap in order to fit inside the fabric.
Make a pattern piece for the batting that is the same length as the camera strap but narrower than the width of the camera strap by 1/4″/6mm. Mark the pattern piece to ‘Cut 2′.
As I have discussed in previous leather working projects having evenly spaced stitches is incredibly important if you want the finished project to look great. Create a line of evenly spaced stitches around the leather patch piece. Determine the best stitching spacing for your needs. I space my stitches 3/16″/5mm apart and 1/8″/3mm from the cut edge of the piece. For a complete walk through on how to add leather sewing lines visit the Fold-In-Half Wallet patterning project.
The leather connectors sew to each other at the end that connects to the strap and part way down the connector.
Working on the connector piece which holds the buckle create a stitching pattern. End the stitching short of the buckle (5/8″/1.6cm) for ease in using the buckle.
This connector needs to be extended to hold the buckle in place and the tail needs to be secured in the stitching we just marked. The strap was extended, stitching marks were transferred, and a large circle represents where we need to punch the strap with a leather punch in order for the buckle clip to function.
Thinking about when you cut out the leather, it is likely you will place the pattern piece on the “wrong side” or suede side of the leather to mark your cutting lines. When you sew the leather pieces together they will be placed with their wrong sides or suede sides together. When transferring the stitching patterns between the two pieces that will be sewn together you must take into account which sides of the leather you will be working with during each step (cutting and sewing). Small variances will happen when you lay out your stitching marks so you need to place your pattern pieces “wrong sides together” to ensure the pieces will sew together nicely when completed.
Turn over the pattern piece which you laid out the stitching pattern. If necessary transfer the stitching marks to the back side of this piece so they can be seen through another piece of paper.
Stack the leather connector pattern pieces so you can transfer the stitching marks to the unmarked piece.
We extended one of the leather connectors so it would go through the camera support and buckle in place. We need to figure out where to punch holes for the buckle.
Fold the pattern piece at the point where it will go through the camera – this fold point is the original edge of the pattern guideline that we determined during the very first step.
Place a mark for punching with the leather punch over the buckle (naturally, these marks should be centered in the strap). Add a couple additional punch points down the tail of the strap spaced 1″/2.5 apart for adjustability.
The one last pattern piece is small and easy. Keepers are required to hold the tail of the strap in place. The length the keeper needs to be depends entirely on the thickness of the leather you use. Pattern a piece to cut from leather that is 3/8″/1cm wide and 8″/20cm long. That should be long enough to cut 4 keepers from during the construction process.
Your pattern is now ready for cutting and sewing which we will discuss here.