For something a little different, I wanted to post up a DIY tutorial that I recently made for my fabulous photographer’s birthday present.
Robert has been such an awesome influence on this blog, encouraging my sewing and writing, and always around to take candid shots of me sewing and mucking around in the yard in my latest concocted outfit, that I wanted to show him my appreciation and make him something he could use. I’m not one for meaningless gifts bought on a whim–if you mean something to me, I’m never going to get you a basket full of bath salts or a Coles Myer Gift Card, I’d much rather find or make something perfect for you as an expression of our friendship and how much I know you and how much I love you.
That being said, I know the dude’s passion in life is photography and he’s a big Star Wars buff, so I bought about three metres of sturdy Star Wars fabric from Spotlight with a plan in mind. I only used a small strip of it here, but just you wait until you see what my plans are for the rest of it! Anyways, I think a custom DSLR strap is a great DIY present for the avid photographer in your life, so I wanted to share my process/tutorial for making one for yourself.. Just in time for Christmas.
What you’ll need:
- An existing DSLR strap (I feel like this is cheating somehow)
- A strip of fabric
- A sewing kit (scissors, bobby pins, needles, thread)
- Tape measure
- Sewing machine
Theoretically you may be able to do this by hand, but the fabric is pretty hard to pierce and my machine was struggling as is, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
First step is unpicking your DSLR strap. Kindly enough, Miss Directions supplied me with a couple of spare straps that were not being used, so if you have none yourself, just appeal to friends on Facebook, because chances are, someone has one lying around.
Halfway through unpicking the strap, I was wondering if it was worth the effort because it also seemed to have been glued down by something, but I finally managed to separate the fabric from the pleather backing. I kept the ends loosely stitched on because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to re-attach them. Otherwise, try to pull out all the remaining loose threads that make the strap look messy.
Measure the strip that you’ve removed and cut a piece from your fabric or textile with room for seam allowances. I folded them over and pinned them down at this stage.
Next, the embroidery. This step is optional, but I think it adds a nice touch. If your fabric is thin enough, you can overlay it on top of an image on your highly backlit phone and trace it with chalk, but my fabric was very thick so this wasn’t an option.
I somehow managed to trace Rob’s name in the classic Star Wars font onto a piece of paper and then cut it out so I could trace it onto my fabric.
At this stage, embroidery is pretty easy. Just go around all the letters using a satin stitch and outline it afterwards with black thread. Don’t make your stitches too long, i.e. if you’re stitching the letter “i”, make the stitches horizontal instead of vertical. You can use embroidery thread, and this is probably more desirable, but I was pretty unprepared and used regular thread (and performed some major filling-in afterwards). I found this process took longer than I expected for three letters, and much more thread than I anticipated, but the results are very worthwhile!
After that, pin your fabric to the existing strap backing and sew around, trying to be precise and follow existing stitch holes. Make sure to doubly reinforce the ends as shown above. The last thing you want is their DSLR to find itself smashed to bits on the pavement below because you didn’t sew it together securely enough.
And voila, your end product! I guarantee that photographer in your life will treasure this one-of-a-kind gift forever. If you’re a blogger, it’s a really neat gift idea to show your appreciation to the person behind the camera, but otherwise, just a cool gift idea in general for anyone who takes their photography seriously.