Gifts I: Uke Cosy

If your loved one’s instrument of choice is a Stradivarius or something equally priceless, then a gift of a padded gig bag isn’t a good idea.  But a banjo or a ukelele player would most probably be overjoyed to receive a custom-made gig bag in which to keep their instrument safe, especially if it gets lugged about a lot on public transport or in school.    

The uke is becoming a popular beginner instrument and in some primary schools in the UK, it’s replaced the recorder in music literacy classes.  Hm, if you were a music teacher, what would you rather have?  A classroom full of gently plinking ukeleles, or an equivalent number of peevishly whistling recorders?  🙂

When you buy a uke or a guitar, it usually comes with its own gig bag which helps to get the instrument home but then falls apart (usually the zip goes).  If you’re planning to make a gig bag, shop around carefully for a good quality zip.  It needs to be at least half of the outside measurement of the bag, two thirds if possible.  The first place I looked for such a zip was charging a whopping £9 (the uke cost £25!).  Luckily, around the corner in Shepherd’s Bush market, there was a stall where a similar chunky zip cost £2.50.  Look, you can customize further with a zip pull!

To make a gig bag for a small ‘soprano’ ukulele like this one or a banjo, you will need 0.75m of fabric, the same of lining and light-to-medium wadding, and  a good 2.5m of bias binding.  I used leftovers.  

The binding took very little time but as for the rest of the project….. let’s just say it was more intermediate than beginner’s.  Or maybe that’s just me as I do find wadding annoying.   

Much as I’d like a print fabric gig bag for our guitar, I think the price of a sleeping-bag zip would make it not as cost-effective as buying a good quality gig bag in bog-standard black.  If however a rock star were to commission one from me (in return for a small chunk of his or her fortune), it’d be pretty much the same job as with the baby bag, but with added shoulder straps. 

P.S. If you make one of these, don’t forget to start off with a pocket for the picks (or cake sale money…)!


13 thoughts on “Gifts I: Uke Cosy

  1. What a timely post. My son has taken his 1/4 size guitar to school today and I was trying to fix the broken zip on the case as we rushed out the door. This is a fab idea that hadn’t occurred to me. I might even let him choose his own ‘cool’ fabric to make it from. Yay!

  2. That’s So Cute! I remember finding Shepherds Bush Markets and nearby Goldhawk Road for sewing goodies at a reasonable price. Mind you I can find the one and only material shop in any city I visit. It’s a talent….

  3. Hello, I’m wandering the internet collecting ideas for a bag I’m going to sew for my guitar this weekend. I notice that you (and several others I’ve found) have the seams outside, and was wondering if it’s aesthetic, or if their are any particular practicalities to this technique I should know about, as I am quite new to sewing. I have an industrial sewing machine and live near and endless source of free canvas (a dumpster behind a local business that makes canvas goods), so I’ve been making bags and repairing clothes for my friends/family… I just got a guitar yesterday and it needs a case!

    • Hi Samuel
      Interesting question!

      I’ve just noticed that my son’s guitar gig bag, bought from a shop, also has seams on the outside (they’re covered in tape). Buy my first guitar (classical) had a non-lined, not-padded bag with seams on the inside and it worked just fine.

      My main consideration in putting the seams on the outside when making the uke bag was using the leftovers of fave fabrics that I wanted on show. There is also the slight advantage of the inside of the case being that tiny bit bigger as the seam allowances aren’t bulking things up. With a guitar, the seams on the inside would be relatively small in relation to the instrument so I don’t think you need to worry: do whatever is easier.

      But if you’re planning on a buying a zip, beware that they can cost a lot (or at least they do here in the UK where I’d have to buy a sleeping bag zip).

      Good luck! You’re lucky to have an industrial machine: quite a workhorse I’d imagine. And free canvas too!

    • No but it would be easy to create a pattern by drawing around the instrument (maybe 1cm larger all around). The second pattern piece is just a long rectangle, the height being the thickness of instrument and the long length the same as the outside of the first piece.
      The add seam allowances to both pieces.

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