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…)!