Recycle your old waders

A do-it-yourself weather resistant messenger -style fishing bag

Craft yourself a handy weather resistant fishing bag from your old worn out waders with this step-by-step guide. Great for carrying your spare tackle, fly boxes, change of clothes, sandwiches -

or even your trusty coffee pot. All you need for this project is a pair of old waders, some basic sewing kit and a working knowledge of how to use it. A little patience and a weekend or two of your spare time.


First things first

Ok, waders are tough things and can take their fair share of wear and tear. There does come a time though where all the little (or big) holes in them render them unusable. Well, at least for their first intended purpose. We grew tired of throwing all that good material away in every two to three seasons, and decided to look around for a fun way to recycle them.

There are quite a few arts & crafts sites out there with patterns for all sorts of bags etc. - Google around for inspiration. There are also companies that specialize in making new gear from recycled material. So, If you are looking for a more professional burial for your waders, you might want to check these guys out.

If you are still with us, let's start.

What you'll need

Scissors & a pair of old waders (braces & belt included). In this case we used a pair of old Guideline Explorer waders. A basic knowledge of sewing by hand or by machine. Some strong thread. Needles - If you are using a sewing machine make sure your needle is strong enough! It'll need to be the strength used for denim. Some pins to hold down the fabric

AquaSure or some Heat & Bond adhesive fabric tape, to go over the seams for added moisture protection. About 1.5m of ribbing or trimming fabric for finalization (you can either cut your own from the waders or buy ready made material from your local fabric shop). A weekend or two of spare time -and finally of course, the pattern.

A simple fishing bag pattern



Marking and cutting out the pieces

First cut off the neoprene socks. We won't be needing those. Then to open your waders: The best way to do this (saving most material) is to start cutting down one side of the trousers. Then up the inside leg seam, along the bottom towards the other leg. And finally down the inside seam of the other leg. You should now have something looking like the picture on the left.

Next, remove all the braces and their rings and clips that are attached. In many cases the braces (or part of them) are velcro fastened to the waders. We'll need those later. Do not remove the D-rings at the front of your waders.

The size of the bag will depend on your preferences, and ultimately on the size of your waders ( we used size L waders). Our pattern is based on a 15 inch laptop, as we wanted a bag big enough for fly boxes, spare tackle and


a just-in-case fleece jacket for the colder days. We also wanted to utilize the D-rings and front pocket for our bag, so it was only natural to mark out the front of the bag around those (it's also a good idea to make use of seams and folds that are already there).

The back of the bag along with the flap were marked out from the back of the waders as the back and bottom area of the waders is the only one large enough for the pattern. The Guideline Explorer waders are also two tone in colour, so matching up the parts of the bag with the color variations had to be taken into account

The bottom and sides should be marked out and cut from the leg part of the wader. This is because most waders are more reinforced with fabric below the waist line. This stronger fabric will help to make the bag a bit more rigid too. As it was, we had to build up the bottom and sides from about 3 different pieces, due to the the two tone coloured waders.


We marked out our bag using a red permanent marker. If you don't want any markings to show up in the finished product, try using a non-permanent marker or even a wax pen. Most of the markings are however covered up by the sewing later. So we didn't worry too much about that.

It helps to mark out both the inside border of the bag and the 10mm outer edge (this excess is later lined up and gives a nice easy area for sewing). The outer markings are where the pattern is to be cut out and the inner line is a guide for sewing along.

As we are building the bottom and the sides of the bag from one piece of equal width material, rounding out the bottom corners of the bag will also make the next steps of pinning and sewing the pieces together much easier.

Next up: putting the bag together.


Pinning and sewing the pieces

Ok, careful measurements and scissor work really pay dividends at this stage, so take your time. Now first to attach the front and bottom pieces together with pins. If you are using Heat & Bond adhesive fabric tape, it needs to be placed between the seam at this stage.

Start by making sure that all the pieces are inside out at this stage. This means that the shiny silvery inner lining of the pieces should be facing outward. The bag will later be turned 'the right way around'. Start by pinning the bottom & side piece to the front of the bag. The 1000 mm long bottom piece is slightly larger than needed, so it's a good idea to start pinning it down from the bottom midline (excess will be trimmed later).

Line up the two outer edges of the pieces and pin down along the inner line. Make sure with each pin that the pieces are lined up correctly.


It's easier to make sure now than later. Work your way towards the upper side of the bag on one side first (as shown in the image). This is where you really see the benefit of rounding out the bottom corners of the front (and back) piece. The slight rounding makes it easier to neatly pin down the pieces without too many overlapping folds.

Less overlapping folds means easier and tidier sewing. Once the bottom piece is pinned to the front piece, start sewing it together. Again, we found it easier to start from the middle working our way outwards.

As we chose to sew manually, we went over the sewing twice. This is basically to make double sure that we achieved a strong dependable seam that wouldn't undo itself the first time the bag is in use.


If you chose to use Heat & Bond adhesive fabric tape, now's a good time to iron that whole seam down.

Next, pin the back & flap piece to the bottom & side piece in the same way as with the front of the bag. Sew the pieces together working your way again from the center outwards.

If you chose to use AquaSure for added moisture protection for your bag, go over all the seams of the bag at this stage. Leave to dry for a while and trim excess material from the seam (this is optional). Then, turn the bag 'the right way around'


Fine tuning and finalizing

The bag has now taken form and should look something like this. Hooray! Almost there.

We used a 100 mm wide piece of material for both the bottom and sides of the bag. This means that the mouth of the bag is a bit wider (and floppy) than needed. Next we tuck and fold the mouth of the bag to make it smaller. This'll again help with the rigidity of the bag and allows the flap to fold over properly, covering up the whole opening.

To do this, take hold of the front corner of the bag and fold over to the back corner (where the flap starts) as shown in the two pictures below. Sew together. Repeat for the other side of the bag too. Don't worry about the stitches showing. This'll be covered up later by the trimming.



We sewed on the trimming for the sides at this stage (as shown below next to the D-ring), but you can leave it till the final flap trimming if you choose to. Next, it's time to work on the shoulder strap and attachments for the bag.

Take out any Tri glide rings and buckles on the wader braces. Cut 2 strips from the braces (one for each side of the bag) of about 40cm in length. These'll form the shoulder strap attachments for the bag.


We chose to do a buckle attachment on one side and a tri glide ring attachment on the other.

Word of warning at this stage...the belt material on the waders is really stretchy. This'll mean a fair amount of bounce even at relatively light loads...You might want to use another type of material for the shoulder strap. E.g. A webbing strap from an old shoulder bag.

Take this into account when planning the strap attachments. You are probably better off using tri glide rings for both sides, as it gives you a bit more freedom (and less work) when changing shoulder straps.

But for this project, we wanted to utilize as much of the waders as possible, so stretchy it is for now.

So, attach the tri glide rings to the strips, fold over and pin down to the side of the bag along the vertical centerline.

First, sew across the bottom edge, then through the center and finally as close to the glide ring as possible. Your strap attachment should now be fastened along the center line with the glide ring few centimeters below the top edge of the bag.

Now X-stitch between the horizontal center and top stitch lines to reinforce and distribute the load stress on the strap attachment. It's best to go over the seams at least two times to make sure. We left the bottom half of the strap attachment open, as we wanted additional places to hang clippers etc.


The flap and buckle

The last thing left to do is finalizing the flap and adding a buckle to the bag.

At this stage you should fill the bag with a fleece or some other stuff just to get an idea of the size and where you want to have the flap fold to. If your flap feels a tad too long, just fold it over on itself until it feels right for what you are looking for. We wanted the flap to come down to about halfway along the bag. This will give us easier access to any stuff we have hanging off the D-rings.

Don't cut off any excess material just yet, as the extra weight will help the flap to fold over better. Rather, pin the extra material down along with the final trimming.

Now's also a good time to round off the corners on the flap if you choose to. Again, a slight rounding will help to make the material for the final edge trimming lay down neater.

You'll need about 1.5 meters of trimming material for the flap. Start pinning the strip of material down from the back of the flap (start at the front D-ring if you didn't cover up the fold stitching earlier) and work your way around the whole flap. Make sure that the material is flush and neat along both the outside and inside of the flap. Place a pin every 5 cm or so as close to the outer edge as possible to leave yourself room for the stitching.

This is the most visible part of the bag, so take your time sewing as neatly as possible. Finally mockup the buckle placement both on the flap and bag itself and pin them down. Now X-stitch both parts of the buckle on. To finish off, turn the bag inside out and go over the strap attachment seams as well as the buckle stitching with AquaSure - and voilá the bag is ready. Just attach the wader belt for a strap and you are ready to go.


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