DMade Bags and the Maker Movement

David Valencic of DMade Bags chats with us about dopp kits and the maker movement.

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The Perfect Pack aims to provide readers with the best community generated content, focusing on the search for a pack that fits a user’s functional needs, personal style and tastes, and often, the size of their imagination. However, there is a sewing wizard so intimately tied to the pack game that he warrants honorable mention and a discussion of his work (as well as a previous collaboration with The Perfect Pack).  I had seen superb photos of his creations and read hundreds of positive recommendations about his products, so it was a no-brainer to reach out to David Valencic of DMade Bags when I needed a new dopp kit.

Most will look at the bag and immediately refer to it as a “dopp kit”, in reference to the trademarked Dopp Kit developed by leather goods craftsman Charles Doppelt in the early 1900s.  Dopp kits have since seen a resurgence of late because of craftspeople like David, Eric at Skinth, Dan at Sample, and Eva at Dyborg who recently released a collaboration with The Perfect Pack. All of these makers are pushing the boundaries of colors, fabrics, and designs well past the boring bags of old that our fathers used during their business travels and family leisure trips to Niagara Falls.

DMade Bags The Perfect Pack dopp kit blue red

I first met David virtually, during a Summer 2020 Zoom meeting between community acquaintances who were just hanging out and talking packs.  David gave a TED Talk-level breakdown of fabrics, color palettes, sewing techniques and material design concepts which illustrated his amazing depth of knowledge on the topics.  I left the virtual discussion a lot smarter than I arrived.

DMade Bags The Perfect Pack dopp kit rainbow colors

I reached out to David separately and ordered an Original Dopp, sized 9” L x 4” H x 3.25” W, constructed of an original twill Desert Night Camo outer shell and a Dimension Polyant VX-21 Bamboo liner.  The result is simply beautiful.

DMade Bags The Perfect Pack dopp kit desert night camo dnc

During a later conversation with David, he relayed that his work is merely a side activity. I asked him how he started in the soft goods realm, and like many folks, it started early in life:

As long as I can remember, I had a draw to bags and luggage of all sorts. I always looked forward to browsing through them at the store when I was younger. As I took an interest in photography as a teenager, I was thrust into the world of photography gear and all the related bags and pouches that go along with them. The brand that drew my attention the most was Crumpler— notably for their quirky designs, slightly brash product names and absolutely astounding colorways they had in the early 2000s.

His first time behind a sewing machine was not all that unlike many other artisans – Jayberry Miller of Tuff Possum Gear comes to mind.

My first exposure to sewing was on a simple home sewing machine. We had a 1970’s vintage Sears Kenmore machine in a funky avocado color that is still kicking to this day. As my interest in photography grew, so did my collection of lenses. I had emptied my bank account buying a large Nikon super telephoto lens for birding. Instead of spending $300+ on a dedicated case I decided to use the sewing machine and fashion a simple storage case for the lens. A simple rectangular cube made from scraps of 1000D Cordura with a flap closure and some cut up camping mats to act as padding inside. It wasn’t anything spectacular but it served its purpose for safely transporting the lens, and cost me nothing more than my time to build.

DMade Bags The Perfect Pack David Valencic

David is quick to point out that one-off bespoke creations like my custom fabric dopp kit are a rarity.  He’ll take on unique projects every now and then because they are interesting, but he is a strong advocate that custom work comes at a custom price.  One-off projects cut into time available to sew up orders from customers seeking more standard combinations, and he’ll point a customer to his Instagram or the DMade Bags Facebook page first for research. 

Like many folks forging their own path—small batches of product at a time—David grew into things gradually.  You can sense the expertise and excitement in his voice when he mentions his design and sewing work, because he has invested a considerable amount of time getting to a level of expertise where so many pack junkies swear by his work and own many of his creations.

DMade Bags The Perfect Pack Multicam Blaze Orange

I asked David about his thoughts on the “Maker Movement” that we’ve seen of late:

As someone who has always enjoyed tinkering and building things, I’ve related strongly to the “Maker Movement” of the past decade. The local makerspace I joined had 3D printers, laser cutters, a full woodworking and metalworking shop, and a large textiles area. Each area or specialized tool required you to take a safety and basic use course before you could book time on the machine. When an industrial sewing machine course was offered, I jumped at the opportunity. I had the machine booked every weekend, building all sorts of various pouches and oddities. The original dopp kit design that has become the most well known product of mine was conceptualized during this time.

A makerspace gives you the tools and the opportunity to create things that you would otherwise not have the ease of making at home. But equally as important to the tools themselves is being surrounded by like-minded people who encourage and champion the tinkering and creation of new ideas. The tools and offerings may vary between all the different makerspaces out there but the philosophy behind each of them is very much the same.

When you need to add a splash of color to your pack loadout, check out DMade Bags and the nearly limitless combinations of colors and fabrics available.  You can browse these on his website, his Instagram, and his Facebook. Sign up for his newsletter and you’ll get notified of something new that David has been cooking up.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

DMade Bags The Perfect Pack group photo family

If you want to dig deeper into the maker movement, you can check our TPP Makers, a spin-off community focused on letting makers collaborate, show off their work, and sell their goods to the community.

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