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Crash Course in Wallet Making

January 7, 2011
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My little brother is turning 19 on the 21st of January, and he has asked me if I’ll make him a wallet with some Michael Miller fabric he’s found. I’ve never made a wallet before in my life but got excited at the challenge. I scoured the internet for a few days studying photos of wallets other people had made and blogged about. I read through a number of tutorials. I ordered some magnetic snaps from Ebay.

None of the online tutorials quite fit with my brother’s requirements so I sketched up a pattern of my own, amalgamating a number of techniques from other people.

The wallet has to be compact, have a zippered compartment for loose change, card slots, and a larger pocket for notes. How hard can it be? I decided to whip up a prototype. It took rather longer than anticipated.

Here’s the finished prototype, showing the full length pocket for notes.

Here’s the inside of the wallet, with three card slots, a big pocket behind the card slots for things like receipts, and a zippered pocket for loose change that goes from the zip all the way down to the end of the wallet where the magnetic closure is. Inserting the zippered pocket actually turned out to be a lot simpler than I had thought, I followed instructions online and it just worked! I love it when that happens. The card slots are good but I found they really bulk out the side of the wallet, making it hard to top-stitch. It’s not clear here but the wallet ended up being quite crooked, with the open pocket for the notes not quite lining up along the top.

I lined the inside of the zippered pocket with a lovely baby blue gingham that complemented the other fabric really well. I think this is my favourite part of the wallet and I can’t wait to use the technique on some bags soon.

I love this stripey fabric I used for the outside of the wallet, from Ikea. It worked really well with the fabric I chose for the inside. As you can see, the wallet was designed to fold in two places, but unfortunately due to the bulkiness of the wallet that plan didn’t actually turn out so well.

Oh dear. Look at that unsightly bending of the fabric! No amount of pressing was going to sort out this mess! It would be an exaggeration to say I feel like a failure but it’s times like this when I feel like the complete amateur that I am. I’m glad this is just a prototype. Back to the drawing board it is.

I used this wallet for a week to try out the features, and I’m happy to report that the card slots work well, the little zippered pocket is perfect for loose change, but the pocket for notes is a bit big and the awful warping fabric and slight misalignment were making me unhappy. After much thought I took my seam ripper to it.

First I completely removed the pocket for notes to try to repair the wonkiness. The I removed the outside magnetic clasp that meant the wallet had to be folded twice to close, and put the clasp on the inside instead. I covered up the slits from the clasp on the outside with some ribbon and one of my labels.

Here are some photos:

See how it folds in half neatly and nicely now? Much better.

 

 

I’m much happier with the altered and improved version of the wallet. It might no longer have a note pocket along the top, but really that’s a minor issue. I have been using this wallet for a few weeks now and it serves my purposes. After all, I hardly ever carry wads of cash around with me, and the odd fiver fits nicely into the big side pocket behind the card slips.

I am begining to formulate a plan for how I can incorporate a note pocket in my brother’s wallet without it turning into the disaster my first attempt became. I will have to get resourceful.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2011 8:36 pm

    Well well, I am keen to see how the final wallet looks. I don’t think your brother is into flowery things!

  2. January 14, 2011 2:43 am

    I too am trying to make the perfect wallet – it’s much trickier than I thought! I’ve been having a hard time thinking about substitutes for zippers, to cut down on bulk (my prototype has six! Maybe thin magnetic snaps might be better?

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