There are so many different sizes and shapes of wallets available in stores because everyone has different needs. Making your own wallets allows you nearly complete control to carry exactly what you wish as well as the color or material the wallet is made with.
This is Part 1 of a tutorial on how to pattern a wallet. Posts on how to assemble this wallet will be added after the patterning tutorial.
When designing a wallet, you need to decide what things are important to carry with you at all times, what you need to have quick/easy access to, and the size of the object you will carry your wallet in.
I need at least 2 pockets to hold credit cards/ID cards, a pocket for paper cash, a pocket with zipper for coins, a pocket for random cards and coupons that I don’t use very often, and if possible, a pocket to keep my CTA pass handy. Have these things handy so you can move them around on your paper to test layouts for your wallet.
A quick reminder about patterning: While you are designing the pattern, you must keep in mind how you are going to assemble the pieces – including the order and how the pieces will interact with one another as their are being joined together. Also consider the limitations of using a sewing machine vs handsewing during the process.
Because I’m making my pattern and tutorial on the computer, I’ve created rectangles to represent the different objects I wish to accommodate. I have used color to make it easier for you to see which piece I am working on or what items the shapes represent.
The wallet I’m showing you in this tutorial folds in half. It is a good idea to mark a dashed line to indicate the fold of the wallet so you can make a wallet that is balanced on both sides where the edges match when you fold it closed. Leave a bit of a gap on either side of the fold line so it is easy to fold close if there is a bit of stuff in it. I’ll talk a bit more about folding ease later in this post.
Play around with the arrangement of objects. Everything has a different proportion so it can take a bit of time to figure out what will be best for your needs.
I start with a layout that has 2 card spots with a pocket for cash behind it.
I’ve created a starting point for the basic size shape of the wallet based on a credit/ID card layout I like. The overall wallet needs to be larger than what it holds and it needs to account for construction techniques. I plan to make my wallet from leather and chose to do a line of stitching 1/8″ (0.3cm) from the cut edge to hold the pieces together. If you plan to do a line of top stitching, you need to accommodate a small bit of ease (1/8″ or 0.3cm) between your stitching line and what you are holding in a pocket. I left slightly more ease to either side of the credit cards because I plan to carry a couple cards in each pocket.
In order for my wallet to fold in half where the edges match up I need to mirror the size and shape of the wallet across the fold line. I determined that the distance between the fold line and the bottom of the card pockets is 4 1/4″ (10.9cm) and extend the same distance on the other side of the fold line.
Now we have the size and shape of the opposite side of the wallet. I planned to put an extra pocket on this side, a zippered coin pocket and possibly a spot for my train card. Those spots didn’t need to be designed to fit anything exactly so let’s make pockets that will efficiently use the space provided.
I’ve added a pocket that will be nearly the full side of the wallet.
Now I plan for a coin pocket in front of this pocket that will be slightly shorter.
And add place my CTA pass on the pocket – looks like I’ll be able to create a pocket for easy access!
Now is the time we start making specific pockets to hold specific objects.
First, I’m going to determine the pocket size the cash pocket behind the credit/ID cards. To make it easier to pull cards, I’m going to make the cards pocket slightly shorter than I anticipate the cards resting.
I planned to sew a seam between the two places to hold cards making it two pockets out of one piece of leather. I added a dashed line to my pattern piece to denote this.
I’m going to add one more pocket to hold my CTA pass. Because I will be top stitching it to the coin pocket, I need to add a bit of margin around the card. I added 1/4″ (0.6cm) around the card – 1/8″ (0.3cm) on either side of the stitching line.
So now we have the desired layout that was created to fit what we want/need to carry.
Now let’s separate the pieces. If you are working on paper, trace off each piece – marking on the pieces as you go which piece it is. If you plan to make your wallet from fabric, be sure you leave enough margin on your paper to add your seam allowance. Leave your original design intact as it can be super helpful when it comes time to assemble the wallet.
The inside of the wallet is nearly ready to go (we have a few finishing touches but at least we have the pieces figured out). The outside of the wallet needs to be slightly longer than the inside of the wallet so the inside of the wallet doesn’t wrinkle when it is folded closed. I added 1/4″ (0.6cm) of length to the wallet.
I want the outside of my wallet to have a leather “picture frame” around the fabric so this is the next thing I pattern. Please note, doing a narrow edge like what I show in this tutorial is difficult (tediously nearly impossible) for a fabric with a woven structure. This technique is best applied to leather or vinyl.
The shape of the line that creates the cut-out to display the fabric is up to you. It isn’t a structural shape and it doesn’t have to join to anything other than the fabric so you do have creative freedom here. The only thing you need to be careful of is keeping a wide enough strip of leather (in my case) that you don’t compromise the structure and stability of the material. For this wallet, the fabric is fun and lively so I’m sticking with a super simple right angle cornered frame.
Here are the basic shapes for this wallet. In the next post we will talk about how to layout a stitching guide for an easy and clean way to assemble a wallet made from leather or vinyl.