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Saturday, 8 August 2015

A Wallet from Concept to Creation [Pt 1: Drafting the Specs]

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
An original wallet "by request"...
When the second set of cousins descended upon me last month and admired my growing pile of sewing projects, I told them that I would happily make something for each of them if they would truly use the item.

One cousin admired my wallet and was going to select that project when she instead pulled out her current wallet and asked, "Can you make me something like this?"

The wallet that she showed me would have made George Costanza proud. (It was stuffed to a width of at least one inch!) Being made out of leather, it obviously had the ability to stretch and stay strong. So I told her that yes, given time, I could come up with a pattern to replicate the look of her wallet, but being made out of fabric, she would have to reconsider its future contents and perhaps pare down her needs.

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Thus begins the tale of my new wallet project, the first version of which you see above. (The Robert Kaufman Satsuki blue Japanese flower fabric was my cousin's choice; I still have enough to make her a final version.)

In the spirit of sharing my thought processes as I did with the tie project, I will log how I progressed from the original request to a completed test wallet.

The first thing I did was measure the dimensions of my cousin's wallet. I then noted the general features — nothing out of the ordinary; just four card slots and a couple of slip pockets on each side of a bifold style wallet — and drew a rough sketch on a piece of scrap paper. A few days later, I copied the sketch into my notebook and began visualizing the individual components and how they might be sewn together to become a wallet.

Pattern drafting - eSheep Designs
Planning out a wallet pattern...

Once the idea had "germinated" sufficiently, I cut out the required pieces from an old scrap of fabric (the navy coloured pieces you see above) and proceeded to pin them together. With just the results from the pinning (I also recommend stapling to get a quick idea), I concluded that the project was do-able and could be taken to the next step. I went back to my notebook and recorded the most recent set of measurements for the pieces and then took scissors to some better fabric from my stash.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
A pre-test prototype...

The result is the "pre-test prototype" that you see above. For this, I left out the zippered coin pocket, did not attach the snap fastener to the tab and did not put in any interfacing. The point of this test was to verify measurements, ensure that all pockets were accessible and lined, and that all seams were hidden. And of course, I wanted to do this as cost effectively as possible; hence, no interfacing.

Of course, at some point, an actual test of everything has to be done. It's just that I usually like to be absolutely certain about measurements before I take that final step, and I really wasn't positive about this, once interfacing and its effect on overall thickness were taken into consideration. But what could I do except do a full test? So I did, with the actual fabric that my cousin had chosen for the project.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
A actual test wallet with final fabric choice...

Does the idea of coming up with measurements strike fear in your heart? I have to admit that even though I have a math background, this step in the pattern creation process is not my favourite. Oh, I can easily come up with the answer to "if the current height of the photo is 213 pixels and the width is 400, what height does it have to be for a 550 pixel width", so it's not the actual math part that stumps me.

Needing to "see" where all the joins are and adding the required seam allowances takes me for a ride sometimes. And yes, even though it's usually a simple matter of "actual length" + ("seam allowance" x 2), it's amazing how that simple equation can occasionally trip me up, particularly as I start to envision how the pieces are supposed to come together.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
We are having such a nice summer, I'm going outside for the photo shoot!

So what do you think of my wallet so far? In its present state, it's definitely not perfect, although I will not elaborate further right now. But I do have some ideas on what needs to be changed before the design can morph into a final version. (Who knows? Perhaps it'll morph into a "sellable" pattern. Seems a shame to go to all this trouble and not have it be an actual pattern.)

In the meantime, I will come back in a couple of weeks with another post about my testing process. And I'll supply enough details so that if you're the slightest bit adventurous, you'll be able to follow along and make your own wallet.

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