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Saturday, 22 August 2015

A Wallet from Concept to Creation [Pt 2: Testing]

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Test version of my "by request" wallet..
A couple weeks ago, I showed you a test wallet that I made as a first attempt at an original wallet for a cousin.

Today I will provide an overview of the steps that I took to create this wallet, at a sufficient level of detail so that you can probably make one of your own if you're clever. By way of a disclaimer, as it currently sits, there are a couple of design flaws (which I will point out later), but they may be things that you can live with or for which you may have your own solutions.

My cousin's original wallet was about eight inches high by five inches wide when opened up. I aimed for a similar finished size, for the most part working with a 1/4" seam allowance, except for the main top and bottom edges where I went with 3/8".

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My solution to this wallet design was to create the following main components:
  1. an interior lining and exterior back to which everything else attaches,
  2. two sets of card slots (each to accommodate four cards in a horizontal fashion),
  3. a "divider" behind each set of card slots (which results in two slip pockets, the first being created by the space behind the card slots in front of the divider and the second created by the space behind the divider and in front of the main lining of the wallet),
  4. a bill pocket (lining) running the full width (but not to the full depth), accessible from the top of the wallet,
  5. a zippered coin pocket (lining) on the back, and
  6. a tab closure with snap fastener.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Five of the six components visible here: tab closure, two sets of card slots,
two slip pockets under the card slots, the interior lining, and the bill pocket along the top edge...

Each set of card slots is made up of one long piece of fabric (20" x 4-1/8") with multiple folds. The inside top part of each fold needs to be interfaced. Each divider (7" x 6") is made up of one piece of fabric, folded (to 3-1/2" x 6"). The inside of the folded edge needs to be interfaced. All of these — the two card slots and the two dividers — then need to be attached to an interior lining piece (16" x 6"), which is also (partly) interfaced.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
...and here is the zippered coin pocket on the back exterior... 

The zippered coin pocket lining — for which you will obviously need a zipper — is made up of one piece of fabric (7" x 4-1/2"), folded. It is attached to an exterior back piece (8-1/2" x 6"), which is interfaced. The bill pocket lining is two pieces of fabric (each 8-1/2" x 4-1/2"), one attached to the interior lining piece and one attached to the exterior back. Finally, the tab closure is made up of two pieces of fabric (each approximately 3" x 2-1/2"), one of which is interfaced.

Make Card Slots

The card slots will be snug, since they are open to the top of the wallet and it wouldn't be good to have cards fall out. (As is, the design is not suitable for carrying more than one card in each slot.)

Take the long strip of fabric and fan fold it around some actual cards for this step. I did not take actual measurements for each fold; I may do so if this becomes a pattern for sale. (Truth be told, I find the instructions for folding card slots — fold up, fold down, fold back, etc. — very confusing to read and not so much less confusing to write.) Just be sure that the sides are straight after you create the folds.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
I am very "free form" about the creation of card slots... I use actual cards and eyeball the required folds;
(the ruler there will give you some idea of the measurements to aim for) 

Press well after folding. Then cut eight 3.25" x 1" strips of medium weight fusible interfacing (I used Decor Bond) and fuse one under each fold. Topstitch along the top edge of each card slot after applying the interfacing. Baste along the sides of the completed card slot assemblies with a 1/8" seam allowance.

Attach Card Slots to Interior Lining

My major conundrum with this design was to figure out how to enclose the two side seams of each card slot. I ultimately arrived at the idea to use a really wide piece for the interior lining that would fold back on itself to become the backing for the card slots.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
The interior lining is also the back of the card slots...

With right sides together, sew one card slot assembly to each end of the interior lining piece. Take care to keep the top edge straight and even. Trim seams (and the excess fabric from the card slots that will overhang the bottom) and press. This seam is now the inside seam of the card slots, i.e., the seam that forms the opening to the first interior slip pocket.

Fold the lining so that you get this on the front...

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Interior lining properly folded with card slots on each side... 

... and this on the back...

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
The raw edges of the card slots will overhang the folded edges of the interior lining....

Use the exterior back piece as a guide to help you maintain the right size when you make these folds.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Ensure that your folded interior lining assembly is the same size as the external back piece...

When you're satisfied, press well and then fuse a 6.5" x 5" piece of Decor Bond to the back of the interior lining piece.

Make & Attach Dividers to Interior Lining

Take your two divider pieces, fold them in half vertically with wrong sides together and press well. Cut a 5-1/2" x 2" piece of Decor Bond and fuse to the inside of the folded edge. Topstitch along this edge.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Dividers all prepared...

Open up the two card slot ends and place one divider piece underneath each. The dividers will not quite "butt up" to the inside edge of the interior lining fold; adjust the placement so that the topstitched edges of the dividers are visible underneath the edge of the card slots.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Place dividers under the card slots...

Pin in place and sew along the folds of the lining piece with enough of a seam allowance to secure the raw edge of the divider pieces inside.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs

This now creates the two slip pockets on either side. I shall refer to this completed piece as the "interior assembly" from here on.

Create Tab

Cut yourself a 3" x 2-1/2" paper pattern piece and draw a curve on one end using a drinking glass or something similar. Use it to help you cut your two tab pieces.

Alternatively, you can draw the required sewing line directly on your rectangular piece of fabric as I did here...

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Create the tab and interface on one side...

Sew up the two pieces with right sides together, interface, trim seams and then turn right side out. Topstitch if desired.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Turn right side out and press well...

If you want, you can attach the top half of a snap fastener on it now, although this can wait until the end.

Attach Bill Pocket

Take one of the bill pocket lining pieces and pin it right sides together to the top of the interior assembly.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Attach one bill pocket lining to the interior assembly...

Ensure that the pieces are straight along all edges — this is very important — and then sew together with a 3/8" seam allowance. Press and trim back the seams.

Take the other bill pocket lining piece and attach it to the top of the exterior back piece in the same fashion. Interface the exterior back piece with an 7-3/4" x 5" piece of Decor Bond. (You will notice in subsequent pictures that I didn't do this; at the time I was considering using some Peltex at the end.)

Make Zippered Coin Pocket

Take the exterior back piece that is now attached to one of the bill pocket linings and place it right side up on your work surface.

Position the coin pocket lining piece right side down on top of it as shown here... with the exception that the bill pocket lining should be off to the right! That is, spin the whole thing around one eighty degrees, otherwise you'll have to do what I did and unpick the bill pocket lining and resew it to the other side! Consider yourself warned; I'm not going to say this again. ;-)

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Preparing to make zippered coin pocket... but I chose the wrong "end"!

Draw a 3-1/4" long horizontal line at the position shown below.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Draw a line to position your zipper, about 3/4" down from the top of the lining...

You will next draw a box around this line to create a "window" for your zipper. (And I will not go into much more detail here as I assume you have done this before.)

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Sew along the outside of this rectangle and cut into the inside lines through both layers of fabric...

Sew along the outside of this window to secure the coin pocket lining, cut along the inside lines, etc., etc., and push the lining through to the other side. Press well and you should eventually have something like this...

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Zipper sewn in and excess zipper tape cut away...

Fold the bottom of the coin pocket lining up to meet the top and carefully sew along all three sides to finish the pocket.

Finishing Up & Final Assembly

I didn't take many more photos after this, but there isn't too much mystery about what remains to be done. The interior assembly needs to be pinned right sides together with the exterior back (with the bill pocket lining pieces fully extended) and then sewn almost all the way around and then flipped right side out.

However, there are a couple of things that have to be done before this final step.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
Attach tab closure and ensure that the snap fasteners are properly installed...

The first thing is to attach the tab. Baste it in place with a 1/8" seam allowance so you can manipulate around it without worrying about it moving out of position. If you haven't already attached the top half of the snap fastener, do it now. Next, mark the location where the other half of the snap fastener should go and install it to the exterior back, at the end opposite the zippered coin pocket . (You will likely have to do some pinning and turning to determine the proper placement.)

It is very important when you prepare to do the final sewing around the entire wallet that your seams are even and level across the top where the bill pocket lining will eventually be folded to the inside.

First, press the entire seam down towards the main body of the wallet as shown here.

Original Wallet Project by eSheep Designs
For best results, begin sewing right where you see each binder clip and sew down
to meet at the bottom middle...

Second, ensure that the previously sewn seams are perfectly matched because you want the front and back edges of the bill pocket opening to be the same height. To ensure good results, I recommend that you begin sewing right where I have attached each binder clip; sew down both sides towards the centre bottom of the wallet.

Then go back and sew up the bill pocket lining, only now leave a turning gap along the middle of the long edge.

Clip corners and trim back the seams before you turn the wallet right side out. Press, press, and maybe press again. (And the word is "press", not "iron"; do not move the iron back and forth.) Close up the turning gap and topstitch around the top and bottom. Press again.

Design Flaws

Like I said at the top of this (long) post, there are flaws with this current design.
  1. Especially once it's loaded up with a full complement of eight cards, some receipts, cash and coins, the outside edges of the wallet (the area right under the tab) curve outward in an obvious way. It's likely due to the fact that the card slots are at their "bulkiest" in the middle and I may not have adhered to the small seam allowance in the most precise fashion when sewing it up.
  2. The last card slot ends about 1-1/4" above the bottom seam of the wallet, which leaves a prominent area of "thinness" at the bottom.
  3. The bill pocket lining not being as deep as the wallet itself results in another problem of unequal thickness that may become more apparent as you add to the contents.
So it's a trip back to the drawing board for me as I work towards some solutions to these issues. In the meantime, feel free to experiment with the above; at some point — hopefully in the not too distant future — I should be back with a final version of this wallet.


  1. Lovely project. Where is the zipper when you sew round the box lines?
    Many thanks

    1. I'm not totally sure I understand your question correctly, but if you're talking about the original box that is drawn to locate the zipper, when you first sew around that box, the zipper should be set aside. It's only after you cut into the box and turn the lining to the inside that the zipper is placed under the opening and then sewn up all around.

      Hope this helps. There was no additional detail around this step as I assumed that most people have installed a zipper before.

  2. That explains it - thank you


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