Sunday, December 4, 2011

Passport/Credit Card Wallet for Guys - Tutorial

Isn't it always so much harder to find presents for guys than for women? And if you want to hand-make something, it gets even more difficult, right?
Well, this one was a real winner - I made it for my husbands birthday a while ago and he loves it.

I had sewn him one out of fabric before, which was in constant use, and I decided it is time to make him one out of leather now. It was also a good project for me to gather more experience with leather, as I am still into my shoe-adventure and need to learn some basics with this material...

You can easily translate it to fabric, you will use bias tape at the edges, but otherwise it isn't really much different.

This project is definitely one of my longer "quick projects". I didn't time it, but I guess it was around 3 hours.


Materials needed:
  • Leather pieces (make sure it is soft and not too thick) and some fabric for the lining (or all fabric, in which case you need bias tape, too)
  • Sewing machine, preferably a strong one (mine is a denim-sewing-machine) 
  • Iron
  • Pinking shears if possible
  • leather needles - for the machine and for hand-sewing
  • an awl (if possible)
  • thread (if you want, use some quilting or other thicker thread for the embellishment seam)
  • pins
  • leather glue (or any glue that dries up elastically)
  • candle
  • Paper, scissors, pens for the pattern
First, get hold of the passport you are making the wallet for. Sizes vary from country to country. Also, get hold of a credit card, which thankfully have a standard size...
I made a cardboard pattern for the passport, as my husband wasn't supposed to know what I was doing...

Here are the pieces you will need:

  • On the top left you see my passport dummy.
  • The white piece of paper is twice the passport size with an extra large seam allowance around it. This is the actual size the wallet will be in the end. It is your shell, so mine was the dark brown leather
  • The blue and green pieces are the side pockets, they have to be the same hight as the white, but you can choose whatever width you like. Mine were the beige and black leather
  • In the bottom line is the folded up paper for the credit cards, which I will explain more precisely in a moment. This is made out of fabric
  • The yellow is the fabric lining. It is 1,5 times the size of the white paper above it, with an extra seam allowance added to it
  • You'll need additional leather strips for the edge binding.
The seam allowance you add to the paper pattern should be wider than the one you'll actually sew. But just a touch. You don't want the wallet too big either, the cards and passport have to fit in snugly, or they will keep falling out.

Make sure the passport is at least as wide as a credit card. Otherwise, you have to add to the width so your credit cards will fit!

Here is how it will be put together - there will be an extra pocket under the credit card section:

Above you see the pocket the lining will form, below you see how the credit card section will be on top of that.

Now for the credit cards, you need to always fold 4cm (3/8 inch) and 5cm (3/4 inch) sections, alternating, as you can see in the picture below. You can try other measurements - they will determine how much of the credit card is sticking out of the pocket.
The important thing here is not to forget the seam allowance. You add it on each side, but also the bottom and top.

This is the top:

At the bottom, you have to  add seam allowance to the first 3 pocket sections too, as they will be sewn under the bias binding:

Now that you have your paper pattern, cut out the fabric. I highly suggest you cut the fabric for the credit card section longer than actually needed and cut the excess off after ironing. All the folding makes it hard to stay 100% accurate... In fact, cut your lining a bit bigger too and then cut it to size after sewing...

Iron the fabric, using the paper pattern as a guide. I did not zig-zag the edges, as that would add extra bulk. We will have plenty of bulk as is...
Baste the credit card section after ironing.

Right sides together, sew the lining to the right side of the credit card section.
After every step, put in some credit cards to make sure the size is right ;-)

I DID iron my lining, but the fabric still looked like this...

I used pinking shears on the seam allowance between these two pieces to cut off extra fabric. Fold the lining to the back and stitch the ditch (I used a lot of pins because the layers kept shifting around and I didn't baste until after this step...):

Fold under the lining on the right and compare it to the finished size you want to get to. Cut off extra material if you have any...

That's it for the fabric pieces! Now cut out your leather. You probably shouldn't use your fabric rotary cutter for that, unless you want to switch the blade soon, anyway.

Hold the edges over a candle and burn off the little "hairs" to make a smooth edge.

Lay everything on top of each other (on the bottom you have the biggest piece, then the fabric pieces, then the two leather pockets on the right):

The three layers of leather on the right get pretty thick. I graded them slightly to get a softer edge. But be careful, you still want it all to get stitched in!

I basted everything together with my machine, but it barely made it. You will definitely need a leather needle, which is actually a little knife. Lessen the pressure of the foot, otherwise everything gets wonky. Use as big a stitch as you can, and lessen the tension...

Make sure everything still has the right size, check how much seam allowance you really have, so it doesn't get too small in the following, last step...

Cut strips of leather twice the width of the seam allowance (and add a couple millimeters - the folding will "eat it up"). Spread some glue evenly onto the strip.

Glue the first strip to the top or bottom.
With an awl or a thick leather needle pre-punch the holes you will need. I punched a hole every 5mm (1/4 inch):

Now hand-stitch around the wallet. I used two different colours of quilting thread. Do the top and bottom of the wallet first. Cut off the extra leather at the edge.

For the sides, cut the leather strip with a 45∘angle like so:

First glue, then sew it to the wallet as you did with the pieces before:

Ta-Daaa! That's it, you are done!

Sorry about the quality of some of the pictures, I often sew at night, which is just bad for the photos... I hope you understood everything - please let me know if you have any questions or corrections or complaints!

I'll be posting another quick project tomorrow - this one is REALLY quick and super cute - pet bottle boxes:

After that, I promise we'll make things to wear again! ;-)

Happy Sunday sewing to you all,

1 comment:

  1. Nice wallet, no wonder the husband loves it! Ever thought of making one for yourself?

    And about leather sewing with a machine - well, it gets tough, but I found it really helps to put a piece of newspaper on top of it, sew and later carefully remove it. This trick allows to sew leather layers much much easier (oh, the things I learn when dealing with my machine...). And the other trick, "the golden rule of sewing" - the thicker the fabric, the tricker the tread :)