Friday, July 1, 2011

Pocket Wallet Tutorial

I always think about doing tutorials but I rarely do. There are a few reasons; first they are a bit tedious with all the photos and explanations and second I tend to just do things. I rarely worry about exact measurements, I usually eye-ball things, and I upcycle so I use the materials I have laying around and I make it work.

Excuses, excuses... If you decide to give this tutorial a go and you run into any problems or something I've written doesn't make sense, please leave a comment below or shoot me an email at

Pocket Wallet
Good luck, enjoy, and please report back with your experience!

Materials and Measurements
  • Zipper, a 4" zip would be the perfect size. I don't have any of those laying around so I used larger zips and trim them to size.
  • Snap, make sure you have all 4 pieces to assemble the snap. I use a hammer and a wooden spool of thread for the actual assembly. 
  • Fabric, You can use as many or as few different fabrics as you like. Here I used 2, a patterned and a solid. All up you will need less than a 1/4 yard of fabric.
  • Thick Interfacing, I use Pellon 1-sided fusible, Ultra Firm Fusible Stabilizer. You can get this at Joann Fabric. You only need a tiny piece, 4" x 2.75".
  • Thread, anything will work. 
My 3 Feet
Obviously you need, scissors, a sewing machine and some feet. I use three different feet for this project. A regular foot and a zipper foot would be sufficient. Sorry, I have no idea what the third foot I use is called but I really like it and I highly recommend getting one! It is really great for stitching close to the edge of your projects. 

You will also need an iron and ironing board. I find a chopstick and piece of yarn very helpful too.

So first things first, you are going to cut out your interfacing and your fabric. The most important piece as far as getting the size and shape of your wallet right is the interfacing. Nothing else has to be cut perfectly, as long as the interfacing is cut right your wallet will have good form and shape. 

Here are the measurements to cut as they are shown above. If you love math or you are a perfectionist, you could probably work these out to more exact measurements. Math and I don't get along so well. Perfectionism and I have an understanding, as long as the end result is perfect the details can be a bit messy.

Interfacing - 4" x 2.75"
Snap Tab - 2" x 5" (generous 2 x 3 would be plenty)
Background Pieces - (cut 2) 5" x 4" 
Snap Side Pockets - cut 1 that is 9" x 4" and one that is 8" x 4". These are generous lengths that I trim later. Like I said I'm not into being exact when I sew. 
Lower Part of Zip Pocket - 5" x 8" again, this is generous in length.
Upper Part of Zip Pocket - 3" x 5"

Step 1
Step 1- Iron the interfacing to the center back of one of the background pieces. (See image right)

Step 2- Iron all the pocket pieces and the tab in half. I'm sure you are all smart enough to figure out which way to fold the pieces to end up with a wallet that will be roughly 4 inches by 3 inches when you are done. 

Step 3- Stitch the tops of the 2 snap side pockets. I do this about 1/8 inch down from the fold. This stitch adds stability and looks nice. 

Step 4- Line the pockets up on the front of the background piece with the stiff interfacing. I eyeball this by folding the top of the background piece fabric back under the interfacing and then spacing and laying the two pockets on top. I layer the pockets with about 1/4 inch difference in the hight of each one. (See image below)
Steps 3 and 4
Stitched pocket tops layered ready to go
Step 5
Step 5- Stitch the pockets onto the background piece. I only stitch the top inch or two just to make sure the pocket placement doesn't get messed up. The stitch should be far off to the sides, 1/4 inch or less in from the raw edge. You don't want this stitch to show when the wallet is finished. 

Step 6- Your snap tab piece should be ironed lengthwise with the wrong side of the fabric showing. Place a piece of yarn down the middle of the inside with about 1" hanging out the top. The yarn is going to make turning your tab right-side out much easier after you sew it. Go ahead and sew the tab piece together. With the wrong sides showing stitch about 1/4 inch from the edge across the top, backstitch the start and double stitch across the yarn, continue down the length of the tab. 
Step 6

Step 7- With scissors, trim the top corners of the tab. Pull the fabric down over the yarn to turn the snap tab right-side out. Use a chopstick to gently help push out and shape the top corners. Iron the tab flat. Stitch around the tab about 1/8 an inch from the edge. 

Step 8- I like to stay stitch the tab at this point to the front of the Snap side piece. Again, I eyeball this centering it to the middle of the interfacing and about 1" down the lowest/front pocket. (See image below)

Step 8
Step 9
Step 9- Change to your zipper foot. If you have a 4" zip make sure you line the zip up properly to fit the piece. If you are like me and you have a longer zip we are going to just use a section of the middle of the zipper. Sew the top and the bottom parts of the pocket onto the zipper. (See image). 

Step 10- Switch back to your regular foot. Place the other background piece behind the zippered piece face up. Use the zipper as your guide and place the top of the background piece about 1/3 inch above the top edge of the zipper on what will be the top of the pocket. Stay stitch from the zipper about 1" up and 1" down on both sides. Do not stitch through the zipper, this is going to be 4 separate inch long stitches. 

Step 10- Now it is time to stitch the two pieces of our wallet together. With the right sides facing together, use the zipper and the lines of the interfacing to position the pieces together. I position the middle of the zipper about 1 inch from the top of the interfacing. (See image below). In the image you can also see the excess fabric I have for the pocket. That gets trimmed next!

Step 10
Use the middle of the zipper and the top of the
interfacing to line up your pieces. 
Step 11- Pin the pieces together and trim off the excess fabric. Don't forget to make sure your zipper is inside the wallet, you don't want to accidentally cut it off! Use the interfacing as your sewing guide. Stitch 1/8 - 3/16 away from the edge of the interfacing. 

Step 12- Leave most of the bottom edge of the wallet (side furthest from the zipper) open to turn your wallet right-side out. Trim the corners of your wallet to help create nice corners for your wallet. 

Steps 11 & 12
Scrunch the wallet before turning
Use a chopstick to help form corners
Step 13- Turn you wallet right side out. I find that scrunching it up before turning it to "soften" the interfacing makes it easier. Use your chopstick to help push out and form the corners of your wallet. Don't push too hard. You don't want to tear a hole in your fabric or bust the seam.

Step 14- Iron your wallet flat. Tightly fold in the open portion of the wallet using the interfacing as a guide. You can hand stitch the opening closed. I don't bother hand-stitching unless I feel like the ironed folds aren't going to hold well enough, this can happen if you didn't leave enough seam allowance.

Step 15- Top stitch your wallet. This is where I use that 3rd sewing foot. The regular foot will work too. Stitch as close to the edge as possible. I stitch at about 1/8th of an inch from the edge. Stitch on the zipper side of the wallet. You want to stitch all the way around the wallet but you have to backstitch on either side of the zipper and not actually stitch through the zipper. You also have to take care to make sure the snap tab on the other side of the wallet gets stitch down straight.

Step 16- Last but not least you have to install your snap. Center the decorative snap in the center of the bottom of your snap tab. I use a hammer and a wooden spool. Use whatever method you are comfortable with. The other side of the snap goes through the front pocket. I use tailors chalk to mark the positioning of this part of the snap. Check your alignment before committing to the placement!

Snap tab placement
Snap mate placement

Yay, you are done with your perfect little pocket wallet! 


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