The Handcrafted Wallet : a project for him

Free DIY cork wallet tutorialI love making gifts for others, but I find it hard to find handmade gifts to make for the men in my life. What is something practical that they would use? What can I use to make a gift that isn’t cheesy? I’m all about the marriage of utility and beauty when I make anything, and I think this is even more important when making for a man. This past Father’s Day (when I had planned to post this, ahem) I made my husband a wallet with cork “leather” and Liberty fabric. The size is a standard single fold wallet, but it can be personalized however you like, whether you keep things plain, embroider, or even applique like I did on the one I made. You can use the measurements given to make a wallet your man will use everyday. I made this wallet using my Janome M100, which is a standard machine that includes all you need and more without a bunch of extra frills. I LOVE this machine to pieces. Free DIY cork wallet tutorialMaterials: 

  • cork leather, vinyl, leather, or something similar. Your home machine should have no problem sewing through this. You’ll need a fat quarter (or even less, if you have some scraps you’d like to work with!)
  • a favorite fabric for lining (not necessary if you don’t want it, but it adds a nice pop) You’ll only need about 1/8″ yard.
  • a 3 1/4″ x 2 1/8″ piece of clear vinyl for the ID pocket. I repurposed mine from an old wallet.
  • a glue stick (nothing fancy, but you will definitely need one)
  • coordinating thread, a rotary cutter and mat, and of course your sewing machine

Note: I used a walking foot throughout this project because it handles sewing cork/leather/vinyl with ease and keeps the stitches even. Cut: 

from the cork leather: (1) 8 1/2″ x 3 1/4″(outside)

(1) 8 1/4″ x 3 1/8″ (inside)

(2) 3 3/4″ x 3 1/8″ (sides)

(3) 3 3/4″ x 1 7/8″ (left pockets)

(1) 3 3/4″ x 2 5/8″ (ID pocket)

from the lining:            (1) 9″ x 4 1/4″ (outside lining)

(1) 8 3/4″ x 4 1/8″ (inside lining)

(2) 4 1/4″ x 4 1/8″ (side lining)

(1) 4 1/4″ x 2 5/8″ (front pocket lining)

(2) 4 1/4″ x 2 3/8″ (other pocket linings)

I know that seems like a lot of specific cutting, but from here on out its a breeze. The first thing you want to do is decide if you want to personalize the outside of the wallet. I thought it would be interesting to do a sort of reverse applique monogram on the front using my husband’s initials. To do this, I just cut out a circle from the cork. I used the circle I made to determine the size I needed to make the letters, and I was able to cut them from a small scrap of the cork. If you decide to do reverse applique like I did (its a cheater method), go ahead and cut another scrap of your fabric to use as the applique surface. I recommend using some interfacing on the scrap of fabric if you have any around. Draw the circle or whatever shape you cut out of your cork onto the fabric so you can be sure you have space, and then stitch the letters down onto the scrap of fabric. I generally use an applique stitch, but I found a straight stitch did the job just fine. Once you are done with your applique, center the design within your cut circle, and glue the right side of the fabric (nothing inside the circle) to the back side of the cork. Now you can stitch around the circle to secure the fabric to the cork. Its not necessary to use a standard applique stitch since cork, vinyl, and leather don’t fray, so feel free to use a straight stitch or whatever strikes your fancy here. Now we will work on attaching the linings to the cork pieces. Skip this section if you aren’t using a lining.

Begin with the outer wallet piece and its coordinating lining. Place them right sides together and stitch the long sides with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance. The lining is wider than the cork, so just adjust it so that the raw sides line up properly. There should be an extra 1/2″ of lining on the short sides of the cork as well. Carefully turn the piece right side out. You now have a sort of decorative edge created by the exposed lining. Now you need to fold in the corners of the lining to create a 45 degree angle, then double fold and glue the lining to the front of the cork so that you have the lining showing evenly on the front of the cork. Use a 1/8″ seam to edge stitch all the way around the lining.Prepare your inside cork piece and its lining counterpart the same way.

To sew the side pockets, you will again sew the top and bottom with a scant 1/4″ seam, but this time, on one side you will first turn the lining in by 1/4″ and catch it in the seam. Then turn and finish the remaining side like you did with the large pieces. On the side you turned inward, simply make sure it’s lined up with the cork and sew a 1/8″ seam to finish the side. The sides will be arranged as pictured below. To prepare the card pockets that will be on the left side, just place the lining and cork right sides together, turn the sides in 1/4″ and sew a scant 1/4″ seam along the top. Turn and glue the lining to the wrong side of the cork, then edgestitch to finish. Working from the top pocket down, we will attach the card pockets to the left side pocket. The top of the pocket should be 2 5/8″ inches from the bottom of the side piece. Using a 1/8″ seam allowance, stitch only the bottom of the pocket to the side piece as pictured.Next, stitch the second pocket. The top of the pocket should line up at 2 1/4″ from the bottom of the side pocket. Lastly, line up the bottom pocket with the bottom of the side pocket. Stitch 1/8″ from the right side, stitching down all three of the pockets (pictured below). Set aside and pick up your ID pocket piece. This piece is unlined. Cut a space for your ID to show by marking a line 3/8″ from all four sides, then cut out the center piece. Sew the clear vinyl to the cork with an edgestitch. Sew ID pocket to the right side pocket only on the left edge of the side pocket with a 1/8″ seam. Be more careful than I was when edge stitching. I messed up that bottom turn!

Now are ready to assemble the wallet, and you will love how easy it is! First, place the right and left side pockets onto the inside pieces, lining up the outer sides. Stitch an 1/8″ seam along the top only, backstitching on either side. Now line up the inside and outside of the wallet. The sides should line up- the outside is larger than the inside on purpose. Starting at the top of one side, carefully stitch through all the layers with an 1/8″ seam allowance. Pivot when you reach the bottom, and continue until you reach the end of one of the side pockets. Backstitch. Move the wallet, and beginning with the other side pocket, backstitch and then stitch along the bottom and up the side, and then backstitch again. There should be a small gap at the bottom of the wallet when it is open. This allows the wallet to close with ease.  Clip any little threads that might be sticking out, and you are all done! Its the perfect gift!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Leave me a comment if you have any questions about this tutorial or the Janome AMH M100 machine.


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Welcome to Olivia Jane Handcrafted! I'm Meredith and this is my creative journal. Here you'll find loads of inspiration for a handmade wardrobe, home decor, bags, and quilts. I even have plenty of projects and tutorials to get you started or help you along the way.

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