Show me the money

So it’s almost April already (HOW?!) and I’m only now getting this little bad boy up on the blog, despite making it at the end of last year ??‍♀️ Buuuuut I am definitely getting better at this whole ‘seasonality’ thing – when I first started the blog I remember photographing short sleeve shirts in absolutely freeeeezing weather, so I do plan things out slightly better now ?

Over the Christmas holidays, I didn’t actually get that much sewing done, until the last few days. The start of the break was focussed on relaxing, doing absolutely nothing, getting over the mental Christmas rush of the Etsy store from the weeks prior. I didn’t touch my sewing machine for a good few days… maybe even a week ?

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But it was nice. I needed a reset. And then I got viciously struck down by a cold – a hideous head cold – and all I wanted to do was sit still and eat Quality Street. Which is, to be fair, pretty much exactly what I did – and although it was very enjoyable (green triangles and the toffee ones are my faves), it meant that I didn’t get much time to spend on my hobbies.

So as I sat there, surrounded by the empty chocolate wrappers and wallowing in my misery, I browsed the sales online. I’d been wanting a new little card wallet for a while, as my current one was looking more than a bit tired (and if I’m honest, pretty disgusting. If you’ve ever spent extended amounts of time on London’s transport system, you’ll know how grimy it is and how that grime gets on everything).

This was the current card wallet:

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A gold leather affair that I bought from Jigsaw a year or so prior.

Pretty, huh? Yeah, that shiny-shiny gold finish was what drew me to it in the first place. Sadly, that gold got super disgusting.

Top of my list of potential replacements was this Alexander McQueen wallet, (or ‘pocket organiser’ as they call it) but of course it came with an enormous price tag of £215 ?

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It was everything I wanted in a wallet – the right size, with all the right pockets, and nothing extra. Except the price tag was NOWHERE NEAR what I wanted ?

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And then I thought… maybe I could make one ?

Not one exactly the same – obvs, because this one is made with leather (and studded leather, at that) –  but something that would serve the same purpose for about 15% of the price. I started to browse online to see what sewing patterns were kicking around.

I had some specific requirements for the design:

  • It had to be a bifold wallet (as in, a wallet that has two sides that fold together)
  • It had to have space on both sides for cards, and more than one card at that

I use the current wallet day-to-day for my Oyster travel card and my bank cards – a few of them are contactless so I needed to be able to separate the contactless travel card from the contactless bank cards, to prevent the dreaded ‘card clash’.  My annual travel card costs me way more than is right to spend on public transport, so there’s no way I’m chancing tapping in with my bank card and being charged on that as well. Nobody’s got time to be fishing the travel card out of their wallet every five minutes, so It needed to be in a side all on its own, away from all the other contactless cards so that I can just hold that side of the wallet against the reader and carry on with my day. You will suffer the angry wrath of many, MANY commuters if you’re the one at the barrier holding everyone up because you haven’t got your card out ready. Believe me.

I’d seen a few quite simple designs, like this one which I considered:

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(available on Etsy here, if you likey)

But in the end I settled on this wallet, because I thought it was kinda cute, and it looked a bit more fancy:

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Sure, I didn’t need the coin pouch or the section for notes (I’m like the queen, dahling, I don’t carry cash ??‍♀️) but I liked the look of it, and that was good enough for me. It’s the Bi-fold wallet by NapKitten, available on Etsy here.

I don’t have a printer at home, which is fine for little patterns like these because they mostly give you the dimensions for each piece rather than a template. This pattern though actually had a template for the little flap closure tab. Because I wanted to start making the wallet like right this very second after purchase, I got a bit creative. I displayed the pdf on screen at the same width as a sheet of A4 paper (confirmed by holding the paper up against the image on the screen), and simply overlaid the paper and traced the template. The husbeast was mightily convinced that this method was somehow flawed, but couldn’t give me a solid reason why. It could have been that all the Sudafed that I’d taken was clouding my judgement, but I was adamant it would work.

And it did.

Go me.

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I used some of the Tula Pink De La Luna fabric that I had kicking around – the eyes print is just so cool! (really need to make myself a piece of clothing with it ?) I paired it with some of the other prints from the range, which for some reason is defo quite hard to find yardage of in the UK.

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Now I know that I’m a bit of a novice at this whole wallet-sewing lark, but what I found a tad annoying about the pattern is that there is no summary of the pieces that you need to cut – I had to work my way through the whole pattern, reading everything, to make notes of the sizes I needed to cut. What would have been nice is a list of the pieces you needed, all in one place. Plus, it wasn’t actually clear (and by ‘clear’, I mean super-idiot-proof) which way up you needed to cut the piece. The fabrics used in the pattern are mostly uni-directional, but my fabrics had a right way up. I had to look at the pictures, and figure out what piece exactly I was cutting, to be certain which way up I should cut.

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The instructions themselves for actually constructing the wallet were perfectly fine – it was just the cutting instructions that were pretty thin on the ground.

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The bias edging looks cute, but it annoys me that there’s a join. The pattern instructs you to just overlay the end edge of the bias tape over the starting point, and slip stitch it down, but I’d prefer to try to measure the length of tape needed and close it into a loop before attaching it to the wallet, so that the join is on the inside of the tape and nothing is visible on the outside. I mean sure, I could have actually done this, but I thought I’d give the pattern as shot as it was written.

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My tape is all wonky-donkey around the edge too (in my defence I had a banging headache at the time) so it looks like I need some practise at that… I stitched both the inside and outside edge down by hand, but in hindsight perhaps I should have machine stitched one side. It doesn’t help that the number of layers you’re wrapping it around varies greatly as you work around the wallet, so in some places it looks nice and thick and other places it’s proper thin. I did briefly look at adjustable bias tape feet for my machine, and wondered whether it would help… anyone got one of those? Are they any good? Worth buying?

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Anyway, Once I’d finished sewing it, I was pretty pleased with my first little wallet

Having used it for a couple of months now, I’ve made a few observations:

The wallet is a little flimsy… I’d prefer it to have a bit more body to it. This could be (probably) fixed by using a firmer interfacing and/or doing away with the notes section.

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The sections for the cards are about half a centimetre too wide – the cards are just a smidge loose in their little pockets, and when I open the wallet to tap in with my travel card at the station I get a little bit edgy that one of them is going to slip out. It hasn’t happened, yet, and it might not ever, but I’m a little nervous. Often the top card has worked its way halfway out, and that’s bad enough. If I made it again (which if I’m honest, I’m probably not gonna) I would consider narrowing the width of those little pockets a bit to make the cards a bit more snug and secure.

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My old card wallet just sort of stayed closed on its own… even though it didn’t actually have any closure to it. This one does not stay closed. It has a snap to fasten it, but in all honesty that’s a bit of a faff to keep un-popping and re-popping every time I want to use a card. And it’s a proper firm snap too, you gotta put some force behind it. In hindsight (ah, that wonderful ol’ thing) a magnetic closure would have been better. Once the snap is undone, the whole thing feels a bit unwieldy, flapping about all over the place (see ‘firmer interfacing’ above).

In all honesty, the wallet is a bit big. Bigger than I anticipated it would be, and much bigger than my old card wallet. It’s not so tuck-it-in-your-pocket tiny, more ‘yeah-good-luck-getting-it-in-your-pocket-lol’. It’s because of the section for notes – it adds height, and given that I can’t even remember the last time I had a banknote in my possession (how times are a’changin, hey?) this section is essentially pointless anyway.

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Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s pretty to look at, but not very practical for the kind of everyday use I was looking for. I’m sort of half-considering trying to make one out of leather, but I don’t really know the first thing about leather work. I could learn, I guess. We do actually have some pretty cool leather kicking around, which was bought for the handbags the husbeast wanted to try to make but hasn’t even touched yet ? So I might steal some of his leather… you snooze you lose, amirite? I’m not really sure if I was expecting something made out of fabric to be the same as something made from leather – probably ??‍♀️ – but clearly it’s not going to be the same. It’s same-same but different. If by ‘different’ you mean totally not the same.

BUT – all is not lost. Think of this wallet as the first step on a wallet-path.

I’ve found a couple of patterns from new-to-me company Dog Under My Desk – one little card wallet which is similar to what I’ve made here but omits the note flap that I don’t use (and also the coin pouch which never gets used either), plus a zip around wallet. Let me put it out there now that I don’t actually need a wallet – I have a perfectly good one that I really like, but rarely carry because I don’t need to haul more than a couple of cards around with me. (If I actually thought about getting round to it, I could even set up Apple Pay on my phone and leave the debit card at home. I guess that’s all well and good until the phone battery dies, amirite? ?)

These are their ‘Flip Flop Wallet’ and ‘Zip Around Town Wallet’ patterns that are now in my stash:

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I really like the look of the top card wallet (minus the elastic closure) – I’d even make it with the little clear plastic pocket. My old leather card wallet had that clear section, which was handy for visual confirmation that it yes it is indeed my travel card that I am tapping at the train station (because sometimes – when it’s chucked it down with rain, or you’ve dragged your ass on the walk to the station and you’ve now almost missed your train, or one cup of coffee wasn’t quite sufficient to kick your brain into gear that morning – it’s hard to remember which side of the wallet your travel card is hiding in and you can end up tapping your bank card and having money deducted from your bank account when you’ve already paid with your eternal soul for your annual travelcard. The husbeast is the WORST for this.) So when I make it, it’s defo getting the clear pocket, but will probably not have a closure. If it turns out the closure is needed, I’ll go with the magnetic one.

The zip around wallet I’ll just make for the lolz, because I want to ??‍♀️

If you’ve got any wallet patterns you think are awesome (or ones to stay away from), lemme know!

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Next week on the blog is possibly my all-time favourite photoshoot, with possibly my biggest coat-making achievement yet – it’s my DP Studio Le 809 coat photographed on the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC??

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  1. Cindy
    March 24, 2019 / 11:40 am

    As you know I sew 4 days out of 7 for my daughters animal abuse farm. See Facebook noahsark87, like & follow her pls xx I’ve made about 12 fabric card wallets, i used a magnetic clasp and they sold so well, i used a heavy interfacing, I’ve even washed mine, it needed a good iron after but still good xx
    I cant remember who’s pattern , but i expect as I’m no where near the seamstress you are, i expect good old Debbie Shaw was responsible for the pattern….

    • Sarah
      March 26, 2019 / 8:41 am

      I think a magnetic clasp is definitely the way to go, the snap I used is just too much really. I’ve got some super stiff interfacing that I used for the base of a bag, I wonder if that would be better ? Ooh I’ve not heard of Debbie Shaw – now going to check her out!

  2. Bren Holmes
    March 24, 2019 / 12:36 pm

    I love your wallet; it’s so pretty. I needed a new purse, but was too mean to pay the £40+ for one like my leather, worn out one. So, I raided my stash and made the Necessary Clutch Wallet, by Emmaline Bags. I made it in fabric as a test run for a cork and leather version, but I’m not keen on it now that I am using it. I find it’s too wide and the internal pocket parts open out too wide, so my receipts and loyalty cards and the like keep falling out. To be fair, it’s meant as a ‘date night’ wristlet, for just a couple of cards, cash, mobile and a lipstick, but that sure ain’t my life! So, I’m still on the hunt for something suitable. I did enjoy making it and it’s very attractive, just doesn’t effectively do the job for me.

    • Sarah
      March 26, 2019 / 8:45 am

      I did have a look at the Emmaline bags patterns – I can’t remember now if I saw anything I liked ? I looked at so many, they all kind of blur into one! I’ve just recently seen some of that cork fabric stuff – I almost bought a piece at the Knitting and Stitching show. It looks really interesting to use and I bet it’s useful for things like bags and wallets. Perhaps I’ll give it a try after all ? Well I hope your hunt for the perfect purse is successful ?? Have you looked on Etsy? There’s lots of patterns on there ☺️

  3. March 24, 2019 / 1:16 pm

    That’s a great looking wallet ? I know what you mean though, they can feel a bit bulky. I’m still using my thread theory bifold wallet that I made out of washable paper… I’d recommend it ? … I’m pre washing a few sheets right now! ???

    • Sarah
      March 26, 2019 / 8:46 am

      I’ll admit – when you said ‘washable paper’ I thought brown kraft-type paper… and you know how I feel about the colour brown ? BUT – I googled it yesterday… and THEY DO IT IN GOLD. I AM SOLD. You gotta try everything once, right? It’s now on the list to make, thanks! ?????

  4. Pence
    March 24, 2019 / 4:04 pm

    Keep the magnetic closure away from the card strips as that can wipe the info on the strips. (Hotel room lock cards have the same problem. And can be wiped if pocketed next to a cell phone.)

    • Sarah
      March 26, 2019 / 8:47 am

      Ohhhhh I hadn’t thought of that ? Thanks for the tip! ??

    • Sarah
      March 26, 2019 / 8:48 am

      Ah! I think this is the same one SewAndrew was praising in another comment! Perhaps I need to consider this pattern more seriously… ??

  5. PoundCake
    March 31, 2019 / 8:49 pm

    The first pattern I ever sewed was a Dog Under My Desk pattern!! It was lovely and very clear, I bet you’ll like them. I’m the opposite – any purchase under $20 I make with cash, I pretty much only put groceries & bills on my card (which means no credit card points, but I like to pretend I’m living off the grid…by going to the bank to get cash sometimes, hardcore).

    • Sarah
      April 2, 2019 / 8:05 am

      Ah really! I’d not heard of their patterns until just now, but I’m glad I discovered them ?? Whilst I’d love to actually be able to live off the grid (and we pretty much did when we lived in Borneo), I just don’t know that I have time to go to the bank and get cash ?? They’d be able to track me just by my travel card movements anyway ? I can’t remember the last time I paid for something with cash ? ??‍♀️
      I’ll let you know on the sewing patterns! ??

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