12 December 2010

The Joy of Creativity :: Trifold Wallet

Have you ever had one of those "I can't believe I made this!" moments? I'm so relishing in one of them right now. I woke up ridiculously early today, we're talking 6 am and it's my day off! It took me a little while to feel functional, waking so early, but by 7 am I was sewing a wallet for my fabulous boyfriend Nick. It's 3:15 PM now, and I JUST finished it. I wasn't sewing none-stop, of course, but I definitely spent the better part of today working on the project.

Wallet for Nick

Part of the reason it took so long is that me + sewing machines tends to equal disaster. Whatever can go wrong does go wrong: broken needles, broken thread, crazy jams in the bobbin carriage, fabric stuck in the feed dogs. You name it, I've dealt with it.. today! Argh! Still, I consider all the frustration well spent time because I totally figured out what I was doing wrong and think I've resolved the issues! The first problem was that the machine was dusty (which is my next project is a sewing machine cover!). I cleaned everything and even took off the throat plate (I just learned all these terms today: feed dogs, bobbin carriage, throat plate).


Next, I found the manuel, or at least, I found part of the manuel and the rest is floating around my sewing area somewhere, probably under all the tufts of thread and fabric bit that Hurricane Moira left in her path. I realized that I didn't have the right settings for what I was trying to do, so I adjusted them appropriately. When the bobbin thingy kept getting tangled, even after taking the stupid thing about, oh, twenty times, I realized that the problem was not the bobbin at all, but the thread! I switched threads, rewound a new bobbin, and with the adjusted tension, everything was great.


Oh, yeah, I broke two needles, before I switched the thread, and put a denim needle on the machine since I was using an old pair of jeans as the base for my wallet. That helped, too.

The right side of the ID window got a little wonky!

The other reason the trifold wallet took so long was that I couldn't find a tutorial or pattern that worked for me, so I completely made it up as I went! I knew that I wanted to make an ID window, since I just learned how to do that a couple days ago. I have a crap-tonne of zippers, so I knew I wanted to add a zipper somewhere on the wallet.  I basically used my wallet as a guideline, changing what I need to as I went. (My wallet is from Germany, different sized bills, so I wanted this wallet to accommodate US dollars without folding.)

The snap tore through the cotton fabric the first time Nick opened it. Boo!

The wallet took a long time because I tried to do the opposite of what I usually do when I sew: instead of rushing through it, I really took my time and thought about each and every cut and stitch before acting. I played with the pieces to make sure I like how they worked in the wallet. I also learned how to make my own bias tape, which was kind of a pain, since I don't have a bias tape maker, but ended up making the wallet look really cool. I didn't want to do bias tape, but after much consideration, that's exactly what I did. The reason I did bias tape was that I couldn't quite wrap my head about how to make a wallet without it! I wanted an ID window, a zipper, lots of credit card pockets and "secret" pockets, and I didn't know if I could do all that without finishing the bulky thing with the tape. I'm glad I used it because it looks cool! I had a fat quarter of the gear fabric and lots of denim scraps.


The wallet's definitely not perfect. I need to learn how to make nice, neat bias tape corners, and one of the pockets got a little wonky when I sewed it. I accidentally unzipped the zipper after removing the stop, which meant I spent a good 15 minutes cursing and trying to put the thing back together again. I did it... but I had to trim about 1/2 inch of the wallet after it went back together uneven. I wasn't about to try again! The other thing that I'll have to adjust on future wallets is that I used a KAM snap to make a cute mini pocket, but the first time we tried to open it, it ripped the cotton fabric. Doh!

Here is the second wallet I made using a slight variation on the same pattern. See more here.
Later in the evening, I made a list of all the pieces I'd need to cut for another wallet. I cut the pieces from this red, white, and black floral print and an old silvery denim skirt. The second wallet, which is way better than the first, took about 2 hours, not counting the time to cut the fabric pieces. I'm hoping to cut that time even more for wallet number three! I think I might try out a bias tape maker, since making the bias tape takes a good bit of time.


  1. I am SUPER impressed! That is one complicated design my friend - you did a heckuva job barreling through, taking your time, and not giving up. It takes a while to learn your machine's language, but it sounds like you had some good practice with that this weekend so it hopefully won't be so scary in the future. Woot woot!

  2. My sewing machine and I are now BFFs! Haha! I am already thinking about wallet number three...


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