Monday, January 4, 2010

Old Leather Pants, New Leather Wallet

My wallet is a repository for junk: receipts so old they are tissue-paper thin, used bookstore credit slips, punch cards from now defunct stores. Rather than clean my wallet out (like a sane person would do), I decided to make a new wallet. A larger wallet. A wallet worthy of carrying my various sub shop coupons and the few dollars I have to my name. My old wallet also folded into thirds in a way that left annoying creases in any paper money or receipts in it. I wanted a long wallet that would not require its contents to be folded. When we were back in Michigan for the holidays, my sister and I went to my favorite Salvation Army stores. I hit the jackpot when I found a pair of black suede pants on sale for $1.50!

The pants had a lining tacked to the bottom hem of the pants. I carefully cut the lining away and pushed it up the leg and out of my way. I cut the body of the wallet from the bottom of one of the legs, two rectangles about 13.5" long by 8.5" wide. The wallet would fold into thirds lengthwise, with the closed wallet measuring about 4.5" by 8.5" (minus seam allowance). I decided to put a pocket on each of the three segments of the interior of the wallet. One would be for cash, with a smaller pocket for coins. One pocket would be for receipts. One would be for miscellaneous papers and the front of that pocket would have spaces for credit cards and my driver's license. I completed the pockets before I put the full wallet together. I cut three rectangles, 4" by 8.5", from the suede. Then I cut three identical rectangles from a lining fabric.

The "receipt pocket" was really basic: leather and lining, right sides together, sewn around three sides, flipped right sides out and topstitched closed. The "cash pocket" was exactly the same, except I added a coin pouch. I cut a square around the zipper fly and stitched under all of the raw edges (see photo at right). Then I sewed this square (including the zipper) to the exterior side of the "cash pocket." The third pocket was a little more complicated. I cut four rectangles 4" by 1.75" for credit card slits, then I sewed these smaller rectangles to the 4" by 8.5" leather rectangle. I placed the first rectangle about 3/4" in from the right-hand side. Then I stitched along the left edge of the small rectangle, attaching it to the larger rectangle below. Then I overlapped the right edge of the next rectangle (staggering it about 1/2"), essentially placing them like shingles and stitching down the hidden edge (see photo at left). Then, using a piece of clear vinyl I had leftover from the mani/pedi kits (see first post), I created a pocket for my driver's license and stitched it to the 4: by 8.5" rectangle. To finish this pocket, I attached the lining as described for the other two pockets.

Once all three pockets were completed, I topstitched them to the right side of one of the 13.5" by 8.5" rectangles. Then I placed the other leather rectangle, right side down, on top of the pockets and stitched along the two long sides. I turned the wallet right sides out and finished the short edges by enclosing them in strips of leather folded in half (like bias tape). I added a loop and button as a closure. My wallet was finished and ready to be filled!

A leather wallet could be made much more simply, maybe just folding in half instead of thirds. Also, for people with a reasonable amount of stuff, fewer pockets would suffice. Thrift stores are full of leather goods: jackets, skirts, pants, bags. Buying used is a great way to create beautitul leather goods without the expense of purchasing new leather. I saw a wide variety of suede garments, dyed in bold colors. They could be used to make purses, slippers, or even jewelry. Be creative and enjoy!