We got a lot of helpful feedback, including some requests for a wallet that held a bit a more. So here it is! A custom bifold wallet kit. It's made of the same high quality materials and allows the user to chose both its function and look. We also adapted some of the tools we designed for the first kit to make a fun making experience that leads to really good results.
If you already own leatherworking tools and have a favorite leather, you can also download the cut files at the bottom of this step to make the version we do here.
We got such useful feedback from everyone last time, that we'll again give a free second kit to the first five people who buy one and publish an "I Made it!" comment with pictures and feedback.
Step 1: This Version
Each version of the wallet has four customizable pockets, two inside and two outside.
The version we're making for most of this Instructable is the setup I use. On the outside, one side has a card pocket for up to 3 credit cards, the other has an ID window that can hold your ID plus one other card. On the inside is a cash strap for up to 10 folded bills and a business card holder for up to 6 business cards.
There are a lot of possible function and color combinations for the kit, this is just the one I chose.
Step 2: Tools & Materials
Included in the kit:
- 1 Stitching pony
- 2 Stitching pins
- 1 Beeswax & polishing cloth set
- 2 English harness needles
- 2 French corded, waxed linen threads
- 5 pieces American vegetable tanned goatskin leather
Step 3: Optional: Applying Nikwax Surface Finish
Note: The "naked" leather we use develops a nice patina over time, but with hard use it can become stained and discolored. So with each kit, we now include a dropper of a satin surface finish to give the wallet more protection. It does, however, slightly darken the leather.
Apply the Nikwax with the clean, dry cotton cloth included in the kit. Do this on a disposable, or easily cleaned surface (we use the back of the box the kit comes in). The goal is a thin, even application to just the smooth side of the leather. Small splotches will even out as the Nikwax dries and the leather will return to almost the same color it was before the treatment. It's not uncommon for the piece to curl a bit as it dries, but it will flatten back out as the kit is stitched.
Step 4: Coin/Key Pocket Prep (if Applicable)
If your kit includes the Coin & Key pocket option, you will go through steps 4-13 on the two short inside seams to join the two Coin & Key leather pieces, before repeating the steps on the main outer seam with all three leather pieces for that side.
Step 5: Stitching Pin Placement
Stack the leather pieces for one side of the wallet like a sandwich with the smooth faces out and the suede faces in. Then orient the wallet horizontally with the long stitching lines on your left and right. Remove the stoppers from the stitching pins and insert the pins into the upper right-most and upper left-most stitching holes that go through all three pieces of leather for that side.
For wallets that include the top-slide, the right pin will be five holes in. For wallets that include the cash-strap, the right pin will be seven holes in. Replace the stoppers on the stitching pins so they snugly hold the leather pieces together. The stitching holes for all three pieces are now aligned.
Step 6: Stitching Pony Assembly
Stack the two stitching pony bars with the stickers on the same side and the smooth faces out. Line up the rubber band notches on one side, and stretch a rubber band around both parts. The fit will be tight, and it helps to hold your thumb over one side of the band as you stretch the other.
Then stretch the bars open and insert the leather parts with stitching pins in the middle of the two bars, with ends of the stitching pins facing away from you. The pins should be approximate 1/4" above the top of the bars. Hold the bars together and place the second rubber band. Now place the bars in the notches on the stitching pony legs.
Step 7: Threading the Needles
Note: This is the hardest step. The linen thread fits very tightly in the needle eye, so the friction holds it in place during stitching and the stitching holes can be small and clean.
Cut one end of the thread off at an angle, removing 1/4" or less of thread. Carefully insert it into one of the needles, grabbing the thread with the finger tips of your other hand as soon as its through the needle. Pull the end approximately 3/4" past the eye of the needle and bend it back towards the rest of the thread. Repeat for the other needle.
If the end of the thread becomes frayed, cut it again at an angle, removing as little thread as possible. Threading the needles may take a few attempts.
Step 8: Saddle Stitching - Pulling the Thread Through
Note: If a stitching pin is close to the right-most stitching hole, remove it before starting this step.
We use a common hand-stitching technique called the saddle stitch. It creates a robust, attractive seam.
Start by inserting one of the needles through the right-most hole of the side you're working on (it will only go through the middle piece of leather) and pulling it through with your other hand. The tip of the needle should go in easily, but the eye is larger and may provide some resistance. It may take a quick jerk to pull it all the way through.
Once through, pull the two ends of the thread even. Be careful not to pull the thread out of the needle. If the thread does pull out of the needle, you may need to repeat Step 6.
Step 9: Saddle Stitching - This Side First
One of the stitching pony bars should be labeled "stitch this side first." Insert the needle into the second hole on that side and pull it all the way through. You will start on this side for every stitch, which will create a nice, consistent looking seam. The label helps if you lose track.
Step 10: Saddle Stitching - This Side Second and on Top
Turn the stitching pony so you are facing the "stitch this side second and on top" side. Hold the thread you just pulled through down against the stitching pony with one thumb and insert the needle connected to the other thread through the same hole. As the label notes, it should go in and come out above the first thread.
You should notice that the stitch has a slight downward angle to it, and following these labels will keep it consistent and attractive for the entire seam. Once the second thread is through, grab both threads near the seam and pull them taut with a medium amount of pressure. Keeping the pressure consistent at this step will also give you the most consistent seam.
Step 11: Finishing the First Line
Continue stitching the first line of the seam by following these steps:
- Stitch this side first,
- This side second and on top,
- Pull taut,
Pull out remaining stitching pins as you approach them until you reach the end of the first line.
Step 12: Continuing the Seam
At the end of the first line of the seam, you will remove the leather from the stitching pony, place a stitching pin in the left-most hole on the long line of the seam, and return the leather to the stitching pony. Stitch this line and do the same for the final line, until the entire main seam has been stitched.
Step 13: Lock Stitch Thread One
Once you have finished the final stitch, pass one of the needles back through the second-to-last hole. If the thread you are using starts above the other thread in the hole, keep it above that thread. Likewise, keep it on the bottom if it starts on the bottom. This will create two parallel stitches.
Turn to the other side of the stitching pony and now pass the same thread through the next hole going backwards in the same way you did the first. You are finished with this thread.
Step 14: Lock Stitch Thread Two
Take the other thread (the one you haven't used for the lock stitch yet), and pass it backwards through two holes just as you did with the first. These final holes now have several threads going through them, so it make take some wiggling. But the friction created is what helps "lock" the stitch.
Now you will have two parallel stitches on each side of the wallet. Grab both threads and pull them taut one last time. Then use the scissors to cut the threads as close as you can to the seam without nicking the stitches.
Step 15: Take a Break!
Ahhhh. You're half way done with your wallet. At this point, you've probably been at it for 30 minutes to an hour.
Why not stand up, stretch, and take a break? We find that some piping hot chamomile tea and Super Metroid really loosens up the fingers and refreshes the mind.
Step 16: Stitching the Second Seam
And we're back! Repeat steps 4-13 for the second side of the wallet.
Step 17: Sealing the Edge
The next step is to seal the edge of the leather to protect it and give it a nice burnished look.
Take the beeswax block and run the curved section along seamed edges of the wallet. Then pinch the edge with the polishing cloth and rub it back and forth quickly with light pressure. Pinching it helps keeps the pieces of leather together, and moving it quickly helps melt the wax so it can adhere. Repeat 2-3 times until the edge has a nice polish and the edges of the leather are stuck closely together.
Step 18: Creasing the Fold
The final step is to, well, fold the bifold.
Start by lining up the edges of the wallet. Then, holding the edges together with one hand, start creating a crease with the other. Once the crease has been started, you can use both hands to continue working and pinching it. For a somewhat more pronounced initial crease, you can also insert the folded wallet into the bars for the stitching pony and set it aside for a few minutes.
Any remaining "springiness" in the seam will soften when you add your contents and start keeping it in your pocket.
Step 19: The Finished Product
You're done! You have a handsome, thin, bifold wallet. You can carry a bit more than with our thin wallet, but it will still fit in either your front or back pocket and be comfortable there.
We use "naked" leather, which means it doesn't have any coatings or finishes to crack or peel over time. Instead, it will develop a nice patina.
We made these projects so anyone could make a nice wallet and have a great time doing it. Please let us know how it works for you and how we can make it better!
Devin & Mat