Instructables

Bike innertube wallet

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Picture of bike innertube wallet
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- bomb wallet made from an old inner tube.

- all you need is an innertube and a sewing machine. It's soft, malleable, flexible, durable and aesthetically it's a nice looking design. the rubber is relatively easy to sew and the finished product will fit nicely in the back pocket of anyone who drives a prius or wants to seem just as green.
 
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Step 1: Materials

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Materials:
- innertube - a 26 x 1.9/195 tube is the perfect height without having to trim.
- sewing machine - you'll need one with adjustable tensioning
- black thread
- scissors
- currency
- a license or card
- a ruler

Step 2: The backbone

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the backbone of the wallet:

- choose a portion of the innertube that has writing or doesn't depending on the aesthetic you want. hipsters will want to stay away from brands and might stick to writing that includes the dimensions of the tube. professionals may want to avoid any kind of writing all together for a sleeker, leathery look.

- cut the section of the tube that you want to use.
- make a cut where you want to start, then measure 9 inches down the tube and cut again
- do this twice
- make another cut down the seam so the innertube is no longer a tube. ( i noticed i got a straighter edge if i cut at a side seam verses the top or bottom seam.
- when you're done you'll have two opened pieces of inner tube ( see picture below) that measure 9 inches long by 3.75 inches high.



Step 3: Cut the pockets

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the next step is to cut up the intertube to create the pockets for your cards.

- cut 6 more pieces of innertube to hold your cards similar to the way you cut the back bone, but use the following dimensions instead.
- each piece should be 3 3/4 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches high.
- a license or credit card is 3 3/8 inches wide but you want to leave some room on either side to sew the pocket down to the backbone.

Step 4: Prep the pockets and prepare to sew them to the backbone

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1. lay the large backbone down with the good side facing up towards you.
2. this is your opportunity to properly space all the pockets in the wallet. it's a little harder than it sounds because you want all the cards to fit snuggly so they don't fall out, but if it's too tight of a fit you'll feel like your cards are always stuck. I explain more in step #5.
3. arrange each of the pockets on the backbone taking the following measurements into consideration. you can decide if you want your wallet to have 4 or 6 pockets total.
a. leave a quarter inch from the side of the backbone to the side of the pocket
b. leave a quarter inch from the bottom of the lowest pocket to bottom of the bottom of the backbone
c. leave a half each between the pockets on the left and the pockets on the right (in the center fold) so the wallet has ample room to fold.

*the final step will be to sew the pocketed backbone to the second large slab of inner tube so be sure to leave room on the side and the bottom so you can fit the sewing machine in and sew them together.
*as you sew the rubber down it will stretch and shift the pockets slightly.

Step 5: Set pocket the top pocket

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- now that you have an idea how all the pockets will fit begin sewing with the top left pocket.

- place the card on the wallet the way you would want it to appear so you can mark the first pocket. align the top of the card with the top of the wallet. the card in the picture below is protruding too much over the top and I needed to shift the pocket further down before sewing it on. on my wallet the top of the pocket is about an inch from the top of the backbone tube.

- again, be sure to leave about 1/4 of an inch between the side of the wallet and the side of the pocket.

- before you start to sew it's important to increase the tension on your sewing machine as much as you can. I set mine to 8. before I did this all the thread kept bunching up because the machine couldn't handle the rubber.

- start at the top left and sew counter clockwise attaching the pocket to the backbone.

Step 6: Overlap & attach pockets #2 & #3

Picture of Overlap & attach pockets #2 & #3
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- sew the next two pockets on the left side of the wallet. I placed each pocket about 3/4 of an inch below the opening of the pocket above it. this lets your cards stick out so you can see which cards are in each of the pockets.

- make your lower pockets slightly larger ( like 1/8th of an inch) so you avoid sewing into the pocket above.

- save the inner tube with writing for the bottom pockets, which are the most visible to add some design aesthetic.

- below you'll see i sewed the second pocket right over the top pocket

Step 7: Sew on the second row of pockets

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- with the left column of pockets attached you can now align the pockets on the right side.

- leave about 1/2 of an inch between the right and left sides so the wallet will fold. there should also be 1/4 of an inch between the right side of the pocket and right side of the backbone tube.

- lay your pocket out so the top of the pocket measures about an inch from the top of the backbone. this will ensure your card isn't peeping out of the top of the wallet.

Step 8: Sew the front to the back

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- sewing the front to the back will create the large pocket where you'll store your bills.

- pin around the perimeter because the rubber will shift as you sew if you don't.

- sew around the edges trying to avoid the pockets. the sewing machine can sew through two layers of rubber but i started running into trouble and broke a needle once i started sewing through three layers of rubber. if you have to do it i would suggest advancing the machine by hand or using a more industrial strength needle.

Step 9: It's easy - you're done

Picture of it's easy - you're done
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treat yourself to a tasty beverage, it doesn't matter if you spill, it's rubber.
ciclopiave8 months ago
niiice
nice work, i like the idea that it is not slippery. A leather wallet or other material can be pretty slippery , especially with the up and down motion when cycling. I always try and buy pants with a zipper wallet pocket, since i am on bikes a lot. If by chance it is not grippy but slippery, there is a clear spray that adds a sand like clear coating , goof hardware stores carry it.
No reason to ever buy a inner tube, the bike shops i know , especially the ones that so a lot of business in nyc, just ask how many tubes i want, they are into seeing them being up-cycled too.
Thank you for the inspiration, I decided to make my own tri-fold wallet with red and black thread. I cut my tube along the bottom seam which created a less curvy piece than the side which you suggested.
you can check mine out here:
http://theimpossibletribar.blogspot.com/2011/11/bicycle-inner-tube-wallet.html


My recommendation is to get a sewing machine that is old and powerful with a walking foot. I used one and it was a piece of cake; the first thing I've ever sewn.
I encourage anyone with access to a sewing machine to make one of these, a spare tube is less than 5 dollars and you probably already have one, thread is dirt cheap, and it should take less than 2 and a half hours!
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kenhfisher (author) 5 years ago
You can also buy one from me at http://www.crankcreative.com if you don't feel like investing the time.
There are also the ones offered by http://alchemygoods.com, who had actually hosted a contest on instructables some time back. Pardon for interrupting.
tjackson152 years ago
Hiya, would you mind if I used some of these images in a school project along with some that I took myself? I won't make any cash from it, it's just a coursework project about upcycling and recycling. That would be really helpful!
dellis82 years ago
looks awesome man, I'm just wondering if anyones tried to heat join tubes together, using a heat gun or even a soldering iron. I could see potential problems with both methods (heatgun would be hard to control which bit of rubber melted and soldering irons would gum up).

I have access to industrial quantities of old innertubes and don't have a sowing machine, any other thoughts? I like the staple idea but think it might look a bit amateur???
I've seen Instructables around here somewhere for innertube belts, as well as making woven innertube seats for old rattan chairs with the seats busted out. Maybe try weaving a doormat or something? That could be really cool! You could also just use rubber cement (also known as contact cement) in place of stitches to hold the wallet together, or for purses and other such things.
crochooley4 years ago

My poor Janome....

I'm trying this out but I have a difficult time keeping the tube flatten when cutting or sewing.  Is there a safe way of putting mild heat to this (similar to plastic fusion) to flatten the tube making the sewing easy?

Before I tried doing that, I wanted to see if anyone else has done this ...

Thanks for the awesome tutorial.  I'm always looking for new ideas to recycle.
 

I haven't tried this, but I suspect one could put a sheet of paper on each side and gently heat it with an iron. That's what I've heard for fusing plastic bags to make thicker plastic sheets for projects, so I bet it'd work with an innertube.
I've I'd make one of these (and I guess I will pretty soon) I plan on glueing the rubber to a liner, like pigskin split leather or something like that. That'll certainly help to keep it streched.
kpierson3 years ago
I just made this for my boyfriend's Christmas present. I can't wait to give it to him! I don't have a walking foot but my mom is an experienced seamstress and suggested I put tissue paper over it before I sewed. It made it difficult to see the seam but it kept the tube from pulling as much.
It turned out great! You did a good job and he loved it.
T-Rave4 years ago
Thanks for this. A friend just showed me his that he got as a gift and immediately I wanted to make one myself. Very awesome! Just another justification to get a sewing machine :)
cvkasdan4 years ago
Very nice work, and I always love it when a man isn't afraid to show off his sewing skills!  I'm off to make a "bag" of sorts out of tubing as I cannot find any suitable purses.  Thanks for the tips on the using a walking foot and high tension!
kenhfisher (author) 5 years ago
I forgot to mention, using a WALKING FOOT sewing machine or the walking foot attachment will make this exponentially easier.
ken fisher, I am inspired by your instructable but do you think this project is possible on a compact sewing machine? That is all I have (even with size 18 needles) and have tried sewing the inner tubes but with only tangles and sewing machine halts!!.. Does it require a full blown turbo machine?
kenhfisher (author)  klikitykev5 years ago
It definitely doesn't require an industrial strength machine like I initially expected, it does however require a walking foot. Technology has come a long way and I actually used my Brother EX-660 with walking foot attachment that I bought from Costco for $110. Without the walking foot the rubber pulls and stretches making a 10 minute sewing job more like a 45 minute nightmare. Look for attachments for your machine, maybe you can purchase the walking foot. good luck!
Bardouv5 years ago
I totally just did this in 5 minutes. Awesome. I can't sew though, so I had to staple it together, but it works. Nice instructable!
kenhfisher (author)  Bardouv5 years ago
Stapled it! that's a sweet work around. send me a picture I'd like to see what it looks like.
That's asking a lot. I can't find my camera and it is probably broke anyway, so it may be a while. But I would be happy to send a pic.
Mine didn't turn out quite as well as this but I put that down to my (very) basic sewing machine skillz. I still plan on using it though... Love the idea and nice clear instructable. Now for that well earned beverage...
You could also glue a couple of magnets between the two layers at the outside to keep it shut :)
Fat Bagel6 years ago
I made one but my sewing machine couldnt handle some of the sides and pockets so i had to hand stitch. I did mine different and added a coin holder.
jake1016 years ago
awesome instructable, just made mine and its awesome people saying they will wait for punctures to get a tube, go to your nearest bike shop and ask for an old tube, or dumpster dive it, they will have hundreds! plus you can take loads home and patch em up, no more paying for tubes! i used a bit of elastic cord on mine, poked a hole in the tube, and tied the cord in a loop that i can ping round it and hold the wallet shut, works a treat! :]
Excellent Instructable with cool photos makes me want one, can’t wait for my next puncture, then I’m on the case! Many Thanks
Nice! Just don't leave it in the sun...
nice! my friend cycles alot...il ask him for an old innertube when he has a puncture next. :) also, doe it seems to want to stay open atall (being that its rubber) i might try to do a version with a press-stud but im not sure how id sew it is to a piece of innertube. great 'ible
kenhfisher (author)  drummonkey926 years ago
Yeah I actually thought about a mechanism to keep it shut but opted against it for a few reasons. - with cards in the wallet it actually stays closed by itself. - i didn't like the design aesthetic with an additional flap or snap to keep it closed. - i tried to keep the design as sleek as possible because I didn't want a big bulging wallet in my pocket. but i've seen other designs with a snap so i guess it's just personal preference.
Just take a "ring" from the same tube you used for the wallet and use it as a rubber band to keep your wallet shut.
foobear6 years ago
pretty cool idea