Introduction: Basic Leather Card Wallet
Learn how to make a basic leather card wallet that can be easily customized to meet your needs and fit your style!
Many different types of leather can be used for this type of wallet. We would recommend using leather around 4-5 oz. in thickness with a little bit of body, so it keeps its shape.
What You Need:
- Veg Tanned Natural Strap Leather, Weaver Select (04-530S)
- Weaver Select Veg-Tan Leather Panel (13101-)
- 12" x 8" Steel Square (65-3039)
- Snap Off Knife (65-2860)
- Stitch Groover (8069)
- Master Tools Edge Beveler (00080)
- Dressing Sponge (50-1985)
- Plastic Leather Slicker (65-2962)
- Exotic Wood Leather Slicker (65-2961)
- Poly Cutting Board (65-2916)
- English Point Strap End Punch, 1" (00078-1)
- Rawhide Mallet (65-2520)
- Double-Sided Adhesive Tape (16195-)
- 1/8” Flat Chisel Set (67-7254)
- Fiebing's Pro Dye, Quart, Black (50-2035)
- Sheps® 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil Pint (50-5704)
- Leather Balm with Atom Wax Neutral, 4 oz. (50-2188)
- Scratch Awl (CSO4-2)
- Heritage® Individual Spot Setters, 1/4" & 5/16" (65-621)
- Art Knife (65-2866)
- #2080 Flower Spot, 1/4" & 5/16" (02080)
- Stitching Pony (65-2949)
- John James Saddler's Harness Needles (1/0) (L3912)
- Ritza Tiger Thread, 0.6 mm, 50 meter spool (77-7301)
- Weaver Gum Tragacanth (50-20)
Step 1: Draw Your Pattern
For this project, you will have one main body piece and two equally sized pockets.
You can download the free printable pattern here or copy the dimensions below.
Main Body: 4-1/4" x 5-3/4"
Pocket: 1-3/4" x 4-1/4" (Actual size on finished wallet. You will overcut these pieces and then trim to size once they're attached to your main body.)
Step 2: Trace Pattern and Cut
On your leather (we used 4-5 oz. Weaver Select Strap Leather), trace your main body pattern. If you choose to dye your wallet black, like Chuck did in our video tutorial, you can use a regular black ink pen. It's easier to see on the light material, and the black dye will cover it completely. However, if you want your wallet to be a lighter color, opt for a scratch awl when tracing.
Use your snap off knife and straight edge to cut out your main body piece, following the line you traced.
For your pockets, you don't need to trace the pattern piece because you want to overcut the leather and then trim to size later. With your snap off knife and straight edge, measure and cut two 2" x 5" rectangles for these pieces.
Step 3: Groove and Bevel Pockets
Using your stitch groover, groove one long side of each pocket. Only groove the face (top grain side) of your leather.
Then, use your #1 (3/64") Edge Beveler to bevel the edge that you grooved on each pocket. Flip each piece over and bevel the same edge, but on the flesh side of your leather.
Step 4: Slick Edges
Use a dressing sponge to wet the grooved/beveled edge of your pocket, taking care not to get any water on the face of the leather.
Place your pocket so that the damp edge hangs off the table.
For a 4-5 oz. weight leather, you'll want to use the center groove on your slicker. Gently rub your slicker back and forth along the damp edge, maybe a dozen times. You don't have to press hard. You just need a bit of heat and friction to round and smooth the edge.
Repeat on the other pocket.
Step 5: Punch Thumb Grabs
Use your pen and straight edge to mark the center of each pocket on the slicked edge.
Take your 1" English Point Punch and center it on the slicked edge using your guide mark. Place the punch so that the bottom half is sitting on the leather, and the open side is hanging off the edge
Use a rawhide mallet to punch this spot on the edge of each pocket, creating thumb grabs. (You can get creative with different punches or decorative borders for the edge of your pockets!)
Step 6: Tape Pockets
Place your main body piece so that the flesh side (what will be the inside of your wallet) is facing up.
Measure 3-1/4" in from the short edges, and mark these points. This is where the top of your pocket should hit when you lay them in.
Apply double sided tape to your main body, then center and place your pockets so that your punched edges lay straight across at the 3-1/4" mark.
Step 7: Trim Pockets
Flip your project over so that the main body is on top, and you can see the excess length of the pockets sticking out from underneath.
Use your snap off knife to trim the excess leather, following the edge of the main body piece.
Step 8: Round Corners
Use your knife to carefully round the corners of your wallet. An easy way to do this is to make 3 or 4 straight cuts, gradually angling them around the corner and taking off the sharp points.
Make sure you don't bring the corner in too much, or your cards may not fit.
Step 9: Groove and Bevel Edges
Lay your wallet so that the exterior is face up. Place a piece of scrap leather underneath your wallet, so that the center area between your pockets is propped up and your entire work is sitting level on the table.
Groove around all of the edges with your stitch groover.
Then, bevel all of your edges, on the front and back side of your project.
Step 10: Chisel Stitch Holes
Place your wallet so that the pockets are facedown on your table. Using your 1/8" Flat Chisel Set and your rawhide mallet, punch the holes for your stitch line all around the edge of your main body. Try to keep the spacing consistent. An easy way to keep your stitch line straight and evenly spaced is to place the first tine of your chisel in the last hole you made.
To chisel around your corners, use your 2-tine and single-tine chisels. Place the first tine of your 2-tine chisel in the last hole you made, and lightly mark where your next hole will be. Then, use your single-tine chisel to punch the hole where you marked. Repeat this process until you reach your next straight edge.
If you get to your last few holes and notice that you're going to have too much or too little space left, you can use your single-tine chisel to gradually spread out or contract your stitch line and keep it looking evenly spaced. Use your 2-tine chisel to measure and lightly mark where your next hole should be, then use your single-tine to chisel your hole on the edge of this mark, just barely pulling it in closer or pushing it farther out. (You want the change in spacing to be so slight that it isn't noticeable.) Repeat this until you can fit your larger chisel evenly in the remaining space, or you reach the end of your stitch line.
Another thing to keep in mind when dropping in your chisel line is the placement of your pockets. Avoid clipping the top edge of your pocket with your chisel if you can. Try to space out your chisel holes so that the edge of your pocket falls between holes, using your single-tine chisel to spread out or shrink your stitch line if necessary.
Step 11: Dye Leather
Make sure your work area has good ventilation while you're working with any dyes.
Carefully remove the pockets from your main body piece. On the flesh side of your leather, use a Sharpie to mark one corner of your main body piece, and the corresponding corner of the pocket that was taped there. After dying the leather, you'll want to attach the pockets to the same sides they were previously taped to.
Dip the edge of a dressing sponge into your Pro Dye, then lightly swipe it across the face of your leather. Try to get as much coverage as you can on the first pass. Repeat this process on the top grain, the edges, and the flesh side of each piece.
Set your pieces aside and allow the dye about 4 hours to dry completely.
Step 12: Apply Top Coat
Before applying your leather balm, take a lightly oiled cotton rag and wipe down your leather. Make sure to use very little oil; You just want to clean both sides and the edges of each piece.
You may notice that your leather has stiffened up a bit from the dye. To fix this, take each piece of leather and gently bend and work it in different directions until it loosens up and feels like it did before it was dyed.
Take another cotton rag and dip a small section of it into your leather balm. Using circular motions, apply the balm evenly but sparingly to the top grain side of each piece.
With a dry rag, lightly buff the top grain of your leather in a circular motion.
Step 13: Add Holes for Spots
Place your pattern back on top of your main body piece, lining it up correctly. Following your pattern, use your scratch awl to lightly mark where your spots will go on your wallet. (Feel free to get creative here with spots, stamps, or tooling. This design is just a suggestion!)
Take one of your largest spots (5/16") and straddle your center mark with the tines going from top to bottom (the top and bottom being the short ends of your wallet). Press the spot into your leather so that you have two visible guide marks.
Take a medium sized spot (1/4") and repeat the marking process, straddling the marks on either side of your center mark. Then repeat on the last two marks on each end of your row with your smallest spot (3/16").
Use an art knife to puncture the two tine holes for each spot, following the guide marks you just made. To avoid dinging your blade, place a few layers of cardboard underneath your wallet. Make sure the holes you cut are not bigger than your tines.
Step 14: Drop in and Set Spots
Drop your largest spot onto your center mark so that the tines fall into the holes you made. Press the spot in so that it's flush against the leather, then flip your wallet over.
Use a spot setter or the flat end of your art knife to bend the tines over so that they're laying flat against your leather. Bend the tine closest to the edge of your leather first. Then bend the other tine down and over top of it. This prevents the edge of your cards from catching on a tine when you slide them into your wallet.
Flip your wallet over, and lightly tap the spot with your rawhide mallet. This should set your spot so that it sinks into your leather, and the tines are set tightly against the inside.
Repeat this step with your medium and small spots.
Step 15: Hand Sew Wallet
You can use a stitching pony to keep your work comfortably in front of you while sewing. Use a clip to hold your pocket in place on your main body, until you have your first few stitches in.
For this project, you're going to use a Saddle Stitch all the way around the edge of your wallet. Take 2 hand sewing needles and measure out your thread to be about 4 times the length of what you need to sew. Thread each end through one of your needles, so that you have a needle in each hand with your thread strung between them.
Start on one side of your pocket, 2 or 3 stitch holes in from the top edge. Thread one of your needles through both layers of leather, pulling it all the way through and evening up the length of thread on each side. You should now have one needle and half of your thread on each side of your wallet.
Take the needle on the front side of your wallet, and push it halfway into the next stitch hole. Then take the needle on the back (the inside) of your wallet, and push it into the SAME stitch hole. Now, both needles should be halfway in the same hole, pointing in different directions.
Grab both of your needles and pull them the rest of the way through the leather. (The needle that was on the front side should now be on the back, and vice versa.) Pull your thread taut so that the stitch sinks a bit into the groove line. Repeat in the next hole
Repeat your saddle stitch to sew around the entire outside edge of your wallet, clipping your second pocket to the body and then attaching it like you did the first. Stop when you reach your last hole (right before the hole you started with), leaving it empty.
Step 16: Finish Stitch
Take the needle on the inside of your wallet, and push it into your last stitch hole, but only through the first layer (the pocket) of leather. Angle the needle so that it comes out from underneath this layer, from the pocket's opening.
Do the same thing with the needle on the outside of your wallet. Push the needle into the last stitch hole, pulling it through one layer (the main body piece) and out through the pocket's opening.
Pull each thread taut to lock in your stitch line.
Step 17: Tie a Square Knot
Finish your stitch line by tying a simple square knot (right over left, left over right). Push the knot into the pocket with your thumb while tightening it, so that it's hidden once your wallet is finished.
Step 18: Trim Ends
Trim the loose ends of your thread close to the surface of your leather. To do this, hold the edge of your snap off knife close to the wallet, and pull the thread ends across the blade. Make sure to move the thread rather than the knife, to avoid cutting yourself or your leather.
Step 19: Hammer Stitch Line
With a tack hammer or mallet, lightly tap along your stitch line on the outside of your wallet. This spreads out your stitch line, helps the thread sink into your groove, and makes your stitches look more prominent while closing down your chisel holes.
Step 20: Slick Edges
Finish your wallet by slicking the edges. We used leather balm in this tutorial, but you could also use gum tragacanth or water.
With a cotton rag, apply a small amount of leather balm to the edges of your wallet. Then take a second rag and lightly rub the excess off.
Use your plastic slicker to slick the edges all the way around your wallet. The top groove should be the correct size for the two-ply edges, while the middle groove should work for the one-ply area in the center. Make sure to work the corners as well.
Slide a few business cards into your pockets and fold your wallet in half. Your brand new card wallet is ready to go!