Introduction: Jeans Cuff Wallet

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Too short for off-the-rack jeans? Hem the jeans and make a matching wallet with the excess left over.

All too often I'm stuck buying pants that are too long for my legs. Usually it's not a big deal. I simply re-hem them to the right length. Then I have all these rings of denim or khaki left over. Can't throw them away--they might come in handy, right? So then the wallet contest came along and that gave me the idea to make a wallet out of the left over pieces.

My goal was to only use the material removed from the jeans without adding any auxiliary material. I wanted to them to have a little deconstructed look so I left the edges unfinished. Edge stitching reinforces the jeans aesthetic and helps prevent the material from completely unraveling. This is the pattern I came up with based on the amount of fabric available. Your mileage may vary. Enjoy!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Things you will need:
Fabric scissors and/or a rotary cutter
"Snippy" or embroidery scissors
Jeans/Denim weight sewing machine needles
Awl (optional)
Sewing machine
Cuffs leftover from hemming jeans.*

You need a minimum of about 3 1/4 inches width on the cuffs to fit US currency. Maybe more (or less) for other currencies. You'll want to measure heights and widths of what you plan to store in your wallet to make sure everything fits. All my measurements are in inches and the wallet is scaled for US currency, but it should be fairly simple to adjust as necessary to accommodate other currencies.

*or pants of choice. Khakis might work. The important thing is that the fabric be sturdy enough to withstand use and abuse. Alternatively, if no pants are sacrificed you can use about an eighth of a yard of denim or similarly weighted fabric.

Step 2: Open the Cuffs

Jeans will have at least two seams in the legs (and thus the cuffs). Typically one of those seams will be lapped and will have two rows of top stitching. Cut the cuffs apart at the non-lapped, non-top stitched seam. Remove the remaining seam allowance. If you are desperate for additional length, you could rip the seams apart using a seam ripper.

Step 3: Remove the Hem

Remove the hem by cutting as close as possible to the stitching line. If you need extra width, you can rip the hem open using a seam ripper. Keep in mind that the creases from the hem are pretty well set and likely never come out. Consider it a potential design feature for the wallet :).

Step 4: Cut the Wallet Pieces

You need:

One piece for the outside of the wallet. This one is approximately 8 3/4 inches wide by 3 1/4 inches high.

One piece for the inside of the billfold. It needs to be shorter (less wide) than the outside piece. How much shorter will determine how much you can stuff in the wallet and still get it to close. This one is 1/2 inch less than the outside piece (or 8 1/4 inches). Keep in mind that the denim will likely stretch over time.

Depending on the overall length of the cuffs after being cut open, you will likely get the inside piece from one cuff and the outside piece from the other cuff. I recommend not centering either piece over lapped seam. It makes the wallet less able to fold flat.

The pieces remaining after cutting the inside and outside pieces will be used for pockets.

Step 5: Figuring Out Pockets

In this wallet design, both inside left and right sides have two vertical pockets. Fold one of the two remaining pieces over a credit card or similarly sized card. The edge of the fabric behind the card should be flush with the edge of the card. The edge of the fabric in front of the card should be about 1/2 inch or so below the edge of the card.

Note the length measurement for the section behind the card. Unfold the fabric and mark the length for the piece behind the fabric. Measure out from that mark the length, minus 1/2 inch and mark. Draw lines the width of the fabric at each mark. Cut the fabric along those two lines.

Using the same measurements, measure, mark, and cut the other remaining piece of fabric.

Step 6: Edge Stitch Edges

Denim is fairly sturdy, but will unravel when given the opportunity. Edge stitching tames the unraveling while still allowing a deconstructed look.

For edge stitching, I used a triple straight stitch (one step forward, one step backward, one step forward). This gives a nice, thick, sturdy line of stitching that goes with the jeans aesthetic. If your sewing machine doesn't have a triple stitch option, you can use a regular straight stitch and make two or three passes. Be careful to line up the needle at the first stitch if you don't want the stitches to all blend together.

For stitch length, 3.0mm or about 8-9 stitches/inch work well and give a nice look. The stitching should be about 1/8 inch from the edge. If your sewing machine allows you to move the needle off center, the best thing is to move the needle as far to the right as possible. This allows greater grab by the presser foot and feed dogs.

Alternatively, you can use a zig-zag stitch or any other decorative stitch option your sewing machine offers.

It's important to have a sharp needle, too. A dull or burred needle may just push the fabric into the throat plate.

You will edge stitch the long sides of the outside piece, the longs sides of the inside (billfold) piece, and the open ends of the pocket pieces. If you incorporated a lapped seam for one of the pocket edges, there's no need to edge stitch that.

Step 7: Sewing the Pockets

Now to assemble the wallet!

Start by lining up the non-edge stitched edges of the pocket pieces to the non-edge stitched, short sides of the inside billfold piece (the shorter of the two long pieces). The shorter pocket piece goes on top. Pin the pieces in place.

Starting at the center of the long piece, about where the wallet folds in half, start stitching around the outer perimeter, stitching through all pieces. Stitch about 1/8 inch from the edge, using a triple stitch if you have it, a straight stitch if you don't. Like edge stitching, a 3mm or 8-9 stitches/inch stitch length work well. If your machine has a walking foot, use it. It helps move the top layers about the same pace as the feed dogs move the bottom layer. The awl is useful for forcing multiple layers of thick fabric under the presser foot without sacrificing one's fingers to the needle.

Step 8: Sewing the Billfold

We're almost done! The last step is to sew the outside piece to the inside piece with pockets.

Line up the outside piece and the inside piece along one of the short sides. The outside piece should be a little longer than the inside piece--this allows the wallet to fold, even when overly stuffed. Using the same stitch settings as before sew along the short edge, about 1/8 inch from the edge.

Line up the inside and outside pieces along the other short edge. Stitch that edge like the previous one.

At this point, the outside piece should bubble somewhat from the inside piece.

Next sew along the bottom edge. You will want to leave a gap in the center, between the pockets. It's easiest to sew from the corners to a stitch or two past the pocket edges. Make sure the bottom edge seam at the pockets remains flat, not puckered. There should be a bubble or gap in the center bottom seam of the outside piece.

It's a good idea to anchor and reinforce this stitching line at the pocket edges and billfold opening. You can do this by stitching forward three or four stitches then stitching in reverse for the same number of stitches and then forward again.

Once the bottom is sewn, you're all done! Your wallet is ready to stuff, use, and enjoy.