Introduction: Wallet Made Out Car Leather

I once had a wallet that I loved and was a perfect fit for me. It was from Ecco, certainly not the aesthetically pleasing, but I have used it for 5 years since 2013. It was made out of very soft leather, 3 card holders, a coin bag, and 2 separate bill sections. It was a utilitarian design at its best. I absolutely loved it. However, my dear wallet was lost due to a theft.

Fast forward, it is 2018. Relentless in technology innovations, smartphones now take up a big part of our lives. But I never really liked the huge and clunky cases that are put on phones. It was almost an insult to the careful designs put on the phones, and were hard to fit in my pocket. Most of all, the fact that I still had to carry my wallet felt like redundant. I wanted a new approach to this problem.

So thus, I made this design where the wallet and the phone can go together without destroying the aesthetics of the phone. The wallet and phone are in one place together, saving my pockets from redundant clunks. The phone serves as a back plate for the wallet to not let it bend while securing the phone in scratch and relatively shock safe place. If you are a person that cares about the phones raw design, simplicity in function, and appealing view, I will lead you through step by step to make this wallet.

Step 1: Step 1: Get the Tools

Many of the tools that you really need for leatherwork, you'd have them at home.

  • Chisel
  • sharp knife
  • cutting mat
  • sandpaper
  • linen thread
  • wax
  • barge glue
  • needles
  • diamond point awl
  • ruler
  • mallet

(1st photo, from left to right: cutting mat, ruler, #11 blades, X-Acto knife, 7mm chisel, 4mm chisel, diamond point awl, marker, mallet)

(2nd photo, from left to right: barge glue, edge burnisher, waxed linen thread)

I had 4mm and 7mm single chisels. Depending on your thickness of the leather, you may use smaller chisel. Buying a multiple equally spaced chisel would help improve the product quality and reduce time consumption.

Sharp knife. Get yourself a good one because it is going to matter! Dull knives are not going to cut straight and will be more time-consuming. I had an X-Acto knife set with #11 blades, and they worked well. Be sure to change when your blades start to go dull, don't try to save a penny here and make an overall bad product.

Cutting Mat. Level surface will be helpful.

Sandpaper. I only used 240-grain sandpaper in this project. Typically, 200 to 400-grain sandpaper would be fine.

Linen thread. I bought a waxed linen thread. Linen threads provide extreme durability and waxing the thread will also help in durability and make the seams waterproof.

Barge glue. They are necessary for making a wallet or any leather products. They will keep the leathers from moving while using the chisel to make stitching holes or sewing.

Needles. It would be better if you have a saddle needle, but a regular thick needle would do the job fine. They can hold a linen thread although the hole might look too small. (at least it was the case for me)

Diamond point awl will mark on the leather nicely. They are better than markers because unlike markers, it will make a sharp and narrow line on the leather, and is easily visible.

Ruler. Get something of metal because they are more resistant in bending and the thickness of it will help the X-Acto Knife in place making straight lines.

Mallet is used to work with the chisel.

Step 2: Step 2: Get the Leather

I got my leather from a friend who works at a car manufacturing factory. They had extra leather after cutting the leather in making the dashboard that is usually gone to waste. Car leathers are great because they are extremely durable - by up to 4 times greater lifespan - compared to regular leather sold in stores. Also, we are upcycling materials, also saving the earth.

Step 3: Step 3: Make Your Design

As I said in my introduction, I wanted to make a wallet that also holds a phone without a case. I based my design on iPhone X. The overall dimensions turned out to be10*17 cm. I uploaded my blueprint for the design so that you guys can see. I don't mean that you should stick with my design, but you can entirely come up with your own idea, sheets of paper, a ruler, and a pen will do the job perfectly fine.

Step 4: Step 4: Make "sketch" Lines on Your Leather According to Your Design

Make multiple scanned copies of your blueprint. I encourage you to have multiple scanned copies because you might destroy your original design and then you will have to make your design again. Furthermore, by cutting out the design in right sizes of each piece will help you cut the leather too.

With the cut paper "prototype" of the wallet, put them on your leather and cut them out accordingly. Be sure to tape the paper on the leather so that it doesn't move while lining them out. Use your diamond point awl to mark on the leather first. This can help you avoid potential mistakes while cutting them.

Step 5: Step 5: Cut Them Out

Once you are done lining them out on the leather with your diamond point awl, cut them out using your X-Acto knife. Be precise because a wrong cut will make the whole leather to a waste. Then, lay them out.

Step 6: Step 6: Check the Fit

If you are done cutting the leather into right sizes and pieces, try putting them together. Check if there is any misfit. I strongly encourage you to go over this step becacuse after this, you are going to glue them and any mistakes will be hard to fix. If there is a mistfit, try to fix the problem by cutting the leather again, or getting entirely new cut. Finalize your design.

Step 7: Step 7: Glue the Leathers Together

When you check that the pieces are fitting well together, its now to apply barge glue to put them together. Barge glue's rigid and flexible bonding will not only help with sewing, but also help the pieces moving while making holes for stitching using chisels and mallet. On each side that it is going to stick, apply the glue using a brush about 5mm around the edges of the pieces. The glue can be very thin and be less effective in bonding in the first minute or two after applying. So please wait like 5 minutes when the glue gets more viscous with adhesiveness.

When they are ready to bond, carefully start putting them together from edge to edge.

When they are well put in place together, use a vice to keep them in place with pressure. If you don't have a vice, just use something heavy and solid to put on top of it. I used 7 heavy textbooks instead of a vice. Wait around 30 to 40 minutes for the glue to solidify.

Step 8: Step 7: Make Stitch Holes

It is now time to stitch! Well, only when you have a hole to stitch into, right?

Leather is a thick and tough textile for a needle to seam by itself. So we are going to use the chisel and mallet to fix this problem. Using your diamond point awl, draw a line 3mm away (about the center of where your glue is pasted) around the edges you want to sew into.

Get out a piece of flat wood so that you can use your mallet and chisel. We use this piece of wood because chisel puts a hole through the surface. If you are doing it on a desk, or worse even, glass, then you will break and destroy the surface that the chisel is on. Be very careful! Then, using your mallet and chisel, punch in stitch holes that are equally spaced. If it is relatively thin leather, 2mm holes spaced 2-3mm apart is good enough. If it is a thick leather, it is good to space them around 3-4mm using a 3-5mm chisel. My leather was thick, so I used a 4mm chisel spaced 3mm from each hole to hole. Make sure that your holes are put straight.

Step 9: Step 9: Sew Them Together

I am going to use basic sewing skills: double running stitch. Using the stitching holes we already made, we are going to get the waxed linen thread. Check how long is the length to seam. A double running stitch usually takes 2.3 times the length of the whole distance.

A running stitch is very simple. When you know how long your thread should be, get the thread through the needle, then tie up the back end, and go through the first hole, and make sure the tie is big enough so that it doesn't slip through the hole. Advance a hole to hole, and when you reach the end, go through where it is empty and complete the seam. Tie a knot when it reaches it initially started. You are almost done!

Step 10: Step 10: Finished Product

When you are done with stitching, sand the edges so that anything sticking out will be buffed off. You could also use edge creaser and burnisher to give a round and refined edge.

When you are done with it, finally, here comes your product. I can put my phone in it, cards, and bills. It is very tough especially because I used a very thick leather. Although not having a multiple chisel, single chisel did its job well enough and the spacing also did. This project was overall a challenge for me and a lot of new skills I had to learn were involved. I am quite happy with how the project turned out.

I wish you guys good luck and be also successful in making your own wallet. Thanks for reading!