This is a custom made wallet I made at the end of last year, it was when the new Star Wars movie was released. The wallet is made of Italian box calfskin lined with star war cotton fabric. The box calfskin makes the wallet ultra soft, excellent feel and durability, The whole wallet is hand sewn with waxed linen thread.
When I was practicing leather craft especially in quality small leather goods I find a lot of tutorials that demonstrate how to make minimal billfold and natural veg tan wallet, I wanted to make an instructable that show people how to make a high-quality leather good that rival the commercial ones. I studied wallet from Ettinger, Tumi and Louis Vuitton, deconstructed my old wallet and came up with a simpler design that is functional for day to day use and also has a unique inside construction
This wallet is also listed on my etsy store
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
The tools used are all basic leather craft tools
3mm pricking iron -10, 5,2 teeth
Scratch and stitch awl
Chef torch for heat up the edge creaser
Waxed thread and needles
hammer and mallet for leather work
I also got a hand skiver machine to thin the edges of the leather. it is very difficult to skive soft chrome tanned leather so this tool is very useful to accomplish such tasks.
the leather I picked is 0.9mm Italian box calf. the box calf leather is an excellent choice because it is very durable the grain structure is very density and the glossy sheen gives it a luxurious finish. I picked black and Venetian red for this wallet.
Step 2: Pattern Design
The design is horizontal bi-fold with 6 card holders and 2 separate paper banknote pocket. The size of the wallet will fit most bank notes. The patterns are designed to make the wallet edge fold, therefore appear to be bigger than the actual wallet. The folded edge finish will give the wallet sleek durable edges.
I traced the pattern on black card stock paper and briefly assembled the pattern to make sure the folds are not too bulky and the bank notes pockets are not too loose.
I also uploaded an elaborate version on my etsy store. with precise dimensions that I made on Autodesk Inventor.
Feel Free to check out.
Step 3: Cut Leather Pieces
This step is fairly straightforward. Trace the pattern on leather then cut it will sharp leather cutter. The cut must be clean and straight. I recommend cut straight lines with rotary cutter to eliminate stretch and drag. When I choose the leather for the cover of the wallet( the biggest piece) choose the part close to the back spine of the calf, that part of the leather is stiffer than the leather close to the neck and shoulder, it will give the wallet some structural support.
Step 4: Edge Skiving
All the leather cut outs need edge thinning. I used the hand edge skiver machine to accomplish this task. All sides of the leather pieces should be shaved thinner. It will make pricking holes much easier and ensure straight lines when stitching them. Thinner edge are also easy to wrap. I thinned the leather to 0.5 +/- 0.1 mm so when it is folded it is around 1mm slightly thicker than the 0.9 mm original thickness. this process is quite tricky, some of the piece will stretch and some will have pin holes so be prepared to have extra leather to cut if one piece is bad.
Step 5: Lining Fabrics
Before I line the fabrics on the back of the leather piece. I ironed the fabric and sprayed it with scotch guard. Looking back I am not sure if it was all necessary steps. I used spray adhesive to get the job done. The surface is evenly sprayed with glue then gently press the fabric onto leather. The graphic is arranged in center and I left space for the edges to fold. fold the top edge and pricking holes and stitch the fold tightly. I did this to the inside and the middle piece of the wallet.
Step 6: Making Card Holder Section
The card holder section consists 6 pieces of small card holder cut and inside leather piece. The inside leather piece is lined with fabric and the top edge of the leather is folded and hand stitched. Fold all top edges of the card holder pieces and hammer it flat so over time it won't unfold itself. the bottom left of the card holder I stamped my initial Y by using letter stamp that is heated with chef torch. the chef torch is also used to heat up the edge creaser and creased a line on all of the card holder pieces. Once all the pieces have the creased line stitch the back two together then glue the front one on with leather cement the flaps on the card holder is folded back on one side. then stitched on the inside of the wallet.
Step 7: Pricking Holes and Prepare for Assembly
At this point, I have stitched all the cardholders on the inside of the wallet, the top edges of the inside wallet and the middle dark red divider piece. I temporarily hold the red and inside wallet with double sided tape. and pricking hole on the side and the bottom of the wallet. I then fold all the edges on the cover piece around the inside. mark the pricking holes distances to the edge using stitching awl and gently prick through the cover leather piece. it is important to prick the holes in 2 tries to make sure the holes are not too large, and the lines are straight
Step 8: Hand Sewn and Completion
the stitching part is quite straightforward, I used saddle stitching technique with waxed linen thread to make sure the wallet will last a very long time. Once it is done I lightly polished the wallet with leather conditioner. that is a wrap. the sheen of the wallet and the smooth texture and the uniqueness of the lined inside so every time you take out some bills you see Darth Vader staring at you! it is good to make as a gift or just treat yourself a nice wallet.