Custom Thin Wallet Kit




About: I like to build neat stuff. So far that's been a lightweight hiking stove, a literature-inspired puzzle clock, a simple shipping app, and nice little wallet.

This project was inspired by jessyratfink's How to Make a Leather Wallet. I hadn't done any leatherworking when I found her project earlier this year, but it looked like a lot of fun! The only problem was I didn't have all those sweet tools.

So over the past couple months, I've been working with my friend Mat to make a thin wallet kit that doesn't require specialized tools. We sourced some nice leather and made the design customizable so there's a lot of flexibility with its function and look. We also designed some new tools that make assembly easier, but are affordable enough to include with each kit.

You can buy the kit on our website.

You can also download the files for the version we make in this Instructable to make it with the tools and techniques Jessy demonstrates.

We'd love some feedback on these instructions! So much that we'll send a free kit to the first 10 people who buy a kit and post an "I Made It!" comment with a picture and feedback.

P.S. Some folks asked for a bifold version. So we made one!

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Step 1: This Version

Each version of the wallet has two customizable outer pockets for the items you use most and one inner pocket for those you need but use less.

The version we're making for most of this Instructable is the setup Mat uses. One side has a card pocket for up to 3 credit cards, the middle pocket fits the same (or a few bills or about 6 business cards) and other side has a strap to hold cash.

Step 2: Tools & Materials

Included in the kit:

  • 1 Stitching pony
  • 2 Stitching pins
  • 1 Beeswax & polishing cloth set
  • 2 English harness needles
  • 1 French corded, waxed linen thread
  • 4 pieces American vegetable tanned goat leather

Also needed:


Step 3: Optional: Applying Nikwax Surface Treatment

Note: The "naked" leather we use develops a nice patina over time, but with hard use it can become stained and discolored. So with each kit, we now include a dropper of a satin surface finish to give the wallet more protection. It does, however, slightly darken the leather.

Apply the Nikwax with the clean, dry cotton cloth included in the kit. Do this on a disposable, or easily cleaned surface (we use the back of the box the kit comes in). The goal is a thin, even application to just the smooth side of the leather. Small splotches will even out as the Nikwax dries and the leather will return to almost the same color it was before the treatment. It's not uncommon for the piece to curl a bit as it dries, but it will flatten back out as the kit is stitched.

Step 4: Coin/Key Pocket Prep (if Applicable)

If your kit includes the Coin & Key pocket option, you will go through steps 3-12 on the two short inside seams to join the two Coin & Key leather pieces, before repeating the steps on the main outer seam with all four leather pieces.

Step 5: Stitching Pin Placement

Stack the leather pieces like a sandwich with the smooth faces out and the suede faces in. Then orient the wallet vertically with the long stitching line on your left. Remove the stoppers from the stitching pins and insert the pins into the upper right-most and upper left-most stitching holes that go through all four pieces of leather.

For wallets that include the top-slide, the right pin will be four holes in. For wallets that include the cash-strap, the right pin will be seven holes in. Replace the stoppers on the stitching pins so they snugly hold the leather pieces together. The stitching holes for all four pieces are now aligned.

Step 6: Stitching Pony Assembly

Stack the two stitching pony bars with the stickers on the same side and the smooth faces out. Line up the rubber band notches on one side, and stretch a rubber band around both parts. The fit will be tight, and it helps to hold your thumb over one side of the band as you stretch the other.

Then stretch the bars open and insert the leather parts with stitching pins in the middle of the two bars, with ends of the stitching pins facing away from you. The pins should be approximate 1/4" above the top of the bars. Hold the bars together and place the second rubber band. Now place the bars in the notches on the stitching pony legs.

Step 7: Threading the Needles

Note: This is the hardest step. The linen thread fits very tightly in the needle eye, so the friction holds it in place during stitching and the stitching holes can be small and clean.

Cut one end of the thread off at an angle, removing 1/4" or less of thread. Carefully insert it into one of the needles, grabbing the thread with the finger tips of your other hand as soon as its through the needle. Pull the end approximately 3/4" past the eye of the needle and bend it back towards the rest of the thread. Repeat for the other needle.

If the end of the thread becomes frayed, cut it again at an angle, removing as little thread as possible. Threading the needles may take a few attempts.

Step 8: Saddle Stitching - Pulling the Thread Through

Note: If a stitching pin is in the right-most stitching hole, remove it before starting this step.

We use a common hand-stitching technique called the saddle stitch. It creates a robust, attractive seam.

Start by inserting one of the needles through the right-most hole and pulling it through with your other hand. The tip of the needle should go in easily, but the eye is larger and may provide some resistance. It may take a quick jerk to pull it all the way through.

Once through, pull the two ends of the thread even. Be careful not to pull the thread out of the needle.

Step 9: Saddle Stitching - This Side First

One of the stitching pony bars should be labeled "stitch this side first." Insert the needle into the second hole on that side and pull it all the way through. You will start on this side for every stitch, which will create a nice, consistent looking seam. The label helps if you lose track.

Step 10: Saddle Stitching - This Side Second and on Top

Turn the stitching pony so you are facing the "stitch this side second and on top" side. Hold the thread you just pulled through down against the stitching pony with one thumb and insert the needle connected to the other thread through the same hole. As the label notes, it should go in and come out above the first thread.

You should notice that the stitch has a slight downward angle to it, and following these labels will keep it consistent and attractive for the entire seam.

Once the second thread is through, grab both threads near the seam and pull them taut with a medium amount of pressure. Keeping the pressure consistent at this step will also give you the most consistent seam.

Step 11: Finishing the First Line

Continue stitching the first line of the seam by following these steps:

  1. Stitch this side first,
  2. This side second and on top,
  3. Pull taut,
  4. Repeat.

Pull out remaining stitching pins as you approach them until you reach the end of the first line.

Step 12: Continuing the Seam

At the end of the first line of the seam, you will remove the leather from the stitching pony, place a stitching pin in the left-most hole on the long line of the seam, and return the leather to the stitching pony. Stitch this line and do the same for the final line, until the entire main seam has been stitched.

Step 13: Lock Stitch Thread One

Once you have finished the final stitch, pass one of the needles back through the second-to-last hole. If the thread you are using starts above the other thread in the hole, keep it above that thread. Likewise, keep it on the bottom if it starts on the bottom. This will create two parallel stitches.

Turn to the other side of the stitching pony and now pass the same thread through the next hole going backwards in the same way you did the first. You are finished with this thread.

Step 14: Lock Stitch Thread Two

Take the other thread (the one you haven't used for the lock stitch yet), and pass it backwards through two holes just as you did with the first. These final holes now have several threads going through them, so it make take some wiggling. But the friction created is what helps "lock" the stitch.

Now you will have two parallel stitches on each side of the wallet. Grab both threads and pull them taut one last time. Then use the scissors to cut the threads as close as you can to the seam without nicking the stitches.

Step 15: Sealing the Edge

The final step is to seal the edge of the leather to protect it and give it a nice burnished look.

Take the beeswax block and run the curved section along seamed edges of the wallet. Then pinch the edge with the polishing cloth and rub it back and forth quickly with light pressure. Pinching it helps keeps the pieces of leather together, and moving it quickly helps melt the wax so it can adhere. Repeat 2-3 times until the edge has a nice polish and the edges of the leather are stuck closely together.

Step 16: The Finished Product

You're done! Fill it with only what you need (file those receipts like you should or just throw them away!) and enjoy having a handsome, thin wallet.

We use "naked" leather, which means it doesn't have any coatings or finishes to crack or peel over time. Instead, it will develop a nice patina.

We made this project so anyone could make a nice wallet and have a great time doing it. Please let us know how it works for you and how we can make it better!


Devin & Mat

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49 Discussions


2 years ago

I would love to buy one of these! Do you re-stock often?


3 years ago

I'm new to this site... how do I buy one of these?


4 years ago on Introduction

Great project. If you added a pull tab like with this project this would be awesome:


4 years ago

I downloaded the pdf for fun and printed it out and noticed it was too small for my cards could you maybe post a bigger version of the pdf please

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

Check your printer settings - we've double checked the file. It's likely scaling down the image.


4 years ago

Looks totally amazing. I'm going to order a kit right now


4 years ago on Introduction

Had fun completing the wallet. I would suggest a pair of needle nose pliers to get the needles through the leather. I would also suggest the addition of a clear piece of plastic, for the ID card option, and either the ability to sew it in place or some adhesive around the edges to attach it to the leather. The sides of the ID pocket have a tendency to bow and since the leather is not very thick my guess is it would tare after a short time.

You weren't kidding about threading the needles being the toughest part of the project. Had to pull out my cheaters to see what I was doing.


1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Thanks Ron! Give that ID window a chance in use. We've found that once it spends some time in your pocket, the edges tend form around your cards pretty well. I've also been using one with that option for months, and its holding together really well. That goatskin leather is tougher than it looks. :)


4 years ago

Easy to create and took a litre over an hour. So fun. Going to get one for my brother. Awesome!!!

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

This is so cool! The seams you guys are getting look great (this is something we really wanted to get right). Will make a note on the time taken. I'll email you later today with info on the free kit. Thanks for sharing! (!)


4 years ago

This kit was great! It came in minimal, but carefully planned packaging. The leather is nicely colored amd feels nice. Easy to follow the instructions through the instructable. This would make a great gift or a slim wallet for yourself. It comes with your initials on it as well, bottom left corner of the wallet. :)

4 replies

Awesome! Really glad to hear it worked out so well! One question - this looks shinier than ours came out - did you apply something to the surface? Just curious :)

PS - the other commenter, thornestudio, is my friend Mat - the other half of this project.

This is awesome! Very professional looking and excellently documented. Your pictures are so helpful to see how it is done. Gotta love the thin wallet. You should do something like this for a phone case too! I don't carry a wallet anymore because I can have it be a part of my phone.

2 replies

Thanks, Nathan! How much and what kind of stuff do you carry in your phone case wallet? You know, if someone were thinking of making one. :)


4 years ago on Introduction

Really nice instructable! Great pics. And your website looks nice clean. I like the mini stitching pony idea. I've never seen that before. It's a great idea to get people started in leather work.

The only suggestion I have (Just because you asked :-b ) is how the needle is threaded. It's super frustrating to try to rethread a needle that you accidentally pulled off the thread. Sometimes the tip gets a little mangled from pulling through the leather and then you have to recut the tip again. Anywho....of course Jessy has an instructable on how to thread a leather needle here. But then again it might not be necessary as the wallet is so small.

Great job! I voted for ya