DIY $2 Compact Wallet With Compartments




About: Hi! I'm Thaddeus and I'm an undergraduate at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (established in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and this is the bit of the internet wh...

I love wearing skinny jeans! And as far as possible, I'd prefer to keep my hands free while I'm out of the house. The issue is, my old wallet was rather bulky, and that meant that while I was out, it would either be sitting uncomfortably in my jeans or occupying one of my hands. Not a very pleasant thing (not to mention it made my leg look like somebody dropped an encyclopaedia into a ham shrink wrapping machine).

That was until one day, a friend of mine turned up with one of these Elephant Wallets! I was completely ecstatic and I decided that I had to have one! Right off the boot there were several key features that made it so attractive:

  1. It was tiny! - It would sit comfortably (and accessibly) in my jeans all day!
  2. It had a coins compartment! - Many men's wallets and money clips lack this feature
  3. It could actually contain a decent amount of money and cards - Not like those money clips that hold like two cards and a dollar bill
  4. The money was relatively secure - The strong elastic made sure the money stayed in place

Instead of getting one immediately, I decided to wait a week to see if there were any downsides to his new wallet, if at all. He came back to me with the following:

  1. There was a lack of compartments for different notes - everything was all jammed together in the middle
  2. The wallet couldn't hold SGD$50 notes - its breadth is 73mm (or 2.87 inches for those imperial stormtroopers out there) whereas the centre of the wallet was designed to hold only up to 70mm
  3. The stitch through the centre of the coins compartment made it harder to access the coins - although it helped to make it neater
  4. When there were too many notes in the wallet, some notes of smaller denominations sometimes fall out

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Step 1: Shopping for Materials

1) Elastic material - USD$2

You'll only need about 50cm or 20 inches of this stuff. It width should also be 50mm or 1/5 of an inch as ISO7810:2003 dictates that cards should be 85mm X 53.98mm. I got mine at the local arts and craft store for SGD6 per metre (or USD4.33 for 40 inches). (If you're in Singapore I got mine at a shop called "Spotlight")

2) Strong string - Probably free and lying around your house somewhere

To stitch everything together. Ideally it should be flammable as one can simply singe off and secure loose ends with a lighter

3) 2 Paper fasteners - Also probably free

To aid with the alignment of the stitching.


  • A lighter
  • A sowing machine

Total cost: Probably USD$2

Step 2: The Chop

For this instructable, I'll be using three pieces of coloured paper (three pieces of similar looking black elastic are a little hard to differentiate) to demonstrate the fabrication process.

  1. Cut two pieces of elastic measuring 16.8mm (6.61 inches) in length (denoted by red and green)
  2. Cut one more 17.4cm (6.85 inches) in length (denoted by blue)

Step 3: Loop the Green Elastic

Using the strong thread, loop the green elastic in the location denoted by the post-it in the picture. Don't forget to make good use of the paper fasteners.

For simplicity's sake, I'll be referring to the bits where the two ends of elastic meet as the "loop end". So do take note that the green loop end is shown to be at the bottom right in the second image by the post it.

Also note that the orientation of the model will remain consistent throughout this guide. However feel free to twist and turn the elastic in whichever way suitable to facilitate sowing.

Step 4: Loop the Blue Elastic

Using the strong thread, loop the blue elastic in the location denoted by the post-it in the picture. Don't forget to make good use of the paper fasteners again.

Note that the loop end is located at the bottom left of the blue elastic.

Step 5: Loop the Red Elastic

Using the strong thread, loop the red elastic in the location denoted by the post-it in the picture. Don't forget to make good use of the paper fasteners.

Note that the location of the loop end is at the top right of the red elastic.

Step 6: Stitch the Blue Loop End to the Plain End of the Red Elastic

Now, here's where things get a little tricky. Keeping the orientation of the pieces of elastic from previous steps, stitch the blue loop end to the plain end of the red elastic as denoted by the white post-its. You should be stitching through 2 layers.

If this is done correctly, the blue loop end should be stitched to the red elastic and the red loop end should be free.

Step 7: Insert the Green Elastic Into the Blue Elastic

Insert the green elastic into the blue elastic. If this is done correctly, the green loop end should be aligned with the red loop end.

Step 8: Stitch From the Green Loop End to the Red Loop End

This is the last bit of stitching, yay! Stitch from the green loop end to the red loop end, as denoted by the white post its. You should be stitching through 3 layers (one each of green, blue and red). If you have done this correctly the stitches should only be able to be seen from the sides.

Step 9: Use a Lighter to Singe Off Loose Ends of the String

Use a lighter to singe off loose ends of the string. Do be careful not to burn off the elastic material.

Step 10: Strategic Placement of the Wallet's Contents

In my experience, this has been the best way to arrange the contents, do feel free to swap it up if it suits you. Whatever floats your goat.

To start, the frequently used cards should be placed inside the red elastic. Less frequently used cards should be placed in the green elastic.

Now, going from the bottom to centre to top:

Between the cards in the red elastic and the upper band, place notes of the largest denomination here. I personally put the large $50 notes here.

Between the red elastic and the blue elastic, place notes of small denominations here.

Between the bottom bit of the blue elastic and the green elastic, place notes of small denominations here.

Between the cards in the green elastic and the lower half of the green elastic, place notes of medium sized denominations here.

Between the upper part of the green and blue elastic, place coins here.

Step 11: Conclusion

If you made it this far, you should now have a pretty cool wallet half the size of your previous one! Give yourself a pat on the back!

I hope you enjoyed making this or reading this as much as I did sharing with you! If you have any further questions feel free to leave a comment below and I'll be more than happy to help you to clarify it! Seeya!

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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    You lost me at, "I love wearing skinny jeans!" I then proceeded to go into a blood-fury Hulk rage. What a waste of a good instructable haha
    (comment high five)


    4 years ago

    Meh. Whatever floats your goat man... ;) best part of the whole thing...
    Great job

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Nice and sleek...
    I am in need of a wallet change too would try your design if I decided to make one..
    Thanks for sharing