Being a part of the information age comes with a whole series of new problems our parents didn't have. One of the biggest ones is the shear amount of technology we carry on a daily basis. This can be even more of an annoyance during the summer months where clothing tends to lack pockets, or when you're on an excursion to places, like the beach, and would prefer to travel light. More than that, phones are expensive, and really good armor only serves one function, and can get pretty bulky. This cell phone case was born out of these first world problems.
I made this wallet for my wife who, by nature, doesn't like to carry a purse to house her cards and phone. An even more relevant point is she is profoundly good at killing phones...Literally. To the tune of one per year, and sometimes two. I had originally made her one of these cases, a few years back, but time has taken its toll and so I felt it was a good occasion for an update. For her, this case was her purse and she'd often stuff it so full of cards, cash, receipts, etc, it began to bulge and stretch. That prompted a few modifications from the original design, to alleviate the stresses of over filling, such as stitching the bases of the card slots and adding stitching around the perimeter of the entire wallet to reinforce it's structure.
This is a very simple wallet is designed to hold a phone the size of a Nexus 4 or a Galaxy S3, however you can size it up or down as necessary to house your own phone. It's a project that uses a bit of pre-dyed, 2-3oz vegetable tanned leather and an extremely inexpensive, rubber phone case to act as a housing and armor for the phone itself. The riveting work is done using copper because of their strength, as compared to chrome ones, and because they tend to sit much flatter than their counterparts.
This is a simple little project that can help simplify your life by centralizing all of your daily carry needs, and at the same time, offer some additional protection for your very expensive phone. My wife requested that I leave the wallet plain, but feel free to do some tooling on it if it suits your fancy. How you finish it is entirely up to you.
Step 1: Tools and Supplies
- Utility knife
- Wooden Mallet
- Leather tooling stamps and hole punches
- Rake Leather stitching punch
- Stitching Awl
- 2-3oz leather (can use chromium tanned but veg. tanned works better. Pre-dyed or un-dyed.)
- Rubber 'skin' phone case
- Leather dye (if you opted for un-dyed veg. tan leather)
- Copper rivets (chrome will work fine)
- Leather Snaps
Step 2: Cutting Your Leather
The wallet is cut out of, essentially, three pieces of leather; the outer body, the inner card slots, and the closing strap. All measurements designed to fit a Galaxy S3 or Nexus 4 phone are listed in the diagram. The only measurement not listed is the width of the card slots which are 2.5". Should you need to outfit a larger or smaller phone, feel free to adjust it accordingly.
Cutting the body is simple, in that it's a matter of cutting a rectangle of leather that is 6.5x5" and clipping the corners so that they don't fray.
The inner card slot isn't much more complicated. It's a 4x3" rectangle that has one corner rounded. The two card slots are created by punching two holes 2.25" apart, then using a straight edge and a utility knife, joining the punched holes. The card slots are set 2" and 3" from the base of the wallet.
The closing strap is a 5/8" wide by 3" long. Two holes are punched in one end to affix it to the body of the wallet. Mirrors of these holes are punched in the card slot side of the wallet so that rivets can be used to affix the strap permanently. You can attach the strap now, if you plan on stitching through it, or if you prefer to rely solely on the rivets, you can wait until your holes have been punched so that it doesn't get in the way. Either way is fine and is more a matter of taste.
Step 3: Punching Your Stitching Holes
Now, as an option, you can do all of the stitching on a sewing machine using upholstery thread, but I tend to prefer doing small jobs like this by hand. That means pre-punching holes for your stitching. I recommend using a 4+ rake for the job as it'll go a long way toward keeping your stitching nice and straight. Just make sure you dampen your leather well before punching, as you'll be working close to the edge and you don't want your leather to rip.
First, punch a row of holes just below each card slot on your insert. These rows of stitches aren't necessary, but they will really go a long way in preventing the slots from stretching if you tend to over stuff your wallet. next, line up your insert in it's place and punch the entire perimeter of the outer case. You'll need to go through two layers, with the insert, so make sure your punch tool is good and sharp. If you opted, like me, to stitch through the strap then you'll likely need to go through three layers, however since the leather is only 2-3oz, this shouldn't be too much of a problem.
**Note** To prevent the card insert from slipping, you can use a couple of drops of leather glue to hold it into place, temporarily, until your holes are punched. To separate them again, just dampen the glue points with water as the glue is water soluble.
Step 4: Stitching Your Wallet
You can hand stitch your wallet using a needle, or pair of needles, but the process will go a lot more smoothly and straighter if you use the sewing awl. Generally, sewing awls come with a #8 heavy needle, which would be far to thick for our work. You should use a #5 fine needle as the leather is very thin, and we are working close to the edge.
Start by stitching the base of the card slots. Be certain not to pull to hard on the threads as you can cause the leather to buckle making permanent wrinkles in your work.
Once your card slots are done, begin stitching the perimeter of your wallet. Again, you can put a few drops of glue to hold the insert into place, however it really isn't necessary. In fact, you can glue it into place completely, as long as you keep the bead fine and along the outside edge where the stitching will go. As mentioned, gluing the insert into place really isn't necessary as (from experience with the first wallet) it won't come apart.
Finally, When your wallet is stitched together, you can set your snap half on the outer phone side of your wallet. Don't set the opposing half on the strap yet, as we will test fit with a phone installed to ensure the wallet closes snuggly and securely.
Step 5: Setting Your Phone Armor and Punching the Camera Hole
To start, punch two holes, roughly 1.5" apart, centered, through your phone case. You can drill them, but these cases are generally a low grade rubber that can be punched with regular leather working tools. Set it into its final position and, marking the holes, remove the case then punch them through.
Now you can set one of your rivets, loosely, so that the phone rotates. This is so we can get an exact position for the camera lens. You can do this when you punch the rivet holes, but I've found that due to the flexibility and stretchability of the leather, it can be difficult to have it all line up exactly. It just seems to work better when the case is partially set in its final location.
With the phone in position, mark the lens hole, then rotate the case and punch it out. Use your utility knife to refine the edges. Rotate your case back into position and ensure no edges of the leather are visible through the slot. Once your camera hole is finished, insert and set the last rivet.
**Note** It's important, if you're using copper rivets, to install them with the washer on the outside of the case. Copper rivets are flatter than chrome ones and are less likely to damage your phone through constant rubbing, however you can use chrome if you prefer.
Step 6: Fitting and Testing the Snap
Once your case is in place, install your phone and a few cards. Next, close your wallet and draw the closing strap shut, so that it seals nice and snuggly. Mark the position for the final half of the snap and set it into place. If there is extra length on the strap, you should cut it off before setting the snap.
Step 7: Finished
That's it, your wallet is complete. Now you have a compact system for all of your most important items when you leave the house in one convent package.
As usual, I hope you enjoyed the instructable and thanks for following.