Minimalist IPhone Wallet




About: Geologist by day, tinkerer by night.

I am a minimalist. I have a very thin and sleek card holder I use for a wallet, but at times, even that is too much. There are some ok options out there for carrying just the essentials (money clip, etc.), but nothing was quite right. Because I will always have my phone on me, I figured, why not make it my wallet as well.

There are such contraptions that merge the two, but most are large, many are a fold type wallet, and none are as versatile as need be. This is designed to hold anything including credit cards, business cards, cash, a notecard, or any combination of these.

You will need:

1.) A rigid or semi rigid plastic iphone case, ideally with a flat back. I used this one:, and it worked very nicely.

2.) 3/4" elastic strap (available at any sewing or hobby store)

3.) 1 1/2" wide aluminum sheet (1/16" thick)

4.) Band saw

5.) Utility or exacto knife

6.) Sewing machine or needle and thread

7.) A little bit of scrap fabric

8.) Fine grit sand paper (220)

Step 1: The Aluminum Sheet

The aluminum sheet serves as protection for the things in the wallet. I wanted to be able to put anything in the wallet and not have it get crumpled by the elastic or damaged while in my pocket.

To start, I measured the back of the phone case to see how long I could make it without interfering with the camera. Also, it had to be long enough to hold a business card. I settled on a length of 3 7/8" but you could make it a little longer or shorter.

Measure and cut the aluminum sheet to the desired length using a band saw with a metal cutting blade.

I did not want sharp corners, so I measured in 1/8" from each corner and cut off each at a diagonal.

In order for the aluminum to stay in place i notched it at the top and bottom of the long axis.

I measured in 5/16" from each side for the edge of the notch and cut the notch 1/16" deep, then used the band saw to remove the material.

Use sand paper to smooth all the edges and corners after the cuts are complete.

Step 2: Prep the Case

Use the completed aluminum sheet as a guide for placement on the case. I place mine as close to the camera opening as it would go and 1/4" from the edge of the case. Use a pen to mark where the edges of the notch in the aluminum lie on the back of the case.

I used a drill with a 7/32" bit to make a whole at each end of the notch. The plastic was a little too soft and the whole did not help. I would suggest just going straight for the knife unless your case is a hard plastic.

Use a straight edge to guide, and make two cuts with a knife connecting the marks you just made at the edge of each notch. The slits only need to be wide enough for the elastic to fit through.

Once the slits are cut, feed the elastic though each slit and cut it long enough so that it easily wraps around the outside of the case with the aluminum and overlaps inside the case.

Check the aluminum and elastic for fit. 

Step 3: Sewing the Elastic

This is the tough part...

Remove the aluminum and feed the elastic through each of the slits. Feed the elastic so the ends are sticking out the backside of the case.

Cut a small piece of scrap fabric. This will be used to help join the ends without the ends overlapping to make the joint as this as possible.

Place the scrap fabric under one end, wrap it over the top and put a few stitches through the elastic and the scrap to hold it in place. Stretch the elastic to get as much free material as possible so you can sew it. Put a few stitches through the other end of the elastic and the scrap as well. make sure the length is correct and that the ends are butted up against each other between the scrap fabric. 

If you're using a sewing machine, use a very wide stitch pattern and sew across the joint where the ends meet. 

Once this is completed, and the joint is sewn to your satisfaction, feed it through the slits so that the joint is on the inside of the phone case. 

Step 4: Finish and Minimize

Once you are satisfied with the sewn joint, place the aluminum under the elastic, place your phone into the case, and you're finished.

Prepare for compliments on you sleek new wallet. This is great for nights out when you don't need anything but a card, your ID, and maybe some cash. I also love it for keeping a to-do list or grocery list handy. Enjoy!



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    17 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I wouldnt do this. If you lose it, you're completely screwed. Neat hack, though.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome Man! Made a spin-off and made the aluminum part out of flattened pvc. Thanks for the inspiration!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Cool idea! You can also use old plastic credit cards and cut them to size instead of aluminum sheet for those who does not have machines to cut with.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I use a similar case from Case Mate that holds my drivers license and my debit card. All the rest of my traditional wallet contents are in the phone.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Interesting. I like the idea a lot, and this seems a pretty good implementation.

    I'm using an Android device that has NFC capability. I wonder how this would interfere with near-field signal. It'd certainly make the back of the phone a little less "near" than usual. I'd consider using a magnetic piece of metal if I didn't think it would stand a chance of zapping the magnetic strips on my cards.

    Any thoughts, community?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I am sure you heard of the "Slim" wallet.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    that's good to hear. How stretchy is the band when you sew them together? I assume how well the cards stay depends on how tight the band is.
    now all I gotta do is how to alter the design for my Samsung S3


    6 years ago on Introduction

    been trying to do the exact same thing but w/ tape and clear sheet of thin plastic, works well for a month but the tape wears off. This method is better but like another user said, it can fall out quite easily due to the credit cards being so slippery. A good idea nevertheless and I will look into improving your design.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I think you would be surprised at how firmly even a single card is held in. I considered adding some sort of a retainer on one side but once I finished it and experimented with it, it became evident that it wasn't necessary. I have been using it for about a week now and the cards don't even move much less come close to sliding out. Thanks for the feedback!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is very well done. About the only change I'd make, if I made one at all, would be to put some sort of retainer on one side so you reduce the chances of anything sliding out.

    Clever, minimalistic, well-documented, nice clear photos and descriptions. Fantastic job!