No matter how many different projects I complete in my leather craft journey, I always return to wallet making. Making a leather wallet was one of my earliest leather projects, but it is also constantly repeated. The process is simple but can be a good way to showcase talent. For me, wallet-making is the perfect way to relax and enjoy the craft.
Learning how to make a leather wallet is a common entry-level project in leathercraft. Wallets teach new crafters the basic methods to cut, punch, sew, and finish edges while providing a creative platform to experiment and expand on, resulting in a classic item that can be used for decades.
Making a leather wallet may seem difficult to someone new to the craft. However, this article will cover everything you need to succeed and ways to improve on this traditional project.
What Is Making a Leather Wallet?
Making a leather wallet is one of the most common projects in leathercraft. It is a great introductory piece that can be used to teach many of the basic skills of the craft, including cutting, punching, sewing, and how to finish edges.
In addition, wallet-making is a great option for advanced crafters to demonstrate their skills, taking an entry-level project and making it their own through more complex techniques. Wallets are a great creative platform and timeless in their look and usefulness.
What We’ll Explore
- Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
- Reasons You Might Choose to Make a Leather Wallet
- Variations or Styles of How To Make a Leather Wallet
- How To Make a Leather Wallet Overview Table
- Skill Level of Making a Leather Wallet
- Tools and Supplies Needed to Make a Leather Wallet
- How To Make a Leather Wallet Step by Step
- How To Get Better at Making a Leather Wallet
- My Personal Research on How To Make a Leather Wallet
- Helpful Insights on How To Make a Leather Wallet
- Key Takeaways
Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions
For those unfamiliar with leather craft, making a wallet may seem like a difficult task requiring various skills and specialty supplies. However, wallets are actually a great entry-level project that can be used to introduce new people to the craft. While they may seem difficult, wallets are typically straightforward.
Using little to no advanced techniques and budget-friendly supplies. Techniques such as cutting and hole punching will be picked up extremely quickly. While learning to sew leather may not come as easily, many helpful guides can quickly help newcomers overcome this challenge, making leather wallets a perfect choice for those looking to pick up the craft or as a platform to hone leather skills further.
Reasons You Might Choose To Make a Leather Wallet
Choosing to make a leather wallet is often due to the ease of the project. While slightly harder than making a leather keychain, a wallet is a great introductory project that can help introduce new crafters to lifelong techniques. In addition, the project does not require much leather nor many specialized tools, making it extremely accessible.
Since leather wallets are such a classic leather item, even the most experienced craftsmen will often choose to make them. They can help hone various skills and allow for endless creativity and expression. The final product is also highly desirable, making them a great choice for gifts or to fill a craft table when vending leather products.
I.Kráľ, F. Schmėl, and J. Buljan, with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, headquartered in Vienna, Austria, challenged the future of leather as a material. Highlighting the challenges the material faces as similar materials continue to innovate.
However, they note that the materials are hard to compare since leather remains a staple as a luxurious choice. Even if materials begin to surpass the durability of leather, the heritage and natural elements of the material will keep it a favorite for decades.
Variations or Styles of How To Make a Leather Wallet
The best thing about choosing to make leather wallets is the seemingly limitless styles available. The most traditional leather wallet is a bifold, housing two panels of card slots with a compartment for cash. This can easily be customized with an ID slot, making it vertical instead of horizontal, or even changing the pocket designs.
A more modern leather wallet is called a cardholder, and as the name suggests, it is much more compact, from only housing cards. This is a highly popular way to make leather wallets that have equally endless customizability.
Cardholders can be vertical or horizontal, have various numbers of pockets, include a thumb slot, or fold into themselves to house cash. While the changes in a wallet may seem small, they are a great way for crafters to add their personal touch to a popular product.
How To Make a Leather Wallet Overview Table
|Area of Preparation||Details|
|Technique||How To Make a Leather Wallet|
|Overall Level of Skill (1–5)||2|
|Time to Complete (minutes/hours)||3 hours +|
|Workspace Needed||Small work table|
|Skills Needed||Cutting, punching, sewing, and edge treatment techniques|
|Tools and Supplies Needed||Knife, ruler, stitching chisels, thread, needles, wing divider, and edge beveler|
|Key Helpful Tip||Always use a sharp knife when cutting leather|
Skill Level of Making a Leather Wallet
Making a leather wallet is the project of choice for many new crafters. It is straightforward while teaching essential techniques to succeed in the craft. While it may be slightly harder than one-piece items such as keychains, it is accessible to anyone willing to try.
Most techniques, such as cutting, punching, and edge finishing, will come quickly.
Sewing, although more demanding, can also be quickly picked up with the help of an instructor or guiding video. On the opposite end, advanced crafters may make leather wallets as technical as they want, adding carved art, skiving for a thinner project, or perfecting their stitching.
Wallets make the perfect project to hone skills and experiment with new ones. While the basic wallet is a project anyone can tackle, they are also a perfect canvas for crafters looking to showcase their talents.
Wallets teach new crafters the basic methods to cut, punch, sew, and finish edges while providing a creative platform to experiment and expand on.
Tools and Supplies Needed to Make a Leather Wallet
To make a leather wallet, there are a few necessary tools, including:
- A sharp knife
- Hole punch
These supplies will be enough to cut, punch, and sew the item together and are useful in every leather project. While optional, some other great tools and supplies can take a wallet to the next level. These include a wing divider and edge beveler.
A wing divider will help keep the stitching holes at an equal distance from the edge. While a beveler will round the sharp corner of the wallet, helping prevent it from mushrooming. With patience, these tools alone can make a professional wallet.
How To Make a Leather Wallet Step by Step
Creating a leather wallet involves several steps, from designing and cutting the leather to stitching and finishing. Here’s a general outline of the process:
- Create and mark out the wallet pattern on the leather
- Use a ruler and sharp knife to cut out the pattern drawn
- Glue or tape pockets to the outer wallet shell
- Add a guiding line by using wing dividers along the edge of the project
- Create sewing holes with an awl, stitching chisel, or hole punch
- Sew the wallet together using harness needles and a waxed thread.
In this instructional video by Weaver Leather Supply, Chuck Dorsett demonstrates how to make a leather wallet, showing each step in depth while offering tips along the way.
How To Get Better at Making a Leather Wallet
The best way to improve at making leather wallets is to practice each step before attempting the project. To do so, use scrap leather to practice straight cuts, hole punching, sewing, and edge finishing. Focusing on each specific technique will highlight any problem areas that need improvement.
When making a leather wallet, these newly honed skills will make the process much smoother, resulting in a higher-quality product. At this point, crafters may look for ways to improve their leather wallets by incorporating more advanced techniques such as tooling, skiving, or edge turning.
My Personal Research on How To Make a Leather Wallet
There are many examples and tips when learning how to make a leather wallet. For my research, I wanted to share my personal tips to make the best wallet possible, assisting in every step of the process.
My first tip starts in the design process: always keep in mind what needs to fit and the stitching offset. Regardless of the wallet’s shape, each individual will have their own needs, including bill slots, ID windows, extra pockets, and more. These and other additions will change the size of the wallet, requiring it to be scaled.
One area this could impact is the stitching offset. Although a design may look like it fits everything required, slight changes in where stitches are placed can completely change the pocket sizes. This is a key detail to take into account to ensure everything fits properly. I suggest always leaving a little extra space when unsure.
Cutting to Size
A great way to ensure the edges of any wallet are even is to plan for cutoff. By building a slightly oversized wallet, cuts can be made to give a perfectly aligned edge. To do this, make each outside edge larger than the wallet required, including the outside edges of pockets. Align and glue the wallet together as accurately as possible.
Trim the leather to the correct wallet size on each edge using a ruler and a sharp knife. With this technique, the wallet will look more professional. Helping keep the stitching straight and cutting down on edge finishing time. In addition, this tip may also be helpful when lining a wallet, as it is easier to cut off excess rather than perfectly align pre-cut material.
Punching Holes Before Assembly
One of my favorite tips for those struggling with sewing leather wallets is to punch holes in each piece before assembly. Typically, new crafters will have difficulty getting through multiple layers of leather completely straight.
This solution mends these issues by limiting the thickness of each punch. While this method is more time-consuming and requires extra pre-planning to ensure the holes line up, it makes sewing a breeze once together. This hole-punching method also creates full-sized holes, allowing the needles to pass through the various layers much more easily.
Making a leather wallet may seem like a tough project, but there are many ways to make it easier. Each step can be broken down, and various techniques may be implemented. With leather working being a creative hobby, there is no one right way to do something.
Helpful Insights On How To Make a Leather Wallet
What do you need to make a leather wallet?
While various supplies are recommended for creating a leather wallet, only a few are completely necessary. These include a knife, hole punching tool such as stitching chisels, or an awl, thread, and needles. Although this will be enough to make a leather wallet, a ruler, wing divers, and edge-finishing supplies can be helpful when taking the wallet to the next level.
What is the best leather for a DIY wallet?
The best leather for making your own wallet is a firm vegetable tanned leather that is 3–4 ounces thick (1.2mm–1.6mm). This combination will make a wallet that is not bulky but will have enough stiffness to keep its shape. Over time, the leather will break in, becoming softer and making it a more comfortable wallet to carry without sacrificing durability.
How long does it take to sew a leather wallet?
Hand sewing is often the most time-consuming part of making a leather wallet. It takes around 45 minutes to sew a bifold wallet, but it can be much quicker or slower, depending on the crafter. Someone new to the craft may take multiple hours to learn how to sew the leather while improving on their technique.
How long does it take to make a leather wallet by hand?
The time it takes to make a leather wallet depends on the crafter and the complexity of the wallet. Most basic bifold wallets can be made in around 3–4 hours by an experienced crafter. However, someone new to the craft may need a few extra hours as they become familiar with the techniques of working with leather.
What thickness of leather is good for making wallets?
Most crafters will agree that the interior of a wallet should be 3 ounces (1.2mm) as it helps reduce bulk. The exterior of a wallet should be slightly thicker at 4 ounces (1.6mm) to provide structure and durability. Depending on what type of wallet is being made, the thickness may slightly differ, as firm 2-ounce (0.8mm) leather can be used for a wallet with many stacking pockets.
How much leather is needed to make a wallet?
A leather wallet will use around 1.5 square feet, depending on the type of wallet being made. This may increase or decrease with the amount of pockets or interior lining being used when making a wallet. In addition, leather will often have wasted offcuts from odd shapes that can increase the amount of square footage needed.
- Making a leather wallet is a great project for both beginners and advanced crafters.
- Wallets use a small amount of leather and supplies.
- Leather wallets can be customized to hone leatherworking skills further.
A leather wallet is a timeless leather project that both new and veteran crafters enjoy. They are an excellent platform for honing skills and experimenting with others. Leather wallets will continue to be a staple of our craft and one of the most desirable items for hobbyists and customers alike.
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