I remember when I first starting making wallets. I could not get enough of this type of content, I simply could not get enough of tutorials on making wallets, especially if they came with pictures. Then at some point, they kind of run out.
I have many other ways I have discovered to find templates to practice with, and will go over this in another post, but there is a lot of content out there.
How to make a leather wallet
Although there are many many leatherworkers out there, once you get in to it, and I mean really take a deep dive, certain names start popping out at you all the time. Corter Leather, Weaver Leather Supply, High Grain Designs, Popov, Stock and Barrel, and many many more. You start to get an understanding for who the best crafters out there are, and who to take pointers from.
So as there were people out there willing to help me in the beginning by putting out content on how to become a leatherworker, and how to make wallets, I wanted to do the same for anyone wanting to get into leather working, or If you would just like to be able to make your own leather wallet, or are simply just interested in leather. Whatever the reason may be, I hope I can provide you with some useful information.
So I want to take you through my process of making a minimalist leather card wallet. I am still continuously learning, and do not profess to be a master leatherworker, so if there are any processes you may not agree with, please do comment and let me know, and we can learn together.
Everything you need to make this leather wallet
So to start off, the most important thing here would be the leatherworking tools.
You will need:
-Some type of cutter (a stanley blade, scalpel etc)
-Leather glue or Contact glue (check before purchasing as not all glue is suitable for leather) I personally use Aleene´s leather glue
-Some waxed thread
-Sewing needles if you are sewing by hand
-Some thick paper to trace out your template, or printed
-Edge Slicker (to burnish the edges if thats the look you are going for)
-Edge sealant / Pain
-Various grades of sand paper or a Dremel with sanding attachment.
If I have missed anything out I will be sure to mention what I used throughout the article.
Finding templates for leather wallets
So coming up with a template can be pretty tricky at the start, but if you head on over to Corter Leather, Make Supply Leather, have a browse on youtube, and you will come up with many many templates they provide beginners to use and download for free.
The Pattern I'm using here is courtesy of Yommy Leathers, who you can find on YouTube and Etsy. They sell some amazing tools for later on down the line when you need to purchase better stuff. But below is a link where you can download the wallet template for free.
LETS GET STARTED !
Making The Minimalist Leather Wallet
So when making a Leather Wallet, the first thing you want to have is your template. Unless you have an acrylic template to use, I just print mine out on some thick card.
Then with a sharp blade, cut out all of the pieces. I always cut on the outside of the line, and this allows me a little bit of room to sand later on toward the end of the build. I may even allow more of an excess, as you can cut this down to size when its finished, and you will have a very level edge, and this lends to some amazing burnishing.
For this particular build, also punch out the stitching holes on the paper template. If you choose, you can cut out the template, and make the wallet with your own stitching lines and spaces. It is just easier at the start to have the holes already aligned for you.
Then, what I like to do is tape the template to the piece of leather I am going to use. You can also trace this out, but with the stitching holes coming pre marked, I prefer to do it this way. Easier on the hands to, as pressing down on that little piece of paper gets tiresome.
Also, I included the scalpel in the image, as this is what I have become most comfortable using. I also use a carpet cutting blade, a circular blade, all depending on what I am cutting. Not that each one cuts a different type of leather, just that my hand is now used to certain blades for certain types of leather. Its a personal choice what kind of cutter you use.
So first I punch out all of the holes, and I did this one by one, to simulate that you can also do this one by one with a stitching awl. Then I cut all the straight lines, and lastly I do the corners.
So now we have all the pieces of leather cut out, and the stitching holes punched. Now something to mention here, when cutting leather pieces, is getting the straight lines and nice rounded corners. I cannot tell you the things I had tried.
Now if you have this down and can cut the angle out, or you have a punch for rounded corners, then that is great. Otherwise, I would advise you don't cut so close to the line on the corners, as you can always sand this down to perfection later.
How to cut a rounded edge on a leather project
Coins can work pretty well, angular objects around the house, bowl edges, I mean I tried it all. You can of course just buy a punch for leather designed just for corners, but I didn't have that type of money, so I learnt a technique, and instead of trying to cut around the corner in one draw, you make many smaller cuts and this gives you a very well rounded corner every time.
So first thing is we need to stitch the pocket to the first panel. One of the panels as you remember had a small stitching line punched in three quarters of the way down. But before that, we need to glue the piece down, so we glue the pieces where the stitching will meet, and set to dry.
Sewing the leather together
Then once the glue has set, we sew the two pieces together to ensure it never comes apart with the amount of time a card will be inserted.
And once this is done, its time to put the second panel on both pieces. So we follow the same procedure of scraping the areas to be glued, so we get a better adherence, and gluing the pieces where the stitching is going to meet, and also ensure to spread the glue to the edges of the leather. If the edges are not glued properly, when burnishing, you can have gaps where the leather never stuck, so always take your time. Its better to put in that extra time, and you appreciate it when you see the finished piece.
So first I glue down the second pocket on one panel. Notice how I left the first pocket go over. When all the pieces are attached, I will cut this piece off, ensuring the edges are all perfectly level.
The on the second panel, again roughing the surface to be glued, the piece is glued and clamped, and once dry (my glue is okay to be worked with after about 30 mins, but weather and type of glue have an impact here) we are ready to glue the two panels together.
So now, with each of the two panels prepared, one with two pockets, and the other with one, we prepare and glue the two panels together.
Clamp the two pieces together, and to be sure they are aligned, you can use a few needles inserted into a few of the holes around the wallet. I use needles or toothpicks, depending on the punch I am using.
And now, nearing the end of building this wallet, we need to prepare the edges of two panels now stuck together. I have seen the edges burnished before stitching and also after stitching. If I leave a large enough excess where I can cut the edges all equal with one cut, then this is when I get the best edges.
You will need to bevel the edges, but the rest of the surface will be perfectly straight, and I just put on some burnishing gum, or I actually started this using water, and get right to burnishing the edge.
Now you can do this for a few minutes, or keep going until you have it like a glass edge, all dependent on your resilience. But if I am going to be using an edge sealant, like an acrylic based one, then I will still burnish the edges down pretty good, but not as much as if I were going to be using a clear sealant. You want a perfectly burnished edge when its clear.
So in this photo, you can see the edges mushrooming out. I show this so you see how important it is to bevel your edges enough. Otherwise, when you are burnishing, you will get this shape forming. You can correct this by just rolling over the edges to flatten them back down, and beveling them again.
Also, its best to let the edges dry before you bevel. If the leather is damp, the tool will get caught and you can end up taking a chunk out.
So finally, we have sown the two pieces together, beveled, burnished and sealed the edges, and now we have this finished minimalist card wallet.
If its your first time making a wallet, this is a pretty simple way to start. You can also just cut the corners square if you don't feel comfortable enough to cut a curve. But the take away should be that, its really not too difficult to make a good quality wallet yourself.
I will be posting many more of these types of tutorials, and hope to make some videos soon. But if this has helped, or you would like to have a chat, feel free to reach out.