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Flat wallet with lots of card pockets

Finished wallet -- click to enlargeI'm on a constant quest for the perfect purse and the perfect wallet. Of course, since my "needs" seem to change on a daily basis, it's a quest that is destined to go unfulfilled, but it's a fun quest, so I don't mind. I've made quite a few bags, and after trying oodles of purchased wallets, all of which either didn't have enough room for my various cards (credit, store loyalty, medical, etc.), I decided to try to make my own. Well, I couldn't find a pattern on the web for what I wanted, either, so here's my version. I've been using this wallet for a couple of months now, and if I do say so myself, it's the handiest one I've ever had. It's a lot bigger than what I usually prefer to carry, but since it's so flat, it fits nicely in all of my bags.This would be a good companion to the "lite" diaper bag/purse, as it would fit in the back flap pocket.

This pattern is copyright to me (Jan Andrea) and is NOT for resale under ANY circumstances!

Materials needed:

Directions: (click photos to enlarge)

1. Sew a zipper to one short edge of the 40" by 8" piece -- well, half a zipper, since the other end will be sewn on in step 5. I use a zipper foot to sew it on, but you can just press the edge and then topstitch if you want. Shown at right is the zipper which has been stitched right-sides-together, then topstitched -- I wanted it to look nice.
2. This part is a little weird. To make the pockets look nice and neat, I topstitched the top edge of each one. This basically meant marking the fabric at 4 " intervals, starting at the zippered end, then folding (wrong sides together) at the marks and stitching about 1/8" from the fold line. You could also just press the folds; they'll be sewn in later. Two of these folds are shown at right -- they're not easy to see in the thumbnail picture (click for larger), but each is visible as a small ridge in the larger version. If you were to use a striped fabric that had a 2" repeat, this would be particularly easy. You can make more or fewer folds, depending on how many card pockets you want; I have 7 folds, which makes 6 rows of pockets, or 12 pockets total. If you didn't mind a taller wallet, you could have as many rows as your fabric's length allowed; each pocket takes up a bit less than 4".
3. To make the pockets themselves, pull each fold up towards the zipper, leaving about 1/3" between that fold and the previous one, as shown at right (once again, easier to see in the larger version). ( the pattern on my calico fabric happens to have a 1" repeat, so the folds each show the same portion of the pattern when they're stacked up like this.) It's helpful to put a pin in, every few folds, just to keep these in place, or a piece of tape vertically across the folds.
4. Next, I sewed a straight line in the middle of the unit, starting just below the zipper and stopping at the last pocket -- there is more fabric left over at the bottom, which will be used in the next step. I'm starting to think I should have used white fabric and black thread for these directions, but the larger version shows it a bit better. It's helpful to baste the sides, too, just to keep everything straight and in place.
5. Here's where I sew the other half of the zipper. Using the fabric that's left at the bottom of the folds -- should be at least 6", depending on the depth of your folded section -- I folded the excess over the pockets, right sides together. The view at right shows the back of the pockets, as the zipper is sewn in.
6. Now trim any extra fabric from the zipper, and turn the pocket section right-side-out through one of the open sides. You can see how the zipper now forms a pouch (albeit one that's currently open on the sides) which will later become the coin pocket.

7. Time to sandwich the pocket section with the lining, interfacing, and outside piece. Shown at right, the outside is on top (right side down), followed by the pocket section (right side up), lining (right side up) and interfacing. (I'm sorry about the single fabric color use -- these directions would be a lot clearer with multiple colors, I know!) the pocket section should be about 2" from the bottom of the stack; the bottom part will have the hook-and-loop tape attached to it for a closure. If you want a wrist strap, make a tube about 1/2" wide and roughly 8-10" long (depending on your wrist size), fold it in half, and tuck it into the sandwich between the lining and the pocket section.

Stitch around the edges, using about a 1/2" seam allowance on the longer edges; can be narrower or longer on the short edges, as you prefer. (If you basted the sides of the pocket section, make sure your stitching covers those lines.) Leave a small gap for turning somewhere -- I left mine at the middle of the top edge. This will be closed during topstitching.

8. Turn the wallet right-side-out through the gap. Topstitch around the edges, catching the gap to close it. Watch out for the zipper -- your machine will probably go through nylon coils, but the needle will certainly break if you hit a metal portion.

there will be openings behind the pocket section at the top and the bottom. Topstitch the bottom one closed (I think that's easier to see in the larger version of the picture at right). This leaves an opening for bills and coupons at the top of the pocket section, as well as the zippered portion for coins and other small stuff.

Sew the hook and loop tape to the very top edge. I used an 8" long piece, which ended up being a little too secure -- it's hard to open the wallet! I think two shorter pieces, one on each side, would be sufficient -- I added those in my image processing program so you can see where they would go. The other side of the tape will go on the "front" of the piece that's below the pocket section, since it's folded upwards when finished (see next step).

9. This shows the bottom section with the hook-and-loop tape on that bottom part, which is folded upwards and stitched down at the edges to make a little pocket for a pen. Unfortunately, a piece of h&l tape that long made it quite difficult to open -- I have to really pull to open in. That makes it secure, but annoying. Two smaller pieces, as shown in step 8, are a better compromise, I think.

10. Here is the wallet all folded up and finished. You can see a bit of the wrist strap on the left -- I actually forgot I wanted it until after I'd completed step 7, so I had opened the stitching and pushed it in from the outside, then topstitched it in -- what would I do without a stitch ripper?

I've been using this wallet for a couple of months now, and if I do say so myself, it's the handiest one I've ever had. It's a lot bigger than what I usually prefer to carry, but since it's so flat, it fits nicely in all of my bags.This would be a good companion to the "lite" diaper bag/purse, as it would fit in the back flap pocket.

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