tutorial: the 19th street wallet

A few weeks ago, I went to Dallas for the wedding of a friend of mine from college, and unsurprisingly, the reception ended up doubling as a mini college reunion. Some of those people I literally hadn’t seen since graduation day.

Naturally, the experience got me thinking about the thing I am always thinking about: sewing.


I already make a cute little single pocket card case/wallet thing that people love to impulse-buy at craft shows, but occasionally I get asked about one with two pockets, that would fold in half.

the 19th street wallet

why 19th street?
I don’t know why I never made one before, but seeing my old college peeps got me thinking. As freshmen, we took our social lives very seriously, and used to venture down 19th Street (NW, Washington, DC) to this particular bar that was, um…liberal with the door policy, if you know what I mean. I used to have a little 2-sided wallet like this, where I stowed my student ID and a $10 bill (really, that’s all you needed back then).

Remembering our 19th street adventures made me think of that critical accessory (nobody carried purses when we went out), and how a handmade version would be pretty cute, and super useful. Sadly, the one I had was brown pleather. You, however, needn’t suffer such atrocities, and can whip up this little cutie in a half hour (really!), in whatever pretty fabric you have!

materials needed

All you need for this wallet/card case (besides your basic sewing supplies), is less than an eighth of a yard of fabric. You could easily make three or four of these with a single fat quarter. I used lightweight quilting cotton, but you could probably use something a bit heavier if you wanted to. Knits or very heavy weight upholstery fabric would probably not work.

I also used lightweight fusible interfacing, but that’s also optional, especially if you use something a bit heavier for the outside.

the pattern
…is really just two rectangles. If you want to make more than one, measure out the rectangles onto some spare paper or poster board. Otherwise, you can measure and mark right on your fabric! The first piece is a rectangle 4 and 5/8″ wide and 5 and 5/8″ tall. The second is the same width and 4.5″ tall.

time to start sewing!
1. Once you choose your fabric(s), you’ll need two large rectangles and two small rectangles, plus two large rectangles of fusible interfacing, if you choose to use it.

The large rectangles form the outside of the wallet and the inside backing of the pockets, and the smaller rectangles form the pockets. I chose a contrasting fabric for the inside backing, but you could make them all match, or choose all different fabrics! This pattern is a super way to use up scraps.

fabric and interfacing for the 19th st. wallet

2. The next step is ironing. If you are using interfacing, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply it to the back of the two large rectangles. Fold the smaller rectangles in half so they are 4 and 5/8″ wide and 2.25″ tall, and iron them flat.

wallet parts pressed

3. Now to apply the pockets! I used the striped fabric as the pocket backing, so I lined up the raw edges of the pockets with the raw edges of the pocket backing, and basted them in place.

pockets aligned

4. We are seriously almost done! The next step is to sew the whole thing together. Place the two larger rectangles right sides together, matching all four edges, and sew all the way around, using a 3/8″ seam allowance, leaving a small space (maybe 1.5″) on one short side in order to turn it right side out. I like to double up on all my seams.

sew with right sides together, with a 3/8" seam allowance

5. Next, trim the corners at least (I like to trim all the way around), so that your wallet will turn easier and lie flat once it’s finished. Don’t trim over the opening you left.

trim off seam allowance

6. Turn right side out, and use a hot steamy iron (if you’re using cotton) to iron your wallet flat, and then fold in half, matching the pockets together, and iron flat again. Only one more step left!

wallets pressed, part 1

wallets pressed, part 2

7. Now you are ready for the last step, closing up the hole you used to turn the wallet right side out. I used two different ways: the first, and my favorite, is to close the hole with a blind stitch and be done with it (on the right below). No visible stitching, plus this wallet is so tiny that it will stay closed in your pocket or in your purse.

close the hole

The other option is to add a ribbon tie in a coordinating color. I just slipped one end of the ribbon (I used 3/8″ wide grosgrain ribbon about 14″ long) into the opening, and then top-stitched all around the wallet, staying as close to the edge as I possibly could. The ribbon then will wrap around the wallet and tuck into itself to keep the wallet closed. Either way works!

wallets flat

And viola! You now have an adorable little card case/wallet that is lightweight, super-slim, and colorful to boot.

four finished wallets

You don’t have to be a hard-partying college kid to appreciate the usefulness of this little guy. Let me know if you make one, I’d love to see pictures!

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31 thoughts on “tutorial: the 19th street wallet

  1. Ha! Yes, since it is cotton it is 100% washable, should your new slim wallet lead you to smoky-bar adventures. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Sister Diane! I worry about the clarity, since of course, all the steps make perfect sense to me. Glad it seems that way to others too! 🙂

  3. Oh, I’m pretty sure I have to make one of these just for old times sake. Your tutorials are awesome, Val. I’ve been sewing some stuff for my girls, but wanted to venture into other things. I just bought some canvas fabric to try out the larger wallet, too.

  4. Carrie, I love that you’re going to make one! I’d love to see pictures of whatever you make. Thanks so much for your kind words about my tutorials, I’m glad they’re clear and usable!

  5. Oh no, another great tutorial. I must make the fabric book cover first, then I’ll try my hand at this project. I’m enjoying your site. Thanks again!!

  6. I just made of of these adorable, useful little things. I haven’t carried it anywhere yet, but I can tell that this is just the thing I need for costuming. I forget to sew pockets into my things and when it comes time for a festival, I have no good way to carry my money close to me. This is so slim that I can stuff my ID and money in it, and then slip it into a corset without anyone knowing! I’ll have to make another for just such a purpose. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

  7. Anna,
    That is exactly why I made my first one! You can’t beat it for a handy way to carry your money and ID. Please send me a picture of the one you make! Thanks for dropping by the blog and for commenting. I’d love to see your costumes as well!

  8. I don’t have a way to show them off just yet, or enough good pictures of them to do so. Usually at festivals I’m the one taking the pictures. Some day when the weather warms up I’ll have a dress-up day where my husband can take pictures until I want to punch him and I’ll throw them on a blog. I will send you a picture of my first wallet and my festival wallet when I get the latter made. Thanks once again for the tutorial!!

  9. I just made a cute little wallet to match the tissue case! Thank you again for sharing your ideas with very clear directions!

  10. Laura, those are so adorable! The fabric you picked is fantastic. These little things are perfect for really bold prints like that, and like you said, using up bits of fabric too small for something else. Thanks so much for sharing pictures!

  11. I’m so making these as gifts fro friends. I’ve got a birthday coming up for one of them, and just the right fabric I think! I love that it takes just a little, and there’s so much room for creativity. Thanks!

  12. Pina, you’re right, these make great gifts! I have a customer who gets them for her staff every Christmas and puts Starbucks gift cards in them. Truly the gift that keeps on giving. 🙂

  13. Hi Valerie,

    Just a little note to let you know that I used your wallet tutorial in today’s post, so hopefully you’ll be getting a little love by a reader of mine or two. It’s a perfect little cardholder and your tutorial was so clear and great. Thanks so much!

    Find my little wallet here: Space Wallet

    Take care,

  14. Michele – absolutely gorgeous. The perfect little french knots and the space theme are just incredible! Thanks for using my tutorial!

  15. I made one of these little wallets today to go with a ‘One Hour Bag’ I made for a swap on Swap-bot. I made it out of scraps & it took only about 10 min. Thanks so much for sharing. I think I’ll make one for myself now. It’s so cute!

  16. This is almost exactly a product that we sell in my paying job, in retail. I own one, bought it to copy, but never found time to figure out how! It does travel well, and is soon to be discontinued by the high priced company (which I cannot mention obviously) I think it sells for $8.

  17. Hey thank you for this tutorial 🙂 I honestly NEVER follow patterns but this was definitely easy!! I am learning my new machine and learned how to blind stitch today 🙂 Plus my machine has a monogrammer thing so I can personalize 🙂 Just made my first one and excited to make more 🙂

  18. I just made one of these for my daughter and now I’m on to make one for myself. Thank you for the great tutorial! It was easy to follow and a great wallet. Thank you!

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