Tutorial: Upcycled denim child’s wallet with zip pouch

My 7 year old really wanted a wallet like daddy’s to hold all the dough he’s been raking in doing chores in the shop. However, he was dismayed to find that daddy’s wallet doesn’t have a zippered section for change, and that kid likes to collect change. I poked around on Etsy but we couldn’t find anything he liked. He wanted a wallet that shut, that had a zipper spot for loose change, a place for paper bills, and a spot for business cards. Just whose business cards he plans on collecting, I know not, but you have to admit, that boy knows what he wants.

I sat down at the sewing machine and cut a bit of fabric here and another bit of fabric there and without measuring or anything came up with this:

Child's wallet

Kid's wallet with zip pouch for change

Upcycled denim child's wallet

I thought while I was making it, I ought to be taking photos to make a tutorial. But I’m always afraid if I do that the project will come out terribly. I was pleased with the results so I photographed the process when I tried re-creating the wallets for my two other older kiddos. Feel free to fudge around with the pockets to get the sizes you want if you feel like the pockets are too big or whatever. Just scootch pieces down and trim the excess. As intimidating as it might seem to sew a wallet this is a pretty forgiving project.

Wanna be legal copy

The instructions and photos below are protected by a Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Which means you can share these instructions, share the pattern, create works from it, and sell the stuff you make with it. All I ask in return is that you link back to me so I know what you’ve done with it, I sure like seeing what you make!

Materials

From a pair of old jeans cut the following:

  • One 6″ square.
  • One 6″ x 2″ strip.
  • Two 6 x 3.5″ strips.

From an old woven shirt or from new fabric (the sturdier the better) cut:

  • Two 8″ x 6″ rectangles.

You’ll also need:

  • 8″ zipper. Make sure it’s plastic so you can cut through it!
  • About 3 inches of narrow ribbon that won’t fray. You could use cord elastic instead if you’d like, that might be a bit easier to button.
  • 1/2″ button. (If you’d like to use a larger or smaller one, adjust your ribbon as necessary.)
  • Denim needle for your sewing machine, or live on the edge and just use a universal needle like me.
  • Zipper foot

The zip pouch

I’m only afraid of setting zippers into dresses, setting a zipper into a kid’s wallet isn’t bad at all, pinky swear. Unzip the 8″ zipper all the way to the bottom to get the zipper pull out of your way.

Put a zipper foot on your sewing machine and adjust your needle position so it will sew right up to the edge of the zipper teeth.

Take your 6″ x 2″ denim piece and lay it right side down on top of the open zipper, matching one of the long edges up to the edge of the zipper tape, like so:

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Align your zipper foot and stitch that bad boy down.

When you’re done with that, flip the denim over and finger press in place. Topstitch along edge as shown:

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Repeat with your 6″ square on the other side of the zipper.

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Zip the zipper. Beautiful.

Change your presser foot back to a normal one. Now you’re going to take one of your 6″ x 3.5″ strips and lay it right side up on your workspace. Place your zippered piece right side up on top of it, lining up the narrower strip of denim with it. This is the inside of your zipper pouch. Don’t worry about the excess zipper hanging off the edge just yet.

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Baste it on close to the edge. You just want to hold it in place for now. Now you can cut the excess bit of zipper off.

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Dollar pocket

Set your piece with the zipper aside for a second and fold one of your 8″ x 6″ rectangles of printed fabric in half. Press. Topstitch along folded edge. It is now 4″ x 6″. I should have a photo of this but I don’t. Oh wait, I’ve got some from another wallet I made.

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Take your zippered piece and layer the printed 4 x 6″ folded, topstitched piece on top. I like to make sure it covers up the stitching at the bottom of the zippered pouch.

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Baste it on leaving the folded, topstitched edge free, forming a pocket.

Here’s a better picture (though the pocket got sewn on crooked) of the printed fabric sewn onto the zippered side.

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Denim pocket

Take your remaining 6″ x 3.5″ denim strip and pink one of the edges if you’ve got pinking shears. If you don’t, don’t worry. Fold it over and press a pretty narrow seam. Stitch it down.

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Baste it to your remaining 8″ x 6″ printed fabric rectangle around the edges, leaving the top you hemmed open so it will make a pocket.

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Assembling the wallet

Okay! Now you’ve got two pieces, one with a zipper and a printed fabric pocket and another of printed fabric with a denim pocket. We’re going to layer these two pieces right sides together. Layer them so the denim pocket is facing the printed pocket and the zippered pouch is facing the printed side as shown.

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Square the pieces up if needed.

Take your length of ribbon and fold it in half.

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Lay the folded ribbon between the wallet pieces like so. You want it on a short end and the end that does not have the zippered pouch on it.

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Pin it into place if needed.

Stitch around your wallet pieces with a 5/8″ seam, leaving one end open (not the ribbon end!) for turning.

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I like to sew the corners of my open end in about an inch. This makes stitching the hole shut after you’ve turned it right side out much easier.

Here’s the opening.

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Alrighty, trim your seam allowances down to about 1/4″, and clip your corners. You just want to cut the pointy part of the fabric off of the corners, but don’t cut into your stitching. This will make it a little easier to get neat corners when you turn it right side out, but it’s still tricky since there are so many layers.

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Turn the wallet right side out and poke the corners out the best you can using a chopstick. I also like to sometimes use a seam ripper to dig the corners out from the right side. Just be careful not to rip through your fabric if you do that.

Now we’re going to fold the edges of that opening in and topstitch it closed.

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Start your topstitching in, away from the corner a bit. That way your machine won’t choke on the layers.

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Now it’s time to sew on your button. In this photo, I’ve sewn the button on the wrong side! Der! You want to stitch it on through the pocket like that, but on the other side, so that when the wallet is closed the zipper is inside.

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I sewed the button on wrong twice *head slap*. The wallet still works that way, I just think it’s nicer if the zipper pouch and dollar pouch are both on the inside rather than having just one little ol’ pocket on the inside when it’s shut.

Wallets

variations

Oh you’re all so creative, but here are a few ideas:

- You could omit the zipper and do an overlapping velcro strip to hold the change if zippers intimidate the heck out of you.
- You could make the wallet snap closed, omitting the button and the ribbon loop.
- Make the whole thing longer and have a bigger messenger style flap for the ribbon loop to fold over and reach the button.
- It doesn’t have to be made out of denim, you could use any sturdy fabric, really… an old table cloth, canvas, twill, even wool.
- Applique a little matching wool felt creature to the denim pocket side that shows when the wallet is shut (if you’ve sewn the button to the right side, ha!)
- Embroider your child’s name or initials on the outside.

Happy sewing!

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