Upcycled Two-Way Wallet



For my upcycle project I have created a two-way wallet out of a recycled leather purse. The inspiration for this project originally came from duct tape wallets that I used to make and sell in middle school. The type of wallets I made were able to open in 2 directions, where the geometry of the wallet kept the money/cards inside. For this project I was hoping to extend this design into a more professional form.

These types of wallets are pretty rare (and are not especially practical) but are definitely very unique. I was able to find a few commercially available forms of this product, but not very many.

As far as the aesthetic design, I was hoping for a deep rugged leather look such as this Chester Mox wallet. I liked the differential stain that was used in this wallet, and the thick leather definitely gives it a nice aesthetic and presumably the nice stiffness that any good wallet has.


The graphic below shows my design process map for the wallet. My process is fairly linear, with a couple branches for the two halves of the wallet. This process made it very clear in what order to assemble the wallet.

The design of the wallet was pretty simple. At first, I estimated the straps to be quite thin; however, I decided to use the straps from the purse, which ended up being much wider and much thicker. The overall dimensions of the wallet are 4.25″ by 3″.

After I had purchased the purse from goodwill, the first step was taking it apart and identifying the sections I would need. I used the front and back of the wallet for the main portions, and the purse strap for the cross-straps on the wallet. I undid the major seams and took out the lining of the purse.

I measured out the two 3″ by 8.5″ sections (that would be folded in half), and cut them with fabric cutters. This project was a very adaptive process, since I couldn’t do much planning until I had purchased the purse. This particular purse had a nice zipper pocket in the front, so I decided to try to incorporate that into the wallet to serve as a coin pouch.

I acquired some scrap plastic from the ITLL and cut it with a pair of box cutters. This plastic would be inserted into each side of the wallet to stiffen it. The plastic I found was a bit thicker than I was hoping for, which left the wallet being thicker than I nice wallet should be. However, it was the best recycled piece I could find.

The next step was measuring, cutting, and attaching the straps. The material I used was thicker than anticipated, and so I ended up splitting it at the points where the straps were sewn into the wallet, allowing them to bend easier.

Final Product

Below is the final product. The wallet can open in either direction, and holds your cards and cash firmly. As I mentioned, it is a little thick, but not too thick to be usable. The zipper also acts well as a coin pouch. As you can tell from my atrocious stitching, I would not trust this wallet to last long in my back pocket. Traditionally, leather is punched before stitching, but because of how thin this leather was, I decided sewing would be easier. Unfortunately I did not account for the fact that I am not very good at sewing. It’s definitely not the product that I had envisioned, but overall I’m pretty happy with the final turnout.

[1] https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/319192692361535832/

[2] https://www.pinterest.com/pin/30680841194977773/?lp=true

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11 Comments. Leave new

  • Davis,
    I like how your process map was clear and easy to follow. I also enjoyed you very unique design, it was mesmerizing to watch open. Lastly, I think it was good how you recognized areas of improvement
    Statement of meaning:
    I liked how the wallet was made from a purse, he made one money holder from another

  • Davis –

    I can appreciate your project, being the other wallet project! I think it turned out quite well actually and has some very nice function, it reminds me of the same type of wallets that would show up at elementary school book fair sales and is quite minimalistic. I like your documentation of your design process and your overall presentation through the report and powerpoint presented in class. Practice makes perfect, so I think with more practice you can do this once more if you find the motivation, and really make something you’d be proud to carry-on everyday, I can attest that it is well worth it when it turns out. In terms of questions – what settings were you on with the sewing machine you used (if you had that functionality, the ITLL ones allowed for different line widths, etc)? Also, do you think you’ll continue with stitching/sewing (not necessarily a wallet)? Thanks for your hard work!

  • Justin Engbrecht
    February 19, 2020 11:34 am

    I like how the straps look visually and feel that they contribute to the rustic aesthetic. The rustic look could be improved upon further with a nice dark stain to the leather, as Davis initially desired to add during the inspiration for this project.

  • You seemed to be kinda down on the condition of your final project, but it seems like the design was just complicated to begin with. I think that for your level of skill your wallet turned out pretty well, and if you were to iterate I think that the second edition would be very polished

  • Isabella Colosimo
    February 19, 2020 11:31 am

    – What would you have done differently?
    – Did the zipper come from the purse?
    – How could it have been flatter?
    – Can i suggest some better leather working tools? Handstitching would work a lot better and makes it easier on you

  • Do you think you’ll do this again, if so where will you source your materials? Overall, I think if the fabrication were a little cleaner and there was no zipper it would be a great design.

  • Miles Radakovitz
    February 19, 2020 11:27 am

    I think it was really creative to make it open both ways.
    Do you think you will remake it with better materials?

  • I love the two-way design, I’d never seen before and it blew my mind!
    Do you plan on making another attempt to create a wallet that more fits your vision?

  • I really like the two-way wallet! Did you intend to include the zipper from the purse in your original vision?

  • Davis,
    I thought that your project was very interesting! I did not know two-way wallets existed, and it was exciting to see the design process behind creating one. Additionally, I liked how the cross-straps on the left side of your photo are not only functional components of the opening system, but also work as a card holder!
    Your report is well structured and has a nice flow to it. I enjoyed your use of photos to enhance your statements and demonstrate the design process as well. This made the report easy to follow and I liked seeing how this uniqe wallet was designed.
    In your report you mentioned that you did not like your stitch-work, do you plan to re-sew the seams in the future? If so I believe there are sewing classes in the Idea Forge that you could look into!
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your project!

  • This is very interesting and well done I would say. The end product is functional which is astounding regarding that this is an upcycling project. I especially appreciated in your final report, the linear diagram describing the manufacturing process. The diagram is very clear and concise, especially once followed with further, more detailed instructions on how you created your product. Your documentation on the design of the project is also well laid out for the audience to understand. I think one area for improvement for your post would be to add a section on how you would improve this design in the future if you were to undertake this project again. I fully believe if you kept at this project again, you would produce an even better quality of wallet. Overall, this looks really good and again the quality of the wallet (Especially coming from a recycled purse) is amazing. Good Job!


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