Monday, November 28, 2011

An Ode to Hot Glue and Cardboard

Also cheap fabric samples.

* First, a disclaimer: My camera decided to die right as I started into this project, and I couldn’t find the charger, so I had to take pictures with my Blackberry. They are horrible and you will blink a lot and I apologize, but at least I remembered to document this time.

I had kind of forgotten how much I love hot glue. I don’t really have any space in our tiny condo (a fact to which Emily can now attest, since she came to visit me – well, me and IKEA – last week! Yay!), so the crafting side doesn’t get to come out and play very often. (This is partially why I end up baking so much, since I can’t really keep anything I make, and also I don’t have a craft room or even a dining room table to keep things away from the cats and/or husband.) Anyway, months ago I was walking through Hancock Fabrics (yes, unsupervised, how can you tell?) and they had the tiny fabric blocks on sale for like 25 cents or something, and I saw the fabric above and thought, “Wow, that would make a perfect wallet for my sister!”

So then I bought 30 of them. 

Please note here that no, I had (have?) no idea how to make a wallet and had no idea where to start. Just the fabric block.

Anyway, a few weeks later their cute buttons were on sale, and at that point I got kind of a hazy idea about how to make a wallet. It included cardboard and hot glue. So … the following steps I really wouldn’t call a tutorial so much as A Learning Experience. (Also, possibly a Re-Learning Experience That Hot Glue Is, In Fact, Hot.)

My company had been getting these stacks of marketing materials that are 8.5”x11” and came shrink-wrapped and backed with thin little sheets of cardboard. The cardboard sheets were just the right weight for what I wanted for the wallet sides/walls, so I amassed a stack and took them home.

I collected all my supplies: the cardboard, hot glue gun and glue sticks (I used some called “Ultimate Strength” that promised to be more awesome than pretty much any glue, ever, in the history of the world. I would say this claim is a bit of a reach, but it’s still pretty good hot glue.), fabric panels, cute buttons, Velcro tabs (I didn’t end up using these but I might on future wallets), and colored elastic (found in the jewelry aisle at craft stores).

I just wanted to do a simple V-shaped wallet that had a closure. So I measured an existing wallet to get an idea of size (I think I went with 4”x7.5” for each wall but it’s entirely up to you) and laid out cardboard on the fabric. I used one color for the outside and another for the inside, just for some contrast.

Remember that the outside panels are going to be larger, and will butt up against each other in the middle of the fabric so they can fold, while the inside panels will be separately wrapped (this will be clearer in a minute, I promise). I also used two cardboard pieces for each outer wall, glued together, for a little bit firmer wall.

Then, I wrapped the inside pieces in fabric on one side, hot-gluing it around the cardboard (like you would wrap a chair seat you were upholstering and staple-gunning on the back).

Next, the outside pieces, which sit almost together in the center (leave a teensy bit of room for folding together) and then get wrapped the same way, only a little bit prettier since you will see part of the folded corners inside the wallet.

Next, I cut two triangles out of the inside fabric (this will specify how wide your wallet will open, so measure that out and leave a little bit extra for attaching) – I folded each over so it was double-sided, because you will see both sides of this as it forms the bendy side walls of the wallet. Then, I hot-glued each side in place, forming a “V” with the outer wallet walls.

(This is why it’s good I took pictures – I’m pretty sure this makes no sense whatsoever with me rambling on here. However, I forgot a picture on the next part. Yeah, I know.)

I wanted the inner pocket split into two, so I wrapped a smaller inner panel on all sides but left a triangle-shaped overhang on each short side that I then glued against the fold-y wall bit (sorry, no in-progress pictures, but I think it makes sense below). I also added some reinforcement stitches here. Next, take the inside panels you have already wrapped, and hot-glue them to the inner area, covering up all the exposed places. 

Now, I had the issue of closure to deal with. The next one I make, I will extend the top so there’s a big flap, but since I was sort of building this one as I went, I didn’t think of it in time. So I made a little strip to wrap all the way around. I secured one end and folded it under (have I mentioned how much I love hot glue?).

Then, I wrapped it around and hot-glued it all the way around to the other side, with an overhang across the open top of the wallet.

I folded under the tip at the end, and then I added some buttons for closures and reinforcements. In nearly every case, this meant going through some cardboard, so I ended up marking the spots and then pushing an embroidery needle through to make a hole first, and then sewing the buttons on by hand. Below is the inside reinforcement button for the outside button that works as a closure. They back up to each other on each side.

Then I added a loop of elastic with a button reinforcement backer on that strip I glued around the outside:

This allows the strip to wrap around the wallet and then loop down to close it.

My only concern (which I will address with a big overall flap for the next one) is that something might fall out since it does not go all the way along the open top part. I am hoping it’s tight enough to offset that. And, since I just gave this one to my sister for her birthday (Happy birthday, Ashley!), she will verify for me and I will let you know. :)

And I might be making more wallets for Christmas, who knows!

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