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My Cute DIY Envelope Wallet

posted in: Family, Miscellaneous 1

Hello there! I was so excited this past week to be able to whip out my sewing machine and work on a little project for myself: an envelope wallet. There’s a cool budget system that uses envelopes to help you stay organized and on a fixed budget. Dave Ramsey was the first person I’ve heard of to make it popular. You can learn about it in his course Financial Peace University, or just google envelope system of budgetting and you’ll get some answers! Last year, my husband and I stuck with the system for a few months before letting it just fade out, and since then, we’ve often said, “The envelope system worked so well for us. We should go back to it.” What better time than now?

So if it failed for us the first time, why are we trying it again? Well, I’ve realized some errors I made when we did it the first time. My husband has entrusted our finances to me for keeping, but he is included in any decision that’s made about how to spend our money. Basically, I organize it all for us! The biggest problem we had in the past with the envelope system was “borrowing” from other envelopes. I would leave the house with the envelope designated “diapers”, but while I was out, I would realize that I really needed another gallon of milk. Since I didn’t bring the “groceries” envelope, I would just borrow some money from the diaper envelope and replace it when I got home. The problem with this is: a. there isn’t an exact amount to replace the money with so I end up shorting one envelope, or b. the money just doesn’t ever get replaced. This adds up quickly when you’re on a budget and causes you to constantly be short on funds in one area, and excessive in others.

Another area I failed in was having too general of categories so it was easy to say, “Oh, well THIS [want] could fit in this category so I’ll just use money out of this envelope for it.” This time, I’m being a lot pickier with the categories I label my envelopes with.

Now, everyone knows that cute things are SO much more fun than just plain-Jane stuff so I got on Pinterest and started to look at envelopes people had made for their envelope system. I came across an adorable tutorial for sewing your own envelopes. Then, I came across a blog where a lady had the same issue as I did about not having the envelope she needed when she was out so to solve her problem she made an envelope wallet! That way, she would always have all of her envelopes with her at all times. THIS was what I needed! I read through her tutorial and decided I could sew my own!

Now, I’m by no means a professional seamstress. To be honest, I don’t even understand most of the terminology associated with sewing, and I’m terrible at trying to read a pattern [not that my mom hasn’t tried to teach me in the past!]. I just can’t get it! So I usually end up making up my own way as I go, and that’s what I did with this wallet. I also have never sewn a zipper before, and have always heard that they’re difficult, so I threw out the idea of zippers initially until I realized just how much I would need them. And yes, to my great excitement, I sewed, not just one zipper in this project, but TEN and they all work! =)

So here’s my wallet! I wasn’t really intending for this to be a tutorial, but I do want to inspire you to try something new that you’ve never done before!

*Note: I did buy a tutorial for a Money Cash Envelope Wallet here, but like I said before, I have a hard time following along so I used it for the measurements of all my pieces, but that was it.

First, I gathered up fabric. I have a TON of scrap fabric from projects, but I also bought a few pieces that were cute specifically for this! I use my checkbook weekly so I knew that I needed a spot for my checkbook to go. I cut out a piece the same length as my wallet for the pocket for that. Here’s my wallet piece (dots), and some of my card pieces (flowers) as well as my strap to close my wallet. I also wanted a little thickness to all of my pieces so I chose to add a liner to every piece (brown dots) and it’s consistent with everything in the wallet.

1 These are my pieces for my card slots, and I’ve got some turned over so you can see what the backside fabric looks like. I had to sew just the top part together on each of these because the other three sides would be sewn down when I finished out my wallet.2 This is my card pieces and my wallet piece attached to the inside of my wallet. The piece in the background is the outside of my wallet. The tutorial I bought said to use a clear piece for your driver’s license, but I chose not to do that. My card slots can actually hold two cards in each slot which works out great!3

These are the inside pieces to my envelopes. Like I said before, everything is lined which adds a little more sturdiness to the wallet.4 I had to sew my inside and outside pieces for my envelopes together. Right sides together, leaving a small gap unsewn so I could turn them right-side out. This was the most time consuming part of the whole process. Oh, and I ironed EVERYTHING often throughout this project. Usually, I only iron in the beginning and end of my projects, but this one was so important to keep the bulk down, so I ironed a lot! Here are two pieces to one envelope, liners sewn to the outside pieces, and ironed! Now they’re ready for zippers!5 As mentioned earlier, I’ve never sewn zippers. To make it a little more challenging, I forgot to buy a zipper foot for my machine (I thought I had one, but found out I didn’t when I went on a hunt). So I went to Youtube to see how to sew a zipper with a regular presser foot and found an awesome video from a lady! She’s a beast seamstress! I followed her method for all ten of my zippers. This was the second most time consuming part of my wallet… next time, I’ll just go buy the zipper foot! 😉 So I had to sew a zipper to BOTH sides of my fabric to make my envelope, and I took the advice from the tutorial and made sure they zipped opposite ways.6 Here is the inside of my envelope with the zippers on it.7 8 Now, I didn’t intend to add bias tape to the edges of my envelopes, but after sewing on the zippers, I wasn’t really sure how to sew the outter two edges to make them look nice, and then turn it, so for me, it was easier to just put some trim on the edges to finish it off.9 Here are all five finished pieces, which, when folded in half gives me my ten envelopes.10 Here’s the inside of an envelope-see the pretty brown dot fabric!11 Next, I found the center of my inner wallet piece (the piece with the card slots and checkbook spot already attached to it) and began to pin my envelopes in. I wanted to sew them all down at once so I pinned the first envelope to the inner piece, then pinned the next envelope to the first one, and so on until all 5 envelopes were pinned into place. I used a heavy duty needle for this part because I was sewing through 21 pieces of fabric! That’s a LOT! I even did most of the rolling by hand because I didn’t want to bend my needle, and the quickness of my pedal hitting the fabric was causing that to happen. I did NOT stitch the very outer edges where I had my biased tape on my envelopes because I knew my machine couldn’t handle that.

14 13The inside is all finished! I pinned my outer waller piece to my inner piece, added the bias tape, and began sewing. I did all four sides separately because I added cardboard to the wallet for sturdiness. I also inserted a piece of cardboard between my checkbook piece and the liner so it would be sturdy when holding my checkbook in place.15 Here’s where I added the cardboard between the wallet inner/outer piece.21 I had to pin my strap out of the way before sewing the last piece of bias tape to my wallet edge.22

My mom loaned me her snap machine so I used that to make the closure for my wallet instead of velcro. A button with a loop would also be a cute way to add a closure!


And here is my finished wallet! It’s very thick, yes, but it will be so worth it! Yes, some of my stitches are not beautiful, but considering this wallet is just for ME, I’m not worried about it! If I were making this for someone else, I would have taken a little more time, and finished out my corners differently. 23 24 24-2 25 26 And here it is once I added my stuff to it!27 28The only thing I have left to do is add labels to my envelopes. I still haven’t nailed down what I want each one’s category to be, so I will do that once I decide. My plan is to just use some Fabric-Tac glue to add those, so that if I ever want to change the label, I don’t have to pop seams and then get the whole wallet back on the machine to sew. It’s so bulky!

There are a lot of details that I did in sewing this that I left out, but if you’re interested in making your own based off of my wallet, and you want a little more details, please use my contact form to send me a message! I would be happy to share with you those little details that I left out!

I plan to spend my afternoon tomorrow going through our budget again, refining and tweaking it, and finalizing what categories I want for my wallet. So there you have it! An envelope wallet!

*Update: 9/15/14

I was able to finalize my categories this weekend and print out the labels to put on my envelope. You can iron freezer paper to the backside of fabric, and then run it through your printer. The thinner the fabric, the better it seems to print on. It’s something that takes some practice for sure! Here’s my “labels” that I will cut out and put on my envelopes. =)




  1. John Ball

    Pretty cool!