Zippered Sketch Wallet Sewing Project

For the duration of the sewing unit, in class we learned how to thread and operate a sewing machine, follow pre-made sewing patterns, and create embroidery designs directly onto our cloth pieces. These are the pieces I made from the class lessons: a drawstring bag and an embroidered cherry. 

I actually now use this to hold my laptop charger


For the final project, after looking through the list of approved patterns, I wanted to try my hand at making the zippered sketch wallet. The original pattern can be found here: Usually in all of my backpacks I have different lip glosses/lipsticks and pens/pencils floating around, so I thought making a pouch to hold everything would be useful. Although I was a little concerned that this pattern was rated more difficult than some others on the list, I decided to go ahead and attempt to make it. 

The raw ingredients

First for the fabric selection. I chose two, a patterned one for the outer lining and a solid one for the inner. The pockets are from the same cloth as the outer lining but at a different section. The pattern also optionally called for two small sheets of interfacing; I didn’t have any on hand, so I thought to try using felt to give some more structure to piece in replacement. After cutting all necessary parts according to the printed out pattern, here’s all the pieces I had to start with: two pieces for the outer lining, two for the inner, two different sized pieces for the two pockets, two skinny slips for the zipper backing, and two pieces of felt for mock interfacing. The pink zipper I used is not pictured here.


I followed the pattern to successfully create the zipper loop; then came the test to see if the felt could be a suitable replacement of interfacing.

Surprised Pikachu face moment. I didn’t think this through properly.
The felt added some nice backing to the cloth, seems fine right?

 As I soon found out though, I forgot to take into account the fact that interfacing is ironed, not sewn, onto the back of the cloth piece, unlike the seams showing through the cloth when I tried sewing the felt together. If you look carefully at the picture of the front, you can see the (quite ugly) lines from tracing and sewing around the perimeter of the felt-outer-lining piece. So I ripped all the seams out, scrapped the felt idea, and decided that this pouch would have to do without internal structure. 

Left: wide pocket for small notebooks, right: pocket with slots for pens, lip gloss, etc.

Next came forming the pouches and putting everything together. The pouches were pretty straightforward to cleanly create.

First half done, so far so good!


However, then came what was definitely the most difficult part of the project: the zipper loop had to be sewn around the perimeter of one of the lining pieces. This was honestly the worst, because it was very difficult to keep the zipper aligned and pinned such that it would evenly fit around the lining perimeter when finished sewing. After at least an hour of pinning, shifting, hand-basting, taking out stitches and trying again, I finally managed to fit everything decently well. After sewing on the large pouch and turning the entire piece inside out, the first half of the project seemed to turn out alright. If you look carefully though you’ll notice that about 3″ of the maroon cloth at the center is left not sewn, which I fixed later.

Before I could sew on the front cover, I needed to create my embroidery design on the cloth. I choose a cherry blossom icon and edited the colors in Inkscape to match the color scheme of my fabrics. I also simplified the layers to avoid any issues importing the SVG file into PDE Design. 

In Inkscape. Left: original, right: my edit with adjusted layers.
In PDE Design. You can see the layer breakdowns on the left sidebar.








Moment of truth: time to embroider. There were a couple of snags here. First was that I cut out the lining cloth before embroidering, which meant that the cloth piece was a bit small for the hoop. To fix this, I taped the cloth to stabilizer paper and fit that into the hoop, which quickly solved that problem. After exporting the file from PDE Design as a .pes file onto a USB drive and importing it into the sewing machine, I loaded the file, picked out my four thread colors, and started the job. The second snag was that I forgot to consider how the small dots of the flower would need to still be connected, so the machine embroidered lines between them like the left image. I needed to go back and cut those connections later. However I was quite happy with the final result, as shown in the right image. For a small and slightly delicate pattern I felt like things could’ve easily gone wrong, but luckily it turned out to be really pretty.

All that was left to do was sew the front outer and pocket lining pieces to the other half of the zipper loop. Repeating this step of basting the zipper was just as difficult as the first time. It wasn’t as accurate as the first, but for the sake of time I deemed good enough, good enough. After all the pieces were sewn together, I googled how to sew a ladder stitch in order to cleanly seal in the loose ends where the lining pieces met in the middle. The ladder stitch nicely hid any ragged cloth edges for the most part. 

Look at the center zipper lining, much cleaner than a normal running stitch.

After doing some final touch-ups, like hand-stitching loose edges and trimming stray threads, I was finally finished. The final product: 

Holds everything pretty well!


Turning in this project nearly five days late, at this point I’m pretty ready for it to be done hahah. I think I spent a sum of at least 9 hours over many days working on this. However if there wasn’t such a time constraint I would’ve liked to spend much more time getting this perfect. For example, if you look closely at the right image above, you’ll notice that the right half is lower than the left. This is due to the fact that I called “good enough, good enough” when basting the front on the zipper, and I didn’t realize then that even a small error could result in a misalignment of the two halves. The wallet doesn’t completely close flat because of this. Additionally, surrounding bunches of cloth often get stuck in the zipper, so I have to be careful when opening and closing it. Other than the stress of the time constraint and struggling to get the fit right though, I really did enjoy this project and would call it the most difficult yet my top favorite. I felt like I learned a lot both from class and outside of class, and these kinds of skills are definitely applicable for the future. The wallet has actually come pretty in handy, as now I don’t need to dig through my bags, amass all my scattered lip glosses, and dump them into the bag I’m using for the day; I just grab the wallet and go. This project took a lot of effort (and probably a dent in my grade), but this is definitely the one I’m the most proud of.