Wallet-to-Tote On the Go ~ Tutorial

on May 16 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 65 Comments

Lorraine from ikat bag is a favorite around here… She has tons of fun tutorials on her blog and she’s joined us before with this wonderful Back to School Pencil Case tutorial. Today Lorraine shares a tutorial for a new summer essential, the On the Go Wallet-to-Tote! Construction includes three main parts: Assembling the Wallet, Assembling the Outer Bag and Making the Lining. The tote zips into a convenient wallet in this unique and handy design.

From Lorraine: Hello, Everyone. I am very excited today to share this tutorial for a wallet that morphs into a tote!

These little bags have been around for as long as I can remember, and I thought they’d be a useful addition to the arsenal of summer gear I stash in my car and/or purse.

I have three little girls, aged 3,4 and 6, and we’ve found that summer always takes us on adventures we hadn’t planned for– detours to farmer’s markets, dancing in the rain or treasure hunting en route to the park.

We always appreciate an extra bag or two for our loot (and wet clothes)! This tutorial and pattern are for the bag with the oval base, but you can use the same principle, and a little simple math, to make them in other shapes and sizes. Enjoy!

Part One: Assemble the Wallet:
You will need:

  • One zipper, 4″ or any zipper longer than the welt (I used an all-purpose zipper of the sort found on garments)
  • One zipper, at least 16″ long (I used one of the larger-coil zippers of the sort found on bags and purses)
  • Wallet Pattern: 1x outer fabric, 1x lining/facing, 1x fusible interfacing (without seam allowance, and with the zipper welt cut out). Download the wallet pattern here.

Note: Please see Part Two & Part Three for a full list of supplies.

Step 1: Iron the interfacing piece to the wrong side of the outer fabric piece, so that it is centered with an equal-width border of fabric all around.

Step 2: Place the right sides (R.S.) of this interfaced outer fabric and lining/facing pieces together and sew along the long edges of the welt, as shown.

Black thread is used here for visibility. Make sure to backstitch where you begin and end, and make these two lines the same length.

Step 3: Carefully cut both layers along the purple line shown.

Step 4: Pull the lining/facing layer right side out through the cut and press the welt opening neatly open. The zipper is shown for width comparison in preparation for Step 5.

Step 5: Position the zipper behind the opening (behind both layers of fabric) and top-stitch around the welt opening to secure the zipper in place. Use the zipper foot on your sewing machine for this.

Step 6: Locate the midline of the wallet and sew a line of stitches on it, through both layers of fabric. The presser foot has been removed for visibility.

Step 7: Flip the wallet over to the wrong side. The lining/facing layer is divided into two halves. Fold the half without the zipper over the half with the zipper. This forms the lining of the pocket. Stitch close to the edge (shown in black thread for visibility) to secure. The pocket is done!

Step 8: We are now going to attach the main zipper. Reattach your zipper foot. Flip the wallet over to its right side. Flip the zipper so that its wrong side faces up as shown. Beginning at the midline of the wallet (see red pin), sew the zipper in place.

Note that the beginning (head) of the zipper is curved and the zipper tape is folded to allow it to curve as shown. The purple line shows the position of the stitching line– Note that it is not extremely close to the coils. It is best to leave some room for the zipper pull to slide easily along the coils.

This is a close-up of the beginning of the zipper attachment process.

Step 9: Continue sewing all around the edge of the wallet to attach the zipper, making shallow snips in the zipper tape to help it navigate the curved edges (zipper foot removed for visibility).

When you get to the other end of the midline (top red pin), curve the zipper like you did when you began in Step 8,

…So that the coils continue almost on top of the midline itself, and the rest of the unattached zipper leaves the wallet vertically, as shown.

Step 10: We will now attach the other side of the zipper around the remaining edge of the wallet. Curve the other side of the zipper symmetrically around the other side of the midline (red pin). Begin sewing the zipper the same way you did in Step 8.

…And continue all the way around the remaining edge of the wallet till you reach the place where the zipper began in Step 8. Curve the head of the zipper symmetrically towards the midline and end off. It might be useful to make corresponding marks along both sides of the zipper tape AND the edges of both halves of the wallet to make sure the zipper is attached symmetrically on both sides of the wallet. Your wallet should now look like this:

The wallet is finished! Remove the pins and set it aside.

Part Two: Assemble the Outer Bag
You will need:

  • A piece of outer fabric 12″ wide/high and 26.5″ long for the bag.
  • Two pieces of fabric for straps, each 2.75″ wide and 13″ long.
  • All seam allowances are included in these measurements.

Step 11: Make the straps. Fold in 1/4″ along both long edges to the wrong side of the fabric and press.

…Then fold lengthwise so the folded edges line up, and press again.

Top-stitch along both long edges. The straps are completed.

Step 12: Position the straps on the top edge of the bag as shown…

…So that 1″ of the ends of the straps stick out above the top edge of the fabric:

Sew the straps in position, close to the edge of the top edge of the bag (see horizontal white stitching line).

Step 13: Fold the bag fabric in half so the short edges meet, and the right sides are together, and sew up the side seam.

Step 14: Fold down 1/2″ on the top edge of the bag, to the wrong side (W.S.) of the bag, and press.

Step 15: We are now going to sew the wallet (from Step 10) onto the bag to form its base. Make quarter marks along the bottom edge of the bag and along the circumference of the wallet. With the right sides of the bag and wallet together, match up corresponding quarter marks (be sure the bag straps are along the long edge of the wallet), pin in place if necessary, and sew around the edge to attach. Note:
(i) Use your zipper foot– You may not be able to see the zipper between the layers, but your zipper foot will help you “feel” the coils.
(ii) Position your project under the zipper foot so the bag layer is on top and the wallet layer is below, not the other way around.
(iii) Make shallow snips in the seam allowance along the bottom of the bag, to help it hug the curves.

Sew all around the edge except for ONE point, where the tail of the zipper meets the midline (red mark).

At this point, leave a gap (remember to backstitch!) so the zipper pull can get through it later. I left a gap of about 1/2″.

When you are done, the base of the bag should look like this:

And the bag itself looks almost completed!

Step 16: Turn the bag right side out and gently push the zipper pull out through the gap you left.

Step 17: Turn the bag inside out again and trim the seam allowance and excess zipper tape to reduce bulk. Do NOT do this before Step 16, or you will cut the zipper pull off as well.

Now at this point, your bag is completed. Or, you can top-stitch around the edge of the wallet for a more finished look, and to secure the edges of the gap you left for the zipper pull.

(Zipper foot removed again for visibility). To do this (and it is optional), fold the seam allowance and zipper tape under the wallet and top-stitch through everything except the bag fabric (which you push to the side).

When you come to the gap, sew very carefully as close to the edge as you can, around the zipper pull.

The bag is completed! Set this aside.

Part Three: Make the Lining
You will need:

  • A piece of lining fabric (I used rip-stop nylon for its waterproof qualities) 12″ wide/high and 26.5″ long for the bag (this includes 1/2″ seam allowances)
  • A piece of lining fabric cut using the Wallet Pattern (with seam allowance).

Step 18: Repeat steps 13-15 to sew up the side seam and attach the base to the bag. This is a much simpler process than in Stage 2, because there is no zipper involved, and no gap to leave. You just sew all around the entire base to attach it. The only thing to remember is that you’ll be matching up the oval shape of the lining base to the oval shape of the bag base later (i.e. it’s not a circle whose orientation doesn’t matter), so be sure to position your side seam where you can match it up easily to something equivalent on the outer bag later.

Part 4: Assemble the Bag

Step 19: Turn the bag right side out. Leave the lining wrong side out and slip it into the bag, remembering to match up their oval bases. Line up the folded top edges of both layers, and top stitch close to the edge to attach the layers together.

Then sew a second line 1″ lower than the first, all around.

This second line further secures the ends of the straps.

The wallet-tote is finished!

Fold it up…

Zip it up…

And toss it in your purse or car for an extra grocery bag, or emergency summer tote!

You can make them in many different shapes! All you’ll need to remember is to match the circumference of the bag to the perimeter of the wallet, and use a main zipper that is at least 3″ longer than half of this perimeter. You will cut off excess zipper tape at the end, but it is much easier to work with a longer zipper than a shorter one.

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65 Responses to Wallet-to-Tote On the Go ~ Tutorial

  1. Hey, what a nice collection, very fetching designs and layouts; I like the color combination which provide us really classy look.

  2. sheila says:

    Thanks for the tutorial!!! my blog is part of yours

  3. Angie says:

    Thank You Thank You!
    I have been meaning to try and make shopping bags, similar to yours bag. But I’ve just returned to sewing after a long hiatus. So it always gets put behind.
    Because if you I have NO WORRIES! (nor excuses)
    I’ll be recycling more, and much faster.
    You should be rewarded for all the plastic recycling you have encouraged and made possible.
    Take Care

  4. suzanne says:

    a clever bag which takes no place in an other thank you for the tutorial

  5. Cristy says:

    How handy is this? These would make great little gifts. Teacher appreciation,’cookie exchange, something to add to Grandma’s purse…possibilities are endless. I am a beginner (sewing) better practice to improve my skills if I’m to make lots of these. Thank you.

  6. madonnaearth says:

    That is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Awesome!

  7. LiEr says:

    Megan, I’d say if:
    1 = I have sewn a beanbag
    10 = I have sewn a crayon roll and
    20 = I have sewn a flat zippered pouch

    then this might be a 45.
    I’m guessing, anyway, since I’ve never sewn a crayon roll or a flat zippered pouch! Hope this helps you feel like giving it a shot!

  8. Sandra Roberts says:

    I LOVE this!!! Your instructions are absolutely fabulous because everything is perfectly clear. Am off to start my own Tote. Thank you!

  9. Megan says:

    How would you rate the difficulty of this project? If 1 is I can sew in a line and 10 is I am a professional seamstress, choose a number πŸ™‚

  10. Anna M. says:

    That is so cool.

  11. What a fun pattern & project! Thanks for sharing the great tutorial & pics!

  12. sefchen says:


  13. Sue says:

    Love this bag/wallet! I will be making one as Im always needing a bag when out.
    Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  14. nazlı says:

    thank you πŸ™‚

  15. Samantha says:

    Great tutorial! I really want to try this one.

  16. Baby says:

    Very clever!!!

  17. Christine says:

    Very good tutorial. Time to break out the summer fabrics!

  18. Pamela says:

    This is awesome!! Love your colour choices and the instructions look so clear. I will definitely be doing this one. I hope to try the circle one, wish me luck!

  19. Sarah McKinney says:

    Think that this is something that I will try. Thanks so much.

  20. so cool! i’ll try it.

  21. Alia says:

    This is fantastic! I will certainly try my hand at it! I can’t wait! Thank you so much!

  22. Marion says:

    Amazing tutorial! Thank you for sharing :0)

  23. Launi says:

    I absolutely love this project! I have so many pretty scraps that would work up beautifully. Thanks so much.

  24. Jenny S. says:

    I love these Wallet bags. Very inventive and so useful!!

  25. Rie says:

    What a fantastic tut – I think it’s the best one that I’ve seen, it was really helpful seeing the RS & WS tags on it too.
    Thanks so much!

  26. Jeni Ann says:

    Amazing – Fun and usefu! Thanks for sharing :o)

  27. ChristineG says:

    Wow!! Those look seriously cool! Thank you very much for the tutorial. I can’t wait to try this.

  28. creatissimo says:

    This is fabulous! Thank you!

  29. Okay, that is definitely the coolest hidey tote I’ve seen – great tutorial!!

  30. VickiT says:

    Fantastic tutorial. It’s such a great idea. Thank you.

  31. Ellie Perez says:

    No WAY! This is amazing! I’ll have to FB share and try it myself! I love it!

  32. What a fantastic tutorial! Really clear instructions and great photos – will definitely give this a try soon!

  33. Samina says:

    What adorable bags & what a great tutorial! I’m printing this one to add to the to-do list, thanks!

  34. Janet K says:

    Great tutorial, thank you!

  35. sharon says:

    That is such a neat bag! I have alot of totes but I am going to have to make this one, thank you.

  36. Eva-marie says:

    I admit it looks complicated! But its so cute that i’d really like to try!!

  37. Tine says:

    This is added to my To-Do list ! Thanks for sharing.

  38. SonjaVic says:

    What a great idea! I know what I will be making my sister for a belated birthday gift. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial.

  39. jaimee says:

    Looks like I found my new weekend project! Thanks!

  40. Tina M says:

    Oh my those are darling πŸ˜€

  41. Joan J says:

    This is one of the cleverest ideas I’ve seen in a long time. I wish I had the creativity to think of these things, but since I don’t – I’m glad you do! Thanks for the tutorial. I’ll be trying these in the near future.

  42. Kate S. says:

    I must make this for all of the women in my family and freinds, it is just too cute to pass up. Great fabric choices too, LOVE!


  43. Homa says:

    Beautiful! Totally bookmarking this for when my sewing skills improve. πŸ™‚

  44. Esther says:

    Wow, this looks amazing! I need to practise a lot more though on my sewing machine before I come remotely close to this πŸ™‚

  45. adelina says:

    what a great idea!! LOVE IT!!

  46. Seanna Lea says:

    I am not sure I understand all of this, though it is a cute idea. I hope that my local shop will consider teaching this as a class if that is all right.

  47. elsa says:

    this is fantastic, love the design, thanks so much for the tutorial!

  48. Care says:

    Ahhhh! PURE genius!!!

  49. Misty says:

    Wow, this is such a great idea! Thank you for the tutorial. I would love to make these for gifts! I will have to try this very soon.

  50. Louisa says:

    What a fabulous idea! Thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  51. AmyP says:

    Great tutorial – I can see myself making one in every colour!

  52. Cassandra says:

    What a fantastic tutorial! Thank you!

  53. Patsy says:

    This looks like something fun to make for myself!

  54. Kathie says:

    oh how i have longed for this, a fold up bag not made of nylon. I have got through so many recently and they are no way near as pretty. Thank you!

  55. MeganAnne says:

    Oh my goodness!! I’ve got one of these bags that my mother-in-law picked up for me at a rummage sale. I take it with me to work every day. It’s perfect for a quick trip to the grocery store on the way home. Or a trip to the farmer’s market by my work. I love it! I was just thinking the other day that I could probably figure out how to make one. But that sounded like a lot of work. πŸ™‚ Now I don’t need to.

    Thanks for posting the great tutorial. I’m sure I’ll be making this shortly!

  56. Kerry Green says:

    Really clever pattern!

  57. Clare G says:

    Totally awesome – love them!

  58. Great tutorial thank you!

  59. Carolyn says:

    Wow! I love making totes and travel accessories – I can’t wait to try this one! It will be so handy and make a delicious gift too.

  60. Elizabeth E. says:

    Oh boy!! I’m totally jazzed about this because I love these wallets-to-totes bags. Thank you, thank you so much. I have just the fabric to stitch them up, and as soon as I get the last papers graded from my class, I’m on it! Wow! Terrific!

  61. Daisie says:

    What a cute and practical idea! Thank you for sharing! I cnt wait to try!

  62. Grandma G says:

    Those look so fun and handy! And I love the fabrics! πŸ˜‰

  63. What a great idea! I’ll have to try this.

  64. Monica says:

    Absolutely amazing!!! Thank you so much.

  65. Kati says:

    I’m not good with zippers…but man these are so cute and great to have…might have to try!

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