Need a new wallet | DIY Magic Wallet | DIY Cork Wallets

Cork Leather Wallets and Shoulder bags

Cork leather is a sustainable material that is light weight, easy to clean and an echo friendly alternative to leather. I set out to investigated patterns that fold, requiring no stitching or glue and can be held together by Chicago rivets (that screw together), studs (also screwed together) and pop buttons.

I first came across origami style folding designs from Moral Origin.  The flip wallet works well but does not lay flat and having so many fold overs gives nine layers empty. Compared to the magic wallet it is bulky but will take a few coins.

Many designs can be seen in leather and other materials on Esty. Most are 10.5cm x 7 cm with no particular depth. A credit card is 84x54 mm. So these wallets are large. In previously testing a number of minimalist wallets I have found that if the edges of the credit cards are exposed they become ragged. Many designs do not comfortably consider coins and folded notes. Perhaps coins should be considered separately to credit cards and bank notes.

Dimensions of some bank notes

Dollar notes ($1, $100) are 156.1x66.3 mm.

UK notes vary, are now plastic and more difficult to fold than previous paper notes. If carrying a lot of bank notes a traditional bi-fold might be the best choice.

£ 5 125x65 mm,

£10 132x69 mm

£20 149x80 mm

£50 156x85 mm

Euro notes

€  5 120x62 mm

€ 10 127x67

€ 20 133x72 mm

€ 50 140x77 mm

€100 147x77 mm

€200 153x77 mm

Japanese Yen
 1000 150x76 mm

 2000 154x76 mm

 5000 156x76 mm

10000 160x76 mm

Large denomination notes are not in common use. Few people ever have a £50 or €200 note.

Accommodating coins should consider that €2 is 25.75 mm diameter, 500 yen is 26.5 mm, £2 is 28.4 mm and 50 cents 30.61 mm.

The use of cash is declining except for most parking meters, market stalls, corner shops and take aways. Many shops do not accept cards for purchases under £5 (or £15).

Cork Leather and Cork fabric

Cork leather (double sized 1.2 mm thick) is sold in a sheet size of 50x78 cm (£30.50) up to 100x157 cm (£122). Patterns can be printed on paper, glued to cardboard or drawn directly onto the back of the material. The only colour available is natural cork.

Cork fabric is 0.7 mm thick and available in light or dark natural, black, blue, green, grey, orange, pink, purple, red, rose gold, turquoise, white, yellow, multi and rainbow. Sizes from 50x67 cm (£12.60) to 100x135 cm (£50.40).


For larger patterns use 12 mm pop buttons. For the small wallets use 10 mm pop buttons. Box sets come with the tools to stamp them or they can be purchased separately. Using pop buttons means the designs can be un-folded and laid flat but not reversed, and provided they are not used to fasten two layers of cork leather together. Using Chicago rivets and studs means they can be taken apart laid flat and reversed. Most designs only need 3 mm rivets and 5 mm studs.



Self adhesive velvet can be used to line and strengthen both cork leather and cork fabric. These are sold in 45cm width by the metre (£4.50 per metre). If lining is used the cork and lining can be sown together on a sowing machine or saddle stitched by hand. Hand stitching can be made even by using leather chisels to evenly space the holes. Waxed thread is used.

Basic Dimensions

I started out with a basic size of 100x65 mm adding a depth of 15 mm before trying 85x55 mm and then 90x60 mm. The larger size allows for quick access slots. This might also be the coin compartment and if so coins can slip out. The smaller size of 85x55 mm leaves too little space for the folds so inserting the cards becomes more difficult. Allowing extra millimetres all around solves this, hence 90x60 mm. 

The Designs

Click on diagrams and save for printing full size. Other than the first two large sheets they are either A4 or A3. Photographs can be opened in a new window full size by clicking on the thumbnails.

These first set of patterns tessellate on a single sheet 50x60 cm.. Dimensions are shown in millimetres. Straight edges can be cut with a sharp knife or scissors. Curves are harder. Leather tools, curved chisels, are available that make this easier. A hole punch is useful to get clean small holes for the Chicago rivets (4mm diameter) and for the 10 or 12 mm pop buttons. It is easier to stamp the holes before cutting but doing it later is easier to check alignment. Measure twice cut once.

This first pattern template matched the dimensions of a single sheet.




Coin tube

Circular ends 30 mm in diameter folded using the tube canister of a 35 mm plastic film canister. Hand stitched. 9cm length and 94.3 mm to wrap around the sides, so allow an extra 15 mm for the over lap and pop button, so 110x90 mm. Holds around 20 coins. Only stitch a semi-circle but continue the thread to add strength and stiffener to the other edges.

Shoulder bag

The pattern below is for a small shoulder bag or clutch purse. Again an origami folded shape that holds a large mobile phone, wallets, sun glasses (prescription or reading glasses) and other essentials. This is also drawn on a single sheet 50x58 cm.

Upscaling the pattern accommodates a small 8" tablet, keyboard, mouse, mobile phone and basic essentials. This is larger, at 620x540 mm, than A3 so drawn here at one-third scale. Draw directly onto the sheet of cork leather.

Pencil Case and small coin purse


55 mm square is really too small. 65 mm square does hold a over 20 coins. The 85x55 mm size, to this pattern hold a number of cards and/or coins,

Wallet for £20 note size.

This also allows for a quick access slot(s). A width of 85 mm, the same as the large £50 note means you only need to fold them by the longer side flap. When folding this design the top flap folds over the folded side flap. This means only one slot compartment is available from the top and forms three compartments at longer flap end.

Three simple designs. 85x55 mm is a tight fit around credit cards. 10 mm depth gives room for several cards, coins and folded notes.

The simple folded wallet used one stud but has only one slot to take cards, notes and coins. 

With the triangle patterns the folded over sections are reduced at an angle of 7.5 degrees and then rounded off at their apex. The pop button needs to be centred closer to the apex which means the location of the holes for the two sides is not on the centre line (see diagram below). Punch a hole in the flap and line up the sides and push through. An 80 mm equilateral triangle seems too small, but 100 mm then too large.Although they do hold many coins they are too small for credit cards.

Coin, notes and keys

The key coin wallet lays coins on a slant. 90mm allows for a dozen coins and still remains flat. Using different Chicago rivet lengths can take one to four keys at each end.

The T shape on the right uses alot of pop buttons. One compartment for credit cards, bank notes and coins. Can be used for earphones, SD cards and other small items.

The larger shape has divides into three compartments. Coins drop out from the sides with cards divided between a top access and side. 15 mm depth allows for 10-12 cards or 6 cards and a dozen coins. With flaps buttoned down on three sides nothing can fall out. The top fold over goes over the side fold flap. So access from the top is to one compartment - for cards. One side has access only to that compartment with the other side having access to all three.



Using the tight 85x55 mm layout these are the two basic patterns. The side fold slips under the top fold creating three compartments. Both have an open end. Although cards might fall out the folds and material make that unlikely. Coins can be accessed from the side by undoing the flap. To hold more cards use a 15 mm depth instead of 10 mm. Only one end is buttoned down limiting where coins are placed.

On the 100x65 mm size it is possible to include a couple of quick access slots for the most used cards.  These are noticeably larger but small compared to most wallets.

The 'optimum' fold over wallet

As 85x55 mm is tight and 100x65 mm over large a 90x60 mm was used with differences in the flaps using curves or straight edges. This has two flaps on either side folding into the middle. This means all three compartments can be accessed from the top. Coins drop out either size and the top. Cuts at each end allow cards to be more easily grabbed. This pattern makes for a wallet only slightly larger than the credit cards, takes a number of coins, notes can be inserted and laid on the longest part making for easy fold and quick access from the top flap. Instead of the 10 mm semi circles cut off the end corner and a central triangle cut. Alternative flap from the top and side or omitting both and choosing either curves or straight cuts for the flaps giving six designs.

The wallet before is the one I choose to use. Although I can include 18-25 coins I use the cylinder coin purse and this wallet for cards, bank notes and receipts.


Last updated 21st April 2021