How to Make Wallets Out of Beads

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In the spirit of Earth Day, make wallets out of beads. With many of the items found right around your home, you can make wonderful, one-of-a-kind wallets that are earth friendly. You will even find that by making your own wallet, you'll be able to put more inside it.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Plastic bags
  • Parchment paper
  • Iron
  • Toothpicks
  • Glue
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Cloth (for liner)
  • Straight pins
  • Thread
  • Needle or sewing machine
  • Artist's paintbrush
  • Zipper (optional)
  • Carpet thread
  • Embroidery needle
  • Lacquer (optional)

Make the Beads for the Bead Wallet

  • Select the plastic bags from which to make your beads. Colorful bags make the most interesting beads, but the choice is entirely yours. Cut the plastic bags open with a pair of scissors so they make nice, flat sheets.

  • Lay a sheet of parchment paper on your work table and place two of the plastic bags on top of it. Lay another sheet of parchment paper over the plastic. Set the iron to a low setting and iron the top sheet of the parchment paper, making sure you thoroughly iron every surface. Turn the pile over and do the same to the other side.

  • Remove the top layer of parchment paper from the plastic and test to see whether the sheets of plastic are fused together. If they come apart, put them back on the parchment paper and iron the pile again. Remove the parchment paper and set it aside.

  • Create a pattern for the bead. Draw an isosceles triangle on paper that is a 1/2 inch wide and has 4-inch-long sides. Use a ruler to keep your lines straight and your measurements accurate.

  • Lay the pattern for the bead on the plastic and trace around this. Do this for as many sheets of plastic as you like. Cut out the triangular shapes and set them aside.

  • Roll one of the triangles of plastic around a toothpick, starting from the base and widest portion of the triangle. Roll it up completely, then gently unroll it. This helps to bend the plastic when you make a wallet out of beads.

  • Use a toothpick to apply glue to the plastic triangle, leaving a narrow, glue-free strip at the bottom of the base. Roll up the plastic around the toothpick again, just as you did in Step 6. Shift the bead up and down on the toothpick to make sure the bead doesn't stick to the toothpick as the glue dries. Repeat this step for all of the beads. Stick the toothpicks in Styrofoam or clay, so the beads can dry overnight. When they are dry, you can leave the beads as is or add a coat of lacquer.

Make the Wallet Lining

  • Decide the size of your wallet and create a pattern for it out of brown paper. Your wallet can be the traditional rectangular shape or more square. As this is your wallet, it is entirely up to you. Make two pattern pieces that are the same size.

  • Choose some fabric that will be the lining for the wallet. It can be plain or patterned. Whatever you choose should complement the color of the beads you made in Section 1.

  • Fold the fabric in half, the right sides together, and lay it on your work surface. Lay your wallet pattern pieces (see Section 2, Step 1) on the fabric. Pin them in place with straight pins and trace around them with tailor's chalk. Use a ruler and add a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

  • Remove the pattern pieces. Lay the fabric pieces on the table, right sides to right sides. Secure them with pins. Sew around the lines you drew in Section 1, Step 1, but leave one of the long sides unsewn.

  • Take out the pins and turn the fabric right side out. Use the end of an artist's paint brush to gently poke the corners into place. Pin a zipper in place and sew it into the open end of the wallet lining as you make a wallet from beads.

Assemble the Wallet Out of Beads

  • Thread a big-eyed needle with beading thread (see Resources) and tie a knot at one end. Thread some beads together so they're the same length as the wallet lining's length. Arrange the strings of beads so they are offset. The beads of the second string should fit into the spaces between the beads below it. Do a number of strands in this fashion until they match the width or height of the wallet lining when you lay the strings in parallel lines.

  • Secure the strands together with thread until the strings form a unit that matches the same dimensions of the wallet lining. Repeat the process to create another unit the same size.

  • Sew the two units of beads together along the length. Sew the sides together by making a knot, threading the needle through the last bead on one end of a string then through the last first bead on the other side and tying a knot. Once you sew the end beads together across the length, sew up between the two sides as well, so the two units of beads are joined at the bottom and both sides.

  • Slip the wallet lining inside the beads. Secure the beads to the wallet lining by passing the needle through the inside of the wallet lining at the three corners and looping around the the strings of beads. Trim any excess thread. Secure the beads nearest the opening of the wallet in the same fashion. Be sure to keep the thread below the lip of the zipper so it can't be seen.

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