Thus wallet design is big business.
Prologue / Blogish history
I am a wallet snob. Sometime around 1999 (for a guess), I bought a wallet. A nice little tri-fold leather number, with multiple card slots, two note sleeves, and NO coin pouch (so: no zips or clips). Result? A small clean wallet which suits my minimal slimline non-bulky (I like to call this style 'efficient') tastes.
Sometime around, oh, probably 2003, I realised I'd need a new wallet one day, and so started keeping my eye out for a replacement.
- Cue 2005
- I'm pretty seriously looking for a replacement...
- By 2006
- I'm starting to ask people everywhere. An identical to the one I had would have been perfect. Sadly, not findable. So in increasing desperation, I start a duct-tape wallet, but quickly stop, realising my long-standing instinct regarding Duct Tape wallets is in fact correct. ie, it will be too bulky. (I stopped half way through making it, when it was already as thick closed as my empty 'live' wallet. Clearly this was not going to be feasible. I return to looking for a wallet to buy...
- I buy a 'magic wallet' style, but whilst I like it's size and nifty opening methods, it's not suitable for carrying all the myriad of knicknacks I keep in my wallet. (yes, dispite being way slim and minimal).
- I discover tyvek (wondrous stuff) and resurrect making my own wallet idea. Origami style! (I have found Tyvek wallets online (both professional and how-to guides to make your own), but none appealed). I make several paper prototypes, then a tyvek prototype which sees live testing...
- Feb 2008
- My tyvek prototype1 (Type 1 design) has been in use for a few months, however one of it's fatal flaws is that it's made from fabric-grade tyvek which has worn badly along one flat surface with use. And so I move onto onto prototype2 (Type 2 design) made from paper-grade tyvek.
- April 2008
- Prototype2 is wearing noticably thinner (the outside is semi-transparent now for the card directly behind, and also ink on the other side of that tyvek. It is also colouring a dirty/yellow shade. (skin oils?). I expect it to remain viable for a few more months however.
- early-July 2008
- I am now trialing the Type 3 (quodfold) design. The Type2 was usable but as the tyvek continued to age and lose rigidity, it's pure-origami structure became an issue. See notes re: Revision2 of this design, below. I am also making a new Type1 wallet using paper-grade tyvek this time.
- mid-July 2008
- I used type3 for a little over one week before moving to my second Type1. Type3 was proving slippery with cards falling out, whilst type1 appears to not have this issue due to
- tighter construction
- duct tape is less slippery than tyvek
- some compartments not open to the top.
- Note that the first two points may be resolved via Revision2. See notes below.
- end-November 2008
- Second type1 is holding up well and has a few months of use left, but has shown some flaws.
- usage of vinyl tape all round is inappropriate as it splits too quickly along the outer edges. These need to be cloth tape!
- centre of the main outer panel wearing thin again - needs to be covered in next wallet also (entire outer face required to be tape
- And so I have made number3 which takes these points into consideration. It has been gifted out.
- Around February (?) of 2009
- I begin making a new type 1.1 as a gift, but in the middle of production get sidetracked memory of the 1.2 design sketch from December 2008. The final 1.1 model is finished in May 2009, and 1.2.2z is put into production at the end of May 2009.
- Q1 2011
- 1.2.2z has clearly been reaching near end-of-life for some time...
- 31 May 2013
- replaced 1.2.2z with 1.1.11z (which was made in 2009)
- Oct/Nov 2023
- visited the Origami Wallet design and began work on type4 with intention that it have hold space like type1, but be pure origami construction like type2. Simultaneous to this, obtained a sample of Ultra400 ripstop ultralight fabric. This may prove to be a tyvek replacement. It may also allow more flexibility via sewing (or even rivetting) though I'll intend to keep that to a minimum
Versions and manufacturing
Note that I intend to number every wallet I make (as of 'now' (Dec 2008), using the following scheme: Type.Revision.ManufacturerNumber
Experimental/Prototypes (typically unusable design tests made in paper and/or subsized) are given an additional moniker of "X", whilst wallets that gain real world usage are designated "Z" (end of the line models). In some cases, a model may be both Z and X (hi Nissan)
I keep a Production Log
Note regarding names for tapes...
Type 1 - Complex Trifold
A tri-fold wallet from a single sheet of tyvek, however requiring tape (duct and/or gaffa) on the sides and outside for cohesiveness. Additionally, a sheet of light card paper was included in the final revisions for overall structural support.
Features twin note sleeves, and multiple card pouches (some not available from the inside sides only, not from the top), and one difficult-to-access non-obvious 'secret compartment'.
Several panels of tyvek previously 'offcuts' are now retained and folded in to provide additional stability. The 'net' of this design is more closely a complete rectangle.
Note: 1.1 series changed considerably with early prototypes, and only really can be said to have reached final form with 1.1.9. Arguably 1.2.1 should have just been 1.1.11 as it did not vary by such a degree, however, the 1.2 change felt like a 'refinement to reach stability' and so was somewhat arbitrarily granted a new version number :)
- 'just right' amount of storage of different types (2 banknote bays, with between 7 and 10 card holders - depending on how you count separators and security)
- tape provides tight binding and is less slippery than tyvek - both serve to hold contents in wallet if it is accidentally dropped.
- Tape providing closure means people assume the wallet is a duct tape wallet, when it clearly is not!
Type 2 - Simple Trifold
A trifold tyvek wallet made origami style. Tyvek cut to shape, then folded. No tape required to hold parts together.
Features twin note sleeves, and a single card pouch on each side. Secret compartment also features - still non obvious, much easier access.
- Pure tyvek construction (no tape required) from a single sheet.
- The folds used do not hold the ends quite as firmly closed as I would like - resulting in a feel that if I dropped it just wrong, the wallet would dissasemble and contents would explode out. (in practice this has not happened, but I do find I'm re-"tucking in" one end very regularly.
- In use, the paper-grade tyvek is losing rigidity (but not structure) - this is most noticable on the inside divider. It is also losing a little bit of structure on the outer faces, in a similar but much slower manner as the fabric-grade tyvek.
- Not quite enough seperation of card storage areas for my taste (only 2 card bays compared to the 7+ in Type 1)
This revision would use backing tape on some parts of the wallet to give it structure, and/or included paper in the 'secret compartment' (as per Type1). It would retain the "unfoldable" aspect of revision 1, but backing tape (duct) giving solidity to some panels (some of which are additional, similar to the 1.2 model) should mean it will hold together better, hold cards in better (greater friction thanks to the tape) and age better.
- Note, 2.2.# was first hypothesized in Feb 2009. First construction commenced in March 2011.
- on youtube... wallets version 2.1 and 2.2
Type 3 - Simple Quodfold
This is a quadfold based on the bottom edge of a 10"x13" envelope. This is a rather simple wallet, but has the advantage that the existing sides and base of envelope are part of the wallet, so it is relatively structurally sound. With no additional materials, it is proving usable in and of itself. In long term use it would succumb to the same aging issues as Type2.
- Very simple design
- 2 can be made from a single 10x13" tyvek envelope
- Center divider is not very big
- lack of card bays
- Tyvek is slippery - this leads to cards easily falling out if wallet is dropped or mishandled.
- the extra length (quod fold remember) means the center bays can open easily if the wallet is open complete - this exacerbates the issues with cards falling out.
Type 4 - pure origami trifold
After the 2.1/2.2 video helped the Origami Wallet guy refine his design, he sent me a sample. In 2023 I disassembled it with an eye to seeing how it might improve my own designs. Type 4 is the result of that. As of writing, it is paper prototype only
- pure origami (like type2)
- sufficient card bays
- Cannot be folded even from an A2 sheet. May require A1 sheet. (prototypes 1-7 folded from A4 paper)
- not yet tested for reals