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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tea Wallet Tutorial

Today, I'm going to try my hand at writing a tutorial for what I call a Twelve Bag Tea Wallet. A friend asked me to do this at a retreat back in February, but it's taken me until now to collect the photos and write it up.

I will be linking this to Quilt Shop Gal's Creative Goodness Linky Party for this week. If you enjoy these sort of crafty, creative posts, check it out. So many creative ideas!

Now to the job at hand!

Twelve Bag Tea Wallet

Supply List

  • Fat Quarter of Cotton Fabric
  • Matching Thread
  • Button or snap for closure. If using snap, two small pieces of interfacing
  • Small hair elastic if desired to use with button
  • Marking pen of your choice (I use chalk on dark fabrics and water eraseable on light)
  • Usual implements for cutting and pinning and a sewing machine.


Make the body of the wallet

Cut fabric 20.5"x15.5".
Sew 15.5 sides together using 1/4" seam
Sew along the raw 15 ½” edge, using a ¼” seam to form a tube.

From your fat quarter, cut a rectangle 15 ½” by 20 ½”.
Fold fabric crosswise in half, right sides together; press. The rectangle is now 10 ¼” by 15 ½”

Sew along the raw 15 ½” edge, using a ¼” seam to form a tube.

Iron seam open so it is centered

Open the tube and line up the seam with the crease that is opposite it, so that the seam is in the middle of the rectangle. Press this flat, pressing the seam open, as in the photo. (This is important to avoid excessive thickness on the outside edges of the finished pockets.)

Mark 3.5" from each side on one end of tube.

Sew one of the 10 ½” raw edges using a ¼” seam backstitching at the beginning and end..

Sew to marks, backstitching at beginning and end. Clip corners.

On the opposite 10 ½” raw edge, mark (or use a pin to mark) 3 ½” from each edge. You will leave the area between the marks open for turning. 

Sew from each edge to the mark, backstitching at the beginning and end of each seam. Clip all corners as in the photo.

Turn right side out and press.

Turn the rectangle right side out and press, making sure to make sure all corners are square and the seams are straight. Don’t worry about sewing the opening that you used for turning shut. It will be sewn when we put in the closure.

Fold short sides 3.5" toward center and press.

With the center seam running vertically so you can see it, turn up both short sides by 3 ½”. Press well.
Fold each of the flaps back and press.

Now take the flaps you just folded up and fold them back outward, matching the edges with the folded edge. Press well. This makes 1 ¾” deep pockets.
Pin the pockets in place so that they don’t slide during the sewing.
Mark sewing lines 3" from edges.

Mark a line 3” from the side edges. These marks should be parallel to the center seam. You will sew along this seam to divide the wallet into three sections.

Sew edges , then sew on marked lines, backstitching at beginning and end of each.

Topstitch along the side edges (parallel to the center seam). Use a ¼” or less seam and backstitch at the beginning and end. (Don’t mark or sew the top and bottom sides.) Go slowly over the thick areas of the pockets. A walking foot is helpful here.Similarly, sew along the lines you marked, backstitching at each end as before.

The body of the wallet is made.

Make the Closure
In the picture at the top of this post, there are 3 options for closing the wallet.

Option 1: Hair elastic and button

Sliip  loop or hair elastic into outside pocket and sew close to edge.

Cut a small hair elastic (or a piece of a larger one) so that you can more easily fold it in half. Insert the cut ends into the outside pocket in the top of the wallet body. Topstitch the opening close to the edge, bacstitching over the elastic to reinforce it. Topstitch the  center opening of the opposite edge as well.
Sew a button to the outside of this side (opposite the elastic), being careful not to sew the pocket closed. (Sew only through the outside layer.)

Option 2: Loop and button

Make the loop by cutting a 1 ¼” by 4” strip from the leftover fabric. Fold this in half lengthwise and press. Open the strip and fold the sides into the center fold and press, then fold again down the center and press well, giving you a strip that is ⅜” by 4”.
Fold the strip in half so that it forms a v shape at the point, as shown in the picture. Proceed as for the hair elastic, using this strip instead.

Option 3: Snap

For this option, you will need to cut four flap pieces from your leftover fabric about 4” by 3” and two pieces of interfacing the same size. I used fusible fleece rather than interfacing, because I had it handy. Use whatever, you just need to reinforce the flaps so that they can hold up to snapping and unsnapping the flaps.

The picture to the left is not to scale due to the constraints of my software. Use it to draft your own pattern, but be sure to mark the snap position in the center top area.

To cut the flaps, I stack the fabric right sides together and rotary cut it so that all 4 flaps are the same. Iron (or baste or glue) the interfacing to one of each pair. Install the snap according to package instructions if it’s a magnetic snap, or sew it in if it’s an old-fashioned snap, into the side with the interfacing, measuring and marking carefully to place both of the pieces of the snap so that they will match up.


Once the snap is installed in each pair, put the flaps right side together and sew ¼” around the outside, leaving one side open for turning. Turn right side out and topstitch.


Insert the first flap into the top outside pocket and then sew close to the edge, closing the middle pocket and sewing in the flap.

Second flap attached, but not inserted.
Attach the other side of the snap, then insert the other flap into the opposite (bottom) outside pocket and pin in place. (This is to insure that the snaps will line up.) Unsnap and sew the bottom center section close to the edge to attach the flap and close the outside center pocket.

Second flap inserted and pinned in place ready to sew

To use the wallet, put tea bags and/or sweetener packets as desired into pockets. Fold one side to center, then the other. Fold the bottom up to the top and snap.



  1. I absolutely love this, for multiple reasons. For years, when someone is stressed (and I have time) I make a handmade greeting card that includes a tea bag and words of encouragement to take time to relax. I love your tea bag idea, as it would be great to take tea bags on trips, give as a hostess gift, as well as so many other wonderful gift ideas. Thank you for sharing a tutorial too! I for one am looking forward to making this. I've also been looking for small handmade projects to give as "surprise gifts" and this would also make a perfect gift. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. Definitely total #CreativeGoodness.


    PS - Do you think this could be a good #KidFriendlyProject or #SummerCamp? I'm thinking it might work for an older kid, learning to sew, but would like to hear your opinion.

    1. I'm so glad you like this. When I wrote it, all the text looked white and it was easier to read. I'm going to have to fix that.
      I've used this a little gift myself. Just recently I made one for a friend who'd been having stomach troubles and filled it with peppermint and ginger herbal teas. She says it's been so nice to be able to have it with her whenever her stomach needs a little settling.

      I don't know if it would be a real #KidFriendlyProject. Kids don't drink much tea, but I guess they could carry something else, maybe Ghiradelli squares? lol It would make a nice Mother's Day gift for them to make. The only issue is that when you sew trough the pockets you're going through 6 layers of fabric, which can be kind of challenging, especially for an inexperienced sewer. When I made these, the batik and the brown cotton were much thicker and denser, therefor harder to sew. Kona would probably not work well for kids, either. You'd want cotton that's as thin as you can get. Then it would work pretty well, I think.

      Again, thanks for the kind comments. I'm working on another project right now that could also be Kid Friendly. When I post, I'll be sure to tag it. I'm not used to using hashtags yet.

      Thanks for running this thread. I'm enjoying seeing all the #CreativeGoodness people are making!

  2. What a neat idea, these would make great gifts!

  3. Great tutorial and tea bag! This would make great gifts for a quilting group, for Christmas, etc. Thanks for posting this tutorial!

  4. Wow! That is so cool and so useful! I always have my teabags lying around the house)

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Hi, I was checking out the tutorial and noticed you have a broken link to a pic under option 3.

    1. Hello Connie! In my browser (Chrome) all the pictures are there. One is actually a simple line drawing, not a photo, so it doesn't look like all the others. Maybe that's what you're referring to?