What’s New?

We’ve started on some new wallet and bag models and thought we’d share a couple with you.

During last month’s holiday show season we got several requests for a coin pocket wallet with a grommet for attaching a wallet chain.  We already had coin pocket wallets and wallets with grommets, but hadn’t gotten around to making wallets with both features. It’s something we had planned on doing, but just hadn’t found the time for. The good news is that we’ve worked them into the production schedule and have already added a couple to the shop. You can see them here.

We’re also updating our Weekend Bag. We’ve added zippered pockets to the outside and inside and changed the interior fabric to 4 oz. pack cloth. The new version has a hidden magnetic snap closure.  Here are some photos of a prototype. Enjoy!


We love the midnight blue/black color combo.


We’ve added a zippered pocket to the lining.

Bags For All

What better way to work through some new bag ideas than to make bags for friends and family. Awesome holiday gifts? Check!

Our standard M-7 messenger bag in Ocean

Our standard M-7 messenger bag in Ocean

In our standard seatbelt messenger bag, the strap runs completely around the bag and forms the sides of the bag. Most of our bags have a single interior zippered pocket.

I wanted to see what would happen if I beefed up the design, so I made the bag deeper and added pockets to the inside and outside.

The experiment turned out pretty well and there is a good chance the new version will turn up in the shop in a few months.

Will’s bag

Will's big bag.

Will’s big bag.

Will likes a big bag. He uses his bag to haul around large amounts of library books, and random stuff he needs throughout the day. I made Will an M-9 (nine strips wide) in Fire aka black with oxblood and cranberry red stripes.  It’s actually a little too big of a bag for the  current .retool. sewing machines – there was much rolling and folding of the excess material. There may have also been some minor cursing at times.

Side view.

Side view.

The sides of the bag are two webbing strips wide (a little under 4 inches). I used a contrasting color for the side panels, red for Will’s bag. The shoulder strap wraps all the way around the bag and is stitched securely to the bottom of the bag.  I really like the black strip of webbing against the flashier red webbing. And no matter how many heavy books he throws in there, I’m pretty confident that strap isn’t going anywhere!



Under the flap, I added two pockets for carrying smaller items because, really, it’s hard to have too many pockets. I wanted the pockets to be easy to access, yet still secure so I went with a flap closure without an additional fastener. The outside of the pockets is 1000D Cordura® nylon. The pockets are fully lined in contrasting burgundy pack cloth. One of the pockets is just about square, the other is rectangular.

Onto the interior. The inside of the bag has a zippered pocket in burgundy pack cloth. It also has 2 slip pocket dividers attached to the back of the bag – perfect for papers or gym clothes. You can’t see it in the photos, but the interior bottom of the bag is the same red webbing as the side panels (it’s one long continuous strip). The red makes it easier to see what’s in the bottom of the bag. Plus, it looks sharp.

Zipper pocket.

Zipper pocket.

Dividers at the back.

Dividers at the back.

Jamye’s Bag

I made Jamye a smaller bag, an M-7, which is still large enough to hold a 13″ MacBook.  His bag is in our newest colorway, Venom. It’s black with foliage green and lime green.  The side panel is in the foliage green webbing. I used a grayish-green pack cloth for the pocket lining and interior pockets. It’s a pleasingly close match to the foliage green webbing. Here are some photos of his bag:

San Francisco Bazaar Recap

Last weekend we joined over 200 artists, designers and local food makers at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center’s East Hall for the 7th Annual San Francisco Bazaar (formerly known as Bazaar Bizarre).  We saw a few old friends, made some new ones and sent a bunch of .retool. items off to new homes. Here’s a recap in photos.

Oh – and if you missed us, don’t despair! We’ll be back at the Concourse Exhibition Center (East Hall) next weekend (12/21 & 12/22) for the Renegade SF Holiday Show.  Hours are 11-6 both days. Perfect for some last minute holiday shopping!

For more goodies from the other shops we mentioned, check out these links:

Bugs and Monsters

Cynically Delicious

The Beast is Back

.retool. photo shoot

I recently finished up a new crop of M-7 messenger bags with tonal stripes. You can find the new bags in the Seat Belt Bags section of our Etsy shop here. To mark the occasion, we decided to do a special photo shoot. We got creative and went to a local park. Here are a few photos. Some of them are pretty cool; others are a bit weird. Enjoy!


Biggie Smalls says, “It’s time to make some wallets!”

Our last mascot was a stick insect named Gustavo. He hung out in the same spot on the back deck for about two weeks. We got a bit used to having him around. And then he was gone.  Before he departed, he was kind enough to sit for this portrait.

Hanging out on the back deck.

Hanging out on the back deck.

We recently came across a stuffed pillow version of Biggie Smalls (!)  and knew instantly that we had found the next .retool. mascot.

The pillow came from a shop called Late Greats that specializes in small pillows of historical figures. Many of them are quite awesome. You can see for yourself here.

Since his arrival, Biggie has been keeping an eye on wallet production.  We’re pretty sure he’ll stick around longer than Gustavo…

Biggie Smalls says, "Get back to work."

Biggie Smalls says, “Get back to work.”

Vendor of the Month!

Oaklandish is awesome!

We are super excited to be Oaklandish‘s Vendor of the Month for September.  We’ll be at the store with a wide selection of .retool. wallets on Saturday, September 14 from noon to 3pm.

We’ll talk about why we make vegan wallets, how we come up with our designs, and how to pick the perfect wallet. We may even bring in some wallets in progress for show and tell.  So if you’re in the area, stop by and say hi!

If you haven’t been to Oaklandish yet, this is the perfect opportunity to check them out. They’ve got a great line of apparel and they carry a bunch of products and designs from over 100 local artists and artisans in their store in downtown Oakland.  In addition, they are super involved in the community. They have free public events and give money to local artists and non-profits through grants, donations, and scholarships. Find out more about their community work here.

The Big One

New Prototype – Large Wallet (aka The Big One)

Work is well under way on our latest prototype and we wanted to share our progress with you.

This one is for the folks who have a lot to carry and want to keep it all organized.

Interior view.

Interior view.

The Background

It’s relatively easy for us to design mini wallets, because that’s we tend to want to use. However, we fully realize that not everyone is looking to cut down on what they cart around every day and that’s just fine with us. The challenging part for us is to try to design a larger piece that fits within our aesthetic.

We’ve been working on a large wallet for ages, (an embarrassingly long time, in fact). Nothing we came up with felt quite right. Our test versions were either too bulky, didn’t seem to have a good mix of features, or the proportions just seemed off.

We think we finally have it figured out and our prototype is ready for field testing. We’re excited!

The Breakthrough(s)

The welt style zipper pocket is lined with ripstop nylon and has a slot behind it.

The welt style zipper pocket is lined with ripstop nylon and has a slot behind it.

We recently had a request for a custom passport wallet – the customer wanted to add a zippered pocket. I played around for a bit and decided to form a pocket on the outside by folding the seat belt webbing and stitching up the sides (she loved the results, by the way – yay!). I liked the design, too and thought it would scale up nicely (our passport wallets aren’t quite long enough to hold paper money unfolded).

The next issue was the interior of the wallet. I’ve been experimenting with bag linings lately and that really came in handy. I decided to essentially line the wallet with a long strip of Cordura® nylon. Then I added a bunch of pockets and slots to the ‘lining’.

The current test version features one lined zippered pocket on the outside perfect for a smartphone, a bunch of change, small cables, some lipstick, or even some pens. There is a slot behind the pocket for tucking notes.

The interior has 6 card slots that will each hold around 3 cards, a lined zippered pocket with a slot behind it for paper money or receipts, and an additional long pocket for paper money, receipts, or even a checkbook.

Two large slots for paper money / receipts plus another lined zippered pocket.

Two long slots plus another lined zippered pocket.

Six card slots help keep your cards organized.

Six card slots help keep your cards organized.

Stay tuned – we hope to have it ready for production later this summer!

The Personal Touch

Custom Orders

We’ve been mentioning custom orders a bit on the blog lately, so we thought we’d show you some of the custom work we’ve done over the past couple of years.

The pieces include custom color combinations of our standard wallets as well as one-off designs with special features.

Adam R. liked our classic card holder, but wanted a version in black, brown, and blue. We were pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out…


Our classic credit card wallet in custom colors.

Adam Z. wanted a long wallet. with a bunch of credit card slots, an ID window, and multiple pockets for checks/cash/receipts.


Custom long wallet.

Donald likes large smartphones.  He wanted a phone case that he could wear on his belt. We came up with this one – the flap wraps around the phone. To get the phone out, you just pull on the flap. Donald’s been back a few times for more cases, most recently when he upgraded to a larger phone.

This design eventually spawned our C-series device cases (no, they don’t have belt loops…).


Custom smart phone case (with belt loop!)

Lauren really liked our Messenger Bags, but wanted an extra feature – a tab and o-ring attached to the inside of the bag.  She was getting ready for a trip abroad and wanted to clip one of our seatbelt wallets to her bag for a little extra security.


Custom Messenger Bag with added tab and o-ring for attaching a wallet.

Nick wanted one of our seatbelt wallets with a matching zipper pouch made out of seatbelt webbing. He also wanted a keyring inside the pouch.  I keep meaning to make more seatbelt zipper pouches…


Zipper pouch with attached keyring.

Ben wanted a very colorful wallet. The outside is gold and orange. The inside is red, gray, and silver. It looks really sharp!



Matt wanted one of our Billfold Wallets with a Zipper Coin Pocket. But wait, there’s a twist. He wanted 2 additional card slots on the outside of the wallet. Voila!


Our Coin Pocket billfold with 2 exterior card slots.

Sergio wanted a wallet with an ID window, side load pockets, a grommet hole for a chain, and an elastic band closure.

Custom billfold with side load pockets, grommet hole, and elastic band closure.


Interior view.

And there you have it – a small sample of some of our custom work.

Contact us at retoolsf@gmail.com if you have a custom project you’ld like us to take on!

Thank you Maker Faire!

retool booth at Maker Faire 2013

Here’s a photo of our booth on Saturday.

Maker Faire 2013 recap

Well, Maker Faire Bay Area 2013 is over and we have just about recovered from the long days and hot sun. We had a great time. A few folks stopped by to show us the wallets they bought from us last year (we’re almost getting used to people taking out their .retool. wallets and waving them at us in public places).

One of the fun things about doing a big show is interacting with people and helping them find the wallet style best suited for their needs.  We love helping folks replace blown out wallets – we take our mission as a wallet rescue squad rather seriously.

This year we saw binder clips, rubber bands, and a hair elastic used as ‘money containment systems’. Our favorite by far, though, was this one made out of an old PBR carton:

Homemade wallet from PBR carton - front

Here’s the front…

Image of homemade PBR wallet

…and here’s the back of the wallet.

It’s a basic sleeve style credit card holder covered in a layer of protective packing tape.

The only problem is that it was almost impossible for its owner to get the cards out. We were lucky enough to witness the process, which involved a considerable amount of shaking, tapping, and pounding.

And now the guy who made the PBR wallet is sporting one of our new Micro Mini Credit Card wallets with a flap that wraps around the cards. To get the cards out, you just pull on the flap – no shaking or pounding required.

The only thing that would make Maker Faire more fun is if we could actually get a chance to explore during the weekend.  Fortunately for us many of the cool vehicles were slowly roaming around the grounds and eventually made their way around to us. Here are a few photos of what we (mostly) missed.

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