Posted on Leave a comment

Top 10 things to look for when buying a leather wallet

Bedford handmade leather wallet

I often get asked what to look for when buying a leather wallet so I put together this easy guide to help you.

(1) What do you need the wallet to carry?

This might sound basic, but this fundamental question is essential. So to expand on this question for you:

  • Do you actually need all of those cards in your wallet?  
  • Do you need to carry all those receipts? (Let’s be honest you’ll only go and shred them when your wallet is too full anyway, the important ones are already on the fridge!)
  • Do you carry coins, if so, roughly how many on average? (If you are lugging around 5p’s or less, get a charity jar in your kitchen and donate them to a good cause instead?)  
  • Do you carry notes, again how many on average?

My best advice, open your wallet and take out everything, and I mean everything and put it all on your kitchen table. I want you to move the things you have used in the last few months to a ‘keep’ pile on one side and move everything else to the other, yes even that Blockbuster membership card.  

You know what to do next…

Now you have had a good clearout you could move onto that kitchen drawer we all have. You know the one! 😉

(2) Where do you carry your wallet?

This naturally follows on from the first question, but now you know what you actually need to carry, you need to work out physically where you carry it.  

Do you carry your wallet in your: 

  • Trouser pocket
  • Coat/jacket pocket
  • Bag

This dictates the maximum size of the wallet you can comfortably carry. A small wallet gets lost at the bottom of your bag, and a big coat wallet doesn’t fit in your jeans.  

(3) Design of wallet

The old phrase ‘keep it simple’ is still with us for an excellent reason. The more things you add, the more it is likely to go wrong. A minimalist design might sound boring, but it works for a reason. Plastic card inserts just break, fact. 

As to the physical design of a bi-fold, tri-fold or simple cardholder as well as horizontal or vertical cards, that is now just a personal choice.  

(4) Where is it manufactured

This is one that most people don’t think about because most manufacturers don’t want you to. Let me take you through a few things to consider.

Made in the UK. This is more than just a marketing term. There are many reasons to buy things made in the UK. The most common ones are:

  • Staff are paid fairly.
  • Safety laws are followed.
  • Local taxes are paid.
  • Quality can be controlled much better. 
  • Lower supply chain risk.
  • Lower transportation impact.
  • Reduced delivery times.
  • Your money goes back into the local economy.

But there are other more subtle ones too, but no less critical.  

  • We keep our traditional skills alive. (You may not know, but this home of cricket can no longer hand make cricket balls. We have lost this expertise in the UK, many more are critical and endangered.) 
  • The traditional craft of leatherworking will be maintained and supported by you as a fundamental part of our country’s living heritage.
  • You maintain and support the amazing supply chain of material manufacturers. 

(5) Type of leather

There are 2 main methods to produce leather:

  1. Chrome tanning – 80% of the leather in the world is known as ‘chrome-tanned’. This means that the animal hides are tanned using a chemical (such as chromium sulfate), and it takes about a day to covert the hides into leather. It is cheap and quick to make and allows a wide range of colours in the final leather. The downside to this is the fact that chromium sulfate is an extremely toxic chemical to both the environment and the tannery workers and in some countries, where there are less than adequate checks and measures.    
  2. Vegetable tanning – Vegetable tanning (or veg-tan) uses the naturally occurring tannins, from bark and leaves of many plants to convert the hides into leather. This process takes several weeks to months depending on various factors and is very reliant on the skills of the tanner. The downsides are that Veg-tan leather needs to be broken in, and sometimes the colours aren’t as vivid as chrome tanned. Veg-tanned leather will also develop a patina, and it will improve over time, growing darker and softer with use which means it will become as unique, and as an individual, as you are.  

Vegan ‘leather.’

I’m not counting vegan leather as a type of leather as technically leather is tanned animal hides and skins. While great strides have been made in creating a valid vegan alternative to leather, we are still a long way off in my view. The reason I say this is because of all the main options so far are actually plastic and these come with their own host of environmental and human issues. That said there are some fascinating possibilities using mushrooms, cactus, fruit and even flowers!

PU leather or pleather

These are other terms you will see used, and these aren’t leather at all but are plastic. PU leather is a polyurethane coating on a cloth backing and pleather is a portmanteau of “plastic leather”. They have a place, and that in my view is in the bin.  

(6) Leather quality

Does your current wallet say Genuine Leather? 

That’s great but sorry to be the one to tell you but tell you got sucked in by a marketing term.  

A cowhide is about 5-6 mm thick, so it is standard to split it into several layers. Off the top comes full-grain and top-grain, which are the best layers as they have all the strength, and they are used by high-quality manufacturers. The low-quality bottom layers or ‘split’, as it is sometimes known is then painted and finished to look uniform. This is ‘Genuine leather’, the waste layer.  

Full-grain and top-grain are very similar but both have exceptional quality. Full-grain has the original grain from the animal, and top grain has had these sanded or buffed off and looks more uniform.  

Amazingly there is actually one quality level below genuine leather, and that’s bonded leather. (Yes, think chipboard)

(7) Thread and stitching

The thicker the thread, the more it costs to make. Not just in materials but in labour. If you find hand saddle-stitched, then you know you have found something exceptional as this can only be done by a skilled artisan, not a machine.

You can also be guaranteed that the seams will never fail; therefore, you will never need to buy a new wallet.  

(8) Edges

This is a good one to look out for as there are a few ways to finish the edges:

  • Folding – this is where the edges are thinned and then folded over and stitched. If this is with chrome-tanned leather, then it is often done to hide the imperfect edges.  
  • Painting – again, often used to conceal the real edges of the leather. Be careful as cheap paint can crack over the life of the product and start to look really horrible.  
  • Burnishing – traditionally used on veg-tanned leather. It is not possible to burnish chrome tanned leather! The best manufacturers will use beeswax to finish the edges as this lightly melts into the leather and bends and flexes with it.  
  • Raw – sorry, but in my view, this is just plain lazy on the part of the manufacturer. If you see fuzzy or wispy edges, run. They couldn’t even be bothered to finish it…

(9) Lining

A lining is usually there for one of 2 reasons, aesthetics or hiding something. If the wallet is stamped genuine leather (see above), then it is more than likely hiding something.

(10) Guarantee

How long was the guarantee on your current wallet?  

1 year? The legal minimum?  

Always look for an heirloom or lifetime guarantee.  

If a company can provide this extraordinary level of warranty, then they are able and willing to stand behind their products. They can only do this if they are using the best materials and skilful crafters to produce those products.  

You know you’re buying the best.

Bonus point:

(11) Colour Options

You are unique and individual. Why not choose something as unique and special as you.  

Keeping up to date:

I hope that this guide helped you to know what to look for when buying a leather wallet. If you would like to be kept up to date on all our new products, special offers, flash sales and new information like this then join the email list below. (Don’t worry, we won’t spam you, promise)

Success! You're on the list.
Posted on Leave a comment

Walnut Tree Leather Reviews

Recently we had to migrate to our new website service. Whilst we think it is so much better for you and it helps us on the backend. One of the things we were frustratingly unable to transfer was our large number of previous positive Walnut Tree Leather reviews.

I understand only too well how important these are to people as they give further proof to you that we are good as we say we are.

We were left in a position where the only external reviews we had left were our Google and Facebook Walnut Tree Leather reviews. Whilst these are lower in number than the ones on our old website, they are both at 5 stars!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

So please have a look at both to hear what people say about us. Do please leave us a review when you buy something either on this website or on Google or Facebook!

Walnut Tree Leather reviews on Google My Business
Walnut Tree Leather reviews on Facebook



Posted on Leave a comment

Which are better machine or hand-sewn products?

Hand sewn leather

Hand vs. machine stitch

One of the characteristics that make a Walnut Tree Leather product very special is that we currently offer hand-stitching on all of our products. Here I’ll to explain which are better machine or hand-sewn leather products and what it the difference means for you.

Let’s start by comparing a single line of stitching on a finished product.

When you use a sewing machine, that row of stitching requires two separate threads that interlock around each other in what is known as a “locking stitch”. Whereas, a hand-stitched line uses a single thread with needles on either end. The thread runs back and forth on either side of the leather in what is called a “saddle stitch”.  (This is different to a “running stitch” which goes back and forth just once with a single needle and there are visually gaps alternating along the length of the seam.)

So, which is better?

Technically speaking, the hand-stitched piece that uses the “saddle stitch” provides a stronger and more durable construction than the machine sewn piece that uses the “lock stitch“. 

Hand vs. machine stitch comparison
(The above image is from ” The Art of Hand Sewing” by Al Stohlman)

A lock stitch isn’t locked together, it is interlocked with a second thread on the backside of the seam.  With machine-sewn leather items, the thread will often sit proud of the surface.  Leather, even poor quality, is much stronger and wear-resistant than thread.  So as you put and pull your wallet into/from your pocket or have it moving round in your bag then if just one loop of a lock stitch wears and becomes broken, the other side will automatically be loosened and start to unravel.  Often this process of unravelling will continue until the entire seam or product is ruined. 

However, in a hand-stitched piece, the thread can not unravel and the leather pieces will not separate from each other.   It’s also easy to see that hand-stitched items are designed to last a lifetime. 

We also take this one step further so that as each needle passes we knot the threads, to doubly secure them.  

Like many things there is no right or wrong answer and this also applies to the type of stitching. That said you can get problems when the incorrect type of stitching has been used on a product in the wrong place.

Function and design

For us, the look of the finished product is just as important as the construction of it. After all, our products are meant to be worn and displayed. Using the tools, materials and techniques of hand-stitching allows us to make very deliberate choices when we design a piece. 

The size and type of thread we use along with the stitches-per-inch and technique help to contribute to the overall aesthetic of a product.  As designers, we take pride in the overall design of a finished product. As artisans, our personal pride rests in a beautifully executed line of stitching.

What does it mean for you? 

We don’t look to cut corners and reduce costs to increase our profits. Our primary goals are #1: your happiness and #2: being able to honour the Heirloom warranty provided with all our products. It’s that simple.

Not many manufacturers say this but we want you to never have to buy another leather product.

We look forward to being able to help you find what you are looking for.

Kind regards,


Keeping in touch:

I hope that this guide helped you to know which are better: machine or hand-sewn products. If you would like to be kept up to date on all our new products, special offers, flash sales and new information like this then join the email list below. (Don’t worry, we won’t spam you, promise)

Success! You're on the list.