Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Necessary Clutch Wallet vs the Penny Inn - Wallet/Clutch showdown!

Recently someone asked which of these was better and I realized it might be something interesting to compare.  I've made 9 of the NCW's so far, but only one of the Penny Inn's, but I've used both for extended periods of time.

Side by side, you can see the width is similar, Penny Inn has a squarer shape so a wider bottom, but about the same at the top.

Penny Inn is slightly taller, but NCW is slightly wider.  Not quite as much as this picture makes it look, but wider.

They both offer similar features, lots of card slots, storage area, can hold a phone (reasonably sized ones, not giant mini tv ones), a flap for security, wrist or shoulder strap options, zippered pockets.... but they aren't exactly alike.

The NCW has a ton of modifications that people have made over time, since it's been out for a few years now.  If you want to add a back zipper, inside snap to keep your phone in place, extra card slots, extra pockets, id pocket, flap modifications, or just about anything else, there is probably a tutorial or guide to help you!  There is a facebook group dedicated JUST to the NCW and it has thousands of members, so you know it's a good pattern!

Double zippers, 12 card slots, 2 slip pockets behind each of the card slots

The cons of the NCW - some domestic machines hate sewing through all the layers to make the accordion folds on the pockets.  (to overcome that, some do rivets through that area instead, which totally works)  For me, I didn't like the original method of installing the d-rings for the straps, I felt like it flipped stuff forward and out too easily.  Again, someone came up with a different method to install the D-rings that fixed that issue.

The PI (Penny Inn) is a new pattern so there haven't been as many changes, but there is already one variation that the designer put on her website for changing some of the card slots for another zippered pocket.  And the PI has pockets.  Like a million!  Ok, not that many, but the original pattern has 3 zippered pockets, 20 card pockets, an ID pocket, 2 slip pockets plus dividers that can be used as more pockets.  A snap on the inside keeps it from popping open all the way, unless you want it to.

Main Compartment - 2 zippered pockets, 8 card slots, storage behind the card slots and in front of the bottom zipper

Front pocket snapped shut
12 card slots, ID pocket, zippered pocket, slip pocket behind the bottom card slots

Stuffed full of the cards I don't use as often...I did mess up the card slots a bit, so the bottom ones are shallower than they should be...but everything stays in!
The Cons of the PI - This is not an afternoon sew, unless you plan to spend the ENTIRE afternoon doing it, into the night.  Once you've made a few you will probably be a little faster, but there is a lot of detail to the wallet and you need to concentrate.  Mark EVERYTHING!  The instructions are very detailed, but there are a lot of them!  It's like a jigsaw puzzle and you need to put the pieces together in order.  It can be intimidating for a new sew-ist, but taking everything step by step really helps.

I've been using my PI since June, so 4 months, and before that I used the NCW for well over a year.  I love them both, but I think I would be more likely to make the NCW to sell because they are faster and after making the PI, the NCW seem almost simple!  I use mine as wallets, but I did take my Pirate bunny NCW on a business trip and used it to walk around downtown Annapolis for a week - it was great for that!  My PI doesn't have the straps, so I can't comment on that part, but I assume it will be very similar to the NCW.  Both clutch/wallet patterns allow you to end up with a great finished product, so really it depends on how card crazy you are and which style you like better.

I am pocket obsessed, so I really love the PI for all the options I have for stashing my cards.  I carry debit and credit cards, tons of loyalty cards, business cards, insurance cards for the whole family...plus a checkbook.  I also carry stamps (yes, people still mail stuff...like bills), receipts I mean to file, cash, more cash (that has to be separate) that my kids want to have on hand when they find that 'perfect' toy they've been saving for, and random other things that find their way into my wallet.

I hope this helps someone decide on which clutch they want to make, and I'd love to hear which one you like better!


  1. This is a great comparison review, thank you! One comment though unrelated to the review. I love the bamboo background but maybe go with a solid background or turn the background opacity was down to maybe 10-20%. It is very difficult to see the wording. I had to keep scrolling back and forth until I could find a clear enough spot to see the words.
    You did give very good info though. I have made the NCW but just saw this pattern on another site. Google led me here. Thank you so much.

    1. Are you viewing it mobile or on a desktop? I haven't checked the mobile lately, but on my computer it is all on a solid white background with the bamboo only outside the actual content. I'll look into it, thanks for letting me know!

    2. I am viewing it on a tablet. The tablet has only the bamboo as the background.

  2. Love the fabric and all on the double zips :D

    1. Thanks! I wish I could take credit for the idea, but there are so many great ideas and mods on the NCW Addicts group on Facebook!

  3. I was going to do a video on The Penny Inn so I have a couple mostly cut out and ready to start. When you say many pattern pieces and lot of detailed instructions, you aren't kidding. A real brain teaser project. One of these days I will find time to get back to getting one done. Great comparison review.

  4. Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks.
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