Sunday, 10 February 2019

Cork Handbag: McCall's 7851

This is my first attempt at making a handbag and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I'm not quite sure if it's the pattern or the cork fabric that has me more smitten at the end result.

Let's talk about the pattern, McCall's 7851, first. It's a keeper. The pattern pieces fit together beautifully. The only complaint, and it's a minor one, is that there is no mention on the pattern envelope that the fusible interfacing is optional. This information is listed inside the envelope on the pattern directions. It would be nice for us Canadian shoppers who are not given the inner contents of a pattern, until it's paid for and we're on our way out the door, to have access to this information via the back of the envelope. Goodness knows there is ample room for the word "optional." That said, I did use interfacing and I'm glad I did.  

I also found it curious that the list of fabric choices only mention synthetic leather or synthetic suede and I found this quite sad. I'm not a fan of the synthetic stuff. And you can still find the real stuff. I know it's trendy to be vegan and a push to the synthetic materials but no one seems to be talking about the environmental impact of all this synthetic materials.  

Yet my cork fabric does have a synthetic backing. Other than that and the fusible interfacing, it's made with natural fabrics. The cork I found Marshall Fabrics along with the 100% cotton canvas I used for the lining.  

Sewing the cork to the suede pieces for the loop handle was tricky in that I couldn't use pins.  Instead, I used basting tape to hold the pieces together. I stitched the bag with a size 100 Klasse leather needle and denim thread throughout. I thought that a roller foot would work best but I was wrong and it was the walking foot that made things come together smoothly.  

Since I'm not rolling in the in money, using basting tape throughout this projects was a luxury indulgence that I wasn't willing to make.  

Clothes pins worked out to be a more economical and practical choice.

It worked. I'm sure paper clips would work out as well.  The sales person who cut the fabric said she used hair clips when she made her cork wallet. 

Have you sewn with cork?   

The Stats

Fabric:  0.40 cork fabric 

Lining:  0.4 100% cotton canvas

Handles:  21.5 x 28 cm 100% Pigskin suede leather piece 

Interfacing:  0.8 metres of fusible  

PatternMcCall's 7851

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Anything I could get my hands on weights, pins, scissors, cutting table, sewing machine, screw driver, tailor's chalk, basting tape, clothes pins, thread, walking foot, leather needle, hand needle, roller foot, iron and ironing board. 

Happy Sewing! 


  1. I'm with you on wanting to use biodegradable materials. Not easy, is it? Cork is advertised as a natural material, but like you I noticed that all the cork sold for sewing has a manmade backing. You wouldn't be able to separate the cork part from the synthetic part in order to compost it, for instance. I might try a home dec fabric, or waxed canvas.
    Anyway, your bag looks great! Hope you enjoy using it.

    1. Thank you, I'm taking it for a test run today.


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