Saturday, 16 February 2019

Sewing With Cork Fabric

I've been asked a lot of questions about sewing with cork since posting photos of the handbag. So here's a bit of information I've gathered that might help you decide if you want to consider a project with this fabric.

My Top Reasons Why to Sew with Cork

  1. It's crazy light-weight.  Did you know that 50% of cork's volume is air?  This is the lightest weight handbag I've ever owned and my back is thanking me.  
  2. Despite the fact that it's light-weight, it's also durable.  Cork's resistance to moisture means that this fabric will likely last longer than any other fabric that I'm aware of and durability is good for the environment. 
  3. It's sustainable.  Did you know that the cork trees are never cut down for their bark and cork is the only tree that regenerates stripped bark. The bark can be harvested every nine to ten years. 
  4. This is the perfect fabric for people with allergies (moi!) because of it's unique honeycomb cellular structure the surface of cork is antistatic, antimicrobial and water resistant.  
  5. Cork is naturally fire resistant, containing a waxy fire-resistance substance called suberin. Gotta love nature.   
  6. Cork's beauty is unique.  No two pieces of bark are the same. 
  7. Cork is an Eco-friendly product.  According to the World Wildlife Fund, "cork oak forests support one of the highest levels of biodiversity" (second to the Amazonian Rainforest) "among forest habitats, as well as the highest diversity of plants found anywhere in the world."  
  8. Cork fabric production is chemical free with a non-toxic sealant. I've discovered that the backing can be made up of natural or a blend of man-made and natural fibres.  
  9. Cork is a low maintenance fabric that can be cleaned with water and soap.  
  10. And it's easy to sew.  

Where to buy cork fabric?  

I found out that Northwest/Marshall Fabrics had cork fabric in stock via Instragram.  But cork fabric has been on the scene for many year.  Just not locally.  A few years ago a read an article in Vogue Patterns magazine about sewing with cork fabric.  Even though it wasn't until I actually was able to see and touch it that I was sold.  I'm a reluctant online fabric shopper.  I like to feel a fabric before I commit.  

There are many online sources for cork fabric as well.  Here are a sample:  

Habitus Cork Fabrics offers a unique line of cork fabric sold in rolls of 10 yards each.  The backing on their cork fabric selection is 100% cotton.  

Flare Fabrics offers cork sold by the piece, pre-packaged cuts and half yard options.  The backing on their cork fabric selection is 15.5% polyester / 29.5% cotton / 55% polyurethane.  

Sew Sweetness offers a large selection of cork by the piece.  No additional information on the backing. 

Printed cork fabric from Thachery.  

Thachery Thoughtful Products offers cork by the piece, yard and rolls.  The backing on most of their cork selection are 50% polyurethane, 35% cotton and 15% polyester. They also carry cork piping.

How hard was it to sew with cork?  

Easy and I'm not kidding. I don't know why, maybe because it was a new-to-me material, but I thought it would have been difficult to sew.  It wasn't.  Honest, it's just like sewing any other fabric, except for velvet.  Sewing velvet was tricky. But I digress...

And it was easy to cut as it was to sew.  I made my handbag using my Janome 4120 QDC sewing machine and the walking foot.  I had a roller foot and gave that a try because one side of the straps were cut out of suede but it was a waste of time.  The walking foot worked the best.

Okay, there was one part of the construction that was different than sewing any other fabric. Pinning.  Just like pinning velvet doesn't work, cork does require some special consideration in this aspect. It's not recommended to pin your cork fabric and instead clipping works best.  Use whatever you feel most comfortable with, if you have those fancy quilting clips, hair clips, paper clips or if have clothes pins hanging around, they will all work.

What needles and type of thread were used?  

I was sewing suede with this project and chose a size 100 Klasse leather needle on my sewing machine.  And I chose denim thread for no other reason than the colour matched best. I kept using these throughout the project since my interfaced lining was a canvas fabric. But sample sewing with just the cork fabric proved that a universal needle and regular cotton thread was sufficient for successful sewing.


I finger-pressed my seams and it worked fine.  I also tested the iron to my cork fabric since I was working with canvas as my lining.  No damage to report.  It must be that fire-resistant property that allows it to take the heat.

I think that covers it.  Happy Sewing!

1 comment:

  1. Cute bag. I recently discovered cork fabric too ie last week. Bought a Smokey grey it's now a Necessary clutch


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