Sewing with Cork Fabric - The Ultimate Guide

Cork is a versatile natural material derived from the bark of a cork oak tree. Initially and most commonly known as the wine cork stoppers, the biomaterial is now accessible in the form of a fabric with a variety of colours and prints. It comes in different sizes too. So, plan your project, choose the colour/print and order them in the size you need.
Know how this fabric is made?
Note: these are only cut by expert workers in the forest. Any physical damage done to the tree while cutting is considered a criminal offence under the laws of the Government in Portugal.
A brief 6 step breakdown to show you the process:
  • Opening - vertical cut;
  • Separation - making a drift gap between the external bark and the tree (vertically);
  • Dividing - horizontal cut;
  • Extraction - making a drift gap between the external bark and the tree (horizontally);
  • Removal - the outer bark layer is neatly removed in rectangular forms;
  • Marking - each tree is then marked with the year of the removal. It is then left undisturbed for 9 years;
Guess what??
Cork fabric is a cruelty-free vegan Alternative to animal leather. Cork fabric has a very smooth texture. It can be handled the same way as leather. It is best suited to make bags, wallets, jewelry, accessories and much more. Possibilities are endless and experimenting with cork is super fun.
Properties of Cork
  • It is waterproof
  • Hypoallergenic and anti-static
  • Biodegradable
  • Easy to clean and dry
  • Stain Resistant
  • Durable and flexible
Firstly, when you start any project make sure you keep these pointers in check:
  • Make sure you neatly press iron the cork fabric. Yes! It can be ironed directly. We usually suggest a trial mock test piece and check if the heat is okay. Cork fabric is produced in different qualities and iterations. If the fabric feels fragile, place a thin cotton cloth on top of it and continue;
  • Trace your pattern/panel pieces on the backing side of the fabric. Even though the edge gets concealed in the seam allowance, it is always better to have the markings on the backing side;
  • Always keep your tools sharp and clean. Neatly cut the fabric with a shear. Make sure you do not cut glue tapes or other material with the same shear. Assign a scissor to only cut cork fabric, it gives you the most precise cut pieces;
  • Needle size preferably = 80-90 (universal). Usual leather sewing needles can also be used to use Cork fabric;
  • Use Fabric clips or fine pearl headed pins to hold your pieces together. -Incase of intricate small patch panel designs, glue the pieces together to get more grip and then stitch it together;
  • Use a Teflon footer and runner if possible. Although it is different for each machine. So, try a small sample, set your machine, then start your project;
  • Preferably give ¼” (quarter inch) to ½” (Half an inch) seam allowance to your panels and Topstitch- 1/16” (one by sixteenth inch) to 1/8” (one by eight-inch);
  • Make slash marks on curved edges. Cut out the excess seam allowance on a sharp corner to get a neat crisp corner;
  • Give back-tacks for enforcement;


Your first sew at-home project? We got you covered
If you are wondering where to start. We make tutorials every alternate week with product ideas, patterns and step by step process videos. Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube Channel. Try our patterns or tweak it according to your design needs and you are good to go :)
How to Finish a raw edge in Cork Fabric?
Cork usually frays very less and it is due to the woven backing attached to it. To elevate your product and complete the raw edge:
  • Make a double fold stitch;
  • Buff the raw edge, add a bond solution and give it a neat edge colour;
  • Stitch and turn with a lining fabric;
Cutting Remains
Save the remains from your cut pattern pieces. Trust us on this, it really helps make the most interesting DIYs. Do not throw them away. Recycle them, give them a new unique remake. Whether you plan on making jewellery or a patch project, as you save these pieces over time, it helps broaden your ideas
Hope we helped you with the information you need to get started. Now for the last step, grab some fabrics and have fun :)

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