Sewing With Cork Fabric

Skill Level: Intermediate

Durable, waterproof and non-fraying, cork fabric is a trendy, fabulous alternative to leather! Perfect for totes, bags and pouches, sewing with cork fabric is fun and easy on any sewing machine. You’ll need a few tips and possibly a couple of special supplies, but professional results are very achievable! We have tips and techniques for you below, along with 5 ideas for cork-friendly starter projects. Once you’ve sewn with cork, you’ll find lots of other ideas and love adding it to your sewing bag of tricks. It’s really quite addictive!

Cork fabric back and front
Image Source: Bluprint

Tips for Sewing with Cork Fabric

Cork is such an easy, stable fabric to sew that many sewists find regular needles, presser feet and sewing machine settings work well. It's wide to make a sample to check your needle, foot, stitch length, tension and iron setting preferences, though. Be sure to make a note of these for your sewing notebook, too!

Cork front and back of seam

And, try these hints for success:

  • Mark your cutting lines on the back of the cork fabric with chalk and use sharp shears or a rotary cutter for cutting.
  • Use non-stick (new from Schmetz), leather or jeans needles in size 80/12 or heavier depending on how many thicknesses you are sewing through.
  • Select a quality all purpose thread like Dual Duty XP for construction and Dual Duty XP Heavy for topstitching.
  • A walking foot, non-stick or roller foot may be your friend if you find the cork is slightly sticky.
  • Clover Wonder Clips are perfect for holding layers together as you sew. Straight pins will leave permanent holes in your cork fabric.
  • Use a regular length stitch for sewing seams and a slightly longer stitch for topstitching.
  • To reduce bulk, whenever possible, layer fabrics for straps instead of creating a tube. Finish with topstitching.
  • Wonder Tape is truly wonderful for keeping zippers in place while stitching cork fabric.
  • Cork fabric can be pressed on medium heat, but does not crease well. Use fabric glue or topstitching to hold your seam allowances in place.
  • For more information on Sewing with Cork Fabric, visit Sew Sweetness for an excellent video, Chris W Designs for a helpful post on cork and Bluprint for tips to make cork sewing super easy.
diy-zip-pouches with cork strip border
Image Source: Polkadot Chair blog

Cork Border Zip Pouch

This darling pouch is a great first project for sewing with cork fabric! Melissa of the Polkadot Chair blog designed this sweet lined pouch with a narrow ½” strip of cork for extra charm. Just two fat quarters makes this lined bag easy and economical. Add a Coats and Clark zipper and fusible fleece and you’ll have a pretty little pouch you can use over and over again. Makes a great gift, too! Click here for the Cork Border Zip Pouch tutorial.

cork wallet
Image Source: Sew Can She blog

Cork Fabric Card Wallet

Once you’ve sewn with a wee strip of cork fabric, you’re ready to make this marvelous all cork Card Wallet. Designed by Caroline of the Sew Can She blog, it’s unlined and super-quick to stitch. Caroline used Embroidery Thread and the triple stitch on her machine for the topstitching that holds the wallet together. If you’re using a regular straight stitch, pick up a spool of Coats and Clark Dual Duty XP Heavy Thread to achieve a similar decorative look. Caroline’s instructions are easy and excellent for clipping the flap and body corners and stitching the hardware that completes it’s professional appearance. Click here for the Cork Card Wallet tutorial.

Cork Duo pouch pattern
Image Source: Lorelei Jayne Etsy shop

Cork Duo PDF Sewing Pattern

There are many beautiful patterns available for sewing with cork fabric and this Cork Duo is terrific. Found on the Lorelei Jayne Etsy Shop, is includes an all cork glasses case and a cork zip pouch accented with cotton fabric. Both projects are designed for beginner to intermediate sewists and the generously sized 8.5” x 5” Mae Pouch is a great stash buster. Priced under $6.00, click here for the Cork Duo PDF pattern.

Crossbody Cork Tote pattern
Image Source: Sew Da Kine patterns

Triple Zip Crossbody PDF Pattern

The designers at Sew Da Kine specialize in sewing with cork and offer wonderful patterns including this fabulous Triple Zip Crossbody bag. Perfect for beginner to advanced sewists, every bag will look different depending on the fabric and cork combinations you choose! The three panels are great canvases for embroidery, applique or other embellishments, too. Priced under $7.00, click here for the Triple Zip Crossbody PDF pattern.

Magnolia Cork Bucket Bag
Image Source: Sallie Tomato patterns

Magnolia Bucket Bag

The Magnolia Bucket Bag is a standout project for sewing with cork fabric! Still quick and easy, the grommets, tassels and drawstring give it a definite boutique look. Pick cork colors and prints you love and enjoy sewing and using this incredibly wonderful bag! Designer Jessica of Sallie Tomato includes links to her YouTube channel and sewing tutorials to build your cork sewingconfidence. Priced under $10.00, click here for the Magnolia Bucket Bag PDF pattern.