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Sewing with Cork Fabric

Sewing with Cork fabric

The cork used for this article was kindly supplied by Hantex, wholesale suppliers of cork fabric. To find a stockist, visit

Cork fabric is an attractive fabric made from real cork that comes from the bark of a tree. It is a sustainable product and is backed with a cotton fabric to give it stability. You can buy it in a variety of colours for your sewing projects.

Cork fabric can be used very successfully as an alternative to leather so it’s super to use for making bags and purses as it is waterproof, soft to handle, stain-resistant and vegan too! The other fabulous things about cork are that you don’t need interfacing, you don’t need to press it and you can leave the edges raw as there is no fraying with cork!

Cork also sews up well when combined with quilting weight cotton as in the project I made.


Sewing project using cork fabric

I decided to test out the cork fabric by making a travel wallet project designed by The Littlest Thistle – it was featured in Quilt Now issue 48 and you can buy a back issue here.


Here are some tips and techniques that I found useful when sewing with cork.

Cutting cork fabric

Don’t mark your cork fabric unless you can easily rub away the markings – use chalk to mark a pattern piece on the wrong side of the cork fabric. Take extra care when cutting out your pattern pieces. Do not extend your cuts beyond the pattern piece as you won’t be hiding any extra cuts within a seam – you leave the edges raw.


Can I pin cork fabric?

It is recommended that you avoid using pins to hold your cork fabric in place as the pin marks will show – use Clover Wonder Clips in their place. 


Sewing seams on cork fabric

 As you can’t press your seams flat, topstitch the seams open or, if this is not possible, glue your seam allowances down with a branded fabric glue allowing time for the glue to dry before moving on with the project. Otherwise just leave them as they are!

You can also temporarily hold a zip or other material (such as the vinyl used for this project) in place before you sew using a small amount of fabric glue.


Which needle?

You can sew thin layers of cork with a Universal (80/12) needle but for this particular project, I decided to use a Topstitch needle (size 90/14) as the project required quite thick layers of sewing – this was perfectly ok to use for the complete project. You could use a Jeans or Leather needle but I suggest using one at least size 90/14. 

Sew with a normal length stitch when sewing with cork, or whatever your project suggests.

Try a sample piece before you tackle your main project.


Which foot should I sew with?

Roller foot for sewing cork

I used a Roller Foot to help the cork move smoothly under the sewing machine. It has a tendency to stick a bit as you sew but this foot helps to smoothly roll the cork fabric along. You could also try a Walking Foot or a Teflon Foot as alternatives.


Adding fastenings

I used a pre-made leather buckle for securing my travel wallet and sewed this on by hand which was very easy using a normal hand sewing needle and standard thread. You can use rivets in the usual way by making a hole and applying the rivet as you would normally.


Sew a cork wallet

Enjoy sewing with this interesting fabric!


Find technique guides for sewing with other materials, such as leather, jersey fabrics, canvas, lycra, wool and more in our techniques section. Just click the fabric handling tag.