Sewing with Cork - Ansel Camera Bag WP Blog Header

Sewing with Cork Fabric

Have you ever tried sewing cork fabric?  Cork fabric is gaining in popularity.  Cork is a very interesting material. Cork oak trees are harvested every nine years, once they reach maturity. It doesn’t harm the tree, and the cork bark regrows. Most cork forests are in Portugal and Spain. The year of harvest is marked on the trunk, so each tree isn’t harvested at the wrong time.  Portugal is the world’s top producer of cork and has the largest cork forest in the world. Cork products account for 2.3 percent of the total Portuguese exports. Approximately 17,000 people are employed in the country’s cork manufacturing industries, which process around 70 percent of the world’s cork.  Cork is a sustainable and vegan alternative to sewing with leather.  There are so many great reasons to use cork fabric in your sewing projects!  There are several places to buy cork now.  You can get some at your local shop or online.  For this project, I used cork from Sew Sweetness.  Sara has a great cork selection!  If you plan to purchase in bulk, I can also recommend you check out the cork selection at Sew Da Kine.  Both online shops have excellent quality cork fabrics!  Let me show you how I make strap extenders while sewing cork fabric on my Industrial Sewing Machine!  I tried the Ansel Camera Bag pattern by Sew Sweetness.  Let me tell you about it!

Sewing with Cork - Ansel Camera Bag College

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Ansel Camera Bag Supply List

A special note:  I changed several things on my version of the Ansel Camera Bag.  I used Cork Fabric for both exterior side panels and also the bottom exterior panel.  I made cork straps with fabric accents and also used some fabric selvage for the back hinge piece.  The following supply list is changed to reflect how I made my version of the Ansel Camera Bag.  I mostly used my Juki DU1181n Industrial Sewing Machine.  I also used Bonded Nylon Thread #69 by Superior Thread and size 17 needle.

  • Ansel Camera Bag Pattern
  • 3/4 yard of Exterior Fabric.  I used Tula Pink All Stars Bees in Marigold
  • (1) large piece of cork fabric.  I used this one from Sara’s shop
  • 1 yard of Lining Fabric (I used Tula Pink Pom Pom Marigold)
  • 3/4 yard of Solid Fabric (for straps/binding) – please use quilting cotton (I used Cork Fabric and Tula Pink All Stars Tent Stripe Marigold)
  • 1/2 yard of cheap fabric (I used muslin)
  • 1/2 yard of By Annie’s Soft and Stable
  • 2 yards of 20” wide Pellon SF-101 Shape Flex fusible woven interfacing
  • 1/6 yard of Pellon Peltex #71 fusible one-sided Interfacing
  • (2) Plastic side-release/parachute buckle (they should be able to accommodate 1” wide strap – mine were 2-3/4” tall)
  • Two 1-1/2” metal rectangles – available from Amazon (I used the metal slider and just took out the slider – that’s how I roll!)
  • One 1-1/2” metal slider – available from Amazon
  • 1/2 yard of 1/2” foam (or green craft foam – the foam I used is 24” wide)
  • Hook and loop closure (Velcro), 3/4” wide – 1-1/2 yards

Basic Sewing Supplies Needed

Although the pattern does not call for this, I also added purse feet to the bottom of the bag.  I did a few other “special things to my bag – let me show you!

Sewing with Cork - Ansel Camera Bag 22

I added a total of 6 purse feet to my bag

Sewing with Cork - Ansel Camera Bag 21

I used the selvage from my fabric to make the hinge

I added rivets to my straps

This pattern has 3 available sizes. I made the largest size. It is so roomy and I love the craft foam padding! I have enough room for my camera, two lenses and my cables, straps and literature!

If you decide to make an Ansel Camera Bag yourself, I would highly recommend getting Sara’s video Sara’s video as well.  It’s TOTALLY worth it!  I found myself to be more confident to make this bag after I watched Sara sew the entire project.  She shows you everything you need to know – step by step!

Sewing with cork fabric straps

As I mentioned, I made some alterations to Sara’s original pattern when I made all my straps from cork fabric with cotton accents.  Here are the fabric measurements for that.

Cut the following from Cork Fabric:

  • (1) Strap 66″ x 3″
  • (2) Strap Extenders 3″ x 15.5″
  • (2) Buckle top 2″ x 7.5″
  • (2) Buckle bottom 2″ x 7.25″

Cut the following from your accent cotton:

  • (1) Strap 66″ x 2.75″
  • (2) Strap Extenders 2.75″ x 15.5″
  • (2) Buckle top 1.75′ x 7.5″
  • (2) Buckle bottom 1.75″ x 7.25″

Cork straps with cotton accents assembly

Follow the pattern instructions, but make some slight changes in the strap constructions.  I made this YouTube video to help explain the changes.  I hope you find it helpful.

This is the sixth post in a series I have planned.  Be sure to subscribe to my Newsletter so you can be the first to know when the next installment is released!

Sewing with Cork - Ansel Camera Bag - Sew Sweetness Giveaway

Sara Lawson, with Sew Sweetness, generously donated a $35.00 gift certificate to her online shop.  Thanks Sara!  This contest has ended and I loved to see everyone’s comments about sewing with cork fabric!  The winner has been notified!  Thanks to everyone who participated!

Be sure to check out my most popular posts below!

Happy Sewing!

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96 thoughts on “Sewing with Cork Fabric

  1. Andrea says:

    I love Sew Sweetness patterns. they are so easy to follow. I bought the minikins bundle and just love them! I need to try making something with cork. I have a walking foot!

  2. Jodi McArthur says:

    First time to your blog. It is filled with great information and advice on sewing, one of the lost arts for sure. I love to sew and love to see and read about others who do too. Thanks for your efforts!!

  3. Roxanne says:

    I love the feel of cork. Can’t wait til my favorite is back in stock! Thxs so much for giveaway oppty.

  4. Shweta Oswal says:

    Your camera bag is so amazing!!
    I’m a huge fan of your works,(u know it,I keep bugging u with my msgs on Instagram )and ur just a msg away! I love everything you make
    This is the bag which I’m planning to make in June and I’m so happy to See it live on your post! Now I’m doubly excited for the same!! Thank you for this lovely give away!!
    I have never used cork till now,since it’s not easily available in India but I really wish to use it and feel how it feels sewing cork!

  5. Shweta Oswal says:

    Thank you Sara!
    You are most generous person I’ve met!! Thank you so much for this huge giveaway!
    Sew excited!

  6. Donna says:

    I haven’t sewn with cork yet. I would like to make something for my sister that is a vegan. It will probably be some kind of pouch.

  7. Maria Laurence says:

    Although, I have a few pieces of cork fabric, I have not had the chance to start any projects yet using cork. I also am a bit hesitant and continue to follow discussions/ blogs on the use of this fabric and I am also curious about sewing it on an industrial machine versus a regular sewing machine. Looking for Pros and Cons of using each type of machine to sew cork.

  8. Pam says:

    I have not sewn with cork yet, but I’m planning to! I loved all the extras that you added to the Ansel Camera bag. I will be returning to this post again and again for inspiration.

  9. Cindy Henderson says:

    Your blog about using cork for the camera bag inspires me to try cork. What a beautiful bag and I love your modifications.

  10. Sue Tuttle says:

    I have cork from Sara’s shop….now to dig in to using it. Glad for the info on making my own straps

  11. Allison CB says:

    I bought a small piece of cork to try out at the last quilt show I went to…it is looking at me saying give it a try!!! Thanks for the info!

  12. Sheryl @sewhappy17 says:

    I love your blog! You are a wealth of information! I would love to make something out of cork, just got to do it! I currently sew with oilcloth.

  13. Angela Bowling says:

    I have seen photos on Instagram of things using the cork and they all look so cool. If I tried it, I would use it first on something easy, such as a zippered bag. It looks like it would be fun to try.

  14. Kathyh says:

    I first saw Jessica from SewDaKine using cork and immediately ordered it from her. It is so easy to sew, however, sometimes, I employ a few techniques to make it easier to sew. I sew on a pfaff, so I probably would not have these problems/solutions on an industrial machine. It depends on the particular cork and sometimes the pattern: I find it useful to utilize my teflon foot so my cork feeds evenly for even stitching. Other times, I use my regular foot. Double sided tape (DST) and wonder clips help hold folded edges/seam allowances straight. Also, lengthening your stitch length helps as well. I usually use a size 14 needle -microtex or universal.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  15. Kerie Harris says:

    I haven’t seen with cork yet, but I’d like to make a wallet! Thank you for your blog and this opportunity! ?

  16. @sewhappy17 says:

    I love your blog! You are a wealth of information! I would love to make something out of cork, just got to do it! I currently sew with oilcloth.

  17. Pat Armbrister says:

    I’ve made an eye glass case, a luggage tag and purse tabs with cork. Getting ready to tackle a purse with cork.

  18. Susan says:

    I have used cork for the Roxy, Miss Maggie and the EDT. Love working with cork. Needle goes through it like butter. Folds nicely, making projects easier.

  19. Bonnie Fredmund says:

    I know nothing about sewing cork fabric whether you use a lining or stabilizer? It would be great to see a video of a bag being made start to finish using cork and vinyl.

  20. Christina says:

    I can’t wait to get started…..just need the cork ??. Thank you so very much for being so detailed in your blogs, it really helps to understand why and how you do the things you do, which in turn helps me do things the right way the first time…..instead of ripping, ick. Lots of beautiful projects. I want to be able to do that ?

  21. Jennifer Wright says:

    I haven’t sewn with cork fabric yet but I would love too. I have Sara’s Train Case patterns and cork would look really neat on those. Have a great day!

  22. Amanda M says:

    I’ve made a Powte purse from XOXO Lauren it was so much easier sewing with cork then vinyl. I love using it. Just wish it wasn’t so expensive. Beautiful camera bag! I love purple!

  23. MIchaeleen says:

    Oh my…My two favorite makers collaborating! I found Sara on YouTube about a month ago and am obsessed with her videos. And I have been following you through email newsletters, and Instagram forever. (I love your Instagram stories btw)

    I am so intrigued by cork and really want to make Sarah’s Tudor Bag for a trip I have coming up in September. It’s so versatile and I think cork would be a beautiful feature on the straps and the bottom.

    Your camera case is beautiful!! Everything I’ve seen you make looks so nicely made. Awesome job!!

  24. Sarah Riley says:

    I love your camera bag! It looks fantastic! I have not sewn with cork yet, but am dying to. The first thing I want to try making is Sara’s dicotech clutch. It would be divine in her rainbow cork. I’m saving up to buy me some. I also love the wine colored cork, like you used in your camera bag. Such a gorgeous color.

  25. Nita Hulbert says:

    Sewing with cork fabric is intriguing. I’d probably start with a zipper bag for make up or pencil bag. Your creations are lovely! I look forward to your daily Instastories. ?

  26. Terri says:

    I see most of my bags with cork fabric. I love the feel and ease of sewing with it. I was first introduced to it buy purchasing through Sew Sweetnesson Etsy and have been hooked ever since. Thank you for all your great instructions and time sharing your work.

  27. Sarah Bailey says:

    The bag is awesome! I haven’t even heard of sewing with cork fabric until I read your blog. I will have to try it sometime. It looks cool on your bag.

  28. Danielle says:

    The corners are so smooth, I have not had that quality with the other cork I have used from my local shop. I look forward to trying some of the cork that Sara stocks.

  29. Elizabeth Piczko says:

    I sew with cork all the time, like it a lot better than vinyl, usually as accents but more recently the whole bag in cork.

  30. Tamara Karlin says:

    I Love sewing bags & pouches with cork! Thank you for this demo. I’m going to use it for the strap on my Aeroplane bag.

  31. Terry Simonton says:

    I have sewn with cork in bag making, it’s a very cool fabric, but it cracked when I folded it into the handles, what am doing wrong, is this normal for cork or is my cork faulty ?

    • Nicole Moore says:

      Since Cork has become increasingly popular, you can find it for sale in more places. It’s important to know that not all cork is good quality. The same could be said for any type of material. It is common for cork to crack or peel near the selvage edge. If you have cork that is cracking or peeling in other places, I would recommend contacting the company that sold it to you. I have not had that personally happen to me, but I have only sewn with cork that was sourced from the 2 companies I’ve referenced in my blog post. I hope this helps and please let me know if you have more questions.

  32. Rhonda Tenderholt says:

    I have never sewn with cork. I’m a new sew-er. I’d love to be entered into this giveaway. Thank you for sharing how to sew with cork. This is a gorgeous bag and love the fabric.

  33. Barbara Carrubba says:

    I have made 3 bags and 2 wallets with cork fabric. I love the way it sees! Now that I have my new Juki TL2010Q, I like it even more!!

  34. Colleen says:

    I haven’t sewn on cork yet. I just purchased some. Not brave enough to cut into it yet. I keep seeing such beautiful things made from it.

  35. Sarah Cinocco says:

    I have sewn a few items with cork. I love Sara’s cork. If loce to try some rainbow cork for my next project.

  36. Amanda Christensen says:

    I’ve been wanting to give cork fabric a try. Thank you for all the great tips! Your camera bag is gorgeous!

  37. Laura says:

    I’ve made mostly The Triple Zip crossbody bags, pattern by Sew Da Kine, with my cork. I’m also in the process of sewing a wallet, The Penny Inn by ChrisWDesigns, with a cork accent. I have SO much planned for all the beautiful cork I have on hand. Now all I need is time and focus, lol. 😉

    Working with cork is not only easy, but I LOVE the colors and style it adds to bags. It really steps things up several notches. It’s wonderful and a must try for every interested seamstress/sewist.

  38. Pauline says:

    I loved reading about cork and where it’s harvested and the many ways it can be used! Thanks for sharing with us! I have never sewn with cork, but I am particularly intrigued and would love to learn!

  39. Darlene says:

    Your blog is fabulous! So helpful. I’m a frequent customer of SewDaKine and have made several Triple Zips using her cork. I’ve also tried some of the upholstery grade cork and found it does not wear as well as what Jessica Cruzan offers. It’s okay, much cheaper, but definitely want to use for accents only. Not good for corners or places that get lots of wear. Thanks for sharing information on industrial machines.

  40. Cindy Dahlgren says:

    I would love to use cork on a purse for myself. You used an industrial machine, but I’m going to assume that you can use a regular sewing machine too.

  41. Jennifer J. says:

    I LOVE sewing work cork! I use it as an accent on bags and wallets. I have that camera bag pattern and that might just be my next project. Yours turned out beautifully!

    • Nicole Moore says:

      I mostly used my Juki DU1181n Industrial Sewing Machine. I also used Bonded Nylon Thread #69 by Superior Thread and size 17 needle. If you are using a domestic sewing machine, you can simply use a jeans needle.

  42. Amy says:

    You are amazing.Thank you for the chance to win. And no I haven’t seen with cork yet. I want to after seeing all your beautiful bags.

  43. Bec says:

    Would love to try sewing with cork- havnt attempted yet. The fabric lining with the cork strap to me looks very finished and polished- ? love it.

  44. Kathy says:

    I just sewed my first back with cork!! It is like butter sewing!!! I’d like to use it more. Looks so pretty! Thank you for all the great info!

  45. Robin Rodgers says:

    I have never heard of cork fabric. Wow! I would love to try it like you did as an accent on a cute bag.

  46. Allison says:

    I have been wanting to try cork for years!! I make bags of all sorts and cork, as you’ve shown here, is a beautiful part of bag design! I win this, I will bring incorporating some!!

  47. Kristina Hein says:

    I just recently learned that cork fabric existed! I have not made anything yet. I hope to try it out soon on a tote bag!

  48. Anita Speaks says:

    I just bought cork to try one of Sara Lawson’s aeroplane bags. Thank you for all the great tips. So many pretty colors, so little time!!

  49. Christine M says:

    I have not ever sewn with cork fabric but would definitely like to give it a try. I would use it for the bottom of a purse.

  50. Tara C. says:

    What a gorgeous bag! I have been wanting to make one myself, and I just might have the courage to do it after reading your post! Thank you so much for all the tips!

  51. Kare s says:

    Cork with fabric backing irons and sews easily. I did wool applique on cork and lined a snap frame purse. Love it!

  52. Kellie Campbell-Mulkey says:

    I have never sewed with cork but would love to try. I would like to make a bag something like the camera bag you showed. Thanks for the chance to win.

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