Working with Cork- here’s some tips!

So…

Cork has been on the Market for several years now. And while I’ve always been fascinated by this material, I’ve never really felt inclined to try to use it because it always struck me as a little thick and unwieldy to work well in our designs.

But an odd thing happened on the way to the Quilt Festival in Houston last year. It’s not uncommon for fabric houses to ask me to make samples for them in new fabrics making their debut at the Market, but this time I was asked to make up a sample in a brand new type of cork which I was told was as thin and pliable as quilter’s cotton. I was skeptical, but I agreed to give it a go with our GateWay design which was also debuting at the 2019 Quilt Market!

But an odd thing happened on the way to the Quilt Festival in Houston last year. Here’s the deal… it’s not at all uncommon for various Fabric Houses to ask me to make samples for them in new fabrics making their debut at the Market, but this time I was asked to make up a sample in a brand new type of cork which I was told was as thin and pliable as quilter’s cotton. I was skeptical, but I agreed to give it a go with our GateWay design which was also making its debut at the 2019 Quilt Market!

But when the cork arrived I was shocked to see that the cork really WAS as thin as fabric and SO pliable, and SO easy-to-work-with that it was hard to believe it was cork! It actually didn’t look or behave like any cork I’d ever seen on the market before. I liked it and the sample I created for this company SO much that I made a duplicate sample for myself for display in our booth!

Still though, I was hesitant to list cork as a recommended material for the GateWay pattern because I wondered how well this thin cork would hold up to the wear n’ tear normally inflicted on handbag exteriors. Would the cork crack and peel away at the bag corners? Would it hold up to the stress inflicted by the slide buckle on the bag strap?

Well, there was only one way to find out, right? I decided to carry one of these bags and give it the true “gorilla test”! But here’s the deal… After carrying it for four months of “extreme usage”, I’ve yet to see anything wrong with the bag exterior! This new cork was the real deal!

That’s when I decided right up front to try using this new thin cork for our next design so that if it worked out as well as it had for the GateWay design, I could list it officially as a recommended exterior material!

You can see the result in the photo at left. For this particular sample, I used the cork for both the front and the back side of this Side Slinger sample with surprisingly little difficulty. I was totally pleased with the results but even so… I did note a few special considerations that need to be observed whenever cork is substituted for quilter’s cottons.

They are as follows….

  1. Try to do most of the pinning in the seam allowance areas. Cork does tend to self -heal but it’s wise to be careful all the same.
  2. This cork takes a press beautifully, but I definitely utilized a pressing cloth. Never apply your hot iron directly to either side of your cork fabric.

3) the cork side of this product can be a little grabby when used with a standard metal presser foot so I used a teflon foot with much better results.

4) I omitted using the called-for fusible interfacing in the exterior areas of the bag that were “corked”, except for the two pattern pieces that included the invisible sew-in magnetic snap.

5) and finally, I used cork to cover the cotton webbing for the shoulder strap for the GateWay design and this was in my estimation, a mistake. This is because the cork was very grabby going thru the slide buckle… so grabby in fact that it was now quite difficult to use the slide buckle to adjust the length of the strap. I made a mental note to not make this mistake again. (Please note: the slide buckle for the Side Slinger design is NOT in direct contact with the Strap Pad.)

And now…. it’s YOUR turn!

Have you tried using cork? If so, do you have any tips to add to this list? And remember, we love reading your comments and answering your questions too, so please feel free to leave either or both in the space provided below.


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Kat

7 Comments

  1. Susan H on April 14, 2020 at 6:31 am

    Corks vary so much that I would like to know the actual brand name of the cork that you used please. I am excited about trying this new product!

    • Kat on April 14, 2020 at 6:53 am

      We get our cork from a company called Belagio Enterprises. They are based in California.

    • Cindy Bingaman on September 13, 2020 at 8:37 pm

      Hi Kat
      I am interested in the guardian bag. Is it FQ friendly? Can cork be used? Maybe on the base? Love the fabrics you show on your samples. I’m not very good at picking out fabrics. How much yardage does this bag take?

  2. Debbie on April 14, 2020 at 9:28 am

    I love sewing with cork! I belong to a cork club through Sallie Tomato but will look at the Belagio Enterprises cork if it can be ordered. Your patterns in the examples are so pretty and I love The Gateway, right now it’s my everyday carry bag.

    • Kat on April 14, 2020 at 10:40 am

      Well thank you for that. And actually, Belagio Enterprises is a wholesale only business.

  3. Trudy DeMeerleer on May 12, 2020 at 8:19 am

    Since Belagio is wholesale only, will you be selling more designs of their cork? I really like the flower design you show in the sample!

    • Kat on May 12, 2020 at 10:27 am

      yes- good question Trudy! We already have plans to do so and will be cautiously increasing our line of cork on our website. 🙂

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