Sewing Cork Fabric

How to sew cork fabric

As I sat at this year’s Lancaster Quilt Show, I was drooling over the cork fabric in Amelia’s Garden, the stand straight across from me. I just kept walking over during a slow moment, touching it and thinking “what can I make with this?!”

Don’t worry—this story has a happy ending. The cork ended up being the fabric I chose for this fantabulous wallet, the Perfect Wallet! (Pattern review coming soon!)

But you might be wondering, just like I was, how do I sew cork!?

Sounds scary, right?

But it’s not! Cork is my new favorite sewing material and I’m just waiting for another cork project to come my way. Let me tell you all about it:

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Cork Fabric is Durable

Cork is a fantastic material for those projects that might take a beating. It’s adhered onto a cotton/poly blend woven backing, so it is just as tough as any fabric. Your dyed corks may take on a little fading and wear, but I think that it adds to the character of the piece, and it isn’t any less reliable. It just gives it more of a grungy look as it’s used.

How does cork fabric wear?

Cork is Water Resistant

One fateful day I unwillingly tested cork’s water-resistant nature: I went out for quick antique run—just real quick, while the baby was sleeping and hubby was home—took a quick spin around the store and found JUST the thing I needed! My blissful 10 minutes ended when I checked out and came outside to a absolute downpour! All I had was my cork wallet.

And my car was on the far side of the parking lot.

Is cork fabric water resistant?

Even though I was terrified that my cork was going to shrivel up at the site of the rain, it didn’t! Water had no effect on the cork whatsoever. So now we know purses, bags, wallets—whatever! Cork can handle it.

Cork Fabric Does NOT Fray!

Is there anything better than edges that will not fray? I think not! I was slightly nervous to create a seam with my cork, thinking it would crack when I folded it over, but it didn’t! If you’re working on a project that might make a bulky seam with cork, then just sew it with the raw edge out because it won’t fray!

3 More Reasons to Love Cork Fabric

You’d be surprised to hear that other than the pure glory of cork fabric; it’s natural look, and texture—that there are a ton of other reasons to love cork! Here’s a few of my favorites:

It’s Easily Renewable

I love a no-guilt product. Cork is one to add to your list because it’s not only a widely available resource, it’s a easily renewable resource and is good for the cork trees! No trees are harmed in the production of cork, the bark is simply removed and the tree continues to grow and create more cork! (You can read about the world’s oldest cork tree here—it’s quite fascinating!)

So Many Options and Rich Colors!

Part of what made me fall in love with cork fabric on that fateful trade show day was the colors! They were so vibrant but so natural looking—the different variations and beauty that cork fabric has to offer is really quite stunning. They even have some variations with metallics in them! (Where’s the drooling emoji at?!)

Cork fabric color options

Guys Love This Stuff

There are so many things I want to sew for my husband but I just can’t find the right, masculine, or just plain boring fabric that he would approve of. Cork is the perfect option for projects for men—it’s natural, it’s a little rough, and it’s brown (if that’s the color you choose)!

If you need help getting project ideas, just head on over to my Cork Fabric Pinterest Board!

Cork Sewing Projects on Pinterest

It’s Easy to Find

If you’re having a hard time finding cork fabric at your local quilt shop, just hop on over to Amazon and add it to your next order! There’s a ton of options in all sorts of colors!

Where do I get cork fabric?

Tips for Sewing With Cork Fabric

Alright—you’re convinced—it’s time to try out a cork sewing project! Here’s a few tips for you as you get started:

3 Helpful Tools

1. When sewing cork, it’s helpful to use a sharp needle, not a ball point. This will help slice right through the fabric and give you the oh-so-satisfying crunch as you stitch!

2. Some have suggested using a teflon foot when stitching your cork. I haven’t found a need for this yet and was perfectly fine using my metal foot. If you run into troubles with your cork sticking, or not smoothly moving through your machine, try a teflon foot.

3. The secret with cork is not making any holes that you don’t want! It’s a little different than cotton and pin holes will stick around after the pins are removed. I’d suggest whipping out the binding clips in leiu of pins for a cork fabric project! This means you’ll want to be extra careful because ripping out seams might show in the finished project.

Heads Up!

I suggest tucking the iron away for cork projects. Cork holds it shape fairly well with some finger pressing. If you must iron your piece, be sure to use a very low heat and iron from the wrong side of the fabric. Otherwise, you might create some little bubbles on the surface of the cork.

Last but not least: This is totally preference, but I suggest using a longer stitch when you topstitch your cork sewing project! It creates a really nice, finished look!

How to sew cork fabric

Finally, have fun! Don’t freak out if you have to turn your cork right side out after sewing it—it won’t crack—be gentle, of course, but don’t flip out the whole time. Cork is a sturdy fabric—it can take it!

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Update 11/19: Two years after writing this post and making my cork wallet, I’m happy to say that it’s still holding up beautifully! It is a bit worn, but no more than any wallet would be after two years of hard use. I will say that experience has taught me that not all cork fabrics are created equal. I have found that corks from Portugal are of the highest quality. If you’re not sure about a piece that you’re looking at purchasing, crinkle it up in your hands: it should easily ball up and not resist or crack. If it does, it’s not the cork for you!


  1. If I use the cork material on the bottom of placemats can they be washed when top cotton matl gets dirty?

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Cork placemats sound like SUCH a fun idea— I might have to whip some up!

      To answer your question, yes! From what I’ve found, you can use soap and water on your cork fabric. Most suggest hand washing with warm water, a soft washcloth, and a little bit of soap.

  2. Hi Rachel,
    Wow, who knew???? Cork fabric. With your advice and tips, I will certainly give this a try. Thanks for letting us know about this great alternative fabric. Linda

  3. What size of needle is best and do you have a recommendation for thread? Thanks for the great information!

    • Hi Rho,
      Thanks for your question! I just used whatever was in my machine— I’d say anything but a ball point needle. And 100% cotton thread is what I used and it’s held up great so far!

  4. Love these! Where did you find the clutch closure? I’d love to get some of these whipped up for christmas presents!

  5. A word of caution. I bought some cork fabric online and it was very different from the fabric I bought at a local fabric store. It does crack along the edge. It is a beautiful color but I worry about how it will wear with use. It was also a bit thinner than the other cork I bought. I love sewing with cork, so smooth and soft.

  6. I have never used cork before and can’t wait to use it on a purse pattern . The pattern said you could use cork or vinyl, also which I have never used before, which do you prefer and why ? Also can I use a regular 100% cotton for the pattern?
    Thank you for your time and consideration, it is greatly appreciated.
    Gale Sullivan

    • Hi Gale,

      I prefer cork because it’s a natural material and has such great texture!

      I’m not sure what pattern you’re working with, but I’ve seen cork and 100% cotton combined in all sorts of patterns before.

      Happy sewing!

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