How To Make A Cork Clutch Bag
Known as a vegan alternative to leather - Cork has a unique look and an attractive soft handle that people love. Since finding out how to make leather from wood, cork fabric leather has been used for handbags, purses, wallets, clothes, accessories, shoes, book binding, wall coverings and upholstery. It can be used in various crafts eg: quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and mixed media. Cork can be sewn, glued or laser-cut. It is biodegradable, anti-static and hypoallergenic and can be cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth and mild detergent and left to air dry.
The Benefits of Cork Fabric:
- Eco-friendly / Biodegradable
- Vegan Approved by PETA
- renewable and sustainable
- soft, light and warm to touch
- tear resistant
- naturally water resistant
- harvest of cork reduces the greenhouse effect
- long lasting
- Easy to cut, clean, sew and work with
Cork trees (Quercus suber) are a type of Oak tree predominantly grown in Spain, France and Portugal. They grow up to 20m high with trunks up to 2-3 mtrs wide. The normal lifespan of cork production for a tree is between 25 -200 years. During the harvesting process cork bark is stripped from the trees by human hands (known as extractors) using a series or horizontal and vertical axe cuts. Cork trees are the only trees that can be stripped without killing the tree. Care is taken to not damage the underlying Phellogen layer of bark, so the trees remain unharmed by the harvesting process. Cork forests are normally maintained for 100s of years, therefore reducing the greenhouse effect.
Once harvested, the trees take several years to recreate the cork, so the process is repeated every 9-13 years. Once the cork has been extracted, it is air dried using traditional methods for approx. 6 months and later transported to the processor where it is cooked and steamed to improve elasticity. Heat and pressure are applied to make cork blocks which are recut into thin slices. The cork can have foil added, be printed or dyed with unique designs as seen by what is available here at Birch Creative.
- 1 Small roll of cork fabric 18” x 15” - SKUs 993246, 993244 or 993241
- Iron on Buckram for added stability - SKU STC005 (thin/firm) or STC 017 (thick/soft)
- Co-ordinating cotton fabric for lining (eg 011413)
- 15mm Magnetic Handbag Buttons SKU 024005 in Antique Brass
- Transfer paper for pressing SKU 902526
- Sewing machine
- Wonder Clips SKU Q57224
- Thread SKU 019007
- Seam Ripper SKU 012110
- Marker SKU 024541
- Ruler SKU 020293
- Point Turner SKU 012417
Print 2 copies of paper templates. Join pieces 2 and 3 to create template 1 on a new sheet.
Step 1: Cut fabric & Interfacing
- 1a. Cork: Cut from templates 1, 2 and 3.
- 1b. Buckram: Cut from templates 1,2 (minus extra allowance) and 3
- 1c. Accent colour/ Lining: Cut from template 4 (double the length if template 3). Mark the fold on the lining by pressing with an iron.
Step 2: Ironing
- 2a. Using Buckram or Foam pieces, trim off the seam allowance (6mm). This will reduce bulk when bagging out the clutch.
- 2b. Place buckram shiny side down on the wrong side of cork fabric pieces. Use transfer paper between the iron and cord to reduce any risk of pressing marks.
- 2c. Fold piece 4 in half right side facing in and iron.
Step 3: Insert Magnetic Clip:
- 3a. Mark centre on pieces 2 and 3 for placement of magnetic clip. Measure 45mm from finished edge to centre of clip on piece 2 and 55mm from finished edge to centre of clip on piece 3.
- 3b. Use the washer that comes with 024005 and a marker to draw lines on the wrong side of fabric.
- 3c. Use the prongs of the clip to mark positioning and pierce a hole for the clip, using a seam ripper.
- 3d. Push the top of the magnetic clip through to the right side of the cork and secure with a washer.
Step 4: Stitching
- 4a. Face the long edge of piece 3 and short edge of piece 4 together and stitch.
- 4b. Flip pieces and iron seam flat.
- 4c. Lay piece 1 facing right side up. Place piece 2 right side down (facing piece 1). Face piece 3 right side down on the bottom of piece 1 with seam on top. Piece 4 can now be folded with right sides facing in to make the top layer. Ensure there is a slight overlap of piece 4 on top of piece 2. (This is where you will top stitch after bagging out.)
- 4d. Hold all pieces in place with Wonder Clips and stitch all the way around the outside edge being careful not to sew over interfacing (this will eliminate any bulkiness after bagging out).
Step 4 cont: Finishing:
- 4e. Cut corners to reduce bulk, and flip bag right side out
- 4f. Topstitch where pieces 2 and 4 meet to complete your clutch
- Create a handle or strap using excess fabric and large eyelets
- For more detailed designs, such as one way designs 60 cm of fabric is required. We would recommend purchasing from a bolt to allow for pattern pieces to laid in one direction. This will also allow you to make a second bag.
Have fun co-ordinating you clutch back with your outfits.
This clutch will easily hold you phone, lipstick, perfume or any other items required for a great night out.