I have the great privilege, on this cross-Canada tour of all things bag making, to feature the awesome material cork – brought to us Canadians by the lovely Sheri at MM Cork Supply!
Sheri is, of course, a wonderful bag maker herself. I have long admired her work in the various bag groups. She was making some stunning bags out of the new-to-me cork fabric for a while when she casually floated the idea to some of us Canadian bag makers about, maybe, perhaps, bringing it in for sale… My first thought? O.M.G.! I was doubly excited to find out that Sheri is a fellow British Columbian so my shipment came fast and I found myself the proud owner of several gorgeous shades of cork. Cork I rolled up, unrolled and admired, re-rolled up and kept on my shelf for about three months…
Unlike many of the very talented crew on this Canadian tour de force – I am not a prolific bag maker. I am, however, prolific collector of all things bag-making related – fabric, interfacing, hardware, patterns, vinyl and eventually cork. I often find myself with more ambition then time so I slowly quickly amassed a collection of beautifully coloured cork fabric that I was increasingly having a difficult time finding space for. I devoured the tips and tricks that other bag makers shared in Sheri’s Facebook group. I admired the beautiful bags people were making with it and then one day…I finally popped the cork and sewed a bag.
So, I’m hear to tell you, do not fear the cork! It’s not only delicious to sew with, it also adds a unique beauty and style to bags that is unlike any other fabric I’ve worked with. A lot of folks compare cork to leather and vinyl – and while it does share some properties with these materials – it really is in a league of it’s own.
Sheri is enormously generous with her time and knowledge and answers loads of questions in her Facebook group and other bag making forums to help people in their cork sewing journey. Questions like:
- Can I sew it on my domestic machine? (Sure! All my bags are sewn on my domestic Janome and vintage Singer)
- Do you need to interface it? (No, but I do pair it with foam for very structured bags)
- Where does it come from? (Cork is imported from Portugal)
- What kind of needle should I use? (I going to say personal preference here – I use a Microtex 90/14 but experiment with what works for you)
- What about the poor cork trees? (Cork is sustainable – harvested from cork trees every 9 years! It’s an environmentally friendly alternative to vinyl, a vegan alternative to animal leather and basically – like Canada – embraces all your life choices).
I hear people say that cork is a bit beyond their budget but you don’t need a lot to make an exquisite bag. A little goes a long way and cork can be used a gorgeous accent on almost any bag – from a contrast fabric, a strap or even just an cork tassel dangling from your beautiful bag.
And because I want to show you that a little goes a LONG way with cork, I’m featuring a lovely wallet by Canadian bag pattern designer and bag making supplier, Emmaline Bags! The Necessary Clutch Wallet, or NCW as it is affectionately referred to by it’s legions of fans, is a perfect match for cork. The main body piece of the wallet is about 16″ x 9″ so you can get a full outer body piece out of just one fat eighth of cork.
Emmaline has recently updated this pattern and it really is a perfect wallet. There is a HUGE maker community for the NCW where you can get lots of tips, tricks and hacks to make your wallet even more uniquely you. Check out NCW Addicts on Facbook – among other communities – for loads of inspiration.
All the materials I used in this Canada 150 celebration NCW are sourced in Canada. The two cork colours are red (main) and ocean (front flap accent). Cork can be easily die cut so there are endless opportunities to create some fun, decorative elements. For the flap accent I die cut a maple leaf from the ocean cork and then backed it with fabric featuring my Provincial flower – the dogwood. I used a fusible web to hold the fabrics together and sewed around it for reinforcement.
I love the NCW as a practical, everyday wallet. It holds a LOT! It will fit even the largest of phones in front of the zippered pocket and includes slots for 12 cards (okay – I cheat and put multiple cards in each slot). Although I like to carry a bigger bag for my bujo supplies, I often find myself just grabbing my wallet when I head out for a quick trip. I always add a wrist strap to make it easy to carry. My mom carries an NCW with a shoulder strap and uses it as her only purse a lot of the time (though I think I owe her a new one soon..).
MM Cork Supply has a huge range of colours (the wallet above is in black with silver flecks) and even patterned cork to match all your favourite fabric collections. Something I really appreciate about our Canadian suppliers is that they often work together to coordinate collections – whether it’s Bringberry bringing in metal zipper tape to match some of MM Cork’s popular colors or Sheri colour matching with fabrics from Tangled Blossom Designs – this spirit of cooperation is one of things that makes us uniquely Canadian.
This Snowdrop Satchel by Blue Calla (another wonderful Canadian bag designer) uses just the tiniest amount of purple cork – the last I had leftover from a well used yard – but you can see that a little goes a long way in a bag.
POST GIVEAWAY! Thanks for making it this far. Sheri has generously provided a cork sample pack as a giveaway for this post. Comment below and tell me the something surprising you keep in your purse that you can’t live without. For me it’s my Faber Castell pens(I always have about 10 colours with me). I will draw a random winner on Wednesday, June 13th (one week after this post goes live).
Each blog has an exclusive giveaway, so be sure to visit them all.
- 10% off!
Tangled Blossoms Design is offering 10% off anything in stock for the duration of the tour. Offer expires June 10, 2017. Use discount code HAPPYBIRTHDAYCANADA
- 15% off!
Bringberry Handbag Hardware and Design is offering 15% off anything in stock for the duration of the tour. Offer expires June 10, 2017. Use discount code LOVECANADA150
(These links will be active on and after the day they are scheduled.)
Giveaway ends at midnight EDT (North America)
CANADA DAY 150
- Grand Prize: 2 PDF patterns from Blue Calla Patterns, $50 voucher from Bringberry Handbag Hardware and Design, $40 voucher from Fabric Please
- Second Prize: 2 PDF patterns from Blue Calla Patterns, $35 voucher from Emmaline Bags, $25 voucher from MM Cork Supply
- Third Prize: $50 voucher from Blackbird Fabrics
- $30 voucher to spend on any in stock fabrics from Tangled Blossoms Design, 1 Pattern from Thread Riding Hood
- $25 voucher from Fabric Please, 1 Pattern, plus hardware kit from Emmaline Bags
- $25 voucher from Fabric Please, 1 PDF Pattern from Thread Riding Hood
- $25 voucher from Fabric Please, 1 PDF Pattern from FABulous Home Sewn
- $25 voucher from Fabric Please, 1 PDF Pattern from FABulous Home Sewn
- $30 voucher from Sitka Fabrics
- $25 voucher from MM Cork Supply
- Ooh La La Jewellery* bag pattern & hardware kit from Among Brenda’s Quilts (Includes shipping within Canada & USA.)
- A selection of items for bag making from Flare Fabrics (Includes shipping within Canada.)
- $25 voucher from Stay Home Fabrics
- $25 voucher from Funky Monkey Fabrics
- Store credit for 1 yard of custom knit from Crookshanks Custom Textiles
- Store credit equal to one meter of custom knit plus one meter of solid from Midnight Mountain Fabrics
Please join us in thanking our tour sponsors by visiting their websites.
* Jewellery is the Canadian spelling.