We are happy to share with you some of DIY tips. This article is written by Sarah from craft-friends.com
She had the misfortune to tag us into Instagram with her freshly made bag. We had no choice except force her to share all the secrets! Enjoy the exciting process of creating a bag by yourself, with help of using cork fabric.
I love handbags. I love classy bags, quirky bags, the big bucket bags that you can stuff everything into. Bags are my favourite accessory and no matter how old you get or how much your weight changes, they still fit and look good.
A few years ago I realised that keeping up with my love of bags was an expensive hobby. Even if you avoid the whole crazy world of designer bags, paying several thousand for a bag that is more of a status symbol than a bag you love; a quality bag with quality fabrics is still going to be expensive and buying multiple bags as I was want to do, soon adds up into hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Not only was it expensive but often the bag I found wasn't perfect, I wanted a different colour or a different pattern or even a whole different fabric. I found the answer was to make my own bags.
As with most things I craft, my philosophy is to make a bag that looks as professional as I can make it. Note the “as I can make it part”, because I have some limitations, like being self taught, a lack of experience and not having professional or industrial tools. However, these things can be overcome.
A good pattern certainly helps, the one for my bag is from bagstockdesigns.com, it was detailed and clear and I felt it had the polished look I was after. I followed the pattern, with a couple of changes I made that I had learnt from past experience, but I didn't skip steps and I went back and fixed mistakes and sloppy stitching rather than cover them up.
I don't have an industrial sewing machine, I don't even have the brand name one that many sewists rave about. My machine is several years old but it is a solid metal frame machine that is strong enough to sew through several layers of fabric and with the correct needle and presser feet and thread for the project I can get a more proficient look.
To sew through the cork I used a walking foot, it helped a lot to guide the cork through at an even speed and not stick to the metal plate of the machine. In the past I have placed tissue paper beneath fabric that tends to stick, you just have to tear the tissue paper out of the stitches afterwards. Double sided tape helps to hold the cork together when I couldn't iron a seam in place, clips instead of pins meant no tiny holes in the cork and a microtex needle ensured I was able to sew through the cork like butter.
The one thing that always makes a bag stand out from all others is the fabric. I chose a cotton canvas from Spoonflower in a great water colour pattern and matched it with the beautiful pink cork from The Cork Collection. Together they give the bag a uniqueness that is mine. I was aiming for a bag that was pretty and sophisticated, yet useful and strong and with a touch of whimsy and of course looks professionally made. Maybe not $3000 designer professional but $50 exclusive professional.
I've never used cork before. I hadn't even realised until about a year ago that you could sew with it and at the time I thought it only came in brown, like an old 70s place-mat. Leather has always been the go to fabric in the bag market because it's hard wearing and adds that touch of class, but in today's world, when we need more sustainable products, leather has to take a back seat. I was excited to learn that cork adds the same elegance and feels so smooth and strong, and it really does feel natural, then I read up on it and found out more about how it was harvested and how sustainable it was and I was blown away. Why are we only just finding out about this? Sometimes people are put off using environmentally friendly products because so often it means paying more or compromising in some way but cork really seems to have it all and I'll definitely be using it again.
I can't wait to make my next bag and I hope I've inspired you to have a go too.