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Leather for Outdoor, Knives and EDC.

This guide for beginners in cork sewing will help you avoid the most common mistakes. You will learn about the properties, equipment and how to sew cork. So let’s get started.


What is cork/cork leather/cork fabric?

The material cork or also cork leather / cork fabric is a vegan alternative to conventional leather processing. It is obtained from the bark of the cork oak, which is often found in Portugal. During harvesting, the tree is usually not cut down, but about 1/3 of the bark is removed so that it can continue to grow afterwards.

cork oak

In this process, a polyester-cotton blend fabric is applied and glued to the back of the natural material. Usually cork leather has a thickness of about 0.7 – 1mm. There are usually 3 quality levels and properties (A – C) of cork fabric. These differ in the thickness of the material as well as their flexibility. Therefore, cheaper fabrics are often thinner and more brittle. However, this is not the rule. Normal or premium cork leather offers many advantages, which will be discussed in the next section.

cork variants

What are the advantages of cork leather?

water on cork
cork and backside

Cork leather has many positive properties, for which it is appreciated by many. The material, which has been appreciated and processed in Portugal for many years, is also increasingly finding lovers and buyers here. Many young companies are picking up on the trend and using the vegan alternative to leather. Some of these advantages are:

  1. Sustainable & vegan raw material
  2. High abrasion and scratch resistance
  3. Water repellent
  4. High tear resistance
  5. Heat resistance (also used for insulation)
  6. Easy to clean & wipe clean
  7. Light weight
  8. Can be worked by hand and sewing machine
  9. Many patterns and prints available
  10. Can be cut with a Household Scissors

What's better cork or leather?

As already mentioned, cork leather has many advantages. But what about the comparison of cork vs. leather? Leather is found in many areas of fashion and hobbies. But can’t you just replace leather with cork fabric?

What’s in favor of cork fabric:

In many areas, that’s exactly what’s happening. Due to the increasing awareness of and demand for sustainable raw materials and vegan alternatives, cork leather is increasingly found in everyday life. Bags, purses and other everyday items are no longer uncommon, and they serve the same purpose as their leather counterparts. Likewise, there are isolated instances of entire pieces of upholstered furniture covered in cork fabric and many other applications that are just being discovered and designed.

What speaks for leather:

Nevertheless, it cannot be said across the board that leather has had its day. A high-quality leather also has many positive properties and is very well suited for demanding applications. Animal welfare and the sustainable production of leather are of course crucial – however, cheap leather from questionable animal husbandry and chrome tanning are of concern.

Therefore, vegetable tanned leathers with a harmless origin are to be preferred. Another advantage is the formability of leather when wet. For horse riding or custom-made products, leather can be shaped to fit precisely and retain this shape, e.g. as a saddle. Another factor is edge treatment/preservation, which is more difficult with cork. With leather, this can be “polished” with a cloth – the cork fabric could fray or would have to be folded.

waxed leather edge
Polished Leather Edge

Perhaps you are also interested in the topic of leather crafting. Then read more here:

Beginner’s Guide to Leathercraft – 10 Tips and Tricks


cork edge
Cork Leather Edge

How to sew cork fabric with a sewing machine?

If you want to use your sewing machine, you can use your normal presser foot and 80 / 90 sewing needles. Cork fabric is relatively thin / light and can be sewn normally. You can sew and turn the fabric both left to right and right to left without the material fraying.

Only when you unravel the seam, the stitching holes remain.

How to care & clean cork leather? Can you iron cork leather?

You can clean the cork side with a cloth and water. Soap is usually not a problem either. In an emergency, you can also do an intensive hand wash. After that just let it dry.

You can also iron cork leather, as it is extremely heat resistant. To do this, place a kitchen towel underneath if necessary. Likewise, you can try ironing on other things like other fabrics or rivets. The material is quite robust in this case.

We sew cork and leather by hand.

What tools do I need for sewing cork (by hand)?

The tools you need to get started with leather crafts depend on what you want to make. I would recommend that you start hand sewing smaller goods. In this case, you can start with the following equipment.

I have curated some of them on Amazon. If you want Amazon to buy me a coffee, you can use the following affiliate links – the price usually remains the same for you:

Cork Bag
Example: Handmade Bag

* These links are so-called affiliate links. If you click on such an affiliate link and purchase through this link, we get a commission from the online store or provider in question. For you the price usually does not change, but it helps us to finance our content. You can find more information about this at Privacy Policy. When using these links your data will be collected and stored electronically.


Optional Tools:

Colors & Wax:

How to sew cork leather by hand?

To sew cork leather you need two needles, thread, leather and something to prepare holes e.g. hammer and nail and maybe a ruler. After that, it is best to follow these steps for hand sewn saddler stitch:

How to Saddle Stitch?​

Saddle Stitch Hole Punching

Punch Stitching Holes

Punch the stitching holes with a hammer. Try to keep a distance of 5mm between the holes and the edge.

Saddle Stitch Start Thread

Threading the yarn to two needles

Thread the yarn through two needles. For the length of the thread, you can use 4-6x the distance of the seam as a rule of thumb. Then bring the two seam holes that you want to connect, one above the other. Now poke the needle through both holes so that the same length of thread hangs on both sides. For simplicity, these are differentiated by color here. You usually sew from the top down or towards you.

Saddle Stitch Left Trough

Pierce through the second hole from the left

Now poke through the next hole from the left, but do not pull the thread tight yet.

Saddle Stitch Cross Needles

Place the right needle under the left needle

Now cross both needles.

Saddle Stitch Right Behind

Pierce the seam hole from the back

Now pull the left needle (in the cross position) through completely, but not yet tight. Then turn your right hand so that the other needle is on top. Now pierce the seam hole from behind with this needle so that the right thread (blue) lies on the left thread (red).

Saddle Stitch Bring From Right To Left

Pull the needle through from the right

Bring the needle through the hole, but be careful not to pierce the other thread.

Saddle Stitch Bring Through Loop

Thread the yarn through the loop from below

The now left thread (blue) must now be brought through the loop of the other thread (red) from below. This forms a knot in the seam hole.

Saddle Stitch Pull After Loop

Now pull both sides tight

Your first saddle stitch is now almost complete. Now pull on both sides.

Saddle Stitch Complete

Done. Now repeat.

Repeat until you reach the end of the seam. When you get there, you should sew back 2 more stitches. To do this, simply turn 180° and sew back towards you. Make sure to always place the thread over the stitch that is already there. This will form a more even seam pattern. Then cut the thread close to the seam hole and seal it with a lighter.

Ideas for projects related to sewing cork.

A phrase I love: I don’t even know all the things I don’t know.

If you’re looking for sewing inspiration or tutorials: There are many great YouTube channels that show how to build things, explaining every single detail. This is your chance to learn how to build something without wasting materials.

At this point, content from the external provider ( is provided. We would like to point out that the content and the processing of your data when clicking on this link are outside our area of responsibility and may no longer be subject to the scope of protection of the General Data Protection Regulation.

A few channels that can benefit crocodile leather beginners. Take a look at a few things from the “conventional” leather processing and get inspired:

Arctical Crafting
Step by step guides on projects and experimental materials (as cork leather) with subtitles.
Sorry, we got to list ourself here, we do not want withhold this from you 😜

Corter Leather
Very visual leather projects with great voice over.

Weaver Leather Supply
Professional video production, a compendium and best practices.

Little King Goods
Cinematic and high quality production, ASMR

Good luck with your projects. Maybe we so us on Reddit or YouTube.

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This hand-sewn leather mask is an absolute eye-catcher and for your next costume on Halloween or for cosplay. It is modeled after a Japanese Oni - a kind of demon or devil.

Leather repair & custom work

We also make personalized or custom leather products upon request. Or are you attached to your favorite piece? We also offer repairs for your leather products. The following products & repairs are possible:

  • Knife sheaths & holsters
  • Bags & wallets
  • Repair of motorcycle clothing & gloves
  • Collars & harnesses for dogs and other animals
  • Armors & helmets for roleplayers or cosplay
  • And many more

This is how it works…