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Cork it Up : Freesia foldover bag

blue calla patterns cork bag free tutorial Freesia Foldover sewing tutorial sewing with cork

The Cork it Up" blog series is a brand new series of tutorials that show how to adapt some of my existing patterns to an all cork exterior. 

First up, is the Freesia foldover bag. This is an easy to sew, quick and enjoyable sewing project. You must purchase the pattern to follow this tutorial. Before starting, read through the entire pattern and print/cut out your pattern pieces.

A few changes will be made to this pattern so it can be completed with an entire exterior in cork fabric. The lovely Sheri Ferraro from MM Cork Supply kindly assisted me by providing her expert advice as someone who sells and sews with cork fabric daily. 

Let's get started!


Instead of quilt weight cotton and vinyl/faux leather, we will make the entire exterior of the Freesia Foldover Bag in cork fabric. I was able to complete this bag with two pieces of contrasting cork:

1) The Printed Gold Geo piece was (1) quarter yard piece (18" x 26").

2) The Cappuccino piece was quite small, (1) fat eighth (18" x 13") is enough IF you cut very carefully.

STRAP: you will either need to purchase 1.5 yards (54") of pre-made strapping OR make your own strap (see video link provided in strap section). If making your own strap, you will need to purchase 1/2 yard of that cork because it requires the full width of the cork fabric. (You will have plenty of cork leftover if you decide to make your own strap.)

ZIPPERS: I am using zipper tape by the metre for this bag. You can either use pre-made zippers as instructed in the pattern or zipper tape for your bag. If you’ve decided on zipper tape, please cut (2) zippers. (1) 11" of zipper tape for the main closure and (1) 10" of zipper tape for the exterior zipper pocket.

Be sure to use a regular 18mm magnetic snap when making the Freesia out of cork, and NOT an invisible snap. The rest of the hardware remains the same.


From EXTERIOR A, do not cut any fusible interfacing pieces, ONLY cork pieces. Do NOT fold your cork to cut the pattern piece on the fold. Instead, place your pattern piece on the wrong side of your cork fabric. Make a mark at the top and bottom edges of the pattern's fold line on your cork. Then trace out the shape of your pattern piece. Flip the pattern piece vertically and trace out the second half. 

Please note very closely how I drew my pattern pieces on the cork piece above to make sure I fit everything on (1) fat quarter piece. This works only with a non-directional print since one piece is upside down.

*If you are using a directional cork print, you will need to purchase a half yard piece. 

From BOTTOM B, use the same method as shown above to draw your pieces on the wrong side of your cork and cut them out. You do not need to cut interfacing from this pattern piece.

For LINING C and SLIP POCKET D, cut out as instructed in the pattern.

For your ZIPPERED POCKET, cut according to pattern however we will update the zipper pocket technique used in this pattern by sewing it so the zipper tape does not show inside the pocket. To do this, you will need to cut one additional piece: ZIPPER POCKET FACING (10" W x 2.5" H). Use a fabric that matches your zipper colour for this facing piece. You will also need to cut one piece of fusible woven interfacing to match your facing piece.

For your D-RING STRAP, you will cut different dimensions to reduce bulk where you insert this strap piece into the side seam. Cut (2) pieces of cork that are 1.5" W x 3" H. 

For your ADJUSTABLE STRAP, use either the pre-made strapping as mentioned in the supply list section above OR cut (2) cork 54" L X 2" W. If you are using pre-made strapping, I use a piece that is 1.5 yards long but use the length you prefer. Instructions to follow below.

For your ZIPPER CASING, if using fabric then follow the pattern. I am using cork but don't want to have the bulkiness of 4 layers of cork at the ends of my zipper so I cut (2) pieces 1.5" W x 1" h. Instructions to follow below.

Cut (2) pieces of Peltex or Stiff Stuff sew-in interfacing that are 2" x 2" to reinforce the magnetic snap location.

No changes to the INTERFACING section except that you are not interfacing the cork pieces and you have one extra piece (ZIPPER POCKET FACING) to interface.


Since you’ve cut a smaller piece for the D-RING STRAP, we will also assemble it slightly differently:

1. Start by drawing a horizontal line through the centre of your strap pieces on the wrong side. 

2. Fold in both halves towards the centre line, wrong sides together, sewing in place with 1/8" seam allowance from both longer edges.

3. Slip a strap piece through one D-ring and fold in half with the raw edges hidden inside. Sew the raw ends of the strap together. Repeat for the second set.

ADJUSTABLE STRAP: I decided to use the pre-made strapping for my adjustable strap. I cut a piece that is 1.5 yards long and sewed all the way around with 1/8" seam allowance. Pre-made strapping is glued together but I like to sew anyways for strength and to make it look nicer.

Follow the rest of the steps to attach the strap to your rectangle slide and swivels.

If you're making your own adjustable strap, follow the instructions in this video to make your strap:


Instead of attaching the BOTTOM pieces to the EXTERIOR pieces, we will install our magnetic snaps to one of the EXTERIOR pieces.

Magnetic Snap Installation:

1. Use your EXTERIOR A pattern piece as a guide and use fabric glue to glue your 2"x2" Peltex scrap pieces to the wrong side of one EXTERIOR cork piece. Then turn the EXTERIOR cork piece right side facing up and use your pattern piece to mark the location of your magnetic snaps.

2. Place the washers for the snap pieces over the mark you just made (the mark should be in the centre hole of the washer) and mark the location of the prongs.

3. Carefully cut out the prong holes, through both the cork and interfacing you just glued.

4. Insert your snap's prongs through the holes you just cut. I put the thinner male half at the top and the thicker female half at the bottom.

5. Place the washers over the prongs and spread your prongs to secure. Place a piece of duct tape over the back of your magnetic snap to cover the metal parts.


To assemble your zipper pocket, you will need the remaining EXTERIOR cork piece, your ZIPPER POCKET FACING piece and your ZIPPER POCKET lining pieces. You'll also need your 8" zipper (or 10" of zipper tape).

1. Start by pressing the bottom 3/8" of your ZIPPER POCKET lining pieces towards the wrong side.

2. Cut 1" off the top edge of (1) ZIPPER POCKET lining piece. 

3. Place your zipper, right side facing up, along the top edge of your shorter ZIPPER POCKET lining piece, also right side up. Pin in place and sew together with 1/4" seam allowance. Press the lining piece away from the zipper.

4. Repeat step 3 to sew the remaining lining piece to the other side of your zipper. Set aside for now.

5. Draw a rectangle on the wrong side of your ZIPPER POCKET FACING that is 8" W x 3/8" H. The rectangle should be centred with 1" of space at the top and sides of the rectangle. You should also mark the centre of your facing piece along the top and bottom edges.

6. Use your EXTERIOR A pattern piece and mark the location of your D-ring placement on the RS on the remaining EXTERIOR cork piece. Also mark the centre of this piece at the top and bottom edges. Place your ZIPPER POCKET FACING piece on top of this EXTERIOR piece, right sides together. The top edge of the ZIPPER POCKET FACING should be aligned with the D-ring placement marks. Use a ruler and make sure all of the centre marks are aligned. Since you can't use pins with cork, use scotch tape to tape the facing piece in place.

7. Follow the last step on page 6 and the first two steps on page 7. 


8. Since you can’t use heat on cork, you'll need to pull your facing through the opening you just cut towards the wrong side and roll the seam between your fingers to flatten it and use clips to hold in place. 

9. Turn your EXTERIOR cork piece wrong side facing up and use fabric glue to glue the facing piece in place. (I have not applied glue in photo above) Wait for the glue to dry before continuing.

10. Since you can't use pins in cork, you will need to use a different technique to sew the zipper in place. Place your zipper with attached lining pieces on your work surface with the zipper right side facing up. Your zipper pull should be on the left with the shorter lining piece along the bottom. Place the EXTERIOR cork piece over top with the zipper inside the rectangle opening. Align the shorter left and right edges of your ZIPPER POCKET FACING with the left and right edges of your ZIPPER POCKET lining pieces. Use clips or pins to hold in place as shown in photo above.

11. Sew your zipper in place all the way around the rectangle opening with 1/8" seam allowance. Leave your needle in the down position to make rotating at the corners easier.

12. Turn your EXTERIOR cork piece so it is wrong side facing up. Fold down the top ZIPPER POCKET lining piece so the folded edges meets the folded edges of the bottom ZIPPER POCKET lining piece and clip the bottom edges together.

13. Sew up the sides of your ZIPPER POCKET lining pieces together on BOTH sides. Move the EXTERIOR cork piece out of the way and sew only the lining pieces and the facing piece. Leave the bottom folded edges unsewn. Open your zipper all the way before completing the final assembly.


You will follow the rest of the pattern exactly as instructed. Do not forget to go back and attach the BOTTOM pieces to the bottom edges of your EXTERIOR pieces. The only other changes I made was to use cork for my ZIPPER CASINGS.

1. I applied a bit of fabric glue on the wrong side of my ZIPPER CASINGS.

2. Fold the ZIPPER CASING in half along the 1" side so it is 1/2" x 1.5" and insert the ends of the zipper inside the fold of each casing. Use clips to hold in place while glue dries then sew in place.

Remember: when you're sewing the bag together in Final Assembly, you will sew the entire bag without leaving an opening in your lining for turning. Due to the improvements we made to the exterior zipper pocket, you will use the opening at the bottom of the zipper pocket to turn your bag. Sew the bottom of the zipper pocket shut when the bag has been turned.

You're done!

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