This post is borrowed (with permission) from Toni of The Little British Fabric Shop, and explains all about cork – the fabric that really does grow on trees!
Hi, my name is Toni and I live in Wiltshire in England. I am the owner of The Little British Fabric Shop where I sell quilting cottons and cork fabric through my websiteand in my spare time I love to make bags and purses (amongst other things!) which I sell through Facebook or at local craft fairs. You can also follow me on Instagram (and very occasionally twitter) @tlbfs
What is cork fabric?
Cork fabric, also known as cork leather or vegan leather, is produced from thin cork shavings which are obtained directly from the bark of the cork oak tree. The cork shavings are backed typically with a combination of cotton, polyester and polyurethane and is very soft to the touch and very flexible.
When the bark of the cork oak tree is removed a new layer of cork re-grows, making it a renewable resource. When harvested at regular intervals the trees can thrive for centuries. This is what makes the cork oak unique as it is the only tree that survives even after its bark had been stripped from it. The bark can develop considerable thickness and can be harvested every 7 to ten years.
So it’s renewable which means it’s sustainable, and there are no harmful chemicals involved in the production of cork fabric which means it is also environmentally and eco-friendly.
But that’s not all! Cork fabric is hypoallergenic because it doesn’t absorb dust, so it helps to protect against allergies and does not pose a risk to asthma sufferers. It is anti-fungal which means it will not go mouldy when it gets damp. It is waterproof, stain resistant and easily cleaned. And it is as durable as leather, yet as versatile as fabric which I think is what makes it such a popular choice for makers of bags and apparel. Finally, it is seen as an animal friendly alternative to leather and so is very popular as a vegan leather substitute – you will find that most manufacturers of cork and cork apparel will carry the ‘PETA Approved’ logo (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).