Cork is eco-friendly, renewable and very trendy. It’s also a great surface to embroider on. While it acts like leather, vinyl and other non-fibrous materials in many ways (don’t pin it!), its fabric backing allows it to take embroidery better than many similar fabrics. Here are some things to keep in mind when embroidering cork.
- While cork isn’t damaged as severely as some materials by dense stitching, it will eventually perforate. Consider density when choosing a design, avoiding designs with extremely dense and layered stitching.
- When marking on cork, consider what will both show up and remove effectively. Test markings on scraps before using a method on the final project. We’ve found that a powdered chalk roller is very effective, as it deposits well without a lot of pressure and wipes away quickly and easily.
- Cork can’t be hooped, so use a self-adhesive stabilizer or adhere the fabric using a temporary spray adhesive. Tear-away and cut-away stabilizers are preferable, as soaking cork to remove water-soluble stabilizer can damage the material. Never baste or pin in the hoop, as holes are permanent.
- Use a large, sharp needle with a large eye. Topstitching and denim needles are ideal for embroidering cork.
- If available, lower the machine’s foot to sit just above the cork while embroidering. Like with leather, the cork may close in around the needle when it’s down, causing the needle to pull the material up on its upstroke. Keeping the foot low minimizes this effect.
- Slow the machine speed if available; however, a speed slightly higher than the slowest available might work better, as it creates more momentum behind the needle. Try different speeds during test stitching to see what works best.
When embroidering on any new material, be sure to test stitch to find the best combination of design, needle, stabilizer, thread and machine settings for your project.
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