Cork has really made its way into more and more sewing rooms over the last few months, which also means more and more companies are starting to put out inferior, mass produced substitutes.
I thought I’d take the time to explain the difference between the two. To be honest, once you’ve seen ‘good’ cork, it’s really easy to pick out the inferior stuff. Good cork will sew like vinyl and wear like iron. Inferior cork sews a little like cardboard or Kraft Tex and wears like… paper. It’ll wear, crack, and flake. It’ll be really easy to sew with because it’s thin, but don’t let that fool you.
The first thing you’ll notice might be the obvious. It just looks… cheaper. It’ll look ‘printed’ instead of being embossed. There are a lot of different kinds of corks, solids and textures. Good cork will have the foil (colured, silver or gold) embedded in the cork. The cheap stuff will be printed right on the top and the surface will be smooth. Quality cork has irregularities just like actual cork does.
Now, flip the cork over. Good cork is fused onto a woven back, sort of like a canvas. Cheap cork will be pressed and the back will only look textured, it won’t actually be fused onto anything.
Quality cork is thicker because it’s fused to a backing, so another thing to do is to kind of eye it to see how thick is it.
Where it’ll be most obvious, though, is in the ‘hand’. That is how it looks and feels and lays. Quality cork will seem like a thicker fabric, it’ll roll and flop. Cheaper cork will seem more like thicker paper. It’ll fold and have a stiffness to it.
Lastly, quality cork is pretty much all made in the same place, Portugal, and made to a standard width. Anything thicker than that is a cheaper knockoff. So okay, sure, you get a bigger piece for less, but you get what you pay for!