Creative articles about sewing

Sew along for the Leni bag (free pattern in November)

For the month of November 2021 you can download the Leni Bag Pattern from the Inspiration Magazine for free!

It such a quick bag to make and I love the interesting construction of the pattern pieces.
You don’t have to be limited to using Cork to make the bag but I think it is a cool fabric to use as it is unusual. I’ve provided some other fabric choices in the Tip section at the end of this post.

As it is my mom’s birthday in November, I decided to make and gift her a Leni Bag.
I was able to find a fun glittery Cork fabric and added a special touch with a custom embroidery design.

What will be needed:

  • Sewing machine
  • Leni bag Pattern  
  • Cork Fabric 50cm x 140cm
  • Clips, Pegs or Wonder Tape instead of Pins
  • Size 80-90 universal needle
  • Polyester Thread
  • Optional Embroidery:
    Embroidery Module
    Embroidery Foot #26
    A Stabilizer (adhesive tear-away would be best but can make normal tear-away work)
    Embroidery Thread
    Embroidery Design
    Large Embroidery Hoop
  • Optional Accessories:
    1 x Magnetic Clasp/Fastener
    4 x Split Pin Bag Feet
  • Optional Feet:
    Edge stitch Foot #10, #10C or #10D


Cork fabric is a great alternative to leather as cork is renewable, recyclable and sustainable. It is often referred to as cork leather and is thought of as a true vegan leather (the production of plastics used to make non-natural vegan leather releases highly toxic dioxins which cause serious health issues).
The cork shavings can be harvested from the cork oak trees without having to cut down the tree, so the same tree can continue to produce multiple cork harvests in its lifetime. The trees are great carbon dioxide absorbers and a harvested tree absorbs 3-5 times more than an unharvested one.

Some other advantages is that it is waterproof, highly durable, scratch and stain resistant.

Cork fabric differs from the cork sheets available at craft stores. The cork fabric is more durable as it has a layer of fabric bonded to the back. Different manufacturers use different fabric backings so if the backing is a natural fibre, the cork fabric can still be recycled or biodegrade.


Download the free pattern:
Keep in mind that the Inspiration Magazine patterns are always without seam allowances.
With the Leni Bag pattern you don’t need to add seam allowances due to the non-fraying fabric and the way it will be assembled. However, you do need to add a seam allowance at the base of Pattern Piece 2. I made mine 1cm.


I created my embroidery design with the Bernina V8 Full Design Software.
When embroidering on cork it is best to keep the design simple and avoid densely embroidered or layered designs.

Hooping can be a bit of a challenge as the hoop is likely to compress the cork and leave an imprint.
I decided to float my cork fabric by hooping some stablilizer and placing some double sided tape in places that won’t be embroidered (to avoid mucking up the needle). I then stuck the cork on to the tape.
If you have access to adhesive tear-away stabilizer or a spray on adhesive, then those would be better options.
You could also try using Quilter’s Clips to clip the cork to the hoop.

Then I embroidered as usual.
However, I would recommend reducing the speed of the machine.


Please note that as my fabric is rather thin, I decided to fully line the bag with the same fabric instead of just doing a Facing.

It would be best to use Quilter’s Clips or Wonder Tape as pins will leave holes in the fabric. I don’t have any of these so I used clothes pegs! They were a bit bulky to work with but helped in a pinch.



If you are going to add a magnetic clasp, attach it to the Bag Facing before sewing up the Bag.

Mark out the placements on each Bag Facing piece. Make the placement in the centre and close to the top edge with enough space to edge-stitch.
Cut two small slits and feed the Clasp’s arms through.

Place the disk on the arms and open the arms up so that they lay flat.

Repeat the steps for the other part of the Clasp.

Sew the bag

1. Place the wrong side of the Bag Facing on the wrong side of the Bag Piece.
Match them up along the top edges.
Narrow top-stitch them together.
I used the Edge stitch Foot #10D to get an even row of top-stitching. I stitched about 4mm in from the edge.

2. Place the wrong side of the Handle Facing on the wrong side of the Handle/Side Piece.
Match them up along the Handle edges.
Narrow top-stitch the Handles Facing & Handle/Side Piece together.
Start with sewing along the outer edges between the notches and then sew along the inner edge of the Handles.

3.  Join the Bottom seam with right sides together
(keep in mind that the right side & wrong side of my pieces look the same)
Use the seam allowance measurement you added (1cm).

4. Fold the seam allowance open and top-stitch.

5. Match up the notches of the Front & Back Bag Pieces to those on the Side Pieces.
Narrow top-stitch them together.



Add Split Pin Bag Feet to the Base of the Bag.

Evenly mark out the placement of each Foot and make a hole through the fabric.

Feed the arms of the Foot through the hole.

Open up the arms of the Foot on the inside of the Bag and press them flat.


  • Some alternatives to Cork Fabric could be Felt, Scuba Fabric, Leather, Pleather/Vinyl…
    These are fabrics that are sturdy enough to hold their form and won’t fray when cut.
  • For those in South Africa looking to purchase cork fabric, I bought mine from Quilters Basket in Pretoria. They were the most affordable and had a handful of cork fabric styles to choose from.
  • You could either match the thread to the cork as best as possible to make it invisible or choose a colour that stands out for a fun touch.


I would love to see what you make, please feel free to share with me!
Remember to also tag Inspiration Magazine



Missed the free download?

 You can purchase the pattern from Inspiration Magazine’s online shop

Free sewing tutorial: Leni bag

Difficulty level: Intermediate
Time to Complete: Evening
Used Material: cork, tear away stabaliser
Used Products:
BERNINA Embroidery Software 8
BERNINA Embroidery Software 8
Reverse Pattern Foot #1
Reverse Pattern Foot #1
Edgestitch Foot #10
Edgestitch Foot #10
Cording Foot with 5 Grooves #25
Cording Foot with 5 Grooves #25
Medium hoop
Medium hoop

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