The Magnolia Bucket Bag Using Cork & Kantha By Holly Costantino

Do you have a passion for purses? I do! I love making bags and I have been wanting to use cork in a bag for a while now. Everyone says how easy it is to work with, but I was a little apprehensive. I decided to make the Magnolia Bucket Bag by Sallie Tomato because it says right on the front of the pattern “introduction to sewing with cork fabric.” Also, I love the rounded shape and the awesome hardware! I am a bit of a perfectionist and I think I am addicted to details, so this bag drew me in.

Sallie Tomato bag patterns have pretty clear instructions and more illustrations than other companies. I found that I did have to make a few changes according my preferences and fabric choices.

I chose the Kanthahand stitched fabric which is a little on the expensive side but if you only need a little bit it can be very affordable. I chose a beautiful dark navy cork fabric to match. The pattern calls for a piece of cork 25″‘x27″ but we sell our cork pieces 18″x27″, so I had a dilemma. I did not want to get another roll of cork because it would up the cost of the project, plus I like to “make it work” with what I have. After contemplating my options, I decided to use more of the Kantha fabric and add ribbon in place of the cork (for the drawstring) and MADE IT WORK!

I always read thru my pattern first to get an overall view of what to expect. In this pattern, Sallie Tomato dedicates the entire first page to informing you about what cork fabric and how it is made and helpful supplies to be successful. I thought that was wonderful. Some supplies used that were invaluable were sewing clips (because you cannot pin cork, it will leave holes) double sided basting tape, glue and a fine tip marking pen. I was not sure about ironing cork, but it irons great, just let it cool before sewing so it does not stretch.


Cutting instructions were clear with illustrations to follow and very little cork left unused. With my substitutions, I had to do a little creative maneuvering to have enough cork to make my bag cohesive. I chose to eliminate the bottom cork panel and combine the middle and bottom panels in the Kantha Fabric because it would show more of the beautiful floral design. Another substitution I made was instead of using fusible fleece as a lining stabilizer I chose headliner fabric in the Kantha fabric not the lining. Once I had everything figured out with my substitutions I cut and prepped my pieces, fused the interfacing to the lining and basted the exterior to the headliner fabric. I got my Juki TL 2200 QVP mini threaded and now the exciting part began, the construction!!

This is a moment I LOVE! It starts with the lining and the zip pocket. The pattern says to leave the bottom of the pocket open to turn your bag later, I thought about not following this step and turning the bag a different way because I have had problems turning other bags and getting wrinkles in the stabilizer and not liking the results. I followed their instructions and was glad I did because it worked out great! Next the exterior panels are sewn together and the strap connectors are attached, everything was going along smoothly. Then the base is prepared with the purse feet and peltex, a very important step  here is to trim the peltex close to the seam allowance so when you sew the base to the sides there is no extra bulk in your bottom seam. Next the exterior and lining are sewn together at the top edge and then you turn the bag thru the zip pocket.

NOW FOR THE SCARY PART, THE GROMMETS! I have done grommets before but I’ve never tackled 12 grommets in one bag before. First, I watched the Sallie Tomato video (video here: )

She demo using a seam ripper and scissors and then a grommet hole punch tool (which we now stock in store!!) But since I did not have the hole punch tool at home, I used a seam ripper and scissors. This is where you definitely need a fine tip marking pen to mark your holes for your grommets. This will save you time and aggravation! I did not have a fine tip marking pen so I suffered here. Lesson learned! I got the holes done and progressed to the installation of the gorgeous grommets. A medium sized rubber mallet would be a good choice to hammer them together. Once I had the grommets done I was on fire! I couldn’t wait to finish because it was looking so great! I made my drawstring, tassels and straps and my bag was complete! I was elated with the result. I really learned a lot with the help of Sallie Tomato’s pattern. I wanted to share my experience to hopefully inspire others with their bag making. Cannot wait to see what you make!


1 comment

Joan Tessell

Joan Tessell

Great bag, wonderful pictures.🤗

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