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Joanna Figueroa gives Barkcloth a Try

Joanna Figueroa gives Barkcloth a Try

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

IMG_3930Way back in May at Quilt Market, I noticed Moda designers stretching their wings and giving different fabrics a try.

While there were, of course, plenty of beautiful quilting cottons, I saw some other substrates—the base fabrics on which designs are printed—slipped in amongst the usual suspects. One of my favorites was Moda’s Barkcloth, which Joanna Figueroa used to stitch up her Bag Lady totes.


The fabric’s linen-y look is a perfect complement to Joanna’s latest fabrics and the bags are accented with Kraftex, a sturdy paper that mimics the look of leather but can be sewn and washed like fabric. We asked Joanna about sewing with Barkcloth and Kraftex.

Why did you decide to use these fabrics for your bags?

A lot of times I get the urge to make a new bag with my latest fabric collection, because I’m so excited about it. But the truth is, most of the time I want a large, roomy, neutral bag that I can just use everyday with anything that I am wearing. That’s why I used the leather look-alike "natural" color of the Kraftex Paper and the neutral tones of the textural barkcloth."


Any tips on working with Barkcloth? What colors did you use?

For the body of the bag I used Barkcloth in Linen and Cream. I love, love the textural, soft feel of the fabric. It has a wonderful weight and feel to it, especially after it is washed. It does fray so be prepared to finish off your edges well. Other than that, I sewed with the same needle and same tension that I use for standard piecing. I did use a stronger thread than my normal piecing favorite. I would recommend any good garment weight thread.

Why did you decide to include Kraftex?

It gives it that fun vintage feel. I washed mine beforehand to give it that extra "used/weathered" look. On this particular bag, I used it for the tabs for the straps, the little accent tag, the pocket, and most importantly the bottom "patches."


How was Kraftex to work with?

I love the way it feels and acts like leather and paper all at the same time. Its just so much fun to work with! I stitched it on just like a piece of fabric—regular needle, regular tension. The one thing they recommend on the packaging, and I would definitely recommend as well, is to elongate your stitch length so that you don't perforate your paper and cause it to tear. Practice on a scrap and experiment until you like the results. I used regular, zigzag, and decorative stitches, and experimented until I found ones that I liked the look of. It was so much fun.


I liked it so much that I used Kraftex paper to make portfolios. I love the way they feel and I can't live without them!


So, it sounds pretty easy, right? If you’ve been curious about trying a new substrate, but feeling intimidated, this sounds like a good place to get started.Have you tried sewing with Barkcloth—let us know what you've made!

(Joanna's offering some kits for the Bag Lady pattern here. And if you’d like to read about her latest adventures—and see a lovely photo of her family—check out her post about her Splendid Sampler block.)