Two pouches made from paper fabric, an embroidery patch, scissors and a spool of thread

Have you tried sewing with paper fabric? Also known as washable paper / vegan leather. It is often used for labels on denim and it is really fun to sew with. I have made a whole host of projects and tried a new to me brand of paper fabric that I'm going to share with you today. I also have another product to share, that allowed me to use some vintage embroidery transfers to create cute decorations. Heavily inspired by stationery these simple, modern makes are perfect to give as gifts... it might be is a long post, so grab a brew and I hope it inspires you!

Close up view of metallic pouch made with paper fabric. Showing different compartments with fabric epp pieces coming out of one section.

Book with fabric patchwork cover made of selvedges and a monogrammed paper fabric label sewn on the front.

I first used this material about four years ago and have since enjoyed sewing with it to make a variety of things: folder, card holder, monogrammed label, and bookmarks.

Close up of 3 colours of paper fabric

kraft-tex seems to be the most commonly available washable fabric paper, they make a range of colours and is what I've use most. There is also some made by Rico - like the beautiful metallic rose gold one above. Recently I found HappyHide at Frumble, a nice range of neutral colours and metallics, it is slightly softer and crinkles beautifully. I think with people looking for leather alternatives it is likely to get more popular and there may well be more brands making similar products too.

One of the things that is so cool about this material is the way it wrinkles. As a stationery lover, it excites me because it really looks like paper. You can keep it flat so it looks more like card but if you wash it then in creates lines and wrinkles that mimic leather or crumpled paper. It is tough though, this is not a flimsy material - I have put pieces in my washing machine, it dries with more texture but it's still firm. The card holder I made for my husband 4 years ago is still going strong. Obviously he opens and closes it, carries it in his pocket and throws it around. He's had other wallets that haven't lasted that long!

For my latest projects, I was inspired by packaging, brown paper bags and simplicity. Paper fabric allows you to do things you can't do with quilting cotton and projects are quick and fun to sew. I made up these samples for a CraftyMonkies class which is now available on demand, and wasn't kidding when I said these are quick to make, we got through a lot! Obviously with me chatting and sharing all the tips while making.

We started simple, making this cute wallet. Straight line sewing, 3 pieces and a layer of felt. A good way to get used to the feel of sewing with fabric paper.

Paper fabric wallet with embroidered flowers on a felt patch.

You can see the texture of the paper fabric well here. It is flat but has a sort of grain, I really like the feel of it. It does look more rigid and cardboardy when it isn't washed, as is the case here. But then that does give it a modern, minimal feel.

Close up of the inside of a paper fabric wallet, lined with felt and a business card in one side of the wallet.

This cute snap pouch is so handy, a perfect size for holding make up or filling with little treats. It has a slightly expandable bottom too so looks are deceiving, it holds a fair bit. You can see the contrast with the texture here, the black paper fabric had been washed and handled more because the bag was turned through. It is much more grainy and has the crinkly texture that I love.

Flat lay of paper fabric pouch with snaps, scissors, spool of thread and embroidered felt patch

When sewing paper fabric I use my regular piecing cotton, Aurifil 50 weight. I have used thicker weights of thread too, for top stitching or decoration and it all works well. 
You do need to make sure your stitches aren't too small, as that can perforate the fabric. Honestly I did have some trouble when I starting designing and testing because turning the fabric through can be tricky.

Paper fabric pouch with two snap closure and embroidered geometric shape felt patch.

I cracked it though! Before this I had sewn pieces together with the seams on the outside but it's much more satisfying seeing the possibilities of what you can make when you can turn it right sides out.

Finished with a snap closure and embroidered detail (more on that later).

Close up of embroidered geometric felt patch and snap on paper fabric pouch

Next up is my favourite, the string closure pouch or envelope. This took the most time to design, until I got it just right. I played with proportions, the closure, different stitches and edges. I made some mistakes and got a bit frustrated but now I'm super happy with it. It has an old school envelope look and it's a useful size and it can has an expandable flat bottom so it will stand up. The bakers twine gives the perfect finish and there's so many ways you can adapt and use this pattern.

2 paper fabric envelope pouches with two circles stitched on the front and flap with a string closure

Close up of paper fabric envelope pouch with two circles stitched on the front and flap with a string closure and an embroidered flower felt patch

Another thing I LOVE about paper fabric is you can use scraps too, perfect for labels or tags and these useful cord keepers. These are keeping all our cables, plugs, cords and headphones neat - hurrah!

Headphones with cord folded neatly and tied with paper fabric cord keeper and a bright snap closure

Inside of a basket containing headphones and cords folded and tied neatly with paper fabric cord holders, all with brightly coloured snap fasteners

You can draw, write and stamp on paper fabric. The rubber stamp alphabets I own get used in quite a lot of my projects - I use them on regular cotton fabric too - but they are even easier to use on paper fabric. It's important to use a good ink, preferably fade proof. I like the Memento Dew Drop ink pads

I created another version of the snap pouch for storing receipts, with a cheeky reminder! I also like that it has 'egg' colours 😂

Paper fabric pouch with the word paper stamped on the front, surrounded by folded fabric and clear rubber alphabet stamps

Inside flap of fabric paper pouch with the words 'why you are broke' stamped on

The final make is one I use daily. I created scissor holders for all my embroidery scissors. I have a few pairs of small scissors because I like to keep them with my cross stitching, embroidery and epp projects. That way I'm not always looking for scissors. 

I designed two slightly different styles of cases and although I didn't have time to demonstrate making one in the class I did give instructions. I've seen cases made by the class participants since and they look fab! 

Paper fabric scissor holder, with decorative stitching around the edge and a snap closure, and a pair of embroidery scissors

Here's my table after the class had just finished, a complete creative mess!

A messy desk with craft supplies and laptop

I didn't get to finish this sample in class but did since and I love it in the brown paper fabric. At this point how can you not sing 'brown paper packages tied up with string'! This one will hold templates I think, or maybe epp papers. 

So easy to make, you can whip up a whole bunch and have them handy to use as storage or gift wrapping. Be sure to tell the recipient that it is reusable.

A paper fabric pouch with 2 circles sewn on and a string closure, like an envelope

It's very easy to add embellishments to these projects too; not only stamping, you can draw on them or even, as I did, add some embroidery. I create some 'patch' type embellishments, which is super easy and fun.

A square embroidery frame holding felt with 4 embroideries, 3 floral and one geometric

I used some felt and Thermoweb Peel n Stick Fabric Fuse Sheets, which allows you to essentially make a sticker.

The embroideries are all from vintage transfer sheets, kindly shared with me by a reader.

Close up of paper fabric envelope pouch with two circles stitched on the front and flap with a string closure and an embroidered flower felt patch

A square embroidery frame holding felt with 4 embroideries, 3 floral and one geometric, with lots of spools of Aurifloss below it

The Aurifloss stitched nicely on the felt and I will definitely make more of these embroidered stickers in the future. The Peel n Stick sheets are permanent and washable so you could use them with fabric to make patches for clothes as well. I really enjoy finding new products like this that can be used in lots of ways and make projects more unique.