What is Corduroy? Definition, Uses, Types

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This tutorial will teach you all about what is corduroy, including its types and uses. Corduroy is a fabric worth loving. It can remind you of autumn because of the beautiful golden hue of the leaves. Moreover, this fabric has a cozy feel which is ideal when the season transitions from breezy to snuggly weather.

what is corduroy PinWhat is Corduroy


What is Corduroy?What is Corduroy Wale?Pinwale Corduroy (Up to 21 Wales)Standard Corduroy (8 to 14 Wales)Elephant Corduroy (6 or Less Wales)Other Types of CorduroyPigment-Colored CorduroySpandex CorduroyBedford CorduroyWhat Is Corduroy Used For?Sewing With CorduroyFabric ChoicePattern ChoiceChoose Basic ShapesConsider The Direction of the WalesNever PressOpt for a Full LiningHow to Wash CorduroyWashing in the MachineStoring CorduroyWhat is Corduroy – In ConclusionMore Fabric Articles

What is Corduroy?

Corduroy is a crinkled and sturdy fabric that textile manufacturers use in making different kinds of items including clothing. One of the most striking features of the fabric is its ridges. Corduroy makers produce it with various widths or ridges.

Even though the fabric is often made with cotton, it can also be mixed with polyester or even made from pure polyester. Occasionally, manufacturers make it with wool. When made from fibers other than cotton, the ridges of this material are not as prominent.

Corduroy can also be dyed in many different block colors as well as printed with designs.

What is Corduroy Wale?

The classification of corduroy often depends on the number of ridges per inch. These ridges are referred to as wales and run vertically down the fabric. This means that the lower the number of wales, the thicker the ridges are. Conversely, high wale numbers mean that the corduroy will have more and finer ridges.

What is Corduroy WaleWhat is Corduroy WalePinWhat is Corduroy Wale

Pinwale Corduroy (Up to 21 Wales)

This type of corduroy is the opposite of elephant corduroy. Each square inch of pinwale corduroy has many small ridges. Many of its finest designs can have up to 21 wales every inch. The finer pinwale corduroy is used for children`s and baby clothing and is great for sewing soft toys.

Standard Corduroy (8 to 14 Wales)

In every inch of a standard corduroy fabric, there are approximately 11 wales. If a corduroy fabric has a range of 8 to 14 wales, it is often considered to be standard corduroy.

Elephant Corduroy (6 or Less Wales)

It is called elephant corduroy because the distinctive folds of this fabric are similar to an elephant’s skin. This corduroy type has very thick and big cords. This cord fabric can have nearly 1.5 and 6 wales. Due to the smaller number of wales, elephant corduroy is considered to be much warmer than many other types and is often used for heavy Winter clothing.

Other Types of Corduroy

Other types of corduroy can be classified according to its dying method and fiber blends.

Pigment-Colored Corduroy

This is a special type of corduroy classified due to a dyeing process that uses pigment dyes. Dyes are applied to the surface of the fabric before cutting and sewing. The mottled design of this fabric becomes prominent after every wash. Pigment colored corduroy can have any

Spandex Corduroy

The addition of Spandex to corduroy produces a stretchable corduroy. Many children’s clothes are made from spandex corduroy as it is considered more comfortable since it moves with the body. The amount of Spandex added is typically around 5%.

Bedford Corduroy

This fabric from the US is not technically corduroy even though it uses its name. It has almost the same weave as corduroy but the pile yarn is not cut. The ridges in Bedford corduroy as quite subtle in comparison. Bedford corduroy is often used for men`s pants.

What Is Corduroy Used For?

Historically, garment makers have utilized corduroy to create work clothes, uniforms for soldiers, hats, and even furniture. In modern times, this fabric is not as commonly used as before but it still has a place in fashion and particularly furniture.

Today, many garment makers use the fabric to make dungarees or overalls, jackets, and pants. In the 1970s, corduroy pants were a popular clothing piece. Though it is not as common as before, pants made of corduroy will remain as they are considered hard-wearing. Moreover, the inclusion of spandex in the development of corduroy clothes adds more stretchiness to body-fitting clothes.

Aside from clothes, furniture producers also utilize corduroy to create couch covers, chairs, and even decorative cushions. Corduroy homewares provide texture and warmth, especially during the cold season. Any upholstery will be more comfortable and stylish since it adds coziness. Fine corduroy can even be used to create wonderful bedding sets.

What is Corduroy Used ForWhat is Corduroy Used ForPinWhat is Corduroy Used For

Sewing With Corduroy

Fabric Choice

Where possible, choose corduroy that is pure cotton rather than a polyester blend. When you use blended fibers, they do not hold up well after repeated washings. The pile can get deformed or crushed.

Cotton corduroy can also be steamed or carefully ironed with a pressing cloth. This is an important consideration because normal pressing techniques could damage corduroy. If you want to check if the fabric is indeed high quality, you can use your fingernail to scratch it. You are likely holding an inferior fabric if you see powdery substances on the surface of the fabric and any discoloration.

Pattern Choice

Always choose sewing patterns that are suitable for thicker fabrics with a nap.

Corduroy has a nap. (Read all about napped fabric) This means that it has a pile in one direction and must be cut with the pieces all facing one direction. If the pieces are cut in different directions, the color and feel can vary. You can see in this example below how the light can hit the pile differently if you place pieces in different directions. This is especially important when sewing clothing.

What is Corduroy Nap?What is Corduroy Nap?PinWhat is Corduroy Nap?

Fortunately, many patterns offer a “with nap” cutting layout. It is also best to double-check the fabric requirements as sewing fabrics with a nap often needs more fabric.

Choose Basic Shapes

Wales or the raised lines of a pile are the most notable features of corduroy fabric. Because it offers a lot of texture, you should carefully consider how you will use it. If you are making a piece of clothing, it is better to go for basic shapes instead of highly-tailored and complex lines.

Consider The Direction of the Wales

When using a striped fabric, you consider the direction of where the stripes are going. The same goes for corduroy. The wales in corduroy items run vertically and are best placed down the length of the body.

Nevertheless, it does not mean that you can never position the wales horizontally or diagonally. You can still have fun and experiment with layouts and textures to discover which is best suited for your project. You just need to keep in mind that any woven fabric such as corduroy will stretch when cut on the bias.

Never Press

Have you ironed corduroy accidentally? If you have, you will understand why you should never press it. When the wales are crushed, the fabric has a flat and shiny texture that is irreversible.

Open the seams using your fingers rather than pressing. Then use the very tip of the iron and gently run the iron down the seam to set the stitches. If corduroy fabric or clothing becomes rumpled, hang in the bathroom while you have a shower. The steam will gently ease out some of the wrinkles.

Opt for a Full Lining

An easy way to keep the seam allowances protected and to add a little twist to your project is to opt for a full lining instead of facings. When you go for a full lining, you can pick a lightweight and soft fabric such as silk or cotton so that you do not add bulk to your project. You can consider coordinating the lining if it can be seen. You can choose one that can blend into the background or add an element of surprise such as an interesting pattern or a pop of color.

How to Wash Corduroy

Even though you can wash corduroy, it does not mean that you can do it any way you want. Doing it the right way is important to protect the wales and pile from flattening or becoming fluffy. Always check the laundry symbols before washing, drying or pressing.

Washing in the Machine

When using a washing machine for corduroy, turn the item inside out and separate it from materials that have lint such as towels, sweaters, and fleece jackets. That is because corduroy attracts lint which can be hard to remove. Also separate light from dark colors in case of any color bleeding.

Corduroy is best washed on a normal cycle with a mild detergent. Use cold or warm water as hot water may cause excessive shrinkage of the fabric particularly when it is pure cotton. Dark colors are best in cold water to prevent color transfer and bleeding.

Cotton corduroy can be dried in a tumble dryer on medium heat. Remove the item from the dryer while it is still damp and hang or lay flat. This will minimize wrinkles.

Storing Corduroy

Store corduroy by hanging so that there will be minimal wrinkles. However, you need to be careful when using clips or pegs to hang them since they can leave marks. Try not to fold corduroy as it can also leave marks.

Ensure your corduroy items are clean before storage. You can use a breathable storage bag made of canvas to prevent insects. It is not recommended to store them in plastic since it can cause moisture can cause mold and is also favored by insects.

What is Corduroy – In Conclusion

Thanks for reading my tutorial on what is corduroy. It is one of the most dependable and durable fabrics that is often overlooked. Corduroy is warm and resilient and a great choice for your wardrobe and sewing project.

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