Corduroy is a sturdy fabric made either completely of cotton, or of a cotton and polyester blend. The term “corduroy” (cord du roi) roughly translates to “king’s cord”, but that said, one is less likely to see this fabric used in royal garments. Many fashion designers and tailors in today’s textile industry swear by the reliability of this fabric.
Corduroy is usually woven, and then cut into distinctive striped ribs or wales, which run across the entire length of the textile material. Some lightweight corduroys are seen to have smooth and short piles with almost invisible wales. Although it can be tagged as a cousin of velvet, the difference corduroy has from the latter is that its pile is manufactured from the extra floats in the yarn or weft. Besides, it is not that difficult to sew with corduroy, and it is even possible to ensure a smooth finish using special techniques meant specifically for cutting and sewing this fabric.
The Different Types of Corduroy
Corduroy is available in the market in a lot of variations in respect to wales, sizes, and fabric weight. There is also stretchy corduroy, which is produced by mixing a little spandex in the fabric to give it more flexibility. You can also get printed corduroy fabric in any preferred design and pattern when it comes to the final product.
You can also get corduroy fabric in different qualities – the all-cotton type is considered to be of the highest quality. Yet, when buying the material, you can also go for inexpensive types, which have a verdant pile as well as superior gloss and draping capability. Besides, you should also examine the reverse side of the textile material when buying; it is supposed be tightly woven and firm enough to produce a fine, beautiful garment.
You can check if the filler yarns meet the selvedges at the right angles, by rubbing the fabric vigorously or scratching it with your fingernails. If you see any loose bits of the material, or if scratching creates a powdery dust, it means that weaving was not done properly, and the tailor used excessive sizing to cover up poor quality.
If you are not sure of the quality of the fabric which you would like to buy, just ask for a quarter yard of each textile material and wash it with your usual load of garments. If the soft and shiny fabric becomes stiff and uneven to the touch, it is better to look for other options. On the contrary, if the fabric piece turns silky and supple, then this is what you want to buy.
Corduroy’s Design Elements
As the soft fabric has strong vertical wales, it gives the material a characteristic visual appeal which is distinctive from those of silk, suede, and even velvet. Designers can even get amazing textures in a corduroy garment by mixing different weights of the fabric piles into one outfit. Then there is the possibility of creating contrast and texture in the final clothing as well, based on how the tailor cuts the ribs of the fabric. Note that corduroy cannot be taken as a runny, swathing fabric, which means that it is better for designs that offer body-fit appeal.
Corduroy has much surface interest, so it is advised to select a pattern with simple lines for the final product. That would allow its wales to balance the design pattern. Moreover, since corduroy fabrics can vary greatly in weight, you need to choose a type which is suitable for the intended garment. For instance, soft and lightweight corduroy textile are perfect for dresses, blouses, and vests, while medium-weight fabrics would be the ideal choice for jackets, skirts, and trousers. At the same time, wide wale varieties, which are the heaviest ones, are the best for coats and other winter wear.
You should also keep in mind that corduroy is a napped textile material just like velvet, which means that its pile reflects light in different ways when viewed from different angles. Expert designers recommend using an additional fabric to complement the napped layout, while having all the patterned pieces facing the same direction.
Caring for Corduroy Garments
Corduroy does not usually demand special care, especially the all-cotton type. However, to prevent fading of the bright colors and designer patterns of the garment, you should wash them inside out in cold water. In addition, it is advised to hang-dry clothing made of corduroy instead of leaving it in the dryer for hours. When hanging it on the line, it is also better to straighten up the seams and loosen up the wrinkles first.
Steam ironing is recommended to restore the napping property of this fabric, while brushing it with a small piece of corduroy is also a good way of reviving its natural sheen.