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5 Sewing Tips For Corduroy Fabric - Fabriclore

5 Sewing Tips For Corduroy Fabric

Are you on your journey to figuring out Corduroy?

Let's dive into the world of corduroy and learn how to utilize in the best way possible.

The Backstory

Corduroy, the fabric widely loved and used since the 1970s seem to never go out of style and can be described as classy and timeless. The most distinctive feature about this fabric is the “ridges” that are seen on the surface of the fabric and the rigidity of the fabric making it one of the most durable fabrics of all time.

There are various names by which this fabric goes by and you might be familiar with some of these terms - Elephant cord, corded velveteen, and pin cord. Usually, Corduroy Fabric Material is made of 100% cotton and sometimes it can be a blend of Polyester and cotton. Sometimes, the textile manufacturers will blend spandex to create a stretchable Corduroy.

The versatility of this fabric is also why it’s been in demand and style for the last few centuries- the variety of occasions and the silhouette variations like jackets, overalls, dungarees, skirts, and dresses, not to mention the seasonal choices this piece of textile accommodates is invaluable. This fabric is also widely used in home furnishing and upholstering due to its shiny, coarse, and durable nature.

 

What Is Wales?

The structural integrity of the corduroy comes from the extra fibers that are woven into the fabric to form the ribs on the surface which are technically called a “wale”. The wale is the count of the number of ribs or ridges that run along the length of the fabric per inch.

This is an important factor in identifying the type of corduroy that you need to purchase for the type of project/article of clothing that is aiming to create. A great way to assess the quality of corduroy you are purchasing is if you rub the ridges vigorously using your fingers and the fibers get loosened a bit, it is a sign of a poor quality corduroy. There are a wide variety of wale thicknesses available in the market ranging from 1.5 to 21 wales per inch. 

The smaller the wale number is the bigger is the size of the rib to cover the 1-inch space. Now that we learned a bit about the fabric, let’s get into the Knick knacks with which you can conquer Corduroy!

 

 

These are 5 tips I recommend for anyone who wants to get their hands on this very versatile piece of fabric:

 

1. Cutting Corduroy

Since Corduroy is predominantly made of cotton, it’s always advisable to wash and dry your fabric before you get into cutting and sewing. This way we can avoid shrinkage after completing the garment. Since it’s a dense fabric, air drying is the best way to make sure the lifetime of the fabric lasts longer.

Corduroy is what we call a napped fabric, which means all the raised fibers lie in one direction making this fabric feel and look different when touched or seen from different directions. The vertical ridges running along the length of the fabric make it easier to identify the straight grain.

Grain is the direction in which the patterns should be placed and cut on fabric, there are 3 types of grains-Straight grain, cross-grain, and bias grain. Straight grain is when the fabric is cut along the length of the fabric. It is also extremely important to cut corduroy as a single layer instead of double like we usually do to avoid any slippage.

 

 

As I mentioned earlier, the ribs are formed by weaving fibers into the fabric and these fibers feel differently when pushed up and down. Pre-determining this direction is also very important as it needs to be kept consistent throughout all the panels during the cutting process. It’s a known fact that when the fibers are pushed up it gives a bit of sheen and when pushed down it gives a more matte look.

It’s a personal preference of choice, but always remember to cut the patterns in the same direction! Speaking of ribs, it is also mighty important to align the ridged lines when overlaying patterns on top of each other. For example, if you are making a jacket and want to place a patch pocket on top when you try to match up the ribs on the front panel and the pocket, it gives a more professionally made look. It’s just a fun way to camouflage a pocket this way!

 

2. Never press

Pressing/ironing does more damage to corduroy than you think it does. The beauty of fabric like this is that it has raised fibers which give a nice sheen and texture to the fabric. By ironing or pressing fabric or by applying any pressure, will flatten the fibers causing them to lose their sheen and leave iron stains.

You may wonder, corduroy is a heavy fabric, and the only way to get flat and neat seams is by applying pressure and ironing the seams. In that case, we can just use our fingers to apply pressure and make the seams as flat as we can. Another great hack is to use an iron scale to apply a little bit of pressure on the seams.

Now since ironing is not an option anymore, iron-able/ Fusible interfacing also cannot be. So as an alternate we can use sew-able interfacing. Now, there are pieces in our garments that will not be seen on the outside and still need interfacing, for such pieces you can use fusible interlining and make sure to not put the full pressure of the iron box and do it gently. 

 

 

 

3. Shred the seam allowance

Getting rid of bulk as much as you can help you make the entire project a little easy on your machine. Heavily textured fabrics will take a toll on your machines. To avoid this, we can just trim the floating fibers on the seam allowances using a shaving blade.

This technique is also commonly used on fabrics with sequins and embellishments were running the needle that might cause damage to both the machine and the fabric, so the sequins get removed along with the seam allowance. Gently rub the blade over the area marked for seam allowance and try to remove the fibers as much as you can. Don’t overdo it, which might result in making the fabric weaker.

This tip is also not a requisite, it depends on the type of corduroy and the thickness of the wale. If the wale number is smaller, this tip can be skipped. For a fluffier corduroy, shaving a little bit of fiber will be very effective. 

 

4. Finishing the raw edges

Corduroy like many other fabrics is prone to raveling a lot. The easiest way to solve this is by overlocking the edges or you can also simply give a zig zag stitch. There is also another technique which involves a binding finish, where you use a bias fabric to cover the edges and seal it shut. This finish is called a Hong Kong seam, it does some with a bit of time consumptions but you can choose either of these finishes.

If you want to give lining and completely finish the inside of the garment, go for a light weight fabric and skip the Hong Kong finish this way. The Hong Kong finish is as simple as cutting a 1” bias piece from a light weight fabric and stitching it ¼” away from the straight seam and wrap the binding around the edges to secure the raw edges. Depending on the project you can select what finish seems more appropriate.

 

5. Avoid darts

This is, might I say is an unpopular opinion! I think for fabrics that are bulky like denim, corduroy or velvet, always opt for panels or yokes. Since it’s a heavy weight fabric, going for a yoke would give a more fitted look. Darts have 2 parts- dart legs and dart vanishing point.

The vanishing point of a dart should ideally be as seamless and as curved as it can be to align to the curves of our bodies, but when it comes to thicker/ heavier fabrics, the dart points may not look as seamless as it might on a poplin for instance. This can also help in avoiding bulk at certain areas which will restrict the garments flexibility. 

Once you successfully complete your garment/ project, there are chances your corduroy naps look a bit “tired” so to speak. A quick fix to revive the corduroy is by rubbing the surface with a lint roller and roll them in the same direction as the naps were when you cut them. If not, you can just use another piece of corduroy fabric and do the same. This will make your corduroy appear fresher and look new again. 

 

I am always very excited to get my hands on new fabrics that I have not worked on before, so when I first used corduroy I was quite happy I did my research. For anyone who is using corduroy for the first time, a small tip is order little bit more than what you think you would need and remember to enjoy the process. Hope these tips helped you gain confidence to tackle your dream corduroy project!

 

Author: D. Sakthiswari


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