Corduroy and Stretch Corduroy
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Corduroy and Stretch Corduroy

    Corduroy is a versatile fabric. It can be dressy or it can be casual. It's great for kids' clothing, or it can be very special for adult clothing. Corduroy is comfortable to wear, not challenging to sew, and easy care. It comes in a variety of colors, textures, and fiber contents. Some corduroy has lycra added for stretch, increasing the comfort level of the fabric. Corduroy is often described by the width of the channels, or ‘wales', which create the distinct texture and appearance of the fabric. Wide wale corduroy can have as few as two or three channels of texture per vertical inch; baby-wale, or micro-wale corduroy can have up to 15-20 wales per inch! Corduroy and velveteen have many of the same properties. Before sewing with corduroy, review the sewing guide for velvet and velveteen for additional pointers.

    Pretreatment:

    Cold water wash, no bleach, machine dry. Remove promptly from the dryer, unless you plan to iron the fabric smooth later. To press out wrinkles, fold the fabric in half, right sides together, so that the texture will embed in itself. This will prevent crushing of the pile.

    Needles and Thread:

    Universal needles, size 80/12, are good choices for larger wales; choose a smaller needle (70/10) for baby-wale corduroy. Cotton, cotton/polyester, or all polyester threads are good choices.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    Use a standard straight seam, 2.5 length, for construction Seams will require finishing, as corduroy ravels. A two or three-thread overlock on the serger is the best choice for seam finishes. Another option is to bind the seam allowances with seam tape, or use enclosed seams such as fell seams. Hems can be done by hand or machine. Corduroy is a perfect candidate for machine blind-hemming.

    Interfacing:

    Fusibles work beautifully with corduroy. Use a lightweight tricot knit interfacing for most applications. For more structure areas (collars, button bands, cuffs), use a medium-weight weft insertion fusible. If you prefer a sew-in interfacing, try cotton batiste, cut on the same grain as the corduroy.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    Jackets, coats, shirt jackets, biker jackets, pants, skirts, jumpers, hats, bags, vests.

    Creative Possibilities:

    Corduroy looks great when paired with leather, velvet, suede, or tweed. Try machine embroidery on your corduroy garment for a fun embellishment! Corduroy also marries well with topstitching; use a heavier weight thread or multiple strands of the construction thread for your topstitching.

    Additional Tips:

    Be sure to use a velvet board or a thick towel on your ironing surface when pressing seams in corduroy. Keep the iron temperature on the lower side; particularly when pressing corduroy with lycra added. Steam the seam allowance, and gently press it open with your fingers, then allow to dry before moving to the next area.

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