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Corduroy is a type of fabric best known for its raised cord and unique ridged pattern (the ridges are called wales). It’s usually made with cotton, but over time, other fibers have also been used, such as a combination of polyester and cotton, full-on polyester, and even wool.
What is corduroy fabric and its origin?
Fabric historians believe that corduroy originated from fustian, an Egyptian fabric developed around 200 AD. Fustian features the same raised ridges as corduroy, but it’s definitely much rougher and less closely woven.
Modern corduroy as we know it was developed in England in the 18th century, and during this time, it became popular among all classes in British society. However, in the 19th century, velvet toppled corduroy as the country’s most favored fabric, and corduroy eventually received the derogatory nickname “poor man’s velvet.”
Corduroy gained popularity once again during World War I, and by the 1970s, it earned a widespread revival within western culture. This fabric is still popular today, especially since it’s versatile and durable, making it perfect for several uses and applications.
What are the different types of corduroy fabric?
Because of the fabric’s history, corduroy has developed different variations throughout the years. Here are the most common types of corduroy fabric.
- Standard corduroy. This type of corduroy features 11 wales per inch, though anything between 8 and 13 wales per inch is still considered to be standard.
- Elephant cord. This is named as such because of its very large, thick cords that are reminiscent of the distinctive folds in an elephant’s skin. Elephant cord fabric can have anywhere between 1.5 and 6 wales.
- Pinwale corduroy. This is the opposite of the elephant cord fabric. Instead of large, think cords, pinwale corduroy features tiny ridges in every square inch. To be more specific, this type of fabric can have up to 21 wales per inch.
- Pigment-dyed corduroy. As the name suggests, this type of corduroy is dyed, resulting in a mottled appearance that becomes even more distinct with each washing.
- Spandex corduroy. With this type of fabric, cotton, polyester-blend, wool, and spandex are combined to create a stretchy corduroy.
- Bedford cord. This is an American fabric that features a similar weave to corduroy. However, unlike corduroy, Bedford cord fabric has uncut pile yarns; as a result, the ridges are less prominent in this one.
What is corduroy fabric used for?
Corduroy has been a popular fabric for garments. In the past, it was used to create workwear, soldier’s uniforms, hats, and upholstery. These days, it’s the fabric of choice for overalls, pants, and jackets. Corduroy pants, in particular, have been in and out of fashion trends for several decades now.
Corduroy is also quite useful in other applications. To be more specific, it can be used in furniture and accessories, such as chairs, couch coverings, and decorative cushions.