Fabric Dictionary: What Is Corduroy Fabric?

Fabric Dictionary: What Is Corduroy Fabric?

Corduroy fabric is a durable, softly textured fabric that displays a corded, wale pattern. Read this blog to learn everything about Corduroy and how to use it!
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From its humble origins as a sturdy workwear fabric to its current status as a fashion staple, Corduroy fabric has captured the hearts and minds of generations of designers, makers, and wearers.

Originating from Britain, Corduroy is made by weaving various fibers into a distinct, tufted cord pattern. These cords, also known as wales, can be found in various widths. The number of “wales per inch,” along with fiber composition, create different types of corduroy, which each have different applications. Join us as we discuss everything about Corduroy fabric.

History Of Corduroy Fabric

Corduroy fabric as we know it today was first used as workwear in Manchester, England in the 17th century during the industrial revolution. If you want to go back further, it is said that Corduroy is derived from a medieval cotton fabric called fustian, the first fabric with a raised appearance.Over time, fustian evolved into different types of Corduroy, such as "wales" or "ribs," which varied in thickness, spacing, and direction of the cords.

By the 18th century, Corduroy fabric had become a popular material for workwear, especially in Britain, where it was used for trousers, jackets, and caps. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Corduroy fashion exploded in popularity amongst the youth throughout the world.

How Corduroy Fabric Is Made?

A unique, 3-dimensional fabric, Corduroy features a raised textured pattern. Sourced or blended from fibers like cotton, wool, polyester, or spandex, Corduroy is made by weaving fibers into the base of a fabric to form piles in a vertical corded pattern. These cords are called wales and can vary in width. Wales per inch, sometimes seen as WPI, is the term for identifying the size of cords associated with Corduroy fabric. Wider corded patterns will have a lower WPI, while thinner cords will result in a higher WPI.

Generally speaking, Corduroy fabric is thick, dense, and tightly woven, making it durable and able to withstand everyday wear and tear. That being said, the fabric also has a soft texture and is comfortable to the touch. The raised corded pattern can be prone to pilling over time. This means that friction can cause fibers within the cords to separate and form small balls or pills over time. To remove pilling from Corduroy fabric, try using a shaver or lint roller.

Different Types Of Corduroy Fabric?

Corduroy fabric can be found in several different styles and types. The wales per inch is a determining factor for standard, pinwale, and elephant Corduroys, while stretch Corduroy fabric is style made with a blend of spandex.

Let’s discuss more about a few of these Corduroy fabrics and what makes them different:

  • Standard Wale Corduroy

    This is a traditional Corduroy fabric with a 7-14 WPI. Each cord ons Standard Wale Corduroy is spaced approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inches apart, and the spaces are an even distance between one another.

  • Pinwale Corduroy

    This type of Corduroy that has a WPI greater than 15. The cords on Pinwale Corduroy fabric look similar to a pinstripe pattern. The raised cords are small in width when compared to the flat spaces on the fabric.

  • Elephant Corduroy

    With a WPI of 1-6, Elephant Corduroy has wide cords that can sometimes be elongated to where they almost resemble elephant ears. The cords on these Corduroy fabrics are usually a 1/2 inch or greater in width.

  • Stretch Corduroy

    This is a style of Corduroy fabric that is made from a blend of spandex fibers. Typically, Corduroy fabric does not stretch due to its tight weave structure; however, Stretch Corduroy stretches for increased comfort and pliability.

Uses Of Corduroy Fabric

Corduroy fabric is a versatile textile that can be used for various purposes. Some styles of Corduroy fabric work better in certain applications than others. For example, Pinwale Corduroy is known for being used as children's clothing since it is durable and hypoallergenic if made from cotton.

Let’s further discuss where you will find Corduroy fabric being used:

  • Apparel

    Corduroy is commonly used to make trousers, jackets, blazers, and skirts. The fabric's soft texture and durability make it perfect for all different types of clothing and uniforms. You can find both formal and casual Corduroy fabric garments for sale.

  • Accessories

    Corduroy is a popular material for hats, bags, and shoes. It's also commonly used for linings in coats and jackets. Give your outfit a retro touch with Corduroy fabric.

  • Upholstery

    Corduroy fabric is often used in upholstery for furniture like sofas and armchairs. The fabric's thickness, durability, and density make it resistant to wear and tear, while the texture is comfortable against the skin. They are also usually easy to clean when stained.

  • Home decor

    Don’t stop at the upholstery, match it with Corduroy throw pillows, curtains, or even wall coverings. The fabric's texture adds dimension and warmth to any space.

Can You Wash Corduroy?

Corduroy fabric is a durable fabric that can handle machine washing and tumble drying. Always check the care instructions and content of your fabric before washing it. Cotton fibers can withstand higher temperatures than synthetic fibers like spandex and polyester. Generally speaking, machine washing Corduroy on a low temperature setting is the safest and easiest way to wash the fabric. When tumble drying Corduroy, also go for a low temperature setting to avoid color fading and pillin.


Corduroy fabric is built durably, fashionably, and will stand the test of time. From a humble beginning being used as workwear during the Industrial Revolution, Corduroy fabric was made to be durable and comfortable. Available in a variety of different styles, Corduroy fabric is a fashion staple that can be used almost anywhere.

Check out this Corduroy fabric collection to shop Corduroy fabrics online at wholesale prices. Corduroy fabric is easy to sew! Try using Corduroy fabric for your next craft project..




I grew up with courduroy fabric everything. It’s always been in style. I just ordered 3 yards for a jumpsuit. I plan to use the scraps on a bag

I grew up with courduroy fabric everything. It’s always been in style. I just ordered 3 yards for a jumpsuit. I plan to use the scraps on a bag

Ezra Jacobs

Ezra Jacobs

Wow this was so informative! I never knew that corduroy fabric was so easy to wash! I will definitely try sewing with Corduroy fabric on my next upholstery project.

Wow this was so informative! I never knew that corduroy fabric was so easy to wash! I will definitely try sewing with Corduroy fabric on my next upholstery project.

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