Corduroy & Needlecord Fabrics - All you need to know

We're passionate about fabric at Sew Me Sunshine. Here's our guide to everything corduroy & needlecord, and tips on how to sew with this type of dressmaking fabric.


  • Corduroy is a cut pile fabric (pile is the raised surface of a fabric)
  • It is a durable ridged fabric with a distinctive raised cord texture. These ridges are called wales
  • It is produced by introducing extra yarns in regular row intervals that are cut and brushed, this creates the wales 
  • The rows are always produced in the warp direction, so the nap direction but be taken into consideration when sewing
  • The wales run vertically down the lengthwise grain of a fabric
  • The number of wales helps to determine it's appearance and use. 10 to 12 wales per inch is the standard number for corduroy
  • The lower the number of wales means that the fabric will be bulkier 
  • The higher the number of wales means that the wale will be finer and the fabric will be lighter in weight
  • Corduroy is most commonly made with cotton, but you may find corduroy fabrics containing polyester or viscose
  • Corduroy is a woven fabric but elastane can be added which results in the fabric having a slight stretch on the crosswise grain
  • Pros:
    • The wales provide an interesting texture and design
    • The surface texture is soft 
    • Lots of different options depending on the number of wales 
  • Cons:
    • The napped surface is prone to wear 
    • The direction of the nap must be considered when sewing


  • Jumbo Corduroy
    • The ridges are very wide apart, often 3 to 10 wales per inch, resulting in a heavy bulky fabric

  • Needlecord 
    • Has finer ridges, often 14 to 16 wales per inch, this results in a lighter fabric with a shorter cut pile

  • Babycord
    • Also known as pincord or pinwale, often 21 to 22 wales per inch, resulting in finer ridges, a low cut pile and lighter weight


  • Always pre wash your fabric
  • Decide what direction you would like the nap to run. You can determine the direction of the nap by running your hand across the fabric. The fabric will feel smoother if you run your hand in the direction of the nap, and rougher when your hand runs against it. Corduroy often wears better with the nap running down the garment, but the colours look richer when the nap runs up the garment. Once you have decided which way you would like the nap to run then you have to take this into account when cutting out your project
  • When cutting out your project take into consideration the direction of the wales
  • Cut on a single layer to avoid cutting off grain
  • Use sharp scissors when cutting out your project
  • Be careful when pressing the fabric as it may harm the texture of the surface of the fabric
  • Use sew in interfacings to avoid having to iron the fabric
  • Sew seams in the direction of the nap
  • A walking foot can help to stop the fabric from 'creeping' whilst sewing
  • It can be sewn with regular sewing machine needles, but remember to choose the right size needle depending on the weight of the corduroy
  • When sewing with jumbo corduroy it would be useful to grade your seams and avoid French seams 


If you have any questions or want to learn more, you can contact Team Sunshine at

You can find all of our corduroy and needlecord fabrics on our website.

1 comment

  • Hi! I’m new to your website and have really enjoyed browsing. This is a wonderful article on corduroy and lots of great information! Thank you! Happy sewing :-)


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