Corduroy Fabric: Definition, Types, Manufacturing Process and Characteristics

Last updated on March 1st, 2024 at 11:45 pm


Corduroy fabric is a versatile and long-lasting fabric that has existed for couple of centuries. Its popularity has declined, but it has remained a wardrobe staple due to its ability to keep us warm, comfortable, and fashionable. Its unique texture has ridges or cords, giving it a unique look and feel. In this article, we will explore the definition, types, manufacturing process and characteristics of corduroy fabric and some tips on how to wear and care for it.


Corduroy is a fabric appertaining to raised and fluffy parallel cords or ridges on its surface. These cords are created by the way the fabric is woven, with the ridges running perpendicular to the length of the fabric. It can be made from various materials, including cotton, polyester, and blends of different fibers like cotton-elastane, cotton-polyester etc.

Different colored corduroy fabrics.

It is usually a heavier and thicker fabric, which makes it enduring and long-lasting. It is commonly used for clothing such as pants, jackets, and skirts, as well as for upholstery and home decor items like cushions and curtains. The width and spacing of the cords can differ, with wider and more widely-spaced lines known as elephant corduroy and narrower stripes known as pinwale or needlecord corduroy.


This fabric has retained its value for centuries after centuries and originates in ancient Egypt, where it was used for clothing and upholstery. It gained popularity in Europe during the 18th century, where it was used for workwear and outdoor clothing due to its long-lasting and warmth. Then in the 20th century, it became popular with the youth culture, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, when it was worn as a symbol of rebellion and anti-establishment. 

Types of Corduroy

There are several types of corduroy fabrics, which vary in terms of their structure and wales per inch. The top 7 best types of corduroy include:

TypesWale Count
Elephant or Jumbo Cord1 to 3
Broad Wale Cord4 to 10
Standard or Classic Cord11 to 14
Bedford CordN/A
Needle Cord14 to 21
Pin Cord16 to 21
Baby Cord25 to 30

Elephant or Jumbo Cord

Elephant or Jumbo cord is a corduroy fabric with a more comprehensive wale count than broad wale corduroy. It typically has a wale count (number of ridges per inch) ranging from 1 to 3, with the widest ridges of any corduroy fabric. This gives the fabric a distinctive, lumpy texture often compared to an elephant’s skin, therefore, the name. Elephant cord is typically made from a cotton or cotton-polyester blend material and is used in various applications, including furniture upholstery, home decor, and clothing. It is a heavy-duty fabric that is durable and long-lasting, making it a popular choice for items that will receive a lot of wear and tear. Elephant cord is available in various colors and is often used to create bold, statement pieces of clothing or furniture. It is a unique and eye-catching fabric that adds texture and dimension to any project.

Elephant or Jumbo Cord

Broad Wale Cord

Broad wale cord is a fabric with a wider wale count than standard or classic cord but not as wide as elephant cord. The wale count typically ranges from 4 to 10, with fewer ridges per inch than elephant cord. This gives broad wale corduroy a more distinct and prominent texture. It is made from a cotton and cotton blend, and the wider ridges make it a popular choice for clothing items such as jackets, vests, and skirts, as well as for home decor applications such as upholstery and drapes. The fabric is available in various colors and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. It has a vintage feel and adds texture and interest to any project. It is a popular fabric choice for designers and consumers who want a unique, textured fabric with a retro feel. 

Broad wale cord

Standard or Classic Cord

Standard or classic cord refers to the standard and most commonly used type of corduroy fabric. It typically has a wale count ranging from 11 to 14 and is made from 100% cotton or cotton blend. It is durable and warm, making it a popular option for garments items such as pants, jackets, and skirts. It has a soft and velvety texture due to the raised parallel cords or ridges that run vertically down the fabric. Depending on the occasion, it is available in various colors and can be dressed up or down. It is a timeless fabric that has been popular for decades and is a favorite among fashion designers and consumers.

Standard or Classic Cord

Bedford Cord

Bedford cord is a durable and sturdy woven fabric that corresponds to corduroy in texture but has a more subtle ribbed effect. It is characterized by raised lengthwise ridges or cords woven into the fabric, with crosswise threads that bind them together. It can be made from various fibres, including cotton, wool, and polyester, and is often used for clothing and home decor applications like Cushions, Rugs and Chair covers. It is also suitable for jackets, skirts, blazers, coats, and workwear.

It was initially developed in Bedford, England, in the 19th century. It quickly became famous for use in different types of workwear and military uniforms due to its strength and durability. It is often used in earthy or neutral colors, and its ribbed texture adds a subtle depth and interest to attire.

Needle Cord

A needle cord, or micro cord, is a corduroy fabric with an excellent wale count. It typically has a wale count that ranges from 14 to 21, which is higher than traditional corduroy but lower than pin cord. The delicate ridges of the needle cord give it a soft and comfortable texture providing a distinctive corduroy texture.

Needle Cord

It is commonly made from cotton or a cotton blend and is often used for clothing items such as pants, skirts, and jackets. It is also famous for home decor projects, including upholstery and throw pillows. The fabric’s soft texture makes it an excellent choice for clothing worn during the fall and winter, and its fine ridges add interest and dimension to any project.

Pin Cord

It is a type of corduroy fabric characterized by its delicate, densely packed ridges. It has a much higher wale count than standard or classic corduroy, typically ranging from 16 to 21 wales per inch. The fabric is made from a blend of cotton and synthetic fibres like polyester and spandex, which gives it a soft texture and a slight sheen.

Pic Cord

It is a versatile fabric for jackets, trousers, skirts, and dresses. It is also used for home decor items such as cushions, curtains, and upholstery. It is lightweight and comfortable, making it a popular choice for clothing worn in spring and summer.

Baby Cord

Baby cord, feather cord, or baby skin is a lightweight fabric with an excellent wale count. The wale count for baby cords typically ranges from 25 to 30, which is higher than needle cords and much higher than classic corduroy. The delicate ridges give the fabric a soft, velvety texture that is comfortable to wear and touch.

Baby Cord

It is often made from cotton or a cotton-polyester blend and is commonly used for clothing items such as shirts, blouses, dresses, and skirts. Its soft texture and lightweight feel make it an excellent choice for warmer weather. It is also used for home decor projects like cushion covers and curtains. Its smooth surface makes it a popular choice for children’s clothing.

Difference between Bedford Cord and Corduroy fabric 

Bedford CordCorduroy
The loose pile yarns remain uncut.The loose pile yarns are cut.
The ridges are less prominent.The ridges are prominent.
More durable fabric.Comparatively less durable fabric.

Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process of corduroy fabric involves several steps:

Preparation of Yarn

The first raw material for corduroy fabric production is yarn. Generally, two types of yarn are used. One is for warp or wales, and another is for picks. One or more yarn is used in the Weft or pick direction. Warp yarns may be 100% cotton or chief value of cotton, and Weft yarns may be 100% cotton, cotton blend or elastane. The yarns may be dyed or undyed as required.


Weaving is the second step. In this step, the fabric is woven in an air jet loom according to the fabric structure and design. Cord fabric has two basic structures. One is plain, and another is twill. The width and spacing of the cords can vary depending on the preferred ridges of the fabric.


After the fabric is woven, it undergoes a process called shearing in the shearing machine, where the pile-forming picks are cut to a uniform length. This creates distinctive ridges or cords on the surface of the fabric.

Corduroy Fabric Manufacturing

The fabric may have V-Shape ridges and W-Shaped ridges. The V-Shaped ridges are very simple and can quickly come out due to their single and simple interlacement. But the W-Shaped ridges are less likely to come out during use and care due to their multiple interlacements.

Corduroy Fabric Manufacturing


Corduroy fabric can be dyed in various colours using techniques like piece dyeing, garment dyeing, yarn dyeing and pigment dyeing.

In the piece dyeing method, the fabric is dyed after being woven and sheared. The fabric is usually immersed in an open dye bath, and the dye penetrates the fabric’s fibres. The fabric is then sent to the finishing process.

Garment dyeing involves dyeing the fabric after it has been cut and sewn into a whole garment. This method allows for more significant colour consistency across the garment and creates unique colour effects.

In the yarn dyeing process, the yarns used to weave the fabric are dyed before the weaving process. This can result in a more precise colour diffusion throughout the fabric and can allow for the creation of complex patterns or designs.

Pigment dyeing involves the application of pigment dye to the fabric’s surface. The pigments adhere to the fabric’s fibres and create a coloured surface. This method can create unique colour effects and can be used to create a vintage or worn-in look. But its colorfastness is not so satisfactory.


When the fabric is sheared or dyed, it undergoes a series of finishing processes to improve its appearance and durability. These processes may include brushing, singeing, steaming, washing and calendaring. The fabric may also be treated with chemicals to make it resistant to wrinkles, stains, or other damage.


The fabric has several distinctive features, making it a popular clothing item and home decor choice. Here are some of the most common characteristics of cord fabric:


It has a raised surface that is made up of cut pick yarns. The fibres are typically arranged in ridges, known as wales, that run parallel. The wale size can vary, with larger wales known as broad-wale and smaller wales known as pinwale corduroy.


It is known for its softness and comfort. The tufted fibres of the fabric create a plush, gentle texture on the fabric’s surface.


It is a durable fabric that withstands regular wear and tear. It is often used to make clothing items that require long lusting, such as pants, jackets, and upholstery.


The thick, fluffy texture of the fabric makes it suitable for cold weather. It provides warmth and insulation without feeling bulky.


It can be used for a variety of apparel items and home decor. It can also be dressed up or down depending on the occasion and is suitable for various styles, from casual to formal.

Colour Options

It is available in a wide range of colors and patterns, making it easy to find a style that suits your taste.

Wear And Care

This fabric can be worn in many ways, from casual to formal. Try pairing a corduroy jacket with jeans and a T-shirt for a casual look. Wear a corduroy skirt with a blouse and heels for a more traditional look. When caring for corduroy, it is essential to follow the care instructions on the garment’s label. Typically, corduroy should be washed in cold water, hung to dry, or laid flat. It is also necessary to avoid ironing corduroy, as it can flatten the ridges and ruin the fabric’s texture.


In conclusion, corduroy fabric’s unique texture, comfort, and long-lasting property have made it a classic fabric that remains popular today. Whether you’re looking for a cosy jacket or a statement piece of furniture, it is a versatile and stylish choice.

You may also like: An Overview of Different Types of Lightweight Fabric

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He is Abu Sayed, the founder of the blog site Textile Apex. He is a Textile Engineer having eight years plus practical experience in the Textile and Clothing industries. With a deep love for fashion and a keen eye for detail, he combines his creative flair with extensive knowledge to offer insightful and engaging content to his readers.
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6 thoughts on “Corduroy Fabric: Definition, Types, Manufacturing Process and Characteristics

  1. Greetings. I know this is somewhat off-topic, but I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform like yours, and I’m having difficulty finding one? Thanks a lot.

  2. An enlightening read on the intricate details of corduroy fabric! Every aspect, from definition to manufacturing, was neatly condensed, proving an educational experience. The information on its types and characteristics is especially appreciated. Shoutout to Kathryn Hensley and for this valuable knowledge.

  3. Corduroy, a timeless classic, continues to charm with its durability and distinct texture. Despite a dip in popularity, it remains a trusted choice for warmth, comfort, and style. Join us as we uncover the essence of corduroy, from its rich history to its manufacturing process, and discover how to make it a stylish addition to your wardrobe.

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