11 Tips for Sewing with Corduroy
Muslin first– Corduroy really shows the pull lines caused by fit issues. Work this out before making your corduroy garment.
Pretest– A few minutes spent pressing, testing stitches, checking for pin marks, and testing your marking tools will prevent unwelcome surprises.
Working with nap– Brush your hands up and down the wales of your corduroy. One direction should feel smooth and the other slightly rough in comparison. The smooth direction is considered “with the nap” and the rough “against the nap”. Most prefer to use their corduroy with the nap all facing the same direction and the “smooth” side running from top to bottom of the garment. Switching things up could add some unexpected and interesting design details.
Turn of cloth– Some corduroy can be quite thick, adding bulk to the seams and increasing your turn of cloth. Sewing a test square with the fabric folded back on itself will give you a good idea on how your corduroy will behave and if you need to accommodate for the extra width needed for turn of cloth.
Choose quality– 100% cotton is best. The fibers of synthetics and fabric blends can wear faster causing your corduroy to loose its loft.
Pressing (or not)– Pressing can crush the loft of your corduroy, so proceed with caution and test it out first. Pad your pressing area with a thick towel or a large scrap of your corduroy (wales facing each other) and use only the tip of your iron to carefully press the seam. Saving the loft may mean skipping fusible interfacing. Use sew-in interfacing instead.
Reduce bulk– Clip curves, grade, and shave down the pile in seam allowances to reduce bulk. Substitute self facings with a coordinating light weight fabric. Instead of back stitching, reduce stitch length at the beginning and the end of seams. Miter your corners. Use single fold hems.
Stop the ravel– Overlocked edges, a Hong Kong finish, or a full lining are all ways to keep things nice and neat.
Avoid the shift– Cut out your pattern pieces single layer when working with larger wales. Use a walking/even-feed foot while sewing. Use pins within the seam allowance
Line it up– Wide-wale corduroys look best when the wales match up, similar to striped designs. Make this part of your pretesting. Be as precise as possible when lining up your pattern’s grain line markings.
Keep it simple– Choose simple pattern designs with minimal disruption of the natural lines created by the wales. Take it easy with embellishments. The texture and wales already give a lot of visual interest, it’s easy to over do it by adding more details.