We’re on corduroy countdown to 11/11/11, so I’m making a quilt out of corduroy. I liked this dusty brown corduroy I saw at Joann’s. It reminded me of a forest creature named Totoro. Totoro is a fuzzy guy so it seems appropriate to piece him in corduroy. I’ve pieced him before in Kona Cotton here, but piecing him in corduroy is slightly different because of the nature of the fabric.
Some things to note:
Nap: Corduroy has a nap. That means the pile/fuzz points one direction – up or down the wales. If you mix up the naps with one piece of fabric, cut into different pieces, you’ll end up with different shades of corduroy. This is nice if you’re mixing it up on purpose. This is not nice if you are sewing, say, pants, and one leg of your pant ends up being darker than the other.
Creep: Because of the nap, corduroy travels. The fabric you are sewing to the corduroy will creep or move up or down depending. Pinning and checking that your seams are where you want them to be is important.
Shrinkage: Corduroy shrinks. I’m using 100% cotton corduroy. It shrinks both in width and length. Mine happened to shrink more in the width than length but it’s non-trivial – more than what you will get with quilting cottons – you should preshrink before sewing with it, even if you don’t usually preshrink.
There are actually corduroys that are woven to shrink quite a bit on purpose, giving a crinkly almost seersucker appearance after wash. These shrink a lot in the first wash – prewash those to avoid causing a ruckus on the quilt after washing the whole thing.
Thickness: Corduroy, especially the wide wale kind, is thicker than quilting cotton. It’s good to keep in mind when deciding on a design for piecing something. Four layers of corduroy joining together makes for a big wad of fabric beneath. Some garment sewers shave down the pile on the corduroy seam allowances to allow for multiple joins.
Pressing: The pile gets mushed down very easily and shows marks. You can see the ironing board marks on my corduroy because I was not careful. Use a light hand ironing, and ideally, use a velvet board. ( The press marks I made will fluff out in the wash -they’re temporary and caused by not using a velvet board.) Or do what I did finally and finger press most seams until the very end.
Seams: Check your seams carefully. If you’ve allowed some creep – and it is hard not to – some of the seam allowances may have become 1/8″ instead of 1/4″.
If you’re lax about trimming the little triangles from the edges on pieced half square triangles and the like, do not be with corduroy. It is extra bulk that will not just get mushed in after quilting and washing.
And finally, I do not usually use open seams when piecing, preferring usually to press to the darker side, but in the case of corduroy, opening seams is a good idea.
Pressure: This applies to sewing with home decor weight fabrics and other things as well, but since we’re on the subject of corduroy…When sewing – especially a thicker corduroy – adjust the sewing foot pressure. If it’s set on pretty tight for quilting cotton, it’s going to be too tight for corduroy, resulting in unnecessary crabbiness for the sewer, and shift and creep with the fabric. Loosen that thing up a bit. And remember to adjust again when going back to thinner weight fabric.