What Is the Difference Between Denim & Corduroy?


Corduroy and denim are both heavy cotton fabrics most often used for making pants, but also commonly used for jackets, skirts and shirts. Their hardy yet comfortable characteristics also make them common materials for toddler and children's wear. Though similar in their heft, material and uses, there are some major differences between the two fabrics both in construction and care.

Denim Construction and Characteristics

  • Denim is a tightly woven, cotton-twill fabric with a diagonal weave pattern. Colored threads, usually blue, are used in the warp, while white threads are used for the filling, giving denim its familiar bluish-white color. The twill and the weave are dense, making denim a very sturdy fabric with a smoothed but coarse texture.

Corduroy Construction and Characteristics

  • Corduroy is a cotton or cotton-blend type of pile fabric. Pile fabric is a textile that has a raised nap made of upright loops or strands of yarn. Corduroy differs from many other pile fabrics in that it's woven with extra filling yarns, which creates ribs or wales in the material, giving it a grooved velveteen texture.

Denim Care

  • Though heavy and durable, denim is prone to abrasion and fading. To reduce wear, turn denim garments inside out before washing. Denim is generally wrinkle resistant, and if pressing is needed, no special care needs to be taken--simply use a hot iron with steam. Although dry cleaning isn't required, you can have your denim professionally dry cleaned to maintain its pristine appearance for the longest amount of time.

Corduroy Care

  • Corduroy is a heavy fabric; however, because it is in essence a type of velvet, it is not as durable as denim and may not be as suitable for rugged uses. Also, maintaining the raised nap requires some special-care measures. When laundering or pressing, it's best to turn the garment inside out to protect the nap. The best way to maintain a corduroy garment's pile is to have it professionally dry cleaned and pressed.

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  • Sew Any Fabric; Claire Shaeffer; 2003
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