Category: 

What Is Bedford Cord?

Article Details
  • Written By: Elizabeth Kelly
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The oldest known tortoise is 182 years old, and is believed by scientists to be the oldest living land creature.  more...

November 23 ,  1936 :  The modern version of "Life" magazine published its firs  more...

Bedford cord is a specific variety of durable, woven fabric. It is similar to corduroy in that the weave has raised ridges running in a lengthwise direction. The fibers that make up Bedford cord typically are wool or worsted, but the cloth also is sometimes made of cotton, rayon or silk. The ridges occasionally are made more pronounced with stuffing.

Sources disagree about whether Bedford cord was first named for the town of Bedford, England, or for New Bedford, Massachusetts. Bedford which has been in the cotton textile industry since 1846, and New Bedford also has a textile history that dates to the 19th century. Both cities have produced corded fabrics known as Bedford cord, and both claim the name as their own.

The ridges in Bedford cord and other corded fabrics are called cords or wale, and the size or thickness of the ridge is measured in wale numbers. Higher wale numbers indicate the thinnest cords, and lower wale numbers signify a broader cord width. Particularly broad cording is usually referred to as wide wale.

Ad

It is a particularly durable fabric, so Bedford cord's use in the fashion industry predominantly is in the construction of outerwear, winter trousers or garments that do not require a fabric with draping ability. Blazers, heavy jackets, coats and suits are typical uses of this somewhat inflexible cloth, and trousers of Bedford cord are ubiquitous enough that the slacks themselves often are referred to as Bedford cords. Bedford cord also is used in the construction of jodhpurs or riding breeches and can be used to upholster furniture that requires a hard-wearing cloth surface.

Bedford cord can be woven from pure wool, cotton pique, silk, rayon or blends of fiber. Its name sometimes is used interchangeably with other corded fabrics, such as corduroy, Manchester cloth or corded velveteen, though there are slight variations between the various corded fabrics that are of little consequence to those outside the textile industry. In terms of clothing and fashion, the term "cord" generally is specific enough to be understood.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Rotergirl
Post 2

@Pippinwhite -- Never heard that, but it's an interesting hypothesis! I'd always heard the term Bedford cord, but never really knew what it was. Now I have a much better idea of what kind of fabric it actually is.

Pippinwhite
Post 1

I smiled when I saw this. A Bedford cord dress actually figures into the Lizzie Borden murder case. She probably changed her dress (the one with blood on it) for a Bedford cord that was the same basic color as the one she eventually burned.

I'm sort of a student of the case, and one source, "A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight" by Victoria Lincoln is the definitive work in many ways, in my opinion.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email