Cordura How-To

Cordura fabric, great choice for car seat covers

CalTrend now offers automotive seat covers made with Cordura fabric. Cordura is a type of fabric manufactured in various weights and blends of nylon, cotton, or polyester. It is often used in motorcycle gear, military garb, outdoor gear, and backpacks. It is strong, durable, and tear-resistant like canvas. It is often treated with polyurethane or silicon to make it water-resistant.

There are occasions when you may have some Cordura clothing that is not the right color for your tastes. On other occasions, you may have to sew it to retain a valuable item with some memories attached to it. In any case, you will certainly need to clean it properly if you want to feel fresh all the time. Let’s consider how to dye, sew, and clean this durable fabric, below.


How To Dye Cordura Material

Unlike other fabrics, Cordura can be hard to dye. You can’t make it any lighter than the original shade but can use brighter dyes to create vibrant colors. You can only deepen a dark or medium pigment with darker shades of green, brown, black, etc. If you dye it in warm water, the results will be lackluster. So, instead, you will need to dye it in boiling water to obtain any steadfast pigment. Not just any dye will do. Yet, an inexpensive acid dye available at your local department store is all that is required.

The process is as easy as taking two cups of hot water per packet of dye to darken the pigment of up to two pounds of Cordura clothing. Feel free to halve or double the recipe as needed. Next, add the dye solution to six more cups of hot water in a large stockpot. You can also use your washing machine if the pot is not large enough to let the clothing item unwrinkle and breathe freely. In any case, you want to ensure that the water is heated to 200 Fahrenheit.

Soak the clothing in the simmering water for at least a half hour or an hour to achieve a deeper or more vibrant pigment. When it is finished, simply rinse it in lukewarm water and then again in cycles of cold water until it runs clear. You can throw it in your electric dryer or simply lay it down flat before wearing.

How To Sew Cordura

Cordura can be difficult to sew. It is not recommended that you try to sew it yourself or try to make different clothing pieces with it or accessories unless you have an industrial sewing machine or a heavy-duty all-metal home model.

You will also need #69 bonded nylon thread, and #22 to #18/110 size sewing needles. This thick thread is sold on one-pound cones and hard for modern consumer sewing machines to run. In fact, it is probably more trouble than it is worth to try doing it yourself unless you have the right tools. Taking it to a professional can save you time, money, and frustration.

If you do decide to do it yourself, make sure that the thread is clearing your rotary hook, presser foot, and base plate. It is really easy for thick thread to get jammed up. You might not even be able to find a #22 guage needle for a non-industrial machine and may have to settle for #18. And if you are able to wind a bobbin and threat it through the machine without any hangups, it is time to try a test run on some scraps. If you are not able to manage penetration through thick seams, you may fare better doing it by hand.

How To Clean Cordura

You can wash most Cordura items like any clothing you may have by using a mild laundry detergent and cold water cycle. You will want to avoid bleach or chemicals that might breakdown the fibers of the material and weaken it. You will also want to air dry it or use a low heat setting to ensure that fibers do not become dry rotted.

If the item is too large to put in a washing machine, you may want to try spot cleaning it. This can usually be accomplished by pretreating the stains with a laundry pre-treater or dry-cleaning solution. Using two cups of warm water and 1 tablespoon of bleach mixed with laundry detergent, you can spray spots and clean them with a soft toothbrush to deep clean into the pores. The final step is to use a damp cloth with cool water to simply wipe and dab the spot that you treated clean.


Cordura is a tough fabric that will last you a lifetime if you properly take care of it. If you would like to dye it, always be sure that you are going from light to dark and using the appropriate temperature of water for the right duration of time. If you want to sew it, you’d better have a professional setup that can handle the very thick thread that is needed to match the strength of this tough fabric. If you need to clean it, Cordura cleans up as easily as any other material but needs to be dried gently to avoid symptoms of dry rot and fatigue.

If you are planning on manufacturing specialty goods out of Cordura, you may want to consider working with other materials first that are easier to manage. If you are looking for Cordura seat covers for your car, no worries as CalTrend has you covered with tough, waterproof custom fit seat covers for your car or truck.

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