20 Different types of cords used in sewing and crafts

Different types of cords used in sewing - for making drawstrings and lacing, for embroidery, for jewelry making etc

cords used in sewing and crafting

You may think that most cords look the same, so they must be the same or similar and can be used interchangingly; atleast I did, but that is so not true. Even the ones that look the same may be of a different kind with different types of usability.

Cord is made by manipulating several fibers together into a round shape.

In sewing, cords are very very useful. They are used as surface decoration (passementerie embroidery and couching embroidery), as a filler cord for piping; You also need cord for making jewelry, macrame work, to tie presents, make tassels, make braids, stringing beads, make bag handles and belts, as drawstrings. But you do not use the same cord for all of these – different purposes calls for different kinds of cords. 

Different types of cords

1. Cotton Cable cord /Twisted cotton cord

This is the most popularly used cord in sewing – it is used as a filler cord inside piping and also for many decorative knotting and braiding works.

Cotton cord in a thicker diameter is used for macrame work – for making pot holders, mats etc. You can buy this cord in single ply, double ply, 3-ply variations.

types of cotton cords

Cords with a diameter range of 3mm to 5mm are used for macrame work. You can find details about the cords used in macrame here.

2.Waxed cord

This is a very durable cord usually used in jewelry making. This cord can be cotton or polyester. It is used for lacing, making jewelry, stringing beads for braiding.

The best advantage of a pre-waxed cord is that it does not stretch and because of the wax it does not knot unnecessarily.

3. Satin cords – Ratail Cord / Mousetail cord

This is a very smooth satin-feel nylon/rayon cord – used for making braids, for craft work like  beading, knotting work.

ratail cords

Rattail is a 2 mm satin cord; Mousetail is a 1.5 mm satin cord ; Bugtail is a 1.5 mm satin cord

4. Stretch elastic cords

different types of cord - stretch cords

An elastic cord is used for making hair ties, fastening face masks etc. It is used in sewing for shirring. The cord is wound on the bobbin and used as bobbin thread for this.

5. Plastic Lacing cord (Scoubidou Strings)

Scoubidou Strings -plastic lacing cord

This is a thin cord usually called Scoubidou Strings ; it is used to make bracelets and other crafts by decorative knotting and braiding. Very popular as a craft supply for kids.

6. Polyester braided cord

polyester braiding cord

This is a knitted braided cord that is super strong. It is very resistant to stains, mildew, damage from sunlight, chemicals, abrasions, etc. It also stretches somewhat. 

7. Parachute cord/Paracord


This Nylon cord is a lot like the polyester cord but with a little more stretch. 

8. Piping cords 

piping cord

Filler cord is a web covered cord with filling inside – it is great for decorative purposes in piping etc. It is available in thicker dimensions than the cable cord, but because of the cotton filling inside, it can be damaged or distorted easily.

Cord-edge trim is a decorator piping cord with a thin lip of fabric along one side so that you can sew the piping directly on the fabric edge without covering it. 

9. Natural fiber cords

Jute/hemp cords

jute cord

These cords are all made from natural fibers and have that rustic charm in their natural form. Jute cord is a strong cord made from jute fibers – very eco-friendly. You can buy these cords in many different colors but usually it is available in a tan color. 

Sisal cords /Coir cords

cords made from natural fibers like hemp sisal

Sisal cord is a somewhat stiff cord made of a natural fiber taken from the Sisal plant. It is usually used as handles for ecofriendly paper bags, for tying presents. It is said to be the most durable of all natural fiber cords. You can use it for a lot of home decor projects.

Coir is a similar sturdy rope. These are all very resistent to sun light damage and hence used for outdoor projects.

10. Gimp cord

gimp metallic cord

This is a thick metallic twisted cord; this is used in goldwork (metallic embroidery) or as trims. It is usually couched on the surface of the fabric with gold thread.

11. Fishing line/Braided fishing line

fishing line

The clear fishing line is a cord popularly used in sewing for gathering. The braided fishing line is a thin braided cord used as a fishing line. You can use it for your craft purposes as well. 

12. Leather/faux leather cord

leather cord

You can buy or make leather cords of different dimensions. They are used for lacing around leather edges as a decoration or seam stitching, as drawstrings for bags, for braiding into belts etc. Other than the flat and round cords, you can also buy them as braided cord. 

13. Bead cord

This is a thin elastic polyester-spandex cord that is used for stringing beads. This is stretchy – what you would use for making a bracelet. 

14. Nylon Non-stretch Bead cord

nylon no stretchable beading cord

This is a nylon cord that is specifically used for stringing beads. It is available in different colors to match your beads.

15. Pack-thread

packing cord

This is a strong single, 2-ply or three-ply cord used to tie packages.

16. Fabric tubes

fabric tubes

This refers to cords sewn out of fabric – ie sewing fabric to resemble cord.This tube will have a seam running along it. You can buy similar cords without the seam.

For learning how to make this cord, check out this post on making fabric tubes.

17. Soutache braided cords

soutache cord

This is a shiny cord with a channel running through the middle – it is used to make beautiful soutache jewelry.

18. T-shirt yarn

t-shirt yarn

This is cord made using knit fabric – you can either cut it out of your own old t-shirts or buy it for crafting. 

19. Thick Acrylic yarn

acrylic yarn

These are the thicker variety of acrylic yarn used in knitting. It is not as strong as other cords mentioned here. 

20. Decorator cords

decorator cords

These cords are available for home decorating purposes. They are twisted satin feel cord which are used as chair ties, curtain tie backs, etc. These cords may have tassels at the ends. 

Related posts : Make your own braided cord -with a circular cardboard loom

make braided cord

How to make your own Cord – 5 ways.; Make beaded cord ; Make Kumihimo braided cord 

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

2 thoughts on “20 Different types of cords used in sewing and crafts”

    • I agree with the previous post. It’s hard to find information on cords and application techniques.

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