If you have even a passing fascination with raw denim, you’ve probably heard the phrase Selvedge more than a few times. No, it doesn’t refer to somebody that vends lettuce, selvedge means the way a textile has been woven. You can spot selvedge denim by the tell-tale colored lines that often run along the outseam of a pair of jeans, but what precisely does that mean?
Selvedge goes by many spellings (selvage, self-edge, salvage) but it all equates to exactly the same thing-the self-binding side of a fabric woven over a shuttle loom. That definition may seem a little jargony, but trust me, all will quickly seem sensible. It’s also worth noting that selvedge denim is not really just like raw denim. Selvedge identifies just how the fabric has been woven, whereas raw refers back to the wash (or lack thereof) on the fabric itself.
How is Selvedge Denim Made? So that you can know the way manufacturers make selvedge denim, we first need to understand a bit about textile manufacturing generally. Almost all woven fabrics are comprised of two parts with two parts: warp yarns (those which run up and down) and weft yarns (those which run sideways).
To weave a fabric, the loom holds the warp yarns in position while the weft yarn passes between them. The main difference between selvedge and non-selvedge fabrics is perhaps all a point of how the weft yarn is positioned into the fabric. Up until the 1950s, just about all denim was produced on Shuttle Looms. A shuttle loom is actually a weaving textile loom which uses a tiny device known as a shuttle to fill in the weft yarns by passing backwards and forwards between either side of the loom. This leaves one continuous yarn whatsoever the edges therefore the fabric self seals without the stray yarns.
Most shuttle looms develop a textile that is certainly about 36 inches across. This dimension is pretty much great for placing those selvedge denim manufacturer seams on the outside edges of the pattern for a couple of jeans. This placement isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, but practical in addition to it saves whoever’s sewing the jeans a couple of extra passes on the overlock machine and ensures the jeans is not going to fray in the outseam.
The need for more denim after WWII, however, soon forced mills to adopt mass-production technology. A shuttle loom can place about 150 weft yarns a minute over a 36 inch wide textile. A Projectile Loom, however, can place over 1000 weft yarns each minute over a textile that’s two times as wide, thus producing nearly 15 times more fabric in the same time span.
The projectile loom achieves its speed by firing individual (and unconnected) weft yarns over the warp. This is a a lot more efficient way to weave fabric, what’s lost though is the fact cleanly sealed edge. Non-selvedge denim created by projectile looms has an open and frayed edge denim, because all the individual weft yarns are disconnected on sides. To make jeans from this type of denim, each of the edges have to be Overlock Stitched to keep the fabric from coming unraveled.
Exactly why is it Popular Today?
Selvedge denim has seen a newly released resurgence alongside vintage workwear styles through the 40s and 50s. Japanese brands obsessive about recreating the ideal jeans from that era went up to now concerning reweave selvedge denim in new and interesting ways. Now that selvedge denim has returned on the market, the small detail on the upturned cuff quickly became one of many “things to have”.
The selvedge craze is becoming very popular that some manufacturers have even resorted to knocking from the selvedge look and producing fake selvedge appliques to mimic the colored lines on the outseam.
The overwhelming greater part of denim made today is open end and non-selvedge. You can find only xgfjbh handful of mills left on the planet that also take the time and energy to generate selvedge denim.
The most well known is Cone Mills that has produced denim out of their White Oak Plant in Greensboro, North Carolina, since the early 1900s. They’re also the last japanese denim manufacturer left in america. Other noteworthy mills include Kuroki, Nihon Menpu, Collect, Kaihara, Kurabo, Nisshinbo, and Toyoshima, which will be in Japan, Candiani and Blue Selvedge in Italy. Almost all of the artisanal denim brands will specify which mill their denim is originating from, so look for the names mentioned above. The improved interest in selvedge, however, has prompted many mills in China, India, Turkey, and elsewhere to produce it too. So it may be difficult to determine the source of your fabric from most of the larger brands and retailers.