For those who have even a passing interest in raw denim, you’ve probably heard the phrase Selvedge more than a few times. No, it doesn’t refer to someone who vends lettuce, selvedge refers to 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 exactly does that mean?
Selvedge goes by a lot of spellings (selvage, self-edge, salvage) but it all equates to exactly the same thing-the self-binding edge of a fabric woven over a shuttle loom. That definition may sound somewhat jargony, but believe me, all will quickly seem sensible. It’s also worth noting that selvedge denim is not really just like raw denim. Selvedge refers to the way the fabric has become woven, whereas raw refers to the wash (or lack thereof) on the fabric itself.
How is Selvedge Denim Made? In order to understand how manufacturers make heavyweight selvedge denim, we first need to understand slightly about textile manufacturing generally speaking. Almost all woven fabrics are comprised of two parts with two parts: warp yarns (the ones that run up and down) and weft yarns (those that run side to side).
To weave a fabric, the loom supports the warp yarns set up as the weft yarn passes between the two. The real difference between selvedge and non-selvedge fabrics is perhaps all a matter of the way the weft yarn is put into the fabric. Up until the 1950s, virtually all denim was produced on Shuttle Looms. A shuttle loom is really a weaving textile loom which utilizes a little device known as a shuttle to fill in the weft yarns by passing forward and backward between both sides of the loom. This leaves one continuous yarn at all the edges therefore the fabric self seals without the stray yarns.
Most shuttle looms create a textile that is certainly about 36 inches across. This dimensions are pretty much perfect for placing those japanese selvedge denim seams on the outside edges of any pattern for a set of jeans. This placement isn’t just great looking, but practical as well as it saves whoever’s sewing the jeans a few extra passes on the overlock machine and ensures the jeans is not going to fray at the outseam.
The interest in more denim after WWII, however, soon forced mills to adopt mass-production technology. A shuttle loom can place about 150 weft yarns per minute on a 36 inch wide textile. A Projectile Loom, however, can place over 1000 weft yarns per minute on a textile that’s two times as wide, thus producing nearly 15 times more fabric in the same time frame span.
The projectile loom achieves its speed by firing individual (and unconnected) weft yarns across the warp. It is a much more efficient way to weave fabric, what’s lost though is the fact that cleanly sealed edge. Non-selvedge denim created by projectile looms has an open and frayed edge denim, because each of the individual weft yarns are disconnected on sides. To help make jeans from this kind of denim, all the edges need to be Overlock Stitched to maintain the material from coming unraveled.
The reason why it Popular Today?
Selvedge denim has seen a newly released resurgence alongside vintage workwear styles from your 40s and 50s. Japanese brands obsessed with recreating an ideal jeans from that era went to date concerning reweave selvedge denim in new and interesting ways. Now that selvedge denim has returned on the market, the tiny detail on the upturned cuff quickly became one of the “things to have”.
The selvedge craze has grown to be quite popular that some manufacturers have even resorted to knocking off of the selvedge look and producing fake selvedge appliques to mimic the colored lines on the outseam.
The overwhelming most of denim made today is open end and non-selvedge. You will find only xgfjbh handful of mills left on the planet that also spend some time and energy to generate selvedge denim.
The most well known is Cone Mills that has produced denim from their White Oak Plant in Greensboro, N . C ., considering that the early 1900s. They’re also the last japanese denim manufacturer left in the usa. Other noteworthy mills include Kuroki, Nihon Menpu, Collect, Kaihara, Kurabo, Nisshinbo, and Toyoshima, which have been in Japan, Candiani and Blue Selvedge in Italy. Many of the artisanal denim brands will specify which mill their denim is arriving from, so look for the names listed above. The increased interest in selvedge, however, has prompted many mills in China, India, Turkey, and elsewhere to produce it as well. So it might be difficult to ascertain the source of your fabric from many of the larger brands and retailers.