If you have even a passing fascination with raw denim, you’ve probably heard the term Selvedge more than a few times. No, it doesn’t refer to somebody 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 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 fringe of a fabric woven on a shuttle loom. That definition may appear somewhat jargony, but believe me, all will soon make sense. It’s also worth noting that selvedge denim is not really exactly like raw denim. Selvedge describes how the fabric has become woven, whereas raw refers back to the wash (or lack thereof) on the fabric itself.
How is Selvedge Denim Made? In order to know how manufacturers make heavyweight selvedge denim, we first need to understand slightly about textile manufacturing generally speaking. Almost all woven fabrics are composed of two parts with two parts: warp yarns (those which run all around) and weft yarns (the ones that run side to side).
To weave a fabric, the loom holds the warp yarns in place as the weft yarn passes between the two. The difference between selvedge and non-selvedge fabrics is all a point of the way the weft yarn is put in to the fabric. Up until the 1950s, almost all denim was produced on Shuttle Looms. A shuttle loom is actually a weaving textile loom which utilizes a small device called a shuttle to fill in the weft yarns by passing back and forth between both sides of the loom. This leaves one continuous yarn whatsoever the sides and so the fabric self seals without any stray yarns.
Most shuttle looms produce a textile that is certainly about 36 inches across. This dimensions are pretty much great for placing those selvedge denim jeans seams in the outside edges of the pattern for a pair 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 will never fray at the outseam.
The demand for more denim after WWII, however, soon forced mills to adopt mass-production technology. A shuttle loom can place about 150 weft yarns each minute on a 36 inch wide textile. A Projectile Loom, however, can place over 1000 weft yarns each minute on the 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. This can be a a lot more efficient method to weave fabric, what’s lost though is the fact cleanly sealed edge. Non-selvedge denim created by projectile looms comes with an open and frayed edge denim, because all of the individual weft yarns are disconnected on both sides. In order to make jeans from this kind of denim, all of the edges have to be Overlock Stitched to maintain the fabric from coming unraveled.
Exactly why is it Popular Today?
Selvedge denim has seen a recent resurgence alongside vintage workwear styles through the 40s and 50s. Japanese brands obsessive about recreating the ideal jeans from that era went to date regarding reweave selvedge denim in new and interesting ways. Given that selvedge denim is back on the market, the tiny detail on the upturned cuff quickly became one of the “things to have”.
The selvedge craze is becoming so 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 most of denim made today is open end and non-selvedge. You can find only xgfjbh couple of mills left in the world that still spend some time and energy to generate selvedge denim.
The most well known is Cone Mills which includes produced denim out of their White Oak Plant in Greensboro, N . C ., because the early 1900s. They’re also the last selvedge manufacturer left in america. Other noteworthy mills include Kuroki, Nihon Menpu, Collect, Kaihara, Kurabo, Nisshinbo, and Toyoshima, which have been in Japan, Candiani and Blue Selvedge in Italy. Almost all the artisanal denim brands will specify which mill their denim is coming from, so try to find the names in the above list. The increased need for selvedge, however, has prompted many mills in China, India, Turkey, and elsewhere to create it as well. So it may be difficult to ascertain the way to obtain your fabric from most of the larger brands and retailers.