In case you have even a passing interest in raw denim, you’ve probably heard the word Selvedge more than a few times. No, it doesn’t refer to somebody that 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 a lot of spellings (selvage, self-edge, salvage) however it all equates to exactly the same thing-the self-binding side of a fabric woven on the shuttle loom. That definition may sound a bit jargony, but trust me, all will quickly sound right. It’s also worth noting that selvedge denim will not be exactly like raw denim. Selvedge describes how the fabric has been woven, whereas raw refers to the wash (or lack thereof) on the fabric itself.
How is Selvedge Denim Made? To be able to know how manufacturers make heavyweight selvedge denim, we first have to understand a little bit about textile manufacturing generally speaking. Virtually all woven fabrics are comprised of two parts with two parts: warp yarns (those that run down and up) and weft yarns (those which run sideways).
To weave a fabric, the loom holds the warp yarns in place as the weft yarn passes between them. The main difference between selvedge and non-selvedge fabrics is perhaps all a point of just how the weft yarn is placed to the fabric. Up until the 1950s, virtually all denim was produced on Shuttle Looms. A shuttle loom is really a weaving textile loom which uses a tiny device called a shuttle to complete the weft yarns by passing back and forth between both sides from the loom. This leaves one continuous yarn whatsoever the sides and so the fabric self seals without the stray yarns.
Most shuttle looms produce a textile that is about 36 inches across. This dimensions are just about great for placing those selvedge denim manufacturer seams at the outside edges of any 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 interest in more denim after WWII, however, soon forced mills to adopt mass-production technology. A shuttle loom can place about 150 weft yarns a minute on the 36 inch wide textile. A Projectile Loom, however, can place over 1000 weft yarns each minute on a textile that’s twice 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 across the warp. This is a much more efficient approach to weave fabric, what’s lost though is that cleanly sealed edge. Non-selvedge denim created by projectile looms comes with an open and frayed edge denim, because each of the individual weft yarns are disconnected on both sides. In order to make jeans from this kind of denim, each of the edges need to be Overlock Stitched to keep the material from coming unraveled.
The reason why it Popular Today?
Selvedge denim has seen a recently available resurgence alongside vintage workwear styles through the 40s and 50s. Japanese brands obsessive about recreating the ideal jeans from that era went to date as to 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 among the “things to have”.
The selvedge craze is becoming very popular that some manufacturers have even resorted to knocking off of the selvedge look and producing fake selvedge appliques to mimic the coloured lines on the outseam.
The overwhelming greater part of denim made today is open end and non-selvedge. You can find only xgfjbh number of mills left on earth that still spend some time and energy to generate selvedge denim.
The renowned is Cone Mills which includes produced denim from their White Oak Plant in Greensboro, North Carolina, considering that the early 1900s. They’re even the last selvedge manufacturer left in the United States. 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 coming from, so try to find the names in the above list. The increased interest in selvedge, however, has prompted many mills in China, India, Turkey, and elsewhere to produce it as well. So it could be difficult to discover the source of your fabric from many of the larger brands and retailers.