If you have even a passing fascination with raw denim, you’ve probably heard the word Selvedge more than a few times. No, it doesn’t make reference to somebody who 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 a lot of spellings (selvage, self-edge, salvage) but it all equates to the same-the self-binding fringe of a fabric woven on the shuttle loom. That definition may appear a little jargony, but trust me, all will quickly make sense. It’s also worth noting that selvedge denim is not really exactly like raw denim. Selvedge refers to the way 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 selvedge denim factory, we first must understand a little bit about textile manufacturing generally. Just about all woven fabrics are composed of two parts with two parts: warp yarns (those that run all around) 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 the two. The main difference between selvedge and non-selvedge fabrics is all dependent on how the weft yarn is put into the fabric. Up to the 1950s, virtually all denim was produced on Shuttle Looms. A shuttle loom is really a weaving textile loom which uses a little device referred to as a shuttle to complete the weft yarns by passing back and forth between either side of the loom. This leaves one continuous yarn at all the edges so the fabric self seals with no stray yarns.
Most shuttle looms produce a textile that is certainly about 36 inches across. This dimension is just about ideal for placing those selvedge denim manufacturer seams on the outside edges of the pattern for a pair of jeans. This placement isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, but practical along with it saves whoever’s sewing the jeans a couple of extra passes on the overlock machine and ensures the jeans will never fray on 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 over a 36 inch wide textile. A Projectile Loom, however, can place over 1000 weft yarns a minute on the textile that’s twice 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 over the warp. It is a much more efficient way to weave fabric, what’s lost though is the fact cleanly sealed edge. Non-selvedge denim produced by projectile looms comes with an open and frayed edge denim, because all the individual weft yarns are disconnected on both sides. To make jeans from this kind of denim, all of the edges need to be Overlock Stitched to help keep the material from coming unraveled.
Why is it Popular Today?
Selvedge denim has seen a recent resurgence alongside vintage workwear styles from the 40s and 50s. Japanese brands obsessed with recreating the perfect jeans from that era went so far as to 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 from the selvedge look and producing fake selvedge appliques to mimic the colored lines on the outseam.
The overwhelming majority of denim made today is open end and non-selvedge. You will find only xgfjbh couple of mills left on the planet that also take some time and energy to create selvedge denim.
The renowned is Cone Mills that has produced denim from 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, all of these are in Japan, Candiani and Blue Selvedge in Italy. Many of the artisanal denim brands will specify which mill their denim is coming from, so search for the names mentioned above. The increased need for selvedge, however, has prompted many mills in China, India, Turkey, and elsewhere to generate it as well. So it may be difficult to determine the way to obtain your fabric from many of the larger brands and retailers.