For those who 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 someone 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 precisely what does that mean?
Selvedge goes by many people spellings (selvage, self-edge, salvage) nevertheless it all equates to the same thing-the self-binding edge of a fabric woven over a shuttle loom. That definition may appear a little jargony, but believe me, all will make sense. It’s also important to note that selvedge denim is not really the same as raw denim. Selvedge identifies how the fabric has become woven, whereas raw refers to the wash (or lack thereof) on the fabric itself.
How is Selvedge Denim Made? So that you can know the way manufacturers make heavyweight selvedge denim, we first need to understand a bit about textile manufacturing generally. Just about all woven fabrics are composed 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 holds the warp yarns in place while the weft yarn passes between them. The real difference between selvedge and non-selvedge fabrics is actually all a matter of just how the weft yarn is placed to the fabric. Up to the 1950s, almost all denim was produced on Shuttle Looms. A shuttle loom is actually a weaving textile loom which utilizes a tiny device referred to as a shuttle to fill out the weft yarns by passing back and forth between either side in the loom. This leaves one continuous yarn in any way the sides so the fabric self seals with no stray yarns.
Most shuttle looms create a textile that is about 36 inches across. This dimension is just about ideal for placing those raw selvedge denim seams at the outside edges of the pattern for a couple of jeans. This placement isn’t just great looking, but practical along with 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 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 per minute on the 36 inch wide textile. A Projectile Loom, however, can place over 1000 weft yarns a minute over a textile that’s two times as wide, thus producing nearly 15 times more fabric in once span.
The projectile loom achieves its speed by firing individual (and unconnected) weft yarns throughout the warp. This is a far more efficient method 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 all of the individual weft yarns are disconnected for both sides. To make jeans from this sort of denim, each of the edges must be Overlock Stitched to maintain the fabric from coming unraveled.
Why is it Popular Today?
Selvedge denim has seen a newly released resurgence alongside vintage workwear styles from your 40s and 50s. Japanese brands obsessive about recreating the perfect jeans from that era went up to now concerning reweave selvedge denim in new and interesting ways. Since 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 has become so 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 greater part of denim made today is open end and non-selvedge. There are only xgfjbh couple of mills left on the planet that still take the time and effort to generate selvedge denim.
The renowned is Cone Mills that has produced denim out of their White Oak Plant in Greensboro, North Carolina, since the early 1900s. They’re even the last selvedge denim wholesale manufacturer left in the United States. Other noteworthy mills include Kuroki, Nihon Menpu, Collect, Kaihara, Kurabo, Nisshinbo, and Toyoshima, all of which are in Japan, Candiani and Blue Selvedge in Italy. Almost all the artisanal denim brands will specify which mill their denim is arriving from, so try to find the names listed above. The increased interest in selvedge, however, has prompted many mills in China, India, Turkey, and elsewhere to generate it too. So it could be difficult to ascertain the way to obtain your fabric from lots of the larger brands and retailers.