In case you have even a passing desire for raw denim, you’ve probably heard the phrase 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 exactly does that mean?
Selvedge goes by a lot of spellings (selvage, self-edge, salvage) but it all equates to the same thing-the self-binding edge of a fabric woven on a shuttle loom. That definition may seem a bit jargony, but believe me, all will quickly seem sensible. It’s also worth noting that selvedge denim will not be exactly like raw denim. Selvedge describes the way the fabric continues to be woven, whereas raw refers back to the wash (or lack thereof) on the fabric itself.
How is Selvedge Denim Made? In order to understand how manufacturers make Wingfly Textile, we first must understand a bit about textile manufacturing in general. Almost all woven fabrics are composed of two parts with two parts: warp yarns (the ones that run all around) and weft yarns (the ones that run sideways).
To weave a fabric, the loom supports the warp yarns set up while the weft yarn passes between them. The real difference between selvedge and non-selvedge fabrics is all a point of how the weft yarn is positioned in to the fabric. Until the 1950s, almost all denim was produced on Shuttle Looms. A shuttle loom is a weaving textile loom which uses a tiny device known as a shuttle to fill out the weft yarns by passing back and forth between both sides from the loom. This leaves one continuous yarn whatsoever the edges therefore the fabric self seals without the stray yarns.
Most shuttle looms produce a textile which is about 36 inches across. This size is nearly ideal for placing those japanese selvedge denim seams in the outside edges of the pattern for a pair of jeans. This placement isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, but practical in addition to it saves whoever’s sewing the jeans a few extra passes on the overlock machine and ensures the jeans will not 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 on the 36 inch wide textile. A Projectile Loom, however, can place over 1000 weft yarns each 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. This can be a much more efficient way to weave fabric, what’s lost though is the fact that cleanly sealed edge. Non-selvedge denim produced by projectile looms comes with an open and frayed edge denim, because each of the individual weft yarns are disconnected for both sides. To help make jeans from this kind of denim, all the edges have to be Overlock Stitched to maintain the material from coming unraveled.
Exactly why is it Popular Today?
Selvedge denim has seen a recently available resurgence alongside vintage workwear styles from your 40s and 50s. Japanese brands obsessive about recreating an ideal jeans from that era went so far as to reweave selvedge denim in new and interesting ways. Given that selvedge denim has returned on the market, the small detail on the upturned cuff quickly became one of the “things to have”.
The selvedge craze is becoming very popular that some manufacturers have even resorted to knocking off 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 number of mills left in the world that still spend some time and effort 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 america. Other noteworthy mills include Kuroki, Nihon Menpu, Collect, Kaihara, Kurabo, Nisshinbo, and Toyoshima, all of these will be in Japan, Candiani and Blue Selvedge in Italy. Almost all the artisanal denim brands will specify which mill their denim is coming from, so look for the names in the above list. The increased need for selvedge, however, has prompted many mills in China, India, Turkey, and elsewhere to produce it as well. So it might be difficult to determine the way to obtain your fabric from many of the larger brands and retailers.