If 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 make reference 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 many people spellings (selvage, self-edge, salvage) however it all equates to exactly the same thing-the self-binding fringe of a fabric woven on the shuttle loom. That definition may appear somewhat jargony, but believe me, all will make sense. It’s also important to note that selvedge denim is not really just like raw denim. Selvedge identifies the way 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 understand how manufacturers make selvedge denim factory, we first must understand a little bit about textile manufacturing in general. Almost all woven fabrics are comprised of two parts with two parts: warp yarns (those that run all around) and weft yarns (those that run side to side).
To weave a fabric, the loom supports the warp yarns set up whilst the weft yarn passes between the two. The main difference between selvedge and non-selvedge fabrics is all a point of just how the weft yarn is put in to the fabric. Up to the 1950s, just about all denim was produced on Shuttle Looms. A shuttle loom is actually a weaving textile loom which utilizes a little device known as a shuttle to complete the weft yarns by passing back and forth between each side in the loom. This leaves one continuous yarn whatsoever the sides and so the fabric self seals with no stray yarns.
Most shuttle looms develop a textile that is certainly about 36 inches across. This size is pretty much great for placing those selvedge denim jeans seams on the outside edges of the pattern for a set of jeans. This placement isn’t just great looking, but practical as well as it saves whoever’s sewing the jeans a couple extra passes on the overlock machine and ensures the jeans will never fray in 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 over the warp. It is a a lot more efficient way to weave fabric, what’s lost though is the fact cleanly sealed edge. Non-selvedge denim produced by projectile looms posseses an open and frayed edge denim, because all of the individual weft yarns are disconnected on sides. To make jeans from this sort of denim, each of the edges need to be Overlock Stitched to keep the fabric from coming unraveled.
Why is it Popular Today?
Selvedge denim has seen a newly released resurgence alongside vintage workwear styles through the 40s and 50s. Japanese brands enthusiastic about recreating the perfect jeans from that era went so far concerning reweave selvedge denim in new and interesting ways. Now that selvedge denim has returned on the market, the little 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 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 can find only xgfjbh handful of mills left on earth that also take the 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, North Carolina, because 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. Almost all of the artisanal denim brands will specify which mill their denim is coming from, so search for 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 too. So it may be difficult to ascertain the way to obtain your fabric from many of the larger brands and retailers.