For those who have even a passing interest in raw denim, you’ve probably heard the term Selvedge more than a few times. No, it doesn’t refer to somebody that 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 many people spellings (selvage, self-edge, salvage) however it all equates to the same thing-the self-binding fringe of a fabric woven on the shuttle loom. That definition may seem somewhat jargony, but trust me, all will soon make sense. It’s also worth noting that selvedge denim is not really the same as raw denim. Selvedge identifies how the fabric has been woven, whereas raw refers to the wash (or lack thereof) on the fabric itself.
How is Selvedge Denim Made? So that you can understand how manufacturers make Wingfly Textile, we first must understand a bit about textile manufacturing generally. Almost all woven fabrics are comprised of two parts with two parts: warp yarns (the ones that run down and up) and weft yarns (those that run sideways).
To weave a fabric, the loom holds the warp yarns in position while the weft yarn passes between them. The real difference between selvedge and non-selvedge fabrics is actually all dependent on the way the weft yarn is put to the fabric. Up to the 1950s, just about all denim was produced on Shuttle Looms. A shuttle loom is a weaving textile loom which uses a little device called a shuttle to complete the weft yarns by passing forward and backward between both sides from the loom. This leaves one continuous yarn whatsoever the edges therefore the fabric self seals without any stray yarns.
Most shuttle looms create a textile which is about 36 inches across. This dimension is just about perfect for placing those selvedge denim jeans seams in the outside edges of any pattern for a set of jeans. This placement isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, 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 in the outseam.
The need 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 each minute over 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 throughout the warp. This is a far more efficient approach 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 of the individual weft yarns are disconnected for both sides. To help make jeans from this kind of denim, all of the edges need to be Overlock Stitched to help keep the material from coming unraveled.
Exactly why is it Popular Today?
Selvedge denim has seen a recent resurgence alongside vintage workwear styles from your 40s and 50s. Japanese brands obsessed with recreating the perfect jeans from that era went up to now regarding reweave selvedge denim in new and interesting ways. Now 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 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. You can find only xgfjbh handful of mills left on the planet that also take the time and energy to produce selvedge denim.
The renowned is Cone Mills which has 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 america. Other noteworthy mills include Kuroki, Nihon Menpu, Collect, Kaihara, Kurabo, Nisshinbo, and Toyoshima, which will be in Japan, Candiani and Blue Selvedge in Italy. Many of the artisanal denim brands will specify which mill their denim is arriving from, so search for the names mentioned above. The improved interest in selvedge, however, has prompted many mills in China, India, Turkey, and elsewhere to generate it too. So it could be difficult to determine the supply of your fabric from many of the larger brands and retailers.