I’ve become obsessed with making my own pair of jeans. Why? I, like many people, spend about 95% of my waking hours wearing jeans. If you are going to spend that much of your life wearing one thing, it should be absolutely perfect.
While researching jeans construction techniques, I randomly discovered a little thing called selvedge denim (some people spell it selvage), and I have to say that I will never look at denim the same way again. For those who know what it is, you probably understand, for those who don’t, let me shed a little light. Most fabric has a selvedge edge, but with denim, the word selvedge has a special meaning. This Wikipedia entry explains it best.
I think the key with selvedge denim is that it is woven on old shuttle looms. Supposedly this creates a tighter, stronger weave since the cross thread is one continuous thread. On modern looms the cross threads are made up of individual threads, which can unravel more easily. In addition, I love that the old style looms produce denim with small inconsistencies, adding to the character of the finished fabric.
You can see the selvedge on these samples I ordered.
Denim mills used different colors of thread on the selvedge to distinguish between different brands. Levi’s used a red line, Lee used a green line, and Wrangler used a yellow line.
When I make my pair of jeans, I will definitely be using selvedge denim. Before I even think about cutting into high quality denim though, I have a lot to learn. I am going to start by sewing a practice pair using a pre-made pattern and muslin. Getting a feel for the basic pieces and shapes that go into producing a completed pair of jeans will be key to eventually creating my own custom pattern.
I love the history (which I need to learn more about) associated with denim. While jeans are a distinctly American garment, they are loved all over the world. I can’t wait to get going on my first pair!