Worn in and Faded Denim

folded, raw, selvedge denim

folded, broken in, worn, selvedge denim

This is the exact same pair of jeans. I made these three years ago this January. While I don’t wear them everyday, and almost never wear them during the warmer months in Tennessee (June – October), these are my main go-to pair of jeans. The denim, which is a 12.5 oz, 100% cotton, blue line selvedge denim from Cone Mills, was very stiff and unforgiving to begin with, but once it broke in, transformed into an amazingly soft and comfortable fabric.

raw selvedge denim front

worn, broken in, selvedge denim front

I love seeing the progression from “clean slate” unwashed raw denim to something more personal that reflects a little bit about who I am. Denim and other indigo dyed fabrics are special in this regard. When cared for properly, they take on a life of their own and become more beautiful over time.

raw, selvedge denim back

worn, broken in selvedge denim back

One of my goals with learning how to make clothing is to try and create garments that last. I am much more interested in “timeless” (at least in my lifetime) menswear basics than I am fashion trends. While some may argue that raw denim has been in the spotlight for the last decade or so, I’d point out that this denim was woven on antique looms that date back to the 1940’s, in a plant that started operations in 1905 in North Carolina, long before the current trend started.

For me, the focus is on a quality American made fabric in its purist form, and a garment made in a way that stands up to the test of time, rather than any trend or particular movement (i.e. heritage) in the fashion industry.

selvedge denim coin pocket

broken in, worn, selvedge denim coin pocket

So far I haven’t had to make any repairs, but may need to reinforce the edge of the front pockets where contact with my wedding ring and keys are starting to fray the pocket lining. Hopefully these have a few more years of service in them.

Here is to a new year, and to making things with a purpose.

19 Responses to “Worn in and Faded Denim”

  1. Jeanne — January 10, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

    Always enjoy your posts, first of all!

    Wow – those jeans have seen some miles, haven’t they? I have to say that I have zero jeans from even 2 years ago! I work in an office, so casual attire is only for weekends…but RTW just doesn’t last.

    Have been thinking about sewing jeans for awhile now – this may well be the year.

  2. Ann — January 10, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

    I’m so glad you did this post! The denim itself is fabulous and the wear patterns are great, but this is also a testament to your skill as a tailor. Wonderful work.

  3. John — January 11, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

    Taylor, thanks for taking the time to post this, and all your posts in the past as well. It’s interesting to see how garments age. Your jeans are just to the point that they won’t dye everything indigo that they come in contact with, not to mention the comfort factor too.
    Thanks again for your blog. I’ve enjoyed looking at it over the past few years.

  4. Ginger — January 11, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

    Wow, what a cool progression! These look beautiful in both forms! I love that these are so durable! Great workmanship!

  5. Novita — January 12, 2014 @ 12:06 am

    This is so cool! I love to see how a piece of clothing ages. I think it has more characters now!

  6. poppykettle — January 12, 2014 @ 4:44 am

    Oh this is fabulous to see! I have some of your red line selvedge denim and often taken it out to admire it, but the stiffness of it has been putting me off sewing with it. Seeing IS believing… I’ll definitely be getting around to making jeans with it sooner rather than later. Thanks!

  7. Taylor — January 12, 2014 @ 9:51 am

    I say go for it this year! I love making jeans more than just about anything else.

  8. Kimbersew — January 12, 2014 @ 10:26 am

    Lovely! How great to have fabric reliable enough that ‘finally getting comfortable’ doesn’t assume ‘moments until disintegration’.

  9. MAry — January 15, 2014 @ 11:36 am

    Love them!!! Thanks for writing this follow up. Have a question, how often did you wash them and was there any shrinkage?

  10. Taylor — January 15, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

    Thanks! Yeah, the denim is very stiff to begin with, but does soften considerably over time. The denim you have is 100% cotton, so it will not have any elasticity, but does break in nicely.

  11. Taylor — January 15, 2014 @ 12:12 pm

    I know some people keep track of how often they wash their raw denim, but I don’t. I basically wash them whenever they need to be washed, which is not after every wear, but I certainly don’t wait six months like some people suggest.

    Shrinkage has not been an issue for me. I wash the jeans in cold water and let them dry in the sun. If anything, they have stretched out a bit.

  12. Lisa — January 15, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

    Gosh your sewing is just impeccable! I am very impressed! I love the look of the denim but prefer denim with some stretch for my curvy body. (It’s crazy difficult to get a very slim cut fit that is still comfortable.) How well are the jeans holding up in the high stress areas (i.e. crotch)? Seeing how great it wears though makes me want to get some for my husband.

  13. Taylor — January 15, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

    Thanks Lisa! The jeans are holding up really well so far. No issues in the high stress areas. While the cut isn’t slouchy or loose, the jeans aren’t real tight fitting either, which helps reduce stress in some of those places.

  14. Steven — January 15, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

    I really love the way the denim has worn. Hard to believe but they look amazing. They will last for at least 5 more years and be great to wear.

  15. Drew — February 9, 2014 @ 10:55 am

    Fantastic! Waiting for these pics since I first saw the jeans on denim debate!

  16. Sophie-Lee — March 21, 2014 @ 8:49 pm

    I seriously thought you were saying they were made from the same pattern, as they were obviously two different pairs of jeans. Gave me a shock to realise you just meant the lighter coloured ones were worn in! Very cool.

  17. Janie — July 22, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

    Excellent! I’ve followed your chino adventures, too. Do you wash them the same as these? Cold water and dry in the sun?

  18. Taylor — July 25, 2014 @ 12:31 pm

    I actually wash the chinos in the washing machine, cold water, gentle cycle, and then hang dry.

  19. Owen — April 24, 2015 @ 3:54 pm

    This is exactly what I was thinking about doing. as a fat cyclist i rip crotches out of jeans almost immediately. i’m going to start looking into this can’t wait to read your blog.

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