Denim is a hard, cotton made, twill designed, warp-faced fabric in which the weft thread passes under two or more warp thread. A unique characteristic of denim is its diagonal ribbing design on the back of the fabric which makes it different from other cotton fabric.

The mystery behind the white and blue color of two sides of the fabric is that in the weaving section warp thread used is dyed with indigo dye and weft thread remains undyed. Thus, makes a special twill diagonal fabric with long lasting characteristics.

At first, denim was made with 100% cotton fiber but now it is produced by blended fibers. Denim is not only used in manufacturing jeans but also many other things like jackets, skirts, hats, purses, scarves, shirts, bags, boots, dresses, lampshades, upholstery, belts that are made of it, designed for both men and women.

History of Denim

The word Denim comes from a French city called ‘Nimes’ and under the name ‘Serge de Nimes’ which means the city of Nimes. Denim fabric achieved its remarkable popularity in the United States in the mid-19th century. In 1873, a tailor named Jackob W Davis from Nevada, USA manufactured the first pair of rivet-reinforced denim pant. During that time, clothes for labors such as teamsters, surveyors, and miners, were not very durable. Davis’s concept of reinforced jeans soon spread rapidly when a woman ordered a pair of durable and strong pant for her husband to cut wood. After that, he got an order of 200 pairs for workers. As the order was increasing rapidly, he could not keep up with the demand. So, he sent a proposal to a wholesaler Levi Strauss & Co, to patent the design of the rivet-reinforced denim pant. Levi Strauss & Co was impressed by his patent and they then hired Davis to be in charge of the mass production in San Francisco. After a number of improvements in denim cloth technology now it is used as a fashion for all ages.

Properties of Denim Fabric

Denim fabric is widely used for its unique properties. Denim fabric properties are divided into two types

  1. Physical properties
  2. Comfort properties.

Physical properties are

  1. Thickness
  2. Weight
  3. Stiffness 
  4. Tensile strength
  5. Crease recovery 
  6. Abrasion resistance 
  7. Breaking load and tear resistance

Comfort properties are

  1. Thermal conductivity
  2. Air permeability 
  3. Moisture transport

Types of Denim

Denim fabrics are available in the following types

  1. Raw denim
  2. Selvedge Denim 
  3. Stretch Denim 
  4. Poly Denim 
  5. Ramie Cotton Denim
  6. Ecru Denim 
  7. Slub denim

Raw Denim

Raw denim (the opposite of washed denim) is the fabric which is not washed after dyeing in the production process. It is also known as dry denim. In general, denim garments are washed after production to make it soft and to remove shrinkage as it may cause any problem to users when the owner washes it. This process is known as Sanforization. Beside this, to make a ‘worn’ look, washed denim is sometimes artificially distressed. The purpose is to make a similar fading effect as raw denim. In raw denim made jeans, such fading is affected by the person who wears it and their daily activity. In this method, produced denim looks more natural than artificially distressed denim. To naturalized the distressed process, some people avoid washing for a long time but it should be washed before wear. Selvedge Denim- Selvedge denim is a kind of denim that does not curl at its edges. The word selvedge originated from the word ‘self-edge’. This type of fabric is produced by passing one continuous series of weft yarn back and forth through the vertical warp beam. This type of fabric weaving is possible only when using a shuttle loom. But shuttle loom has some disadvantage. Shuttle loom produced fabric is very narrow(30-inch) which is on average half of the modern shuttleless Sulzer loom. To make a pair of jeans from selvedge denim, a longer piece of fabric (approximately 3 yards of fabric) is required. To maximize yield, most jeans are made from wide denim and have a straight outseam that utilizes the full width of the fabric, including the edges. Selvedge denim has a premium quality which shows a finished edge from the loom rather than the overlocked edges on other jeans. The selvedge edge is most commonly stitched with the red thread but also used green, white, brown, yellow. Selvedge denim is more expensive than other types of denim.

Stretch Denim

Stretch denim is produced by blending with an elastic component such as spandex, lycra. This creates a certain amount of stretch that gives the wearer a bit of comfort when he wears it. It is the most comfortable denim fabric. In the weaving process, a small amount of spandex (about 3%) is required within the fabric to create a significant stretching capacity of about 15%. So, it allows moving more freely than any other denim. The stretch of the fabric will depend on the percentage of spandex used in it. However, the wearing life of the garment can be reduced by this feature. Nowadays, stretch denim is the most popular in women’s jeans manufacturing around the world.

Poly Denim

Poly denim is a blended type fabric. It is produced by blending a certain percentage of polyester with cotton. In Cotton Poly denim, Polyester is used in weft filling This gives the fabric a soft feeling. Polyester yarn used in this kind of denim can be dull or bright depending on the style of the end product. It has the advantage of being strong, durable and even in appearance, Another feature is it can be washed and dried easily. It is usually lighter in weight than other denim fabric. This denim fabric has a special resistance to wrinkling. It looks like a dressier denim and casual garments can be made with poly denim. It is very much popular to sew jackets, shirts, hats etc.

Ramie Cotton Denim

Ramie is one of the strongest natural fibers. It exhibits even greater strength when wet. The most attractive feature of ramie fiber is its ability to hold shape, reduce wrinkling, and introduce a silky luster to the fabric appearance. Its durability is poor than other fiber, so it is usually used as a blend with other fibers such as cotton or wool. It does not dye as well as cotton. High molecular crystallinity has made ramie stiff and brittle, It will break if folded repeatedly in the same place; it lacks resiliency and is low in elasticity and elongation potential. When Ramie fiber is blended with cotton fiber it becomes resistant to mildew and other types of micro-organism attack and good fastness to the sun. Ramie cotton denim made garments is so expensive.

Ecru Denim

Ecru denim is the denim that is without dye. It has a natural color. Ecru indicates the color of undyed denim and is the natural hue of cotton. Ecru jeans are the jeans that have not been dyed with indigo.

Slub Denim

Slub denim is that denim that is produced by using slub yarns in both warp and weft threads. It is a rare type of denim. It creates a special crisscross pattern when it fades. It is also known as crossmatch denim.