Denim Fabric: Selvedge Explained
The term 'selvedge' (a corruption of 'self-edge), refers to the self-finished edge of a piece of material that prevents it from fraying or unravelling. 'Self-finished' means that no extra finishing work, like the use of bias tape, is required. When it comes to woven fabric, selvedges are the edges running parallel to the warp threads; they are formed as the weft thread loops back at the end of each row.
Selvedge denim is the name given to high-quality denim fabric, which is more difficult to produce than other types. The selvedge is usually white in colour though sometimes has coloured thread running through it. The coloured thread was first added to aid manufacturer's to differentiate between different qualities of denim fabric.
When this thread is red, the fabric is referred to as 'redline selvedge denim'. The practise originated with the Cone Mills White Oak factory, located in North Carolina in the US. The factory began supplying fabric to Levi's in 1915 and, a few years later in 1927, started incorporating red thread in the selvedge of Levi's jeans made using super-durable XX fabric. Today, the red thread in the selvedge is used in many different fabric brands.
Denim fabric can be woven with or without the use of a room equipped with a shuttle. A shuttle acts to thread weft threads through warp threads; the weft is passed continually back and forth, self-finishing the edges. These edges are thus tightly woven and extremely durable, preventing any incidence of fraying.
Weaving without a shuttle is achieved with a projectile loom; this bullet-shaped device is used to carry the weft in a process known as 'weft insertion'. This results in frayed edges at either side of the fabric which needs to be removed before sewing the fabric into a garment such as a pair of jeans.
A loom without a shuttle can weave up to four times faster than a shuttle loom, which is why a significant proportion of denim is made in this way; it is cheaper and faster to weave with a projectile loom.
Shuttle looms work at a slower pace, which results in less tension being placed on the thread. They also tolerate more slubs in the thread, giving the denim fabric more character and resulting in a naturally softer material. Selvedge denim is widely recognised as fading much better than non-selvedge denim.
Here at Croft Mill, we have a wide array of denim fabrics to choose from. Check out our website to discover the complete collection and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for lots of updates and special features! You can also check out our very own YouTube channel and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.