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Denim Terms & Explanations (for denim FAQ)

Inactive User

Apr 30, 2007 @ 16:47
same deal as the other thread. people who know, post terms from left hand twill to selvage to indigo, etc, etc. and explain what each is and the PURPOSE behind each one. this will eventually go into the denim faq.
Apr 30, 2007 @ 16:49
yeah, i saw some white denim said it was twill or bull twill something like that but what does that feel like... is it stiff and shiny or normal or..

Inactive User

Apr 30, 2007 @ 17:21
Originally posted by Inactive User
This is an ongoing thing, so bear with me. Please contribute anything you don't see here.

3x1 vs. 2x1 weave

This refers to the number of weft threads per warp thread. Most denims have been traditionally 3x1 weaves, though lighter weight denims (under 10.5 ounces/sqare yard) often use the 2x1 configuration. [from LA Guy]

Acid washing

The quick definition can be summed up in one word, "horrible". Also called "Snow wash". This technique reared it head up in Italy in the late 80s. Basically you soak your pumice stones in bleach and tumble them with the jeans. Then neutralise. [from ringring]

Big E

"Big E" jeans refer to Levi's jeans produced before 1971, in which the red tab on the back pocket had the LEVI'S logo with a capital E. Post-1971 Levi's jeans are written "LeVI'S" on the red tab.

Broken Twill

Instead of the twill running to the right or left, broken twill jeans (traditionally considered the cowboy-preferred denim) contain no distinct direction of weave. The weave is instead alternated right and left - the end effect resembles a random zig-zag. Wrangler made the first broken twill jeans in 1964. Broken Twill was designed to combat the twisting effect that was a characteristic regular twill (and considered a 'fault' by many at the time). By going on both directions, the tension in the yarns is balanced in Broken Twill. [additions from ringring]

Dual Ring-Spun

Also called RingxRing, Ring-Ring, Double Ringspun. Dual ring-spun denim is denim where both the warp and weft (filler) threads are made of ring-spun yarn. Typically only premium, more expensive denim brands use this method, as it is more labor intensive and thus more costly to produce. The result however, is a very textured denim, and is much softer than open-end or single ring-spun. You will know ringspun denim when you see it - the warp threads will be "slubby" at some points, and there will be little puffs of indigo thread. It is more obvious when looking at the weft threads (underside of the denim).

Enzyme wash

The environmentally friendly way to stone wash jeans, through the application of organic enzymes that eat away at the fabric, i.e. the cellulose. No pumice stones are used. When the desired colour is achieved, the enzymes can be stopped by changing the alkalinity of the bath or its temperature. A final rinsing and softening cycle is next, before the jeans are ready to be sold. Still frowned upon by companies such as Howies, who prefer to use rubberised "Eco" Balls to wash their jeans. [from Cake]

Left Hand Twill

This refers to the direction that the denim is woven. Left hand twill denim is softer to the touch than right hand twill, and was originally used by Lee denim. Now used by other denim companies such as 45rpm, Kunna, and Lee Japan. Left hand twill is easy to spot, as the weft threads appear to move upward and to the left as opposed to upward and to the right.

Mercerised Denim

Mercerising for denim is used to increase lustre, by passing the denim through a bath of caustic soda. It's a process carried out after the denim is woven and vastly different to the more commen method of mercerising yarn. As it significantly increases the cost and lead times of denim production, it is a relatively rare process. (not that many consumers would notice). [from ringring]


Sanding is basically done 3 ways: Sandblasting, (see below),
Machine sanding - just like machines that you'd use to sand a wooden table, and Handsanding aka Handbrushing - just a piece of folded fine sandpaper. All three methods are used in various ways, on the flat surfaces (tables, ironing boards), on the dummy (inflatable dummies, sometimes standing, sometimes flat, sometimes 'seated') and various templates can be used to create a 3D effect. Any sanding can be enhanced with chemical whiteners. [from ringring]


Basically dyeing over the fabric or jeans to add another tone of colour. Most often used is a 'yellowy' overdye to create a 'dirty' look. Also can be applied with spraygun or paintbrush for local colouring (ie. if you wanted just 'dirty knees'). [from ringring]


Redline refers to a colored warp thread that is run through the selvage edge of denim fabric. This is not indicitive of the quality of the jeans so much as it is a signature of the maker, and a way for Cone Mills to differentiate between the denim they made for different companies. Lee denim had a green (or sometimes blue) warp thread on their selvage, and Wranger used yellow.

Right Hand Twill

This refers to the direction that the denim is woven. The opposite of Left Hand twill, this weave is much more common, as almost all jeans are woven with right hand twill. The weft (filler) threads will be visible in upward-right diagonal lines on right-hand twill jeans.


The method in which the yarn is produced; ring-spun cotton is spun on a ring instead of more modern method of open-ended spinning. The result is a softer denim, that is more imperfect than open-ended and has individual texture that is often desired by denim admirers.

Rope Dying

The best method of dying denim, most (should be all) upscale denim manufacturers use this method. It refers to twisting the threads of yard into a rope-like shape, then dipping the rope into a bath of indigo. It is often dipped multiple times - the more bathing of the yarn, the darker the shade.


As it sounds, compressed airguns shoot sand onto jeans to create abrasion. Sometimes a 'tracer' dye is added so that the 'shooter' can more accurately judge the volume and accuracy. Very fast, but quite a clumsy way to achieve fading. [from ringring]


Sanforizing denim is a method of stretching and manipulating the cloth in the factory prior to any washing so that any shrinking during future washes will be minimalized. It is important to note if your raw jeans are sanforized or not before determining what size to buy, non-sanforized jeans will shrink 7-10%, while sanforized jeans will shrink 1-5%. It is often advised to give non-sanforized jeans a warm soak before wearing them to get the shrinking done before you create wear marks on the jeans.

Selvage (Selvedge) Denim

Selvage and selvedge mean exactly the same thing - different companies spell it differently and there apparently is no "right" way to spell it. It comes from the phrase "self-edge" which refers to the edge being finished by the loom instead of sewn together after weaving. [thanks Geowu]. Selvage is the term commonly used to refer to denim that has been produced on a shuttle loom. Since the amount of fabric produced from a shuttle loom is significantly narrower than a projectile (wide) loom, the cotton consumption is higher and the time required is greater. In selvage jeans, you will see the actual edge of the fabric where the weaving stops and is finished by the loom, as opposed to denim woven on a projectile loom, where the fabric has been cut off at the ends. The "redline" selvage is Levi's signature and was used in all their jeans up to 1982, before Cone Mills nixed them for the more modern projectile looms, which are faster and much more efficient.

Stone washing

French husband & wife team, Marithe & Francois Girbaud claim to have pioneered this technique of washing jeans in a machine with small pumice stones. Independently, the Japanese jeans company, Edwin also make this claim. The pumice stones are generally taken from southern Italy (the whitest and most expensive), Turkey and Indonesia (darkest and cheapest). Some claim that washing jeans with dark stones give the jeans a 'dirty' look, although this can be countered somewhat with extra rinsing in the laundry.

Unwashed Denim

Also called rigid, or raw denim. Typically when denim is manufactured it is sent to a laundry to undergo many washing processes to give it a worn look. Unwashed denim, however, is not washed before it is sold to the customer (although some companies will sell a one-wash jean). It is stiff, and depending on the weight can feel as though you're walking in sheet-metal. It will also be very dark and will sometimes appear black. Traditionally, all jeans were sold unwashed and it was up to the customer to break them in.

Warp Thread

Warp threads are the indigo-dyed thread. Also commonly called "surface threads," as they account for a majority of the thread you see on the surface. It is the opposite on the underside of the jeans, where the weft (filler) threads are more visible, and the warp threads are in the minority. They are woven in and out of the weft thread vertically to create the denim twill.

Weft (Filler) Thread

Weft, or filler, threads are traditionally ecru-colored, however many companies now bleach their weft threads or dye them. The weft is visible mostly on the underside of the denim, but resemble diagonal stripes on the surface. They are woven in and out of the warp threads horizontally to create the denim twill.


Also known as 'Cat's Whiskers'. These are the crease lines around the crotch. Industrially these can be done with laser, sandblasting, machine sanding, handsanding and abrasive rods. Same techniques are used for 'knee whiskers' (whiskers on the sides of knees) and 'honeycombs' (crease marks on the back of the knee). [from ringring]

Taken from StyleForum.net

Inactive User

Apr 30, 2007 @ 20:44
yeah, seen that. thanks for reposting. keep it coming
May 03, 2007 @ 13:17
i was jus wondering what gives the raw denim the stiffness and shine? i know they are not washed but is it from the starch or other chemical that they put on?
May 03, 2007 @ 13:29
no... most jeans do not have resin on them... the shine is from the starch and usually from the denim being compressed(if sanforised)
May 03, 2007 @ 13:56
Pasted from Rawselvage.

Distress - Wear and tear on the denim. Can be in the form holes or abrasions to fades or creases. The wear and tear can be natural or artificial.

Hem - Where two pieces of fabric come together. A selvedge hem can be seen here.

Honeycomb/Whiskers - The effect when a stiff denim is repeatedly compressed and after wash a unique fading will result in a pattern of a honeycomb. This picture shows the honeycomb before a wash and this is how it looks like after the honeycomb area is washed. This effect usually occurs behind the knee. This effect also happens under the waist and other places and is called whiskering.

Raw - Refers to a wash, in this case no wash at all. A raw pair of jeans means that the cotton is spun into threads in which are colored and woven into cloth. This cloth would be made into massive rolls of fabric in which a pattern is laid on and cut and sewn to manufacture a denim product, in this case a pair of jeans. The cloth will be cut, embroidered, riveted, folded and sewn together in the production process. After all of this production a raw pair of jeans will be folded up and sent out to be sold. The wash of jean will be rigid and stiff and will give off a slight sheen as the color will be very dark.

Rivets - Placed in high wear places to provide added strength. Usually made of copper or brass they are punched on the corners of pockets and other parts of a jean. Hidden rivets are common as well innovated and popularized by Levi Strauss.

Selvedge/Selvage - Term commonly used to refer to denim that has been produced on a shuttle loom. Since the amount of fabric produced from a shuttle loom is significantly narrower than a projectile (wide) loom, the cotton consumption is higher and the time required is greater. In selvage jeans, you will see the actual edge of the fabric where the weaving stops and is finished by the loom, as opposed to denim woven on a projectile loom, where the fabric has been cut off at the ends.

Soak - To dip your jeans in lukewarm water by hand. This can be done in a tub or a small sink. This is to shrink denim or wash denim. The hotter the water the more shrinkage will result. Dry via high heat will further shrink the denim material pending the denim is not preshrunk. Cold water and hang drying will result in minimal if any shrinking. Wearing the jeans while in a tub will shrink the denim as well. This will prevent the denim from shrinking too much and will shrink the jeans accordingly to the wearers body.

Starch - Often used to stiffen up a jean. This allows for less movement in the jean and is commonly done to promote creases as creases will fade different when washed giving a unique look.

Preventing bleeding - The high end material (exotic/african cotton) and the vintage dye and the dye process will give you the deep color and fade characteristics that are exhibited with raw and/or selvedge denim. The color usually will rub off or bleed onto lighter clothes or furniture. The only prevention is to repeatedly wash off the dyes until the material doesn't bleed anymore. The other method if you don't wish to wash off all the dye is prevention. Keeping denim dry and also taping off the cuffs of your jeans so the denim material from your jeans don't touch the top of your shoes. An example can be seen here and here.

Shrinking denim - The hotter the water and hotter/longer the dry cycle the more shrinkage you are going to have on your pair of jeans. The shrinkage is dependant on the materials resistance to shrinking and how it was treated and the thickness and the amount of pre shrinking that was done on it. Levis STF jeans usually shrink up to 2 inches in the waist and 3 inches in length depending on the size of the jean.

Inactive User

May 05, 2007 @ 09:55
usually a resin wash is when the denim is treated for a wash with resin, which allows the areas that do not get as much abuse to retain a darker color after washing. its basically an easy way to get a high contrast fade from cheaper denim.
May 10, 2007 @ 02:30
actualy resin coated denim wont fade as contrasty as non resin coated

its their as a shield for the indigo, so the fade wont be pronounced

Inactive User

May 11, 2007 @ 10:45
depends on how its faded. if its done with a sander or abrasion blocks before its washed it will because the resin would have been worn off. youre right, but only for a different process
May 11, 2007 @ 14:04
oh ok cool
May 19, 2007 @ 12:35
what part of the jeans is the "rise"?
May 23, 2007 @ 18:15
May 24, 2007 @ 15:35
Wow, nice thread...
A lot of them are new to me..
Thanks! blushing
Jun 17, 2007 @ 20:46
whats so good about dry denim(unwashed). wouldn't it be more work and trouble for the consumer since we have to go home wash it a few times to get it to not bleed

edit: also when you guys dont wash your jeans for like months, dont yall atleast feel dirty or gross since you sweat and shit in em
Jun 17, 2007 @ 20:55
Work and trouble sucks.
Jul 16, 2007 @ 12:11
what's the definition of one-wash. does it mean it has been pre-washed.
i'm looking to get a pair of Edwins...either the Sen(raw) or one-wash but want to know the difference between the two.
Jul 16, 2007 @ 20:23
so jeans cant be sanforized and raw at the same time right?
Jul 25, 2007 @ 18:33
How long do you let the jeans soak for shrinkage?
Jul 26, 2007 @ 07:36
a couple hours.... or just throw them in a washing machine and wash them, then throw them in a dryer and dry them... then you dont have to worry about it.
Jul 26, 2007 @ 07:40
^Ever feel like you repeat yourself? tongueface haha
Jul 26, 2007 @ 08:26
a couple hours... or throw them in the...

oh... you didnt ask a question.

yeah... i do feel like i repeat myself sometimes.

Inactive User

Jul 27, 2007 @ 20:16
so jeans cant be sanforized and raw at the same time right?

Yes, they can.

One-wash means it's been washed once.

I've never had a problem with bleeding. I've always soaked once before wear though.
Oct 29, 2007 @ 19:12
how do you use starch? (is it somthing you spray on the jean? ) and where should it be put on?
Nov 03, 2007 @ 22:24
you can use just regular spray starch you'd use for ironing. but there are other types that are a lot stronger. i just used a can i found in the house. spray liberally, the jeans should be wet. hang and let dry for a day or two. the stiffness will depend on the type of starch, and the jeans themselves. if it's a lighter-weight denim, it simply won't be as stiff as a heavier-weight denim


Inactive User

Nov 04, 2007 @ 11:27
get some ordorless starch
Jan 05, 2008 @ 05:46
so by soak u mean like put in bathtub full of water then let dry off?
Jan 07, 2008 @ 21:49
Thats pretty much what soaking is


Feb 10, 2008 @ 04:15
what is the difference between a "rinse wash finish" and normal dark blue denim, because for me, it looks the same!
Feb 19, 2008 @ 16:17
what are stf's?
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