Selvage Denim

Selvage denim [sel-vij] is a type of denim which forms a clean natural edge that does not unravel. It is commonly presented in the unwashed or raw state. Typically, the selvage edges will be located along the out-seam of the trousers, making it visible when cuffs are worn. The word ‘selvage’ comes from the phrase ‘self-edge,’ the natural edge of a roll of fabric. As applied to denim, it means that which is made on old-style shuttle looms.These looms weave fabric with one continuous cross thread (the weft) that is passed back and forth all the way down the length of the bolt. As the weft loops back into the edge of the denim it creates this ‘self-edge’ or selvage.

Selvage is desirable because the edge cannot fray like denim made on a projectile loom that has separate wefts, which leave an open edge that must be stitched. This advantage is only realized on one edge of the fabric, however, as the fabric has to be cut to shape and anywhere it is cut the self-edge is lost. Shuttle looms weave a narrower piece of fabric, and thus a longer piece of fabric is required to make a pair of jeans (approximately 3 yards). To maximize yield, traditional jean makers use the fabric all the way to the selvedge edge. When the cuff is turned up, the two selvedge edges (where the denim is sewn together) can be seen.

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