Learn all about what is denim. Denim is undeniably one of the most recognizable fabrics in the world. When people say jeans, everyone knows what piece of clothing you are talking about. As such, it is safe to say that this fabric knows no national or cultural boundaries. So, what is denim exactly? Why is it popular worldwide? Continue reading to find out all the things you need to know about denim.
What is Denim
Denim is a 100% cotton fabric that is durable, and rugged. It has a twill which results in a diagonal pattern across the fabric.
The diagonal pattern is made possible because of the particular twill weaving. Moreover, the diagonal pattern makes the fabric lasting, and the design provides a nice drape. A unique feature of denim is the diagonal ribbing that can be seen in front of the fabric. This is what makes it different from other types of cotton fabric. A loom is used to weave the fibers in a twill weave design.
When denim is weaved, the warp thread is colored indigo, and the weft thread has no color. (Read about warp and weft) That is why jeans are white on the inside and blue on the outside. The weave of indigo and white thread makes denim look appealing.
Denim's name was originally derived from the French Serge de Nimes where it was a special type of fabric produced in Nimes, which is a city in France. The city of Genoa quickly became the biggest manufacturer of this fabric. Because the French name for Genoa is Genes, the term jeans stuck during the American Gold Rush, when the material regained its fame and increased in popularity.
What is Denim and its Types
In the numerous years that denim has existed, it has been developed into various forms and looks. Here are some of the most commonly used types of denim:
This denim type means the fabric has not been treated or washed. It is not meant to be washed for many months so that its form and color are maintained. Some even keep this fabric inside the freezer overnight to eliminate bacteria.
Sanforization is a treatment process that is used in many cotton fabrics and textiles. This type of denim is softer and as such, they are less sturdy and less customizable than raw denim fabric.
This denim type has a mix of stretchable and synthetic fibers such as lycra and spandex. These make the fabric stretchy, and the stretchiness depends on the fabric composition it has.
Crushed denim has a weave that is almost the same as velvet. It has a permanent wrinkled look that makes it great when making skirts and jackets.
Selvage or self-edge denim is a fabric that has edges that have an orange or red band. It is known to be better than other denim types in terms of quality - the top manufacturer of this fabric in Japan.
Acid Wash Denim
This denim type has a distinguishable mottled look. This is made possible by washing raw denim fabric with strong acid. This results in the original dye getting damaged, thus giving it its distinctive appearance.
What is Denim Poly
Poly denim is a popular term for denim combined with polyester, cotton, and other man-made fibers. Materials such as nylon and lyocell are added to polyester and cotton to create denim products. Other people do not consider poly denim as real denim.
What is Denim Used For?
This cotton fabric is most widely used in clothing. Some of the clothing pieces that use denim are jeans, skirts, jackets, blouses, trench coats, and vests. For accessories, denim can be used to make belts, bags, shoes, and hats.
Not only is denim widely used in fashion but also used in making homewares. It has been used in creating blankets or duvets, drapes or curtains, pillows, and upholsteries.
What is Denim Sewn With?
There are several adjustments you need to make in order to sew denim including using sharp scissors, the correct needle and thread and testing a scrap. Always take your time and don't push your machine.
- Use Sharp Scissors
Using sharp scissors is a must in sewing any fabric. Though it is obvious, you must always remember not to settle for dull scissors.
- Use Denim Needles
It is recommended that you use jean needles when sewing denim. If you cannot find jeans needles, you can use a universal needle with a size of at least 90/14 of 100/16 if you will work on thicker denim. You just need to remember to match the needles you will use to the thickness of the fabric you will work on. With denim, you need at least 90.
- Use the Appropriate Thread
You can use all-purpose thread for regular seams. However, you can opt for the heavy-duty thread if you plan to do topstitching with flat felled seams. A substitute you can use is upholstery thread. It is thick and similar to the topstitching thread that is used in jeans. However, it is smoother and less prone to damage your machine and fabric than cotton jeans thread.
- Have a Denim Scrap
A denim scrap is simply something you can have available near your machine when you are sewing. If you sew on thick parts such as the area where the two seams meet at the back yoke, it might cause your machine to stall. That is because the presser foot gets unbalanced. This is where your denim scrap will be useful. You simply fold it and put it at the back or front of the presser foot to make the foot level equal. Then, you can continue to sew.
- Do Not Rush
This is another obvious tip but worth reminding. Denim has many parts where you may need to manually turn the flywheel due to the thickness. This is normal. To make it easier for you, try not to rush. The last thing you want to do is unpick!
What is Denim Washed With?
Wash Using Cold Water
This is the most critical point to remember when cleaning denim - you need to use cold water because denim can get damaged when hot water is used. Aside from removing the color of the denim, hot water can also cause the fabric to shrink. If you have the ideal sized jeans, but hot water is used to wash them, they can become unwearable and too tight.
Use a Special Detergent
For denim fabrics in darker colors and raw and unwashed denim, washing them can cause the dye to be removed. It is inevitable for some colors not to fade even in ideal conditions. However, this can be prevented if you use a special detergent for denim fabric. A lot of special detergents specially made for dark-colored fabrics are available on the market. Moreover, you can also find ones that can preserve the color longer and are gentle on the fabric.
Caution Using a Machine
If you plan to wash denim using your washing machine, there are some things you need to consider to prevent the fabric from getting damaged.
- First, before you place your denim in the machine, turn it inside out.
- You also need to wash the fabric delicately. Even though denim is a sturdy fabric, it is not resistant to harsh cleaning.
- Another tip is to make sure that all the pockets are empty. Sort the same-colored denim, and do not wash all your denim all at once.
Wash by Hand
If you have more time, you should probably wash denim by hand. Washing by hand is gentler compared to using a washing machine. Washing by hand is more effective in spot cleaning. Sorting the fabric from light-colored ones and dark-colored ones can help to prevent accidents. A sink, bathtub, or any large basin can be used.
Hang the Fabric to Dry
Because it is not recommended to wash denim using hot water, it also makes sense not to dry it using direct heat. Therefore, you should never tumble dry your denim products. What you can do after washing them is to hang and allow them to air dry either on a line in the shade or by laying them flat on a towel. Be careful of pegs as they may leave marks.
What is Denim - In Conclusion
Even though denim is well known worldwide, it is helpful to learn more about what is denim fabric. Denim is known for its durability, so it has been used in various ways aside from clothing. You have also learned several tips on how to sew denim properly. This is important since denim is thick, so working with it can be a little tricky. Lastly, you have to keep in mind how to care for your denim so that it will last a long time.
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