Home » What is Denim? 20 types of Denim Fabric

What is Denim? 20 types of Denim Fabric

denim fabric

What is denim ?

If you came here looking for different types of jeans check out this post. If you are looking for info on denim, the fabric, you are in the right place. Read on.

Denim is a rugged, sturdy, twill weave woven, 100% cotton fabric. 

The word ‘Denim’ is derived from a french word Serge de Nimes and refers to the city of Nimes; De Nimes means ‘of the Nimes’. We have embraced denim into our daily lives like no other. 

Denim is made from cotton fibers. Checkout the post on Cotton fabric & how it is made. 

The weave that creates Denim

twill weave of denim

Denim fabric usually has a twill fabric weave. And this itself makes it a very strong fabric. Do you know that it was used as sailcloth once upon a time? That is how hardwearing it is. Denim is also available in plain weave but it is mostly a lightweight denim fabric.

A special characteristic of twill weave denim is that there is a diagonal ribbing visible on the face of the fabric, which sets it apart from other cotton fabric. This is the result of the special twill weaving. Fibers are weaved on a loom in a twill weave pattern.

The Twill diagonal weave of the denim fabric also gives it a good enough drape, especially for such a thick fabric

Know more about 18 different types of fabric weaves here

Have you wondered why your jeans is white on the inside and blue on the outside?

It is because when weaving denim, Warp thread is dyed indigo whereas weft thread is left undyed. This special weaving in which colored thread (mostly indigo) is crossed with white thread results in a two-tone look which is very attractive.  The color sits on the face of the fabric and the white pulls to the backside.

Denim was given the popularity it enjoys in 1873 by two Americans Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss. Levi Strauss was a cloth merchant and Jacob Davis a tailor. Jacob Davis got an order to sew up a pair of trousers which would wear well and be sturdy enough. Mr. Davis approached Mr. Staruss and purchased from him denim which was as sturdy as sturdy could be. Later they went on to form a partnership of making these same trousers which is known as jeans. Rest is history. You can read more of the history of jeans here

Different types of Denim fabric

1. 100% cotton Denim/Rigid denim

This is the normal denim without elastane fibers. This fabric is very durable, hard wearing and versatile. 

2. Denim according to type of twill weave

This denim can have different twill weave patterns and thus vary in its structure. In a right hand twill, the twill line runs diagonally from bottom left to top right – this results in a tighter woven fabric. Left-handed twill creates a softer denim. 3×1 and 2×1 weave are the most common twill weave. The best denim has a 3*1 twill weave ie. three warp threads to every one weft thread.

3. Raw denim

This is also called unsanforized denim or unwashed denim or Dry denim. This is a fabric which is not washed or treated in any way after dyeing.

The washing of denim fabric is usually done so that the fabric becomes soft and also to eliminate shrinkage. Basically what we call in sewing as pre-washing. Raw denim can shrink upto 20% in the first wash.

Raw denim has a very even look without any of the distressed look we are familiar in jeans. Whatever distressed look is desired will have to be obtained naturally by fading and stress. This is a natural process which some people consider more desirable than the factory made distressed look. It is important that you prewash raw denim before sewing / wearing. 

raw denim

4. Sanforized Denim

This is denim fabric which is processed so that it does not shrink after wash. Most of the denim other than raw denim is Sanforized.

5. Colored denim

There are two types of coloured denim –  blue and the rest of the colours. The blue colour or shades close to blue is given with a process known as indigo dying. Sulphur dying and other dyeing gives denim other colours like Black, pink, grey, mustard, green, red etc. Tinting is done to give a deeper tint to denim.

6. Stretch denim

This is denim incorporated with stretchy synthetic elastane fiber like lycra/ spandex which gives it stretch. The stretch of the fabric will depend on the percentage of elastane in it. The elastane fibers are used as weft yarn. 

denim

 

7. Selvedge Denim

This refers to the denim fabric with edges which are finished with a band which is usually of colour orange or red. It is also called self-edge or selvage denim. This denim is very popularly assumed to be of better quality than other denim. Japan is the top producer of this type of denim fabric .

8. Lightweight denim

The kind of denim prefered for making blouses, and other summer clothes. This is usually denim in a plain weave.

9. Crushed Denim

This is a Denim fabric which is weaved and treated so that it  looks permanently wrinkled or crushed.

10. Waxed reverse Denim

This is denim fabric which has a coating of wax on the reverse side for water resistance. It is mostly used to  make outdoor gear and bags.

11. Polycore denim

This is a denim fabric which is a blend of polyester and cotton fibers. The blending results in a fabric with all the advantages of polyester and cotton – abosorbency, strength and wrinkle free.

12. Washed Denim

Acid washed denim is also called marble denim. This refers to a finish achieved in denim fabric using pumice stone soaked in chlorine. Colour of the fabric fades as a result of the abrasion with the stones and creates an attractive contrast with the indigo colour. The fabric is then rinsed, softened and dried. There are many other washes like enzyme wash, stone wash that the denim undergoes when it is made into your lived-in jeans. You can read about the different jeans washes and surface treatments here.

You can get these effects at home on your jeans with some work – check out the post on 15 ways to distress jeans.

denim

13. Poly Denim

This is Denim fabric with a percentage of Polyester fibers blended in it. This fabric is very soft to touch , very easy to care for and stretches to an extent; it is very much popular to sew jackets, shirts, hats . The polyester blend adds to the durability  smoothness and finish of denim

14. Ecru Denim

Denim that has not been dyed indigo . This fabric has the natural colour of denim which is not dyed. 

15.  Bull Denim

This is a denim fabric which is very sturdy and tough because of its 3*1 twill construction. It is not as tough as canvas but it is very durable and heavy. Bull denim is used mostly for upholstery and home decor rather than for clothing.

16. Double dyed Denim

Denim yarns are dip dyed with Indigo dye. Double dyed denim is denim which is dip dyed more than regular denim (double the times) – this creates a very dark hue.

17. Thermo denim

This is also called double denim. This denim fabric has a lightweight fabric glued to the denim. This fabric makes the garment look like it is lined.

18. Denim according to the yarn

This denim can be categorized according to the yarn with which it is made. Open end yarn, ring spun yarn and double ring yarn are the most commonly heard terms. Denim made with ring spun yarn is considered the strongest. Open end yarn denim is the weakest.

19. Slub Denim

This denim is made of yarn with uneven thickness which gives it a different texture which is quite attractive.

20. Denim according to weight

This is a categorization based on the ounce weight of denim fabric per square yard. A heavy weight denim will be more than 10.5 ounce per square yard. A heavier weight denim will be more sturdy and durable.

Related post : Different types of jeans; 10 FAQ answered on sewing with denim ; Different types of cotton fabric ; What to make with old denim

sewing with jeans denim fabric

 

AUTHOR : Hi, I am Sarina. I am passionate about clothes, sewing, fabrics, fashion and surface design techniques in no particular order and absolutely love writing about all of these including what I learn, what I experience, and what I have bought to do all these. You are more than welcome to stay here and learn with me.

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