Denim Methods

Denim is the most popular item of clothing on the planet and nearly everyone has some form of denim in their life. From the pristine to the well loved, we all have pieces we wouldn’t be parted from or maybe we have designs on a new piece to build or enhance a new look.

Because denim has changed so much in terms of the cottons, weaves, mills, washes and washing instructions it is always good to get the latest updates on the what and the how. To help you understand what you might be purchasing or to get the latest on how to handle your denim we have created your essential guide that will make you sound like a true blue denimhead.

Denim is the most popular item of clothing on the planet and nearly everyone has some form of denim in their life. From the pristine to the well loved, we all have pieces we wouldn’t be parted from or maybe we have designs on a new piece to build or enhance a new look.

Because denim has changed so much in terms of the cottons, weaves, mills, washes and washing instructions it is always good to get the latest updates on the what and the how. To help you understand what you might be purchasing or to get the latest on how to handle your denim we have created your essential guide that will make you sound like a true blue denimhead.


Most denim over a 10.5 Oz. per square yard weight is 3×1, alluding to the three warp threads to every one weft thread. This is the most robust denim and traditionally created for workwear due to its durability. When you invest in a 3x1 raw denim jean you can expect it to stay with you for years, taking on the very patina of your adventures.


Typically less than 10.5 Oz per square yard, this denim is considered more of a summer weight denim with all the look of the 3 x1 but more forgiving in heat due to it being more breathable but retaining some rigidity.


The simplest version of denims and cottons to be produced, this is the weave most found in lightweight denims and chambrays.


Synonymous with the 1980s, Acid wash is identifiable by inconsistent dark and light contrasts that cover the entire denim. It is created by using chlorine or bleach-soaked pumice stones to strip back the colour of the top layer of fabric during the wash cycle. The bleached stones hitting the fabric at random creates this sporadic contrast detail. We’ve got love for you if you were born in the 80s…


Abrasions refer to a ‘worn in’ or distressed section on a pair of denim, where the fabric looks heavily worn. Abrasions are created using pumice stones or applied with tools such as sanders during the manufacturing process.


Not to be confused with the 1980s gaming console, Atari describes the intended fading alongside the denim seam ridges. Most commonly relating to the variation on pocket seams, the back yoke, belt loops, hems and fly.



Bar tacks are created by tightly spaced stitches that form a reinforced ‘bar’. They are commonly used to reinforce stress points on denim like zippers and pocket openings to increase durability.


‘Bell-bottoms’ refer to a style of denim that is worn tight from waist through to knee, drastically flaring from knee to a wide ankle opening.


Belt loops refer to the strip of material sewn onto the waistband in order to hold a belt in place. Generally, jeans will have five to seven belt loops fitted to the waistband.


Not only an epic Nirvana Album ‘Bleach’ or ‘Bleached’ denim refers to processing denim with chemicals such as sodium hydrochloride or potassium permanganate to lighten the fabrics pigment.


Boyfriend fit is a term for women’s jeans that are relaxed and oversized giving the impression you are wearing your ‘partners’ larger sized jeans. Traditionally the boyfriend jean is worn on low waist and on the hip.


A less extreme version of the bell bottom. Bootcut, or bootleg jeans, taper out from the knee originally created to more easily fit over boots.


Broken Twill refers to denim weaved in a way so that the twill line changes direction. Broken twill was created to eliminate leg twisting often found as a result of left or right hand twill.


Unrelated to any vampire slaying, Buffies, also known as whiskers, refer to the artificial creases across the thighs created during the finishing process. The term ‘Buffies’ is taken from the Italian word for moustache, ‘baffi’.


Bull denim is as tough as, well, Bulls. It is durable Ecru fabric that has been printed or dyed (piece or garment dyed) during the production process. It is also quite the heavyweight starting from 14 oz upwards.


In order to give denim that worn-in / worn out look, manufacturers will often use an electric brush in the final stages of production to smooth over any rough edges created in earlier stage of the process. Brushing is generally focused on the thighs and backside of the jeans.


The button fly refers to the vertical row of buttons used as a modesty protector in the crotch region of your jeans. It is usually found on more relaxed men’s styles and women’s oversized or boyfriend jeans. The original fastening of workwear pants, the button gave way to the zip from the 1950s onwards. These days it really comes down to personal preference. To button or not to button that is the question.



Cast is a term for any additional colour tone present in denim fabric. For example, Indigo denim may have black, brown, grey, green, yellow or red tones present which would be referred to as ‘black cast’, ‘brown cast’ etc. These tones are often added during the dyeing process to achieve the desired effect.


Also known as ‘cambric’, chambray is a plain woven, medium weight cotton fabric. Like denim, it is usually made from blue and white yarns but is constructed using a single weave rather than the twill weave used in denim. Chambray is traditionally used to make for shirts, dresses, skirts and shorts.


This stitch is traditionally used to hem jeans and is stitched using one continuous thread that loops back that resembles the links of a chain.


‘Coating’ refers to the process of applying a pigment, acrylic or polyurethane to the garment in the final stages of production, preventing fading or staining of the fabric. Pigment coating results in a ‘leather’ or ‘wet’ look whilst Acrylic and polyurethane are transparent in appearance.


Just like combing your hair, the combing process for denim untangles and separates fibres before they are spun into yarn.


Cotton is a fibre derived from the soft fluffy casing that grows around the seeds on cotton plants. Cotton has been used to make cloth for over 7000 years. Talk about old school. This versatile and durable fibre can withstand high temperatures and therefore be boiled and hot pressed. Abrasion resistant it even gains 10% in strength when wet. Perfect for making those famous baby blues.


Crushed denim is created by weaving with an over twisted weft yarn, giving the denim a permanently wrinkled, or crushed, look.



Categorised by low, medium, high and super high density. Denim refers to the number of yarns that make up the weave impacting the tightness of the fabric construction.


A specific enzyme rinse used to soften denim fabric.


Everyone will have their thoughts on this and there are plenty of approaches. From saltwater washing to dry freezing, what can you use when you just have to wash your denim. Here are a couple of brands we recommend from around the world; The Laundress Denim Wash (USA), Woolite Hand Wash (UK), Radian Liquid Black Wash (Australia), Momotaro Jeans SZ-001 Denim (Japan) and for those who worship at the shrine of the raw gods, Heddels Denim Wash (USA) in a tiny pipette bottle that looks like neu-wave cologne.


The process of dipping yarn or fabric into dye. Often, the yarn or fabric is exposed to air in between dips to allow the indigo to oxidize.


Jeans that appear heavily worn. The denim may be ripped, torn and feature abrasions and raw hems.


True to its name, double dyeing refers to the process of dipping denim in an indigo bath between 12 to 16 times, as opposed to traditional method of dipping 6-8 times. The results of double dyeing is a deeper, darker more vibrant shade of indigo.


Also referred to as double or twin needle. Double stitching is identifiable by two perfectly parallel seams. This method creates a ‘finished’ look whilst making the jeans more durable.


Dry denim refers to denim in an unwashed and untreated state. Dry denim has a deep blue indigo colour and is initially stiff to wear. The denim will mould to the wearer’s body shape and take on unique fade marks and signs of wear as the denim is ‘broken in’.


Dual ring-spun or ‘Ring-Ring’ denim is made from ring spun yarn for both the warp and weft, providing a rougher and uneven fabric.


The natural cotton used for denim construction is dyed using indigo baths. The warp yarn is dipped repeatedly and hung out in order to oxidize, turning the yarn from yellow to green to blue. The yarn is then rinsed to remove excess dye.



An elastic strand used in stretch jeans that allow denim to hug and move with the body and retain shape.


Embroidery is a term to describe the art of sewing raised threads upon woven fabric.


Enzymes are organic, non-toxic substances that can be used in the washing process as an alternative to stone washing in order to soften fabric and give a worn look.



Refers to denim that has been washed back, treated or naturally worn until the denim fades from its original darker state.


Fair to Middling is a term to identify the grade of cotton, usually relating to denim. Cotton is graded according to strength, staple length, colour, smoothness and uniformity.


Finishing refers to the final stages of either the wash or production processes. This may be aging denim by enzyme or stone washing or ‘finishing’ the denim by singeing, rolling or rinsing denim so that it is ready for use or sale.


A ‘fit’ is a term used to describe the way a pair of jeans should sit on the body. For example, Skinny fits should hug the body from waist to ankle, a flare leg will flare out to a wider ankle, a boyfriend jean should fit oversized like your wearing your ‘boyfriends’ jeans so on and so forth.


Refers to a denim fit where the leg profile tapers out to a wide ankle.


Also referred to as skinny jeans are cut close to the body to create a ‘spray on’ look. Also referred to as a ‘Second Skin’.



As the name suggests, Garment dyed refers to the process of dyeing a garment after its constructed as opposed to yarn dyeing where the yarn is dyed prior to weaving and construction.


Refers to denim with a grey hue present often the result of the denim being treated with grey sulphur prior to the indigo dyeing process.


Refers to denim with a green ‘tint’ often the result of the denim being treated with green sulphur prior to the indigo dyeing process.



Handle is a term used to describe how denim feels. The term refers to characteristics like softness, smoothness, stiffness, stretchability or thickness.


Denim weight is measured in ouches per square yard. All denim heavier than 12 oz. per square yard is considered heavy weight. Heavy weight denim traditionally has a thicker, weightier handle.


The process of adjusting folding up a cut edge of cloth twice and sewing it in place, preventing it from unravelling. Denim is usually hemmed in the factory with a chain stitch.


Honeycombs refer to the area at the back of the knee of a pair of jeans where indigo has faded with wear leaving a honeycomb pattern.


A term used to describe fabric that has been continually washed to for an extreme faded look.



The word Indigo is used to describe the dye used for dyeing textile, the colour of the dye and the dye’s natural source, The Woad. During the Indigo dyeing process, the dye bath is initially a greenish white, only turning blue once the textile is exposed to oxygen. The more often the fabric is dipped/ dyed, the deeper the blue becomes. However, all indigo jeans are not necessarily created using this process. Synthetic indigo is now commonly used to achieve the same hue, without the need for farming the plant.


The inseam is measured from the inside of the pant leg, from the crotch to hem.



Describes the direction of the weave that heads to the left. It gives the material a soft feel after washing.


Referring to the opening at the bottom of all pairs of (denim) pants where your feet come out of. The width of it varies per style.


A loom is a weaving machine that produces fabric by weaving vertical threads of yarn (warp) with horizontal threads (weft).


The original method of dyeing denim by which ropes of yarn are pulled through vats of indigo and then laid out on top of the roof of the factory to allow the indigo to oxidize before the next bath. It creates more consistent indigo shades than other processes.



Microsanding involves denim being pulled over horizontally placed rollers that are wrapped in either abrasive paper or a chemical abrasion agent. It leads to a faded colour and softens the texture.


Millwash is a term for denim that has already been washed by the mill before being delivered to garment manufacturers.


Also referred to ‘Whiskers’ or ‘Hige’ ‘Moustaches’ describes the horizontal creases around the crotch thighs and knees used to give a more lived in, aged look.



The natural indigo dye process takes up to one hundred days to prepare the dye that is made from dried polygonum leaves. The dye is then mixed with lye and lime and fermented. The dyeing is traditionally done by hand, by dipping the garment in and out of the dye pulp. The more dips, the deeper the shade of indigo. Natural indigo, unlike synthetic form, is colourfast and its will not run when washed.


Refers to a very soft, loose denim weave that is rinsed just once after loomstate. It’s done for environmental purposes as well as to create a specific look and feel.


Open End is an industrial type of yarn spinning using turbine machines. Open End denim produces strong, durable jeans for less money and in less time, but is said to lack the quality that ring-spun or ring-ring denim typically have.


This is cotton that is grown in soil, free of any chemicals, for three years. It, therefore, has a low impact on the environment and also shies away from genetic modification.


For raw denim, oxidation happens when indigo yarn comes out of an indigo bath and is exposed to oxygen.


Abbreviation for ounces. Denim is weighed in oz. per square yard. For example 13 oz weighs 13 ounces per square yard. The heavier the weight the heavier the jean feels and wears taking longer to ‘wear in’ to a second skin.



Pigment Dye is used by manufacturers to create faded look jeans. The pigment dye coats the surface and attaches itself there with the use of resins. It washes off quickly, achieving what looks like an authentic fade.


Ply refers to the number of strands in a yarn. Most denim is woven from 2 or 3 ply yarn.


Polycore denim refers to the blend of polyester and cotton. This blend gives denim extra strength, but the look of authentic jeans. It is quite often used by manufacturers to strengthen stress points on jeans. It minimizes shrinking of the jeans as well as wrinkles.


Pull strength is a measure of a denims strength by pulling the fabric. Ring spun yarn is considered as the strongest denim using this measure.


Pumice stones are volcanic rock formed when lava mixes with water. The stones are durable, rough but lightweight properties of the stone make them perfect for stonewashing garments.



The term referring to fading along the outer seam of a pair of jeans that resemble train tracks.


As the name suggests, Raw denim refers to denim in its ‘Raw’ state, that is it has not been treated or washed in anyway. Also, known as ‘Dry’ Denim or ‘Unwashed’ denim.


Redcast refers to a fabric that has only been dyed with indigo that has a reddish hue present.


Used to describe raw, unwashed denim. It is now commonly used to describe denim without elastane/lycra/stretch content.


Right hand twill is constructed by weaving the twill line runs diagonally from bottom left to top right, creating a tight weave.


Ring dyeing dyes the outer layer of the yarn, leaving the core of the yarn. The denim will show signs of wear with the white core becoming exposed as the blue dye wears off.


Also known as ‘double-ring spun’ denim. Ring Ring is created by using ring-spun yarn for both the warp and the weft.


Ring Spun denim is rough and uneven in appearance. The yarn is created by constantly rolling and thinning thread, using a ‘ring’ for spinning.


Rinse or Rinsed wash denim refers to denim that has only undergone a rinse cycle as opposed to a full wash. The mild treatment results in the denim appearing close to Raw/ Dry denim.


The length measured from the crotch up to the waistband. Generally referred to as low, mid or high dependant on where the jeans sit on the waist.


Refer to the small metal eyelets or studs sewn at the end of pocket openings to prevent ripping. Rivets can also used decoratively.


Rope dyeing refers to the process in which yarns are twisted together to form a ‘rope’ before being dipped into indigo baths. Due to the yarn not completely absorbing the dye, Rope dyeing results in yarn fading faster than yarn where dye has fully absorbed.


Refers to the faded effect on the hem of jeans that resembles a rope. Roping gives the hem an authentically worn look.



Sand paper can be used to soften the denim in the final stage of production for a smooth soft feel.


Raw denim can shrink up to 20% on the first wash. Sanforization stretches and pre-shrinks the fabric before it is cut or washed to reduce shrinkage to less than 3%.


The denim purists’ denim of choice. Selvedge/ Selvage/ Self edge refers to the vertical edge of the denim fabric that is traditionally features a coloured thread unique to the denim brand or mill. The Selvage edge prevents the end of the denim from ravelling and gives the jeans a clean, finished look.


Singeing refers to one of the final stages of processing where a controlled flame is used to burn or ‘singe; any loose threads.


Skewing is used to prevent leg twist that occur during the shrinking process. manufacturers minimize this effect by skewing the cloth in the opposite direction of the twill. Denim is usually skewed in the opposite direction of the twill dependant on the fabric’s weight, twill weave yarn size and yarn twist.


Skinny jeans are jeans that are cut to skim the body from waist to ankle for a streamline silhouette.


An overall narrow fit, designed to skim the leg rather than hug as per skinny jeans.


Intentional uneven spinning on 28-inch shuttle looms during the construction process create inconsistencies in the fabric know as ‘Slub’. Initially seen as flaws, slubs are now used to add character to denim.


Snow wash is the hardcore sister of Acid washing. Where the lighter shade of wash contrast has been worked back to bright white.


When the denim is washed with pumice stones to fade the colour of the denim during the washing process.


Refers to denim that where the leg profile fits consistently from the hip down to the leg opening.


Refers to denim fabric made with a percentage or elastane in the weft giving the denim elasticity for comfort of wear.


Sulphur dye can be used to treat denim prior to the indigo bath process in order to reduce the amount of indigo and time required to achieve the desired wash. This process often results in a yellow or grey tint.



Refers to the cut of a leg that gets narrower, skinnier, towards the ankles.


Top stitching is a stitching technique traditionally used on the hem, seams and pockets to create a finished look. Topstitching is often used for aesthetic over construction.


Twill is a weave technique that creates diagonal lines on the fabric. All twill fabrics consist of warp threads and weft threads. The warp threads run along the length of the fabric and the weft across the width. The way in which these threads are crossed determines the strength and look of the woven fabric. Denim is typically 3x1 twill, which refers to the number of weft threads per warp thread.



Denim that is not washed or treated in anyway also known as Dry or Raw Denim.



Warp is a construction of yarn in which the vertical yarns are alternately woven over and under the weft. It makes the resulting material stronger. In denim, warp runs parallel to the selvage and is usually blue.


This is the term for the horizontal threads that pass through the warp threads via the shuttle during weaving. They run perpendicular to the selvage.


Denim is weighed in oz. per square yard. For example, 12 oz weighs 12 ounces per square yard. The heavier the weight the heavier the jean feels and wears taking longer to ‘wear in’.


Refers to different finishing techniques where liquid has been used to treat denim.


Horizontal creases around the crotch, thigh and knees of jeans. Whiskers may be formed naturally through wear or applied artificially through techniques such as lasering and sand blasting. (As per the image shown)



A long, continuous length of spun thread.


Fabrics where the yarn has been dyed before the weaving.


The v-shaped section at the back of a jeans that forms the curve of the seat. The deeper the ‘V’, the greater the curve.



The zip fly refers to the vertical zipper used to fasten jeans as an alternative to button fly. Typically zip flys are found across all fits but are favoured in women’s styles and men’s skinny fit jeans.


Typically used for left-handed twill to create a softer hand feel. It is created when yarns are right-hand spun counter clockwise, resulting in a z-twist. Similar to the S-twist yarn used for the right-handed twill.