Blue bell brand (now owned by Wrangler), is likely to have been the first to use a zip or zipper, they called this the 13MWZ. Designed by “Rodeo Ben” AKA Bernard Lichtenstein the infamous tailor in1947. See Zip for further information regarding the development of the Zip.
Referring to the styling used on jeans from the 1870’s by most mercantile companies of the time, still used for the basic structure of a jean today; the 501 by Levi Strauss being the most successful. It’s specifics are two scooped front these pockets openings are sewn into the garment, two back pockets, which are “spade”, shaped and a “match pocket” placed on the front right pocket bearer.
A process used to make garments look worn and aged by scraping or rubbing the surface of the fabric mainly by use of hand held sandpaper occasionally a hand held grinding machine would be used.
A. B. Elfelt and Co.
Augustus, Albert, Alfred Elfelt and Solomon Goldsmith 1866 selling dry goods. Patented many forms of double binding to pockets for strengthening purposes. See Rising Sun and Co for the reproduction. The jean patented has one back pocket sewn over the yoke and into the waistband, more durable stitching is found on the opening of the pockets, the jean features a Cinch back.
In my opinion this is a big denim No-No, it refers to a wash achieved by soaking pumice stones in chlorine and letting these stones create sharp contrasts in the denim. Each jean will have an individual colour definition. This huge amount of bleach and acid used in the washing is not environmentally friendly. Scientifically speaking a combination of acids are used including Hypochlorite
The Japanese name for Indigo dye, from the fermented leaves of the native plant Polygonum Tictorium.
Amoskeag Manufacturing Company opened in 1838 and was the most important denim mill in the USA, sadly industry declined and the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company closed and filed for bankruptcy in 1935. Amoskeag production was once used solely for Levi’s and who created the original fabric referred to as the “XX”.
It was apparent from the 1870’s that the best was of advertising a “jean” was to do this on the garment itself. Many companies started adding a decorative stitch to the back pockets of the jean. Levi’s was “Seagull” also known as the Arcuate. These companies also used a back patch (usually on the centre of the back waistband now on the right side).
Early 1800’s Nimes, South of France. This family are thought to be the first bulk manufacturer of denim also known at the time as “Serge”, a rugged cotton twill textile, in which the weft passes under two twi (twi - double) or more warp threads.
Japanese term to describe the fading on creases and seams of a jean. The most common areas for Atari are along the side seams it also shows on the front and back of the knees, the upper thigh, along the hem, on belt loops, and along pocket seams.
Laundries use this chemical to make denim jeans fade. Liquid bleach is usually an aqueous solution of sodium hypochlorite; dry powdered bleaches contain chloride of lime (calcium hypochlorite).
Back pocket flasher
A piece of card attached to the back right pocket, some advertising for the brand the fit and size might be shown on the back pocket flasher.
A sewing procedure or stitch combination that reinforces stress points on jeans, usually found near zippers; belt loops and pocket openings. Sometimes “loose” bartacks are used at the Apex or corners of the back pockets. Bartacks normally come in 26 or 48 stitches a stitch runs right to left on the bobbin side and the top stitch in a zig zag up and down.
A post 1900 addition to the 5 pocket western, these strips of fabric are attached to the waistband for the weaving through of the belt to hold up the jeans around the waist. The classic authentic design had 5 belt loops one either side before the front pocket openings, two at the back sides and one in the centre back. The branded patch would have been moved from the centre back position to the right side at this time. Many men were skeptical about the use of the belt and for a period between 1905 and 1911 both the belt loops and the suspender buttons would have been used for those who didn’t trust the belt.
Levi’s 501s made before 1971, which have a capital E in the word Levi’s on the red pocket tab. Highly collectable.
Boss of the Road
Neustadter brothers EST 1852, a best selling jean was developed around 1880. The design featured an extra piece of fabric attached to the inside of the pocket openings.
Denim weave where the weft thread is reversed after not more than two passages of the warp to create a sporadic design. If you look at the reverse of the fabric you’ll see a clear zig zag weave pattern. Designed by John Neil Walker in 1964 to reduce twisting. Used mainly by Wrangler.
The sales Mascot for the H.D. Lee mercantile co. Sales manager Chester Reynolds idea of using a doll to "model" miniature versions of the company's clothes for store displays. The doll is 12½-inch tall and was produced between 1922 and 1962. Starting in 1949, Buddy Lee was produced as a 13-inch hard plastic doll. The Buddy Lee dolls were discontinued in 1962 because they were no longer profitable. By then, Buddy Lee had become the second-highest-selling doll in the USA. In 1998, reinvented the doll in a TV commercial for Lee Jeans along with the 1940s Lee tagline "Can't Bust 'Em".
Bull denim should refer to natural unbleached undyed cotton twill over 14oz, however today’s use of the reference also includes indigo rope dyed denim.
Busted Out Seams
The correct method of manufacture on a jean is to sew the side seams with a lock stitch then press this seam open. Mass manufactured goods often have overlocked side seams that are held together by the stitch. A good judge on if you are buying a good quality jean.
The industrial yarn preparation process where raw cotton is separated, opened, cleaned and made into sliver.
A term that describes shading, most denim is likely to come in red or green caste, but indigo denim can have a black, brown, grey or yellow caste to it. Only really apparent when the goods have faded.
A series of looped stitches that form a chain-like pattern, this pulls the denim at differing tensions on either side, causing the distinctive ‘roping’ that makes worn indigo-dyed denim so distinct. Usually only used on hems and waistbands the stitch is time consuming and expensive. The most revered machine manufacturer of chain stitching machines is the Union Special.
A plain weave fabric, with a single but different warp and weft color. Fabric mills usually use a medium depth indigo warp color and natural weft.
From the mid 1800’s until well into the 1900’s the main way of holding your jeans up was with a cinch, a buckled piece of fabric sewn to the back yoke (see below for definition) to pull in the fabric around the waist. The jeans would also have had suspender buttons on the waistband that would attach to the suspenders that hook over the shoulders. This method may have also have been used on the French trousers of the same name “Genes”.
A cardboard cone shaped device for holding the greige yarn/rope.
A term used to describe how dye rubs off fabric onto other surfaces.
A unique type of denim that shows a square grid-like pattern in the weave. Created by mixing uneven yarns in both the weft and warp directions.
An indigo-dyed cotton twill fabric in which the weft passes under two or more warp fibers. Originally thought to be based on a fabric called Serge, from Nimes in France.
Also known as a Denim Purist. A special breed of geek interested in dyestuffs, origins and weights. The Denim Head is most likely to be seen in selvage jeans or top to toe in denim that has rarely if ever washed only hung out to air. Priding his or herself in the items worn and how long between washes one has gone. Often heard muttering the word “rare”.
A rinse process used to soften denim. During desizing the chemicals in the wash combination breaks down the starch from the weaving and removes it from the fabric.
The term used to describe fabric or yarn when immersed in dye. Double dip/16 dip.
Draper Northrop Corporation in Hopedale, Massachusetts, made most of the looms used for American Selvage denim. Their looms had an automatic bobbin change, which allowed an operator to oversee more looms than was possible with Hand Looms. By 1894 Draper automatic looms had became the industry standard,
Once known as a fabric lighter than canvas, today a duck is considered to be a synonym for canvas or plain weave cotton made from medium to coarse yarns. The first “jeans” were made using Duck.
A more efficient and environmentally sound way to stone wash jeans. Rather than using pumice stones, organic enzymes that eat away at the indigo are used, this also helps to retain the durability of the fabric.
A manufacturing process done on a specific machine which sews two seams together by way or wrapping one over the other. This can be seen from the under side of the garment, on the external shell the stitch is shown as a “twin needle” or two parallel lock stitch lines.
The techniques or processes performed on a garment, which give it its unique appearance.
Denotes the cut of the garment, high-rise, skinny, boot, and loose, wide, drop crutch.
Important original manufacturers of jeans and dry goods 1851, San Francisco. Moses and Jacob Greenebaum owned the patent of the leather triangles attached to the apex or corners of each pocket to avoid destruction of stress points.
The likely birthplace of the “Jean”. The imported fabric from Nimes (Serge de Nimes) in the early 1800’s was used by sailors who had tailor made trousers from this very heavy durable fabric dyed with Indigo for their manual work of load and unloading. The trousers would have been formal in styling with quarter pockets, maybe with suspender buttons.
The way a fabric feels. The hand can be described as crisp, soft, dry, smooth, springy, stiff, cool, warm, rough, hard, limp, soapy etc. Finishing and garment wash will affect the final hand of a fabric.
1671, an American English word which history is from Algonquian (perhaps Powhatan), shortening of pockerchicory or a similar name for this species of walnut. It also refers to a strong twill fabric woven in stripes and was used mainly in workwear shirts and the pockets of jeans.
Referring to the rivets on the back pocket apex. Previously rivets would have been exposed and visible but in 1937 due to a huge amount of complaints about torn furniture Levi’s (in particular) attached these before sewing the pockets onto the garment sadly this still didn’t solve the problem the hidden rivets eventually worked holes in the jean and thus creating the same problem so Levi’s removed them completely. Most of today’s premium denim comes with hidden rivets another detail how to spot good denim.
The dye used for denim, initially taken from the indigofera tinctoria plant. The dye is recognized for its colourfastness to water and light and continual, yet gradual fading. This allows the blue colour in jeans made dyed with indigo to always look irregular and individual.
A Japanese term relating to the wash areas of a jean. From how I understand it it’s the lightest points on the wash so the area’s around the knee, thigh and seat.
A Japanese term referring to dying with indigo, 'Ito' means thread so Ito-Zome refers to dying thread in rope form before it is woven into fabric. The method is similar to the rope dying effect used, the ropes are laid in baths of indigo (Ai) when removed the excess is removed by squeezing by hand, the rope is then left to oxidize and the process starts all over again.
A name possibly derived from the French word for the Italian manufacturing town Genoa (Gênes), and originally used to describe the type of pants worn by sailors from Genoa. While the historical definition implied that all jeans were made of denim, today the term jeans can refer to a trouser that has five pockets and made from fabrics such as corduroy or twill.
The Klondike Quest was the last of the Gold Rush when in 1896 Gold was discovered by a creek near Dawson City, Yukon, Canada between 1897 and 1899 over 100,000 miners are said to have travelled (most from San Francisco) to Dawson. Only 30,000 are said to have actually survived the dangerous journey.
The industry term used to describe a manufacturing unit that takes unwashed jeans and applies processes such as washes, sanding and finishing to them.
H.D Lee Mercantile Ltd (Lee Jeans)
H.D. Lee Mercantile Co. 1889 by Henry David Lee. First operated as a wholesale grocer. In 1911, due to unreliable shipments from their suppliers, H.D. Lee Mercantile was prompted to produce their first line of work wear garments including the now famous vintage Lee Bib Overall, made of 8 oz, with a button fly, it was updated in 1926 with slide fasteners on the bib overall strap. Other successes include the 1913, “coverall” a combination of jacket with a bib overall being stitched together. This product, dubbed the “Union-All” was commissioned by the U.S. Army and was the official fatigue uniform during World War I. Later the words “UNION MADE” was included with the Lee Brand Name on many of its labels. In 1921 Lee produced a jacket called “Loco jacket” designed and tested on railroad workers. The use of a zipper in a jacket was produced at the end of the ‘20’s called the 91. 1922 saw the Buddy Lee doll, a choice of many vintage collectors today.
LHT. Also known as an ‘S Twill’, this is a weave in which the grain lines run from the top left-hand corner of the fabric towards the bottom right. Left-hand twills will often have a softer hand feel to them after washing.
In 1853 Levis Strauss moved to San Francisco from New York where he left his brothers to set up his own business in Dry Goods. He moved to 14 and 16 Battery Street, San Francisco in 1866 and prospered from the sale on men’s dry goods until in 1873 he was approached by Jacob W. Davis for money to pay for a patent for his “Riveted jeans”. Levi Strauss owned the patent of the rivet strengthened jean from 1873 to 1890, designed by Jacob W. Davis who he promoted into his company to over see the manufacture of this new jean, at this same time there were many other “dry goods” retailers in San Francisco but Levi Strauss was the one company to survive.
Denim straight from the loom, in it’s natural state so with no finishing processes and no sanforization. This type of denim became less popular after the 1920’s as it was unstable and had huge problems with shrinkage.
One of the three major methods of dyeing indigo yarns. In the loop dyeing process, the yarn is dyed in a single bath instead of several; depth of colour is achieved by passing the yarn through the vat several times.
The fifth pocket, also called watch or coin pocket. It’s unlikely a “precious” watch or money was kept in the pocket during work so it was originally used for matches, purely functional; it sits inside the right front pocket and justifies the term five-pocket jeans. The original Levi’s had it placed in the middle of the waistband, which dropped towards the end of, the 18oo’s onto the pocket bearer.
Louis and Henry Neustadter, early 1860’s San Francisco. Owned the “Boss of the Road” overall brand and patent for the “one piece” zip guard double backed pocket openings (usually held together with a decorative floral embroidery).
Open end spinning was introduced in the 1970s, reducing costs by omitting several elements of the traditional spinning process. The cotton fibers are ‘mock twisted’ by blowing them together. Open End denim is bulkier, coarser and darker as it absorbs more dye.
The name given to jeans pre 1900 these were with or without bib. Also known as Bib and Brace or Dungaree’s in the UK. However Dungaree’s were not usually made from denim. Also not to be confused with a coverall which in the UK is referred to as a “boiler suit”.
All denim is weighed after weaving in ounces per square yard.
All yarns are single ply unless twisted with another yarn. Plied yarns are used to make yarns stronger. The method of twisting and length of each yarn is a major determinant in the ultimate look and feel of the finished fabric.
Originally in the same quality as the exterior fabric of the trouser or in a pillow bag ticking stripe, now more commonly a lightweight twill.
The Roberts Loom was a cast iron power loom introduced by Richard Roberts in 1830. This was the first loom that would be more reliable than a handloom, it was easily adjustable and reliable thus widely used in Lancashire cotton industry. Later this would be improved upon by the Draper and Toyoda looms.
The piece of fabric behind the front pocket openings.
Volcanic stone used for stone washing garments, popular because of its strength and lightweight. Before the use of pumice, rocks, plastic, shoes and just about every other material was used to wear down and soften denim during the laundry process.
Each pair of jeans is subjected to a series of quality checks. The first randomly selected samples are examined before sewing. After the pieces are assembled, every single pair of jeans is individually examined, and once again after washing.
Jeans that have been left raw or unwashed, a characteristic that goes back to pre-sanforized days, when manufacturers sold their garments dark, stiff and not pre-shrunk. Some brands offer jeans this way for purists who want to break in their own jeans and give them their own unique appearance.
Applied on the fabric before sewing or as a washing effect. There are 3 different resins used in finishing denim, these include Polyurethane and acrylate. These will create different looks to the denim at different stages of washing. This can be added to cheaper denim to give a fake dry handle.
Standard practice in weaving and so most denim is right-hand twill, giving a weave, which produces a diagonal, or twill, line that rises from left to right.
A spinning process in which the individual fibers are fed onto the end of the yarn while it is in the ‘twisting’ stage, and the method of cho zice until the late 1970s. The yarn produced by this method creates unique characteristics in the fabric, giving the jeans an authentic vintage look. Ring-spun yarns add strength, softness and character to denim fabric.
Ring/Ring, or double ring-spun denim uses ring-spun yarn for both warp and weft. This is the traditional way to produce denim.
A metal fastener that is used to reinforce stress points. The use of rivets were patented by Levi Strauss in 1873 but were developed by Jacob Davis. The patent lasted for 17 years at which point all other dry furnishing goods suppliers and manufacturers were able to use the design.
Here the threads of yarn are twisted into a rope and then fed through sequence of dipping baths of indigo dye. This is considered the best possible method to dye indigo yarns.
A finishing process where fabrics are rubbed down with sandpaper to soften them. Once and until recently this could have been done by a heavy duty blasting of sand down a pipe onto the jeans; this was not environmentally friendly and produced horrendous health and safety issues and is now banned. All sanding processes are now done by hand and usually on a mock inflatable leg.
San Francisco home to the “forty niners” the name given to the people who settled there is 1849 for the Gold Rush, this in turn had an effect on the town turning it from a quiet settlement to a booming industrial city. Home place of the work overalls or denim 5 pocket jean. It was here Levi Strauss and co began alongside many competitors like A.B. Elfelt and Co, Heynemann and company, Neustadter Brothers and Greenebaum Brothers all specializing in Dry goods. The 5 pocket western jean being made first of all in “Duck” a cheap but durable canvas like fabric and then also in Denim. These overalls all had specific design features patented specific to each company. Each company provided jeans to the miners who would in turn usually rent these overalls from the mine. Distinguished not just by details (like Levis Strauss and their patented rivets) but also by a branded usually printed cotton patch on the back waistband of each jean.
Sadly a lot of the history of this era was lost in a devastating fire caused by earthquakes in 1906. Fragments of jeans and most of the patents still exist. So collectors are able to marry up the fragments with the patents through educated guess work.
A pre-shrinking process that limits subsequent shrinkage to between 3-5%. Invented by Sanford L Cluett and Jared C Fox , Sanforization was patented in 1928. The process includes the stretching and manipulation of the cloth before it is washed. Sanforized denim can still be raw, but it will have been treated to reduce the shrinkage that typically occurs when washing.
Originally called ‘self-edge’, this is the narrow tightly woven band on either edge of the denim fabric, parallel to the warp. A selvage end prevents the edge of the denim from unraveling. Older narrow shuttle looms produce denim where selvages are closed, whereas on larger modern machines the weft yarn is cut on every pick, creating what is called a ‘fringe’ selvage.
Likely to be the origins of the Denim weave, known as "Serge De Nimes". Serge is a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave. The Worsted variety is used in making military uniforms to suits. Also made with silk serge that is used for linings. French serge is a softer, finer variety. The word is also used for a high quality woolen woven. In the 16th Century most English wool known as staples was exported to France where it was woven into cloth. Denim is a cotton fabric with a similar weave.
Side seam security stitch
Found under the waistband on the outside leg at the join of the seam. This stitch reinforces the stress point of the hips, making your jeans durable and hardwearing.
A chemical added in the finishing process of washing to create a soft drapey handfeel.
Traditionally before denim is woven the threads are treated with wax, resin or starch to stiffen them and make them easier to weave. When dry/raw/unwashed denim is washed for the first time the fibers constrict and so the denim shrinks.
Refers to the twisting that happens when fabric shrinks. As a result you will often find authentic vintage jeans with one or both of the side seams twisted towards the front of the jean.
Refers to thicker places in the yarn, commonly found in denim produced on vintage shuttle looms.
A process that removes colour and adds contrast. Here the fabric is literally put into a washing machine with pumice stones. These are then rotated together to achieve a lighter non-uniform colour.
A wooden instrument used to carry cotton in between the yarns for weaving.
Suspenders were used to hold up jeans, they strap over the shoulders and attach to the waistband of the jean fixed by two buttons. At the bottom of the straps would be a piece of leather with two buttonholes. Suspenders became unpopular around WW1. Eventually being replaced totally by the belt around 1930.
Sakichi Toyoda made his first loom in 1924. The “power loom” was hugely popular worldwide, and was produced in a licensed version by the British company, Platt Brothers. The company expanded into car production, under the name Toyota, in 1937. Toyoda shuttle looms are said to be used by most if not all the major Japanese mills, such as Kurabo and Kaihara.
Now revered as the best quality for make and durability The Union Special Machine Company of Chicago was the leading US manufacturer of commercial sewing machines. Certain models are now highly prized with premium denim brands.
This is the lengthways or vertical yarns woven into the weft yarn. They usually have more twist and are stronger than weft yarns.
The combination of warp and weft yarns woven into the weft yarns to produce different weave designs.
The un-dyed, crosswise filling yarns used in denim weave.
A fading of the ridges in the crotch area and back of the knees, which gives the appearance of aged denim. Can often look very unrealistic if done during a Laundry process.
A modern invention of 150cms + width weave of denim for mass manufacture, much cheaper and quicker to manufacture and with no selvage either side of the width.
V-shaped section at the back of jeans, also known as a ‘riser’ which gives curve to the seat. The deeper the V of the yoke, the greater the curve. Cowboy jeans often feature a deep yoke whereas workwear or dungaree jeans might feature a shallower yoke, or no yoke at all.
Zip (AKA Zipper)
A fastening device, a strip of fabric which specially shaped metal or plastic teeth are attached which lock closed. In denim only a brass alloy should be used, as this is the strongest of the metal alloys. Designed in 1851 by Elias Howe who also owned the first Patent to the first sewing machine. Largely forgotten and unused for manufacture it was Gideon Sundback who revived the zipper updating it in 1913 it still wasn’t until the 1930s when tailors started using it for mans trousers and again the first reported use in jeans wasn’t until wrangler used it in 1947. © Dawson Denim 2012