Selvage 101

STEP 1: SOURCE

Every product begins with a solid base. The base of good denim is cotton, 100% cotton. Therefore, the first and foremost step is to source 100% cotton. It varies from place to place as to what method is used to acquire the cotton.

After that, the cotton is carded (i.e. cleaned), inspected, combed, opened, and blended. Again, it is argumentative but some sources range from Australia to Zimbabwe and quality of cotton is entirely a personal preference therefore it would not be fair to state the best or worst.

STEP 2: SPINNING

After the previous step, which includes carding, cleaning etc., the cotton is already in slivers so that it can now be spun. In this process the cotton is processed so that a yarn may be created so that it may be woven to create the fabric - denim.

Spinning can be done in various ways, open-end, ring, and double ring (ring-ring). The main difference is that ring and double-ring spun denim doesn't absorb indigo dye as efficiently as open-end spinning and also yields thicker denim. As a result the denim develops stronger fade contrasts and has more slubbiness.

STEP 3: WARPING & DYEING

The next step is, “warping”.  Woven fabric consists of warp yarns.Warp yarns are prepared by selecting the longer yarn from the ring-spun yarn and dyeing. The yarn may be warp yarned (i.e. length-wise, indigo dyed) or weft yarned (i.e. cross-wise, left un-dyed, labelled as filling yarn).
 
Regarding indigo dyeing, there are three main methods: Loop dyeing | Slasher dyeing | Rope dyeing.
 
The most important thing to remember is that rope dyeing is considered higher quality because it is a laborious, specialised process and the denim fades are better. (Primarily, as only the yarn surfaces have been dyed).

STEP 4: WEAVING

Now the yarn is ready to be woven into the denim fabric.  It is during the weaving process that the distinction between raw denim and selvage denim is created.

There are a variety of weaving variations, right-hand twill, broken twill, and left-hand twill; and the end-result is a sheet of denim fabric. However, the interesting thing is that in this process the indigo-dyed warp yarns are entwined with the un-dyed weft yarns through looms.

Additionally, the deciding factor is that there are two types of looms, shuttle looms and shuttle-less looms.  Shuttle looms are the ones that are more rare and they result in finished edges or "self-edge", and typically more desired.

STEP 5: FINISHING

Finally, the denim sheets are rolled into drums and shipped off to the denim label. Depending on the company and brand, some complete their sewing and stitching in larger facilities, while others favor one-man operations,           Ande Whall and ROY are brands that prefer the latter.

At this time the denim is not distressed nor is it washed, it is absolutely in its purest and rawest form waiting only for the user to make it his or her signature denim.

FULL VIDEO OF MAKING PROCESS