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Technique Selvedge denim

Selvedge, or self-edge, is the clean and self-binding end of a roll of denim fabric produced on a shuttle loom. The tightly woven selvedge bands prevent fraying and ravelling, but also denote a slower and more traditional craft process. The coloured line that often runs through the selvedge was originally used as an identifier for different textile mills, to indicate where fabric had been produced.

Technique Selvedge denim

seledge denim ARKET

Selvedge, or self-edge, is the clean and self-binding end of a roll of denim fabric produced on a shuttle loom. On shuttle looms, a shuttle device carries one single, continuous thread of the horizontal weft yarn back and forth between both sides of the loom; this seals the edges and ensures that the fabric will not fray. A fabric roll produced on a shuttle loom is traditionally 36 inches wide, or one yard (91.5 centimetres), and when cutting the pattern for a pair of jeans, the two ‘self-edges’ are used as natural outseams.

Shuttle looms were the standard until mass-production of denim began in the 1950s, when the more efficient projectile loom replaced many of the traditional machines. A shuttle loom can produce about 150 rows of weft yarn per minute, whereas the projectile loom averages over 1,000, and on fabrics that are twice as wide. Since the weft yarn does not loop back around the edges on the projectile loom, it has to be cut at both ends, and when sewing a pair of jeans the frayed edges need to be finished with overlock stitching. The tightly woven selvedge bands prevent fraying and ravelling, but also denote a slower and more traditional craft process.

The coloured line that often runs through the selvedge was originally used as an identifier for different textile mills, to indicate where fabric had been produced, but is today mostly a decorative feature.