Denim Jeans Glossary

13MWZ is the style number of the very first Cowboy Cut” jean, designed more than 50 years ago with the help of celebrity cowboy tailor Rodeo Ben. The “MWZ” originally stood for “Men’s With Zipper”.

5 Beltloops
This is how many beltloops a typical pair of jeans has. Two beltloops are positioned in the front before the front pockets. Two loops are at each side and one in the center back of the jeans. The leather label is positioned between the right side and center back loops.

Wet processors (laundries) try to make garments look worn or faded by scraping or rubbing the surface of the fabric causing abrasion. Pumice stones are most frequently used. (see stone washing).

The oldest man-made fibre and the first one made using tree pulp. Fabrics were made from acetate during World War 1 and used in airplane wings. Acetate has fair absorbency, high luster, (silk like) poor abrasion resistance, poor fastness to the sun and low strength which reduces 30% when wet.

Acid washing (also know as Marble Wash/Moon Wash/Snow Wash)
Practice in which pumice stones soaked in chlorine are tumbled with jeans in the dryer to etch white highlights into denim.

Patented by the the Italian Candida Laundry company in 1986, the finish gave indigo jeans sharp contrasts. The process was achieved by soaking pumice stones in chlorine and letting these stones create contrast.

Synthetic fibre that is made with just the right combination of coal, air, water, petroleum and limestone. The fibre has fair affinity to dye, and pills easily.

Azoic Dyes
Azoic dyes are insoluble pigments formed within the fibre by padding, first with a soluble coupling compound and then with a diazotized base.

A sewing procedure that reinforces stress points on jeans, usually front flies, pocket openings and crotch joins of inseams. Thankfully there is a bartak machine.

Basket Weave
A fabric weave where more than one filling threads pass over and under the same number of threads on alternate rows of the warp.

Bedford Cord
A fabric weave with ribs down the length of the fabric. The ribs can be any width. Looks like an uncut unbrushed corduroy without a velvet feeling.

Big E’s
To collectors, Levi’s 501s made before 1971, which have a capital E in the word Levi’s on the red pocket tab.

Laundries use this chemical to make denim jeans fade. Liquid bleach is usually an aqueous solution of sodium hypochlorite, and dry powdered bleaches contain chloride of lime (calcium hypochlorite). Because chlorine destroys silk and wool, commercial hypochlorite bleaches should never be used on these fibres.

An industrial finishing process that takes off natural and artificial impurities from yarn or fabric. Also a process for laundries to make denim jeans fade.

Broken Twill
A denim fabric weave first used by Wrangler in 1964 in their jeans style 13MWZ.   The diagonal weave of the twill is intentionally interrupted to form a random design. Used prominently in the 1980′s by designer jeans brands like Sasson, Jordache and Calvin Klein with their dark prewash jeans and of course originally made famous by Wrangler.

Bull Denim
A 3×1 twill weave piece dyed fabric, made from coarse yarns. Weights can vary from 9 ozs/sq yard up to the standard 14 ozs/sq yard. It’s basically a denim without indigo!

The simplest weave in textiles is a plain weave (1×1) where the filling yarn is passed over and under individual warp yarns. Using thick yarns, makes the fabric into a canvas.

The industrial yarn preparation process where raw cotton is separated, opened, cleaned and made into sliver.

A substance or agent that initiates a chemical reaction and makes possible for it to proceed.

The basic structural component of plant cell walls, cellulose comprises about 33 percent of all vegetable matter (90 percent of cotton and 50 percent of wood are cellulose) and is the most abundant of all naturally occurring organic compounds.   Cellulose is processed to produce papers, fibres and is chemically modified to yield substances used in the manufacture of such items as rayon, plastics, and photographic films. Other cellulose derivatives are used as adhesives, explosives, thickening agents for foods, and in moisture-proof coatings.

Cellulosic Fibres
The chemical processing of short cotton fibres, linters, or wood pulp produce fibres like rayon, acetate, and triacetate. Other materials modified to produce fibres include protein, glass, metals, and rubber.

A plain weave fabric, with a single but different warp and weft color. In jeanswear, fabric mills usually use a medium depth indigo warp color and natural (unbleached) weft.

The name came from both the trouser style worn by British Colonial troops in the 1800′s and the fabric used for the fabric. Today a cotton trouser is considered as a chino and the fabric would be considered as a tightly woven 2 ply right hand 3×1 combed cotton twill.

Ciba-Geigy AG
Swiss multinational holding company created in 1970 in the merger of two concerns headquartered in Basel-Ciba AG and J.R. Geigy SA. The group consists of affiliates in some 50 countries and is engaged in the manufacture and marketing of dyes and chemicals; pharmaceuticals; plastics and additives; agricultural chemicals and fertilisers; photographic products; and household and garden products and toiletries.

An industrial yarn preparation process where fibres are combed to make them parallel in the sliver and short fibres are taken out.

Combed Yarn
A yarn whose sliver is combed – uses finer fibre than carded yarns and is more regular and expensive than carded yarn.

Conventional Cotton
Most popular (commercial) system for growing cotton by feeding plants heavy dosages of synthetic fertilisers, and eliminating competing species for maximum yields. Using toxic pesticides (chemical herbicides, insecticides and defoliants) the process of providing conventional cotton is dangerous to farmers, people who live near farms, as well as our environment.

The French originally called this this lush velvety fabric “Cord Du Roi”, cord of the King. The fabric is ribbed throughout the length and the ribs are cut and sheared so that a smooth velvety surface appears. Fourteen wale corduroy was one of the most important jeans fabrics in the 1960′s and 1970′s when jeans became universal.  The fabric has a rounded plush velvet type cord, rib, or wale surface formed by cutting the pile. The fabric is woven by having one warp and two fillings. After weaving the back of the fabric is coated with glue, and the ribs are cut open down the centre. Once the glue is removed from the face, the fabric is finished by a series of brushings, waxings, and singeings.
When the pile is made from extra fillings rather than from extra warp yarn, the fabric is called velveteen.

Core Spun Yarn
A yarn in which a base yarn is completely wrapped by a second yarn.

Cotton, genus Gossypium, one of the world’s most important crops, produces white fibrous bolls that are manufactured into a highly versatile textile. The plant has white flowers, which turn purple about two days after blooming, and large, divided leaves.   Length of fibre ranges from 3/8″ to 2″ (Egyptian, Sea Island). The longer the fibre, the higher the price and the more luxurious the fabric.   Cotton withstands high temperatures, can be boiled and hot pressed. It is resistant to abrasion has good affinity to dyes, and increases in strength 10% when wet.   The world’s leading producers of cotton are China, the United States, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Turkey, Australia, and Egypt.

Cotton Gin
On March 14, 1794, Eli Whitney patented his invention of a machine that could take seeds out of cotton. Although one of the most important hardware developments in the history of cotton textiles, Whitney’s gin invention was pirated and this put Whitney’s company out of business by 1796.

Cotton inspection
The grading, and classing of cotton to facilitate interstate and foreign commerce in cotton by providing official quality determinations.

Cowboy Cut
Cowboy Cut is a style of jean made only by Wrangler. Designed and wear-tested by real cowboys, the jean features high-back pockets (so cowboys don’t sit on their wallets), a tapered leg from knee to bottom to fit over boots, a wide space between front belt loops to accommodate a western belt and trophy buckle, smooth round rivets and extra room in the seat and thigh to make riding easier and more comfortable.   Cowboy Cut is available in original, slim, classic and relaxed cuts for women and in original, slim and relaxed for men. Each style is cut to fit over boots. To find the fit that fits you, there’s no substitute for grabbing a few pairs and heading to the dressing room. But you can get a head start here by browsing our online catalog for sizes and colors.

Yarn Count
The size of yarn is defined by its weight and fineness. You may have: Tex=No. of grams per kilometre; English Cotton Count= No. of 840 yd lengths per lb; Woollen Count (YSW)=No. of 256 yd lengths per lb; Woollen Count (Dewsbury)=No. of yard lengths per oz; Worsted Count= No. of 560 yd lengths per lb; Metric Count= No. of kilometres per kilogram; Linen Count (Wet Spun)= No. of 300 yd. length per lb; Jute Count= No. of lb per 14.400 yd; Denier= No. of grams per 9.000 metres; Decitex= No. of grams per 10.000 metres.

One of the oldest and largest textile groups in the world. Divided today in 2 groups, Courtaulds Textiles with fabric production, garment manufacturing and retail, and Courtaulds Plc, a chemical company which produces fibres and has recently developed and marketed Tencel.

A term used to describe how dye rubs off fabric on skin or other fabric.

Dead stock
To collectors, a pair of jeans with the original price tag that has never been worn or sold. These rare jeans are extremely valuable.

A chemical dust or spray applied to plants to cause their leaves to drop off prematurely. Defoliants are frequently applied to cotton in order to facilitate harvesting. Defoliants were employed in warfare to eliminate enemy food crops and potential areas of concealment of enemy forces by South Vietnamese and U.S. forces in the Vietnam War; the most controversial substance being the chemical compound known as Agent Orange.

Fabric made with a blue cotton warp and white cotton filling. Denim was originally called serge de Nimes because it was produced in Nimes, France.
Hard-wearing material.   Originally it was used as working clothes like overalls and jeans. Nowadays it’s used for fashionable clothes. Often blue, with artificial caused patina like groping and holes for a worn look, maybe covered by patches for decoration.

Dips is used to describe fabric or yarn when they are immersed in dye. Indigo yarns are dipped in an indigo bath usually 6 times but up to 16 times.

A fabric with small geometric figures incorporated into the weave, it is made on special looms.

Double Needle
A seam commonly used in Jeanswear garments (shirts, jeans, jackets) where a sewing machine stitches two threads side by side for strength at one time.

The industrial process where slivers are pulled out after carding and/or combing.

Usually a left hand 2×1 weave, twill fabric.

Once known as a fabric lighter than canvas, today a duck is considered to be a synonym for canvas or a plain weave cotton made from medium to coarse yarns.

Comes from the Hindi word used to describe the trousers worn by sailors from the Indian port of Dungri many years ago.

They brought you Nylon, Teflon, Lycra….

The industrial process to add color to fibre, yarn, fabric, or garments.

The natural color of cotton.

Eight O Seven (807)
The law that allows fabrics to be cut in the United States, garments to be assembled in Mexico, Caribbean and Central American countries, returned to the United States with tariff assessed only on the added value (sewing).

Are proteins and as such are present in all living cells. Enzymes speed up chemical processes that would run very slowly if at all. They are non-toxic and readily broken down. Enzymes are used in textile processing, mainly in the finishing of fabrics and garments.

Enzyme Washing
Use of cellulose enzymes to soften the jeans and lighten color.

Popularizer of European-cut jeans, innovative fabric blends in denim.

Fair to Middling
The name for the grade of cotton usually used in the spinning of yarns that will be used for the production of denim fabric.

The smallest textile component. A near microscopic, hairlike substance that may be natural or manmade. Are units of matter having length at least 100 times their diameter or width. Fibres suitable for textile use possess adequate length, fineness, strength, and flexibility for yarn formation and fabric construction, and for withstanding the intended use of the completed fabric. Other properties affecting textile fibre performance include elasticity, crimp (waviness), moisture absorption, reaction to heat and sunlight, reaction to the various chemicals applied during processing and in the dry cleaning or laundering of the completed fabric, and resistance to insects and micro-organisms. The wide variation of such properties among textile fibres determines their suitability for various uses.

Filling (also called weft)
The lengthwise, selvage to selvage horizontal, yarns carried over and under the warp. Filling yarns generally have less twist than warp yarns because they are subjected to less strain in the weaving process and therefore require less strength.
In pile-fabric constructions, such as velvet or velveteen, extra sets of warps are used to form the pile. A single filling yarn is known as a pick.

Five Pocket Jean
Means your jean has 2 back pockets plus 2 front pockets and a coin pocket inside the front right pocket.

Any napped fabric be it, twill, plain weave, printed, yarn dyed or solid color.

A natural vegetable fibre composed mainly of cellulose that is processed from the stems of the flax plant. The flax plant yields long fine fibres that can be from 2″-36″ in length while the color can range from light ivory to dark tan or grey.

Fox Fibre
Naturally Coloured Cotton, the fibres of which grow from seeds that already have their color and do not need to be dyed. It is believed that six colors (pink, red, lavender, brown, green and yellow) were developed by the ancient peoples of the Americas thousands of years ago. Sally Fox managed to breed plants that bring the fibre quality of the wilder brown cottons up to that required by modern spinning technology. FOXFIBRE colors grow best without chemicals, opening the door to organically grown cotton, the COLORGANIC cotton. Three shades are available today, Coyote Brown, Buffalo Brown and Palo Verde Green.

A distinctive 45 or 63 warp face left hand twill if single plied yarns are used or right hand twill of a two ply yarn is used in the weft. Gabardines are made from any fibre not just cotton.

Sturdy cotton pants worn by Genoese sailors.

The most important port in Italy; by the Genoa-bay by the north-west-end of Italian peninsula. 714.000 inhabitants. Industry; harbour for ships of all sizes. University build in 1243; commercial upper-secondary school; Academy of Fine Arts. Romanesque-Gothic cathedral (10th – 14th centuries). Aristocracy palaces: Palazzo Reale (1650-1705), Palazzo Rosso (17. Cent.), both with collections of paintings. A 70 meters high lighthouse is the landmark of the town. A sight is the cemetery Camposanto. Genova got under Roman control in 218 BC. As an independent republic in the middle age it was the centre for trade in the Mediterranean; When it progressed its trade to the Orient (the West) it got in dispute with Venezia. Defeats and internal disputes weakened the town, and in the 15th century it lost its importance. In 1828 the town regained its independence thanks to Andrea Doria. In 1768 Genoa sold its last colony, Corsica, to Italy. Bonaparte later incorporated the town into France. In 1815 it got a part of the kingdom Sardinia.

The industrial process where seeds are taken out of picked cotton.

Good Middling
The name for the best grade of cotton.

Gray Goods/Loomstate/Greige/Grey
Words used to describe fabric that is just off the loom, woven but unfinished in any way.

This is when a yellow-green sulphur is used in the indigo dye.

Hand or Handle
The way a fabric feels. This is a very subjective judgment of the feel of a fabric and it should help decide if a fabric is suitable for a specific end use. Hand may be crisp, soft, drapeable, smooth, springy, stiff, cool, warm, rough, hard, limp, soapy……..  Finishing and garment wash affect the final handle of a fabric.

The frame holding heddles that have warp yarns threaded through its eyes.

Heather/Cross Dye/Top Dye/Melange
A mixed fabric color is achieved (the best examples are grey t-shirts, socks or wool used in suitings) by using different colors of fibre, and mixing them together. Black and white fibre mixed will combine to give grey heather fibre.

Steel wires, or thin flat steel strips held by the frame, with a loop or eye near the centre through which one or more warp yarns pass on the loom so that the thread movement is controllable in weaving. Heddles control the weave pattern and shed as the harnesses are raised and lowered during the weaving.

The controversial fibre with the bad image. Hemp is a low cost annual seed plant that grows in most climates. Hemp’s natural fibre and seed oil have over 25,000 possible industrial applications and these were once competitors of wood pulp, cotton, and petroleum products like inks, paints, plastics, solvents, sealants, and synthetic fabrics. Hemp (official name cannabis sativa, L, from the Greek Kannabis ) fell victim to the anti-drug sentiment of the times when the U.S. Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937. The intent of this law was to prohibit the use of marijuana, but it created so much red tape that the production of industrial hemp became nearly impossible in spite of all the products that derive from hemp. In his October 30, 1988, editorial in California’s most conservative newspaper, The Orange County Register, senior columnist Alan Bock stated that “Since 1937, about half the forests in the world have been cut down to make paper. If hemp had not been outlawed, most would still be standing, oxygenating the planet.”

Herringbone is a weave where twill warp stripes are created by running twills in different directions.

Hipster jeans
Jeans that starts about 10 centimetres below the navel.

Indigo is a blue vat dyestuff, that was originally taken from the “Indigofera tinctoria” plant by fermenting the leaves of the shrub. In 1897, fourteen years after Adolf von Bayer identified the chemical structure of indigo, the chemical became synthetically manufactured.  Indigo’s inherent features are good colourfastness to water and light, a continually fading and its inability to penetrate fibres completely. This allows the blue color in jeans made from indigo to always look irregular and individual.

What is indigo?
Indigo is a dyestuff that was originally extracted from a plant. Egyptian excavations have suggested that indigo was used as far back as 1600 B.C.
Natural indigo dyes were used throughout history, and have been found in Africa, India, Indonesia, and China.

Until Adolf von Baeyer identified the chemical structure of indigo in 1883, the only indigo dyes used came from plants. Fourteen years after Baeyer’s discovery, indigo was developed synthetically.

Whether chemical or synthetic, indigo dyes never fully penetrate fibre and the dye continually fades. If any indigo yarn is untwisted, white fibre is found. Other dyes fully penetrate fibres.

Indigo is always blue although there are various casts of blue indigo available. Dyestuff manufacturers have tried to make other colors that duplicate indigo’s special features but no other color fades or avoids full fibre penetration.

Intimate blend yarn
Different fibres are blended together to make a yarn composed of two fibres. The purpose is to mix the properties and characteristics of individual fibres into one new mixed fibre.

Comes from the French word “Genes” used to describe the pants sailors from Genoa once wore.
While the historical definition implied that all jeans were made of denim, jeans today usually refer to a garment that has 5 pockets (two in the front, two in the back and a small change pocket on the front right pocket) and this style can be made using any kinds of fabrics be it corduroy, twills, or bull denim.

Long, narrow pants, especially for women; manufactured by diagonal-weave cotton fabric. Named after where the texture originally were manufactured, the town Genova. The French name is Genes, in English it’s pronounced [dji.ns].

Khaki uniforms were introduced by Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden for British colonial troops in India and were later widely used at the time of the Indian Mutiny (1857-5 and became the official colour for uniforms of British armies, native and colonial, in India.
Today, the word is used both as a color and as a style of trouser. Khaki is a beige to yellow military color and the garment is usually a men’s army style trouser made of a twill cotton fabric.

A manufacturing company that takes unwashed jeans, and processes them. This processing includes washing, stone washing, sandblasting, and garment dyeing. Laundries today are critical in making jeans look commercial and wash development has become equally important to fabric development in the jeanswear industry.
The best laundries and wash developments come from Italy, Japan and the United States.

Left Hand Twill
A fabric weave where the twill line runs from the top left hand corner of the fabric towards the bottom right. Usually in piece dyed fabrics, left hand twill fabrics are woven from single plied yarns in the warp. In the jeans industry Lee has always used Left Hand twill denims as their basic denim.

The LHT, left hand twill, weave runs diagonally from right to left in a northwesterly direction. These denims are softer, fluffier fabrics

A fibre taken from straw of the flax plant. The stems are steeped in water to remove resinous matter and allow fermentation to take place. After fermentation is completed, the fibrous material is separated from the woody matter and spun into thread. The fibre can be from 2″-36″ long with a natural color that varies from light ivory to dark tan or grey. Linen is very absorbent, take dyes more readily than cotton but has poor resiliency.

The weaving machine. Most famous loom manufacturers are Sulzer Ruti from Switzerland, Picanol from Belgium, Dornier from France, Tsudakoma /Toyoda from Japan and Vamatex from Italy.
The word loom (from Middle English lome, “tool”) is applied to any set of devices permitting a warp to be tensioned and a shed to be formed.
The warp shed is formed with the aid of heddles where one heddle is provided for each end of warp thread. By pulling one end of the heddle or the other, the warp end can be deflected to one side or the other of the main sheet of ends. The frame holding the heddles is called a harness.
Today there are three kinds of looms: dummy shuttle, rapier, and fluid jet.
The dummy-shuttle type, the most successful of the shuttleless looms, makes use of a dummy shuttle, a projectile that contains no weft but that passes through the shed in the manner of a shuttle and leaves a trail of yarn behind it.
The rapier type conveys a pick of weft from a stationary package through the shed by means of either a single rapier or a pair of rapiers. Rapiers are either rigid rods or flexible steel tapes, which are straight when in the shed but on withdrawal are wound onto a wheel, in order to save floor space. Rapier looms are, on the whole, simpler and more versatile than dummy-shuttle looms but are slower in weaving speed.
There are of two kinds of fluid-jet looms, one employing a jet of air, the other a water jet, to propel a measured length of weft through the shed. The significance of this is that nothing solid is passed into the shed other than the weft, which eliminates the difficulties normally associated with checking and warp protection, and reduces the noise to an acceptable level. The machines can attain great weaving speed and output.

Loop Dyed
One of the three major industrial methods of dyeing indigo yarns.

Dupont’s trademark for spandex fibre.

The generic name given to the cellulosic fibre developed by Courtaulds and marketed by them under the Tencel brand name.

Man made Fibre
Viscose and Acetate, derived from cellulose were almost all the man-made fibres in existence before World War II. During the 1930s, after intensive fibre research, several new synthetic fibres were produced experimentally which led to the production of nylon (Dupont’s invention), the first commercially successful synthetic-textile fibre.
Since that time, synthetic-fibre production has created polyesters, acrylics, polyolefins, and others.

Men’s Jeans
Men’s jeans are created to encompass a good fit anatomically. The crotches on men’s jeans are lazier, adding more depth and room where needed.

An industrial process used on yarn or fabrics to increase lustre as well as dye affinity.
It can also be used (on fabrics destined for the jeanswear industry) for keeping dye on the surface of the yarns or fabrics so that dyes do not fully penetrate the fibre.

Natural Dyes
Up to to the middle of the 19th century there were only natural dyes and most of these these were vegetable origin. Natural indigo being one of the more important dyes.
Natural dyes usually have no affinity for textile fibres until the fibres are treated with aluminum, iron, or tin compounds to receive the dye (mordanting). This is a problematic process and the dyes in any case have poor fastness to sun or abrasion.

Natural Fibres
Any hairlike raw material directly obtainable from an animal, vegetable, or mineral source that can be convertible, after spinning, into yarns and then into woven cloth. The usefulness of a fibre for commercial purposes is determined by it’s length, strength, pliability, elasticity, abrasion resistance, absorbency, and various surface properties
The earliest indication of hemp is in South East Asia in 4500 BC, linen in Egypt in 3400 BC, and cotton fibre use is in India in 3000 BC.

Nylon (PA)
Nylon is a synthetic fibre invented by DuPont that was used originally for hosiery but is currently used in many applications. Nylon is naturally water repellent, easy to dye, and very strong. These features have helped nylon replace cotton in many industrial uses like bags and flags and is very popular for use in the outerwear apparel industry. Nylon has a poor absorbency.

O.F., or A.F.
For Other Fibres (Altre Fibre), can be found on the Composition label of fabrics containing recycled materials. Many of the fabrics produced in the Italian area of Prato are made using yarns spun from blends of reclaimed wool (and, of course, other fibres!).

Open End denim
The denim most people are familiar with is “Open End Denim”. The term Open End Denim describes the yarn that is used to weave the denim. About 17 years ago, a process was developed that was more economical and produced a more consistent yarn thickness. For the jean purist, this denim is considered too refined and does not posses the unique character or strength of the denim of the past.

Optical Brighteners or Optical Whiteners
Chemicals that make fabrics appear to reflect more light than they really do, to make them brighter (they convert ultraviolet light to visible light in the blue region). They are sometimes used in the manufacture of fabrics and are often included in the formula of many detergents sold for home use.

Organic Cotton
Cotton grown where toxic chemicals have been eliminated in all growing process steps. Living soil (defined as being free of toxic chemicals for three years) is the basis of an organic farm and organic farmers have proven when plants are healthy they are able to resist insects, weeds and disease.

A one piece garment style usually made from denim or canvas. It is a pant with a bib top and suspenders over shoulders and back. Originally a work wear product.

Fabric dye process on denim fabrics. Most frequently used on indigo or black denim fabric which is overdyed black.

Originally made in Oxford, England, it is a plain weave fabric where 2 or more filling yarns pass over and under 1 or more parallel warp yarns. It is possible to have 2×1, 2×2, 3×2, 4×4, or 8×8.
Used in dress shirtings where the warp is a color and the filling is natural. Also very popular in nylon for outerwear jackets.

Where oxygen and another substance chemically join. Occurs when indigo yarn comes out of the indigo bath between dips, and is critical for the the dyestuff to penetrate the fibre.

A little known dyestuff that was used in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s instead of indigo when there was insufficient indigo production throughout the world to support the demand.

Pigment Dyes
Dyes without affinity for fibre and are therefore held to fabric with resins. They are available in almost any color and have been used extensively in the jeans wear industry by fabric dyers who want to create fabrics that fade.

Pima Cotton
Cotton grown in Peru and America where the fibre length is long (1 3/8″-1 5/8″) and luxurious. A beautiful quality of cotton. The best available after Sea Island and Egyptian cotton fibre.

Plain Weave
The simplest and most common fabric weave where the filling yarn passes over and under each warp yarn in alternating rows.

All yarns are single ply unless twisted with another yarn. Terms used are: 2 ply if two yarns are twisted together and 3 ply if three are twisted. Plied yarns are used to make yarns stronger. In the jeans-wear industry it has become important to ply yarns in piece dyed fabrics that are intended to endure a long stone wash cycle.

Points / Demerit Points
Visual fabric inspections require a numerical assessment to be made to areas of the fabric where there are defects.

Polyamide (PA)
See Nylon.

Polyester (PES)
Polyester is made of chemicals derived from coal, air, water and oil.
Polyester is a strong fibre with a good dye affinity, a high luster and good resiliency. In the 1960′s polyester and cotton were blended and had mass market appeal due to the blending of both fibres’ strengths. Polyester’s weak characteristics are that it pills, and is non-absorbent.

Name of a light weight tightly (more warp threads than filling) woven plain weave fabric where a coarser yarn is used in the filling than the warp, leaving a slight rib effect across the width of the goods.
US customs defines this fabric as “not of a square construction, whether napped or not, weighing less than 200 gms per square metre, containing 33 or less warp ends and filling picks per square centimetre”.

“Pre-shrunk” means the denim has been pretreated to ensure that the garment will shrink less than 3% in washing. And that’s just a technical way of saying that washing your jeans should not affect the fit of the garment.

Pumice Stones
A volcanic stone used for stone washing garments. Pumice is popular because of its strength and light weight.

Quality Control
This term unfortunately can mean everything and nothing! It is normally used to imply inspection of products throughout the manufacturing process to ensure that the finished products meet the standards.

The perennial stalk producing ramie plant has been cultivated in eastern Asia for fibre since prehistoric times. Growing 3-8 feet high, with heart shaped leaves, the plant’s fibres was used in fabric in ancient Egypt and was known in Europe during the Middle Ages. Ramie fibre did not achieve importance in the West until the 1930s.
Because of its desirable properties, including strength and durability, ramie has frequently been promoted as a textile fibre of great potential.
Ramie fibre is pure white in colour, lustrous, moisture absorbent, and readily dyed. The fibre is stronger than flax, cotton, or wool. Fabric made from ramie fibre is easily laundered, increasing in strength when wet, and does not shrink or lose its shape. It dries quickly and becomes smoother and more lustrous with repeated washings. Ramie is resistant to mildew and other types of micro-organism attack and good fastness to sun.
Because ramie is brittle, spinning it is difficult and weaving is complicated because ramie has a very hairy yarn surface.

Process in which yarn is run through indigo dye, then the color is fixed by exposing it to air. This allows the fabric to fade gradually.

The synthetic fibre known as rayon is produced from regenerated cellulose (wood pulp) that has been chemically treated. Fabrics made of rayon are strong, highly absorbent, and soft; they drape well and can be dyed in brilliant, long-lasting colors. Rayon fibres are also used as reinforcing cords in motor tires, and their excellent absorbency makes them useful in medical and surgical materials. Rayon can be used alone or blended with other synthetic or natural fibers. Since the mid-1980s rayon use has grown dramatically as new formulations and blends have added more strength and softness to the fabric and have made it more absorbent, more washable, and less vulnerable to wrinkling.

Organic blue, which is also known as happy days, has a slightly reddish tint. It was used by Levis to make the big E. The dyeing formula originally included some real corn syrup.

Red lines
To collectors, jeans made before 1986, which have a red line running up the inseam.

Right Hand Twill
A fabric weave where the twill line runs from the top right hand corner of the fabric towards the bottom left. Usually in piece dyed fabrics right hand twills use two plied yarns in the warp. In the jeans industry Levi’s has always used Right Hand twills for their basic denims in their 501 model as well as their other basic models.

Ring Spun denim
This is the denim of the past. Ring Spun Denim is more rugged and is a less refined yarn. This yarn adds character to the denim because of the “slubs” running throughout the yarn. Slubs are tiny knots of cotton, and these slubs are found randomly throughout the yarn. All in all, ring spun is stronger and will last longer than normal Open End Denim.

Single Ring Spun Vs. Double Ring Spun
Q:What’s the difference between Single Ring Spun denim and Double Ring Spun denim?
A: A denim’s weave has yarn running both lengthwise and widthwise. Most Ring Spun Denims are woven with Ring Spun yarns running lengthwise and Open End yarns running widthwise, this is called a Single Ring Spun Denim. A Double Ring Spun Denim is made with pure ring spun yarns woven into the length and the width of the weave. Our Cheyenne fabric boasts Double Ring Spun qualities.

Metal tabs placed at stress points in pre-1960s jeans, introduced by Nevada tailor Jacob Davis, who borrowed the technique from horse blankets.

Rope Dyed
Considered as the best possible method to dye indigo yarns.

A fabric finishing process where fabrics are sanded (real sandpaper) to make the surface soft without hair. Can be performed before or after dyeing.

A Cluett Peabody and Company trademark for the preshrinking fabric process that limits residual fabric shrinkage to under 1%. Developed in the late 1920′s by the Sanforize Co., the process was used on the garments in Wrangler’s first jeans line in 1947.

A laundry process where jeans before washing are literally shot with guns of sand in order to make the jeans look as if they have been worn. While originally done only by hand, this processing has recently become automated. Chemicals are also now used in many laundries replacing sand.

Satin and Sateen
A fabric weave where one yarn floats over a series of yarns before it interlaces once. When the warp floats over a series of picks (at least four) the fabric is called satin. When the filling floats over a series of ends the fabric is called sateen. Satin weaves make fabric surfaces shiny and very smooth.

An industrial process where dirt or starch (oil, grease, sizing) is taken off fabrics.

A laundry process where jeans are checked for quality, repaired, price tagged and packed.

Sea Island Cotton
Along with Egyptian cotton fibre, the finest grade of cotton available. The fibre can be spun into yarn two times finer than Pima, the next best cotton grade.

Selvage Denim
Old 28/29 inch shuttle looms produced denim where selvages were closed. Vintage Levi’s jeans had a single red stripe along both selvages, Lee’s had a blue/green along one, Wrangler’s was yellow. When vintage shopping for jeanswear check jackets and jeans for selvages because they are a great clue to the real thing!

Shade Batching
The process of selecting batches of fabrics into homogeneous shade lots to obtain consistent color continuity in garment making.

Shade Blanket
Where fabric is cut from each roll of fabric, sewn together, with roll numbers on the back of each pad to allow manufacturers to wash and identify all shade colors of each roll. This is an important tool in cutting apparel made from denim to ensure you cut garments from the same shade group.

The weft insertion device that propels the filling yarn across (over and under) the warp yarns. Shuttles used to be (shuttle looms) wooden with a metal tip.

Silicones are silicon-containing polymer materials that have found wide use in industry because of their great stability. They are available as fluids, sealant-adhesives, mouldable resins, and rubbers. When the first silicone oil was made in the 1870s, its insensitivity to both high and low temperatures was noted, but the first silicone rubbers were not invented until 1943. In the 1950s silicones were developed commercially for the aerospace and electronics industries but rapidly found applications in many fields, especially construction. Some fluid silicons are used in garment finishing, to give a smooth handle to fabrics.

Silk is the filament secreted by the silkworm when spinning its cocoon, and the name for the threads, yarns, and fabrics made from the filament. Most commercial silk is produced by the cultivated silkworm, Bombyx mori, which feeds exclusively on the leaves of certain varieties of mulberry trees and spins a thin, white filament. Several species of wild silkworm feed on oak, cherry, and mulberry leaves and produce a brown, hairy filament that is three times the thickness of the cultivated filament and is called tussah silk.

A phase of finishing when the fabric surface hair is burnt (or singed) using a controlled flame, to give a clean appearance to the fabrics.

Starch, gelatin, glue, wax that is added to fabrics in the finishing state to improve touch or weight and to help fabric laying in the cutting phase. Denim fabrics for example have almost 1 oz of sizing.
Sizing is also applied to reinforce warp yarns during weaving. Most common starches used are corn in the United States, rice in Asia, and potato in Europe, or PVOH and other chemical substances. Look out for fabrics containing P.C.P., a highly toxic chemical still used sometimes as sizing agent!

Slim Leg Fit
This jean leg has no ease added to your thigh and knee measurements. The leg of your jeans will “hug” your leg from the thigh to the knee.

Twill fabrics have to be ensured not to skew or not unroll.

Slasher Dyed
One of the three methods to dye indigo yarn.

Continuous strands of fibre untwisted that come from carding.

Slub Yarn
A yarn that is spun purposely to look irregular in shape (length and diameter). Usually slub yarns are very regular in repeat and size.

Spandex (PU)
Generic name for man-made fibres derived from a resin called segmented polyurethane. It has good stretch and recovery properties.

Spinning is the process by which cotton, wool, flax, and other short fibres are twisted together to produce a yarn or thread suitable for weaving into cloth, winding into rope or cable, or used in sewing. (Long, continuous fibres, such as silk, are not spun. To achieve strength and the appropriate thickness, they are thrown, or twisted, together.)

Short lengths of fibres, normally measured in inches or fraction of inches, like those naturally found in cotton and wool. Silk, on the other hand, is the only natural fibre that does not come in staple lengths but instead in filament lengths.

Process in which pumice stones are added to wash cycle to abrade denim and loosen color.

S-Twist Yarn
A left handed twisted yarn. See also Z-Twist.

A type of dyestuff used frequently on blacks, and neutrals (khaki’s) while economical, has only moderate fastness to washing and light.

Synthetic dyes
In 1856 William Henry Perkin, an English chemist, discovered the synthetic dye mauveine. From this day forward, synthetic dyestuffs began to supplant natural dyes. The synthetic-dye manufacturing industry was founded by Perkin in 1857, when he set up facilities near London for the commercial production of mauveine and, later, of other synthetic dyes. Other dye-making factories followed both in the U.K. and continental Europe, and new dyes began to appear on the market.

Synthetic Fibres
Chemicals combined into large molecules called polymers, produce fibres like nylon, polyester, spandex, acrylic, modacrylic, olefin, saran, spandex, and vinyon.

A cellulose fibre invented by Courtaulds using a non-chemical solvent. It was originally developed to produce viscose fibres without polluting the environment. The end result was a new fibre which was not only environmentally friendly (more than any other fibre) but also featured very high strength and a wonderful touch.

Textile Industry
Derived from the Latin “texere” (to weave), and originally used to describe woven fabrics, textiles has become a general term for fibres, yarns, and other materials that can be made into fabrics as well as for woven or knitted fabrics. Threads, cords, ropes, braids, lace, embroidery, nets, bonding, felting, or tufting are textiles.

Textile Finishing
The non coloring process to make woven or knitted fabric more acceptable to the consumer. Finishing processes include bleaching prior to dyeing; treatments, sizing applied after dyeing affecting touch treatments adding properties to enhance performance, such as preshrinking. Greige fabric is generally dirty, harsh, unattractive and requires considerable skill and imagination for conversion into a desirable product. Italian textile mills are famous as being the best finishers in the world.

A branded type of Polyester, produced by Hoechst Fibres Inc. It offers better Pilling performance than regular Polyester.

The term twill designates both a textile weave characterised by diagonal structural designs and the cloth made from that weave. The weave may be varied to produce broken or intertwining effects. Twill fabrics are usually firm and are used especially in suits and in sport and work clothes. Twill-weave fabrics are also used for linings, pockets, and mattress ticking. Serge, gabardine, and cheviot are major types of twill.

Uneven Yarn
Ring Spun yarn is by nature never perfectly regular; these irregularities can be used to give character to the yarn and subsequently to the fabric. It can be either light to give a natural appearance, or pronounced, to give an “antique” effect.
Even Open End yarns can sometimes reproduce the antique effect, although they are very regular and cannot give a natural effect.

A knit or woven fabric with a thick, short, cut pile.

A fabric with a short, closely woven pile, originally made of silk, it is today made of rayon, nylon, acrylic cut pile fabrics.

Virgin Fibres
Fibres never made into fabric before, primarily used for wool fibres (virgin wool), to differentiate between these and reclaimed, reprocessed, and reused fibres.

They are a series of ribs or ridges usually running lengthwise on woven fabrics. They describe the pile ribs found on corduroy fabrics.

The lengthwise, vertical yarns carried over and under the weft. Warp yarns generally have more twist than weft yarns because they are subjected to more strain in the weaving process and therefore require more strength.

Weft (also called filling)
The lengthwise, selvage to selvage horizontal, yarns carried over and under the warp. Filling yarns generally have less twist than warp yarns because they are subjected to less strain in the weaving process and therefore require less strength.
In pile-fabric constructions, such as velvet or velveteen, extra sets of warps are used to form the pile. A single filling yarn is known as a pick.

One of the most controversial issues in fabric sale; it can be “selvage to selvage”, where the width value is inclusive of selvages, or “usable”, where the value indicates the fabric effectively cuttable.

Women’s Jeans
Women’s jeans are created to flatter her figure. The thighs are cut closer to the body. And the depth of the back yoke gives a nice fit from the waist to the thighs.

This name will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year; the jeans were manufactured by a Company called Blue Bell ( Blue Bell Overall established in North Carolina in 1904, changed its name to Blue Bell Company in 1925. Blue Bell became eventually the biggest work wear company in the world!). After the war, in 1947, Blue Bell started manufacturing jeans for cowboys. The first model was No. 11MW.

X-Dyed Fabrics
Cross dyed fabrics present a two color weave, obtained using different color yarns in the warp and in the weft.

The original denim fabric used by Levi’s for the production of their 501 jeans. According to the legend, the name 501 itself derived from the lot number of this fabric.

A generic term for a continuous strand spun from a group of natural or synthetic staple fibres, or filaments, used in weaving, knitting to form textile fabrics.

Yarn Dyed
Or Color Wovens, are fabrics produced with yarns already dyed prior to the weaving process.

A right-handed twisted yarn, as opposed to S-Twist.

This glossary was originally posted on but has since then been taken down. It can be found on other various pages online.

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