When shopping for denim, it can be overwhelming choosing the right jeans, jackets, or shirts, with the many different options available today. For those of you that are new here, denim is a durable material that displays a diagonally ribbed pattern throughout the fabric. That being said, denim can be further categorized by its characteristics such as the fibers it’s made from, how it’s manufactured, and whether or not it is washed or treated. Additionally, denim is also organized by its weight, which helps define how it can be used. With the information discussed in this blog, choosing the best denim fabric for clothing should be easy. Sit back and read along as we discuss all about the different types of denim fabric.
Types Of Denim Fabric
All denim begins during the weaving process, when it is woven in a twill style weave. A twill weave is characterized by floating the horizontal weft threads over a set amount of vertical warp threads. This results in a diagonally ribbed pattern, that can vary in size depending on how many warp threads are passed over. From here, denim can be broken down into different types:
Poly Denim – Poly denim, poly being short for polyester, is a type of denim fabric that incorporates polyester fibers in its composition. This type of denim can be made from or partially blended with polyester. While denim is typically made from cotton, incorporating polyester can add some benefits to the material. As a fiber, polyester can offer affordability, durability, and moisture wicking capabilities while mimicking the texture of cotton when it is used to make denim. If you are looking for any of these qualities, poly denim may be right for you.
Stretch Denim – Stretch denim, as the name suggests, is a stretchy type of denim that feels comfortable to wear and is shape accentuating. This type of denim is woven from a blend of spandex or elastane. Typically, denim is a stiff fabric, however, stretch denim is made to be more flexible. When shopping for denim, choosing stretch denim may a good choice if you are experiencing weight fluctuations, of if you want more comfortable and shape enhancing apparel. We have a blog post on the different types on stretch in jeans as well.
Selvedge Denim – Selvedge denim is a premium type of denim that is woven on a shuttle loom. What makes selvedge denim differ from other types of denim is the distinct, hemmed edge, known as the “selvedge,” which is created from the weaving process. The craftsmanship that goes into this type of denim makes it the gold standard of denim, especially since the edges do not fray. You will commonly find selvedge denim being used in designer jeans and jackets.
Sanforized Denim – Sanforized denim is a type of denim that resists shrinking when it is being washed. Sanforized denim is made through the process of “sanforiztation,” which involves compressing and expanding the fabric to its limits, before returning the denim to its original dimensions. This process prevents further washing shrinkage of the fabric when it is used to make apparel or décor.
Washing & Treatment
Raw Denim – Raw denim is a type of denim that has not been washed or treated. This denim fabric is left in its original state from when it was manufactured. With a pleasantly coarse and stiff texture, Raw denim is highly sought after in the jean industry. That being said, Raw denim is highly susceptible to shrinkage, and garments made from this type of fabric should be carefully and only occasionally cleaned. The main reason people love raw denim is the fact that you can make it your own as it shows fades and creasing from wear – making it a true unique pair of jeans that you created.
Acid Wash Denim – Acid wash denim is a stylish type of fabric that is treated to look worn and used. Acid wash denim is made by using chemicals to remove color from the fabric. Depending on the duration of the wash, acid wash denim can have minimal discoloration, or it can be whitened. Depending on your tastes, this can be a coveted type of look, and many types of denim apparel can commonly be found acid washed.
Crushed Denim – Crushed Denim is a type of denim that is made to appear elegantly wrinkled and worn. This type of denim is treated by pleating, selectively cutting, or heating the fabric to have permanent creases. Many types of jeans, jackets, and shirts will be made with this type of denim. Crushed denim is very popular in today’s fashion.
How to Understand Different Denim Weights
When denim is made, different yarn weights can be used to weave the fabric. This will result in denim fabric having a different weight ranging from light to heavy. Depending on the application or season, you may want to think about the heaviness of your denim:
Lightweight Denim (Under 12 oz/yd²)
Lightweight denim is any denim fabric that weighs less than 12 oz/yd². This type of denim is more comfortable and breathable. It’s suitable for warm weather and provides a soft and flexible feel. Lightweight denim is often used for warm weather styles and can be the most comfortable type for daily wear.
Midweight Denim (12-16 oz/yd²)
Midweight denim ranges in weight from 12 oz/yd² to 16 oz/yd². This type is the most common weight for jeans. It strikes a balance between durability and comfort. It’s versatile and suitable for all-season wear.
Heavyweight Denim (Over 16 oz/yd²)
Heavyweight denim, typically 16 oz/yd² or higher, is known for its durability and ruggedness. It’s commonly used as workwear, or cold weather apparel. Heavyweight denim provides a sturdy, structured fit, in addition to insulating properties.
How to Choose the Best Denim Fabric for Clothing
Choosing the best denim fabric for clothing depends on your specific needs, preferences, and the type of clothing you want to make or buy. Here are a few common denim products, and the corresponding type of denim that is the best fit for each product or article of clothing:
For jeans, you will want to choose a denim fabric that is durable and stylish. Selvedge denim is a great choice to make quality jeans but consider choosing stretch denim if you are looking for comfort. Additionally, pick a type of denim that looks appealing to you, it can be regular raw denim, or treated to look stylishly worn. A medium weight denim fabric is recommended for long lasting jeans.
The requirements for denim jackets are similar to that of jeans. Depending on your taste, choose a type of fabric that looks best, whether it is raw, acid washed, or crushed. That being said, it is recommended to pick a heavier weight denim for a more durable and insulating jacket.
Dresses and skirts
When choosing a denim dress or skirt, you may want to consider using plain, raw denim. Additionally, pick a lighter weight fabric that is comfortable and breathable. Depending on the type of dress though, stretch denim is equally as important.
Denim fabric is not just a piece of clothing, it is a lifestyle choice. This durable and stylish fabric has a variety of applications. This is aided by the fact that denim can be found in a variety of contents, styles, washes, and weights. When making or shopping for denim, it is important to consider these properties, so that you can choose the best type of denim fabric. Now that you are a JEAN-ius, use this information to help you when you need denim fabric next.