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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Denim Facts

Reading in the Vogue patterns Magazine October/November 2013 all about Denim – as there seems to be so much ‘out there in our sewing realm’ lately about sewing  your own jeans.   Though I’m not personally inspired to spend my time doing this – my friend/assistant Carol always amazes me with her wonderfully-fitting, various color personally created jeans!  I admire it all – just no time in my ‘to do’ list to spend time on it.  However, the entire textile aspect of it all certainly interests me.

Perhaps even if you’re shopping online for jeans, the weight facts that follow may be of interest/help to you.  If a denim is really heavy (16 oz or more) it will be great for cold weather.  However for summertime, you might be more interested in a 12 oz.

Left Hand Twill

“Left hand twill, also known as “s twill”, is a weave in which the grain line runs from the top-left hand corner of the fabric to the bottom right which is the opposite of right hand twill. It was originally used by Lee denim as its basic denim and now used in many premium denim companies such as 45rpm, Lee Japan, and Kicking Mule Workshop. Left hand twill tends to wear down softer than right hand twill and thus a softer hand/feel after washing. Left hand twill will also have different wear patterns as the fabric can emphasize streakiness or vertical fading. The above photo is taken from a Kicking Mule Workshop “left hand twill” Rocker slim tapered selvedge denim in indigo.”  Its fading also tends to be a bit more blurry than right-hand twill.  It is usually woven with a Z-twist yarn with a diagonal bias running form the upper left to the lower right, like the spine of a S.

Right Hand Twill

“Right hand twill, also know as “z twill”, was made famous as Levi’s jeans standard fabric and now is the most common twill weave used for denim fabrics. Right hand twill can be recognized by the upward direction of the diagonal twill on the face of the fabric as it runs from lower left toward upper right. Right hand twill is known to have a flatter and smoother surface compared to other twill fabrics.”  The right hand twill is the most common twill used in denim.  It is usually woven with S-twist yarn with a diagonal bias running from the upper right to the lower left, like the spine of a Z.

“Broken twill denim was first used by Wrangler in 1964 as a way to combat the twisting effect characteristic of regular twill denim (at the time considered a “fault” by many). Traditionally, twill is woven either to the right hand or the left hand as we described above which will eventually twist itself after washing due to the tension. This is why you see the outseam of some denim twisted to the front or back of the leg. Broken twill avoids this. Instead of the twill running left or right, broken twill contains no distinct direction and instead alternates right and left – the end effect resembles a random zig-zag pattern as shown above.”

Let’s review and get even more specific… from the Textile……Twill weave is a basic weave characterized by prominent diagonal lines in the left or right direction. The angle of the diagonal lines is dependent on factors such as fabric count, yarn size of warp and filling yarn, and interlacing pattern (described below). Tightly woven fabrics have steeper diagonal lines. The angle decreases with a decrease in yarn count. The direction of the twill (left, right), the interlacing of the yarns (even, uneven), and the interlacing pattern (2/1, 3/1) are used to classify twill weave fabrics and to draw point diagrams. The twills are sometimes classified by the direction of the float (warp-faced twill, filling-faced twill). The majority of the twill weave fabrics are produced as warp-faced twills as the filling-faced twills are not as strong. Thus, the direction of the float is usually not used to describe a twill weave fabric. An example of filling- faced twill is included in the images.

Direction of the twill – The direction of the diagonal determines whether it is a left- or right-hand twill. In left-hand twill, the diagonal is from lower right to upper left, whereas in the right-hand twill, it is from bottom left to top right.

Interlacing pattern – The number of filling yarns the warp goes over and then under are used to identify the interlacing pattern. Thus, a 2/1 is used to describe a fabric in which the warp yarns go over 2 and under 1 filling yarn. The first digit refers to the number of filling yarns the warp yarns cross over. The second digit refers to the number of filling yarns they go under.

Interlacing of the yarns – If the warp yarns pass over and under the same number of filling yarns, an even-sided twill fabric results; gabardine and houndstooth are such fabrics. Houndstooth is produced by alternating different colored yarns in the warp and filling directions at regular intervals. Even-sided twills are considered reversible fabrics. However, the direction of the diagonal is different; thus, care should be taken to cut the fabric pieces from the same side. In uneven twills, warp yarns pass over and under a different number of yarns. In some uneven twills, different colored yarns are used in the warp and filling directions. As a result, the fabric appears one color from the face and another from the back. Denim fabric is an excellent, common example of a warp-faced twill fabric. Other examples of uneven twills are duck, drill, and pillow ticking. Given below is an example of a 3/1 right-hand twill.

Given below is an example of a 3×1 left-hand twill.

Twill Variations– Herringbone twill is a variation of even-sided twill in which the direction of the twill changes from left to right at regular intervals. Due to the change in direction of the twill weave at regular intervals, a horizontal zigzag pattern, which is characteristic of twill weave fabric, is seen on both sides of the reversible fabric. The fine herringbone twills are used for shirts and pants. Men’s sports jackets are made of coarse yarn herringbone twill.

BACK TO JEANS.…  consider this ‘advice’ from the Vogue Patterns article…and connisseur of jean-making the Hieatt’s:  “The longer you can hold off washing your  jeans for the first time the better.  It will give them time to create imrpints and lines and let them truly become your jean.  If you could wear them for around 6 months without washing, that would create a beautiful jean.  To try to achieve this we recommend you give them an airing from time to time or even a little visit to the freezer, just to keep the aromas at bay.”  !!!

Sew……if you’re interested in making your own jeans….  you might also want to check out ALL the denim fabrics available at this link:

Some Miscellaneous things regarding jeans – my humble observations…

1.  Sometimes the waistband is cut on different grains.

2.  Side seams are topstitched for strength above the hip and pressed open below the hip – with the topstitching stopping at the hipline – I hadn’t noticed that for the longest time!

3.  If making – consider if you want the fly front closure to ‘open right’ or ‘open left’.  My humble opinion is that women’s fly fronts should lap right over left – the same as their tops – for consistency.  Just a little thing – but worth considering.   😉

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