Technical Denim Facts

Amaze your friends with your knowlege of the jeans you wear. Or maybe just bore them with these facts.

Background to denim.

Serge de Nimes fabric can be traced back to France to before the 17th century. There was also a fabric known in France as “nim.” They were both partly composed of wool. However the Serge de Nimes was also known in England. So one has to ask was this fabric imported from France or was it an English fabric with the same name?

There still remains the question of how the word “denim” is thought to have descended from the word “serge de Nimes.” Here is the tricky bit… Serge de Nimes was made of silk and wool but denim has always been made of cotton. So the relationship between the fabric Serge de Nimes and the name ‘denim’ is in the name only. Not in the type of fabric. Confused? Wait there is more.

Both Serge de Nimes and nim are a twill weave. So perhaps the real origin of the word denim “serge de nim,” means… a fabric that resembled the part-wool fabric called nim. Was serge de Nimes more well-known than serge de nim? It’s likely we will never really know.

In case that is not enough to confuse the matter there was another fabric at about this time called “jean”. This was a fustian – a cotton, linen, and/or wool blend which came from Genoa, Italy was called jean. It was quite popular in England during the 16th century and by the end of this period jean was being produced in Lancashire. By the 18th century jean cloth was made completely of cotton and used to make men’s clothing. Jean was very popular due to its durability after many washings.

Denim’s popularity was also on the rise. It was stronger and more expensive than jean, and though the two fabrics were very similar in some ways, they did have one major difference: denim was made of one colored thread and one white thread; jean was woven of two threads of the same color.

What is denim Twills & Weight?

Normally denim is made from 100% cotton yarns but some denims are woven with Spandex or other stretch materials to give the fabric stretch.

There are three major types of twill fabrics.

RHT– Right Hand Twill

RHT- Right Hand Twill is the weave most commonly used for denim. It is a warp faced weave where each warp thread interlaces over 3 weft picks and under one. This causes diagonal lines to be formed in the cloth from bottom left to top right which is why this twill is called right hand twill.

LHT- Left Hand Twill

LHT- Left Hand Twill the weave lines run diagonally from right to left.

Broken Twill

Broken Twill is a combination of twills, alternating as 2 ends of one type of weave and 2 ends of another type of weave right across the fabric.

There are some other weaves of denim but the most common are listed above.


Weights can be from 5 oz shirting up to 15 oz heavy denims for jeans and jackets. Weight of denim is measured by the ounces per square yard.

What has 501 got to do with jeans?

The 501 is one of the many styles made by Levi Strauss. It has a button up front fly, straight legs, and busted side seams.


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