Types of Denim – 13 Types of Denim for Clothing

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Learn all about the types of denim. Denim is many things to many people and probably one of the most popular fabrics on the market.  It is practical, hard-working, and a fabric used almost universally.

Types of DenimPinTypes of Denim


Types of Denim – HistoryWhat is Denim? What Type of Fabric is DenimHow to Sew DenimTypes of DenimRaw Denim Sanforized Denim Indigo Dyed Denim Color Dyed DenimSelvage Denim (selvedge or self-edge)Acid Wash Denim Stone Wash DenimCrushed Denim Poly Denim Stretch denim Bull Denim Ecru denim Organic denim Types of Denim EmbellishmentTypes of Denim FAQsWhich Denim Fabric is BestHow Can you Tell if Denim is High Quality?Is Denim Naturally Blue?What are Denim WeightsTypes of Denim – In ConclusionMore Fabrics

Types of Denim – History

Made from cotton, denim originated from the French city of De Nimes.  The fabric was originally known as Serge de Nimes but the name has evolved over the years to denim.

When Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss first began making work clothes for miners from denim in the mid-1800s they had no idea how popular this fabric and the humble jeans would be. 

What is Denim? What Type of Fabric is Denim

Denim is a fabric that is usually 100% cotton. Today there are so many types of denim fabrics made from this basic twill weave. Twill is woven in such a way that it has diagonal ribs along it. Denim is primarily made from cotton but modern fabrics may have the addition of polyester or Lycra.

Denim is tough and versatile.  It is a fabric that can get down and get dirty and hold its head up high on the fashion runways.  Articles made of denim appeal to young and old.   Follow the denim story from humble beginnings to one of the topmost fashion fabrics.

Types of DenimTypes of DenimPinTypes of Denim

How to Sew Denim

In order to sew denim, you will need the correct needles, thread and sewing machine settings. Read how to sew denim.

Types of Denim

Stretch denim, crushed denim and stonewashed denim are all types of denim.  Knowing the qualities of different denims helps the sewer to choose the right pattern for each type of denim.

Raw Denim

This is a denim fabric that has not been washed or treated in any way and is the first stage of the denim journey. 

It is dark blue in color and will slowly fade with washing. Because it is not treated, it is stiff to wear and will last a long time especially if you don`t wash it very often. Alternative names are dry denim or unwashed denim.

Sanforized Denim

Sanforized denim is raw denim that has been treated for some shrinkage. Hardcore denim fans like the really rough and tough state of raw denim and the sanforized process stops the shrinkage from happening.

It is important to know if your raw denim is sanforized as if it is not you may need to go up a size to allow for shrinkage. The label may refer to this type of denim as pre-shrunk.

Indigo Dyed Denim

This is the most common of the types of denim. Indigo dyed denim has the warp thread dyed while the weft thread is left white. This gives denim its distinctive blue look and results in the lighter look you see on the inside of denim clothing.

Indigo is the name of the blue dye that was originally used which came from an indigo plant. Today a synthetic version of blue dye is used but it has still retained the indigo name.

Color Dyed Denim

Sulphur dye gives denim its different colors.  Mustard, green, grey, red and even pink are all colors that represent the denim color spectrum. These dyes may also be combined with other colored dyes to produce unique and colorful denim.

Selvage Denim (selvedge or self-edge)

Selvage denim has a color along the sides which is to prevent the edges from fraying. Generally when the selvage is used in the seams of jeans they are considered better quality. The selvage is often red or orange but can be any color depending on the manufacturer. The alternative to using the selvages in jeans is to use the raw edges and overlock to prevent fraying.

types of denimtypes of denimPinTypes of Denim – Raw, Indigo, Sulphur, Selvage

Acid Wash Denim

To create acid wash denim, a pumice stone soaked in chlorine is used to scrub the fabric.  It can also be produced with chemical acids put into the wash. The color scrubbed fades and produces the mottled, washed and worn look. This look was popular in the 1980s and has had numerous recurrences.

Stone Wash Denim

Stonewash is done with pumice stones to remove the dye and abrase the fabric to give a lived-in look. Stonewash is a little harder to control and may give an uneven abrasion. Items made from these types of denim do not last as long.

Crushed Denim

Crushed denim is treated to have a wrinkled or crumpled look. It is often used in conjunction with other processes such as acid or stone wash to give a truly worn look. These wrinkles will not come out in the wash

Poly Denim

Poly-cotton fibers are mixed with the denim to create the fabric.  It is soft and popular denim for clothing.

Stretch denim

Spandex or Lycra can be infused into denim fabric to give it some stretch quality. This type of denim is a dream to wear as it is so comfortable and is mainly used for tight jeans.

Bull Denim

Bull denim is a tough, sturdy denim that is made from 100% cotton.  It is used for upholstery and curtaining as well as clothing and comes in a variety of weights. Evenly dyed in a variety of colors it is soft on one side and has a noticeable weave.

Ecru denim

Ecru denim has not been dyed and comes in the natural color of cotton. It is a pale creamy color.

PinTypes of Denim – Acid, Stone, Crushed, Ecru

Organic denim

In organic denim there are no chemicals used in the cotton growth or manufacturing. Like all things organic, this is considered a healthier alternative to regular denim.  

Types of Denim Embellishment

On top of so many different types of denim, there are numerous embellishment techniques that can be used. These include rhinestones, painting, applique and embroidery.

Sewing RhinestonesFabric PaintingReverse AppliqueAppliqueHow to EmbroiderHow to Fray Fabric

Types of Denim EmbellishmentTypes of Denim EmbellishmentPinTypes of Denim Embellishment

Types of Denim FAQs

Which Denim Fabric is Best

The best type of denim depends on your purpose and desired comfort level. Denim made from 100% cotton in a darker color will last the longest and be comfortable for looser jeans and jackets. If you want to wear tight jeans, then a bit of stretch in your denim makes all the difference if you need to bend and stretch or are sitting down all day.

How Can you Tell if Denim is High Quality?

The quality of fabric can be hard to see at first glance but look for a label that shows the denim is 100% cotton. If you are buying jeans or a jacket look at the quality of the stitching, the uniformity of the denim fabric (there shouldn`t be pulled threads) and the quality of the buttons and zippers. Before buying, check the laundry symbols and whether this denim is going to be easy to care for and suit your lifestyle.

Is Denim Naturally Blue?

Denim is dyed with a blue dye. Originally this was a natural indigo type of dye but modern denim is dyed with a synthetic version.

What are Denim Weights

Denim is classified by its weight per square yard. It will be rated in ounces and can range from 5 to 32oz.

Types of Denim – In Conclusion

Denim crosses barriers of age and gender as it reigns supreme as a durable and fashionable fabric.  Choose the types of denim that appeal to you and fit what you are sewing.

More Fabrics

CHIFFON – Sewing ChiffonBATIK – What is BatikCANVAS – Sewing CanvasCOTTON – Sewing CottonDENIM – Sewing DenimFELT – Sewing FeltFUR – Sewing FurKNITS – How to Sew Stretch FabricINTERFACING – Types of InterfacingLACE – How to Sew LaceLEATHER – Sewing LeatherRAYON – Sewing RayonSHEER – Sewing Sheer FabricsSILK – How to Sew SilkTHICK – Sewing Thick FabricsVELVET Sewing VelvetWOOL – Sewing Wool

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