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The finished denim cloth is carefully inspected for defects. Each defect is rated on a government-defined scale ranging from one point for very small flaws to four points for major defects. Although government regulations allow cloth with a high defect rating to be sold, in reality customers will not accept denim with more than seven to ten defect points per square meter. Poor cloth is sold as damaged. Denim is also tested for durability and its tendency to shrink. Samples of cloth are washed and dried several times to see how they wear.
The word dungarees, to identify heavy cotton pants such as overalls can be traced to a thick cotton country-made cloth, Dongari Kapar, which was sold in the quarter contiguous to the Dongari Killa, the fort of what was then known as The word entered English with just this meaning in 1696 (OED). Dongri Fort was rebuilt in 1769 as Fort George, Bombay, where the first cotton mill was established in 1854. Dyed in indigo, the traditional cloth was used by Portuguese sailors and cut wide so that the legs could be swiftly rolled up when necessary. Thus, dungarees have a separate history.
Dry or raw denim, as opposed to washed denim, is a denim fabric that is not washed after being dyed during its production. Over time, denim will generally fade, which is often considered desirable.
Most denim is washed after being crafted into an article of clothing in order to make it softer and to eliminate any shrinkage which could cause an item to not fit after the owner washes it. In addition to being washed, non-dry denim is sometimes artificially "distressed" to achieve a worn-in look.
Much of the appeal of dry denim lies in the fact that with time the fabric will fade in a manner similar to factory distressed denim. With dry denim, however, such fading is affected by the body of the person who wears the jeans and the activities of their daily life. This creates what many enthusiasts feel to be a more natural, unique look than pre-distressed denim.
To facilitate the natural distressing process, some wearers of dry denim will often abstain from washing their jeans for more than six months, though it is not a necessity for fading.
Selvage denim (also called selvedge denim) is a type of denim which forms a clean natural edge that does not unravel. It is commonly presented in the unwashed or raw state. Typically, the selvage edges will be located along the outseam of the pants, making it visible when cuffs are worn. Although selvage denim is not completely synonymous with unwashed denim, the presence of selvage typically implies that the denim used is a higher quality.
The word "selvage" comes from the phrase "self-edge", the natural edge of a roll of fabric. In this case, denim made on old-style shuttle looms. These looms weave fabric with one continuous cross thread (the weft) that is passed back and forth all the way down the length of the bolt. As the weft loops back into the edge of the denim it creates this “self-edge” or Selvage. Selvage is desirable because the edge can’t fray like lower grade denims that have separate wefts which leave an open edge that must be stitched. Shuttle looming is a more time-consuming weaving process that produces denim of a tighter weave resulting in a heavier weight fabric that lasts.
Shuttle looms weave a more narrow piece of fabric, and thus a longer piece of fabric is required to make a pair of jeans (approximately 3 yards). To maximize yield, traditional jean makers use the fabric all the way to the selvage edge. When the cuff is turned up the two selvage edges, where the denim is sewn together, can be seen. The selvage edge is usually stiched with colored thread: green, white, brown, yellow, and red (red is the most common). Fabric mills used these colors to differentiate between fabrics. Most selvage jeans today are dyed with synthetic indigo, but natural is available in smaller niche denim labels. Loop dying machines feed a rope of cotton yarn through vats of indigo dye and then back out. The dye is allowed to oxidize before the next dip. Multiple dips create a deep dark indigo blue.
In response to increased demand for jeans in the 1950's, American denim manufacturers replaced the old shuttle style looms with modern projectile looms. The new looms produced fabric faster and wider (60-inches or wider), yet lighter and less durable. Synthetic dyeing techniques along with post-dye treatments were introduced to control shrink and twist.Blue jeans are also inspected after they are completed. If a problem can be corrected, the jeans are sent back for re-sewing. The pair is then inspected again and passed. The buttons are inspected to ensure that they and the buttonholes are of the proper size; the snaps, metal buttons, and rivets are checked for durability and their ability to withstand rust. The zippers must be strong enough to with-stand the greater pressures of heavy cloth, and their teeth durability must be checked as well. This is done by subjecting a sample zipper to a lifetime of openings and closings.
The life of an ordinary citizen at the time of the American Revolution could involve extraordinary events--hunting and farming in the wilderness, whaling, fighting in the war, and in one case, being captured by the British and held in England for forty-eight years, then returning a forgotten hero. This last was the case for one Israel Potter, whose partly imagined biography was written in 1855 by Herman Melville, who makes this remark towards the end of the book: "For a time back, across the otherwise blue-jean career of Israel, Paul Jones flits and re-flits like a crimson thread. One more brief intermingling of it, and to the plain old homespun we return."Melville's statement is evidence that bluejeans were recognized in those days as the everyday wear of everyday Americans. More evidence comes from the career of James Douglass Williams, governor of Indiana (1876-80). He was known as "Blue Jeans" Williams because he wore bluejeans to cultivate the rural vote.More Americans now wear jeans (not always blue) on more occasions; women and men, rich and poor, in college classrooms and at parties, and to night clubs as well as to work. Designer jeans (1966) were a successful twentieth-century attempt to make jeans fashionable as well as down to earth, thus raising their humble prices.Jeans themselves are not an American invention. The word jean dates at least from the 1560s, referring to cloth of Genoa, Italy, and by the 1840s in England we read of workers in stables wearing jeans. But the association of bluejeans with cowboys and miners, and the success of the San Francisco manufacturer Levi Straus & Co., has given bluejeans and jeans an American accent known around the world.Initially, jeans were simply sturdy trousers worn by factory workers. During this period, men's jeans had the zipper down the front, whereas women's jeans had the zipper down the left side. Fewer jeans were made during the time of World War II, but 'waist overalls' were introduced to the world by American soldiers, who sometimes wore them when they were off duty. By the 1960s, both men's and women's jeans had the zipper down the front. Historic photographs indicate that in the decades before they became a staple of fashion, jeans generally fit quite loosely, much like a pair of bib overalls without the bib. Indeed, until 1960, Levi Strauss denominated its flagship product "waist overalls" rather than "jeans".