What is Japanese denim? Have you heard of it? It is often called selvedge denim. It is manufactured in Japan on an old style shuttle loom that creates 32 inch width, very tightly woven denim. It is woven to the edges to maximize the output. The binding on the edge to prevent fraying is characteristic of this fabric, thus the name.
This fabrication is very popular in menswear and often worn with the selvedge showing on a rolled cuff. Of course, women’s curves don’t allow for the full side seam to be selvedge, but the durability this fabric offers is desirable for many regardless of gender.
Creative sewists can make the most of the bound edge by using it as trim on straight pockets such as jeans back or jacket patch pocket or on faced cuffs. Appliqued strips could add fun and fancy to jackets, vests or bags.
To wash or not? The conventional wisdom for care of selvedge denim is to wash as few times as possible. Why? The more you wash, the less the defined fade. Our experience with the fabric we have in stock: Even though there is a heavy layer of dye on the surface, washing did not fade the fabric nor did it shrink. It softened very slightly. So we are still experimenting and will report back any changes that we find. Feel free to comment on your experiences. Ed. Jennifer Stern has done a great blog on her washing experience. Read it here
Want to try your hand at working with this designer fabric? Jennifer Stern is making jeans and sharing her experiences in our Savvy Sewer Salon.