How Denim Jeans Are Made How Stuff Is Made

Pockets and stonewashes, belt loops and jeans. Denim is one of our favorite things. Before jeans became the first thing most of us grab to put on in the morning, it was considered taboo for women to even wear trousers. Fast-forward to modern times, and womens denim brings in over 8 billion dollars globally per year.

At Distilled in Los Angeles, a master pattern maker is the one responsible for getting the perfect cut of denim.

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He creates the patterns that are used to cut out each individual part of the jeans. Once the patterns have been completed, its time to make the cut.

Careful, that cutter is so sharp that it can cut through 150 to 200 layers of denim at once.

The individual pieces are bundled together in a neat package and transported to the sewing room. Chain stitch, overlock, top stitch, whip stitch, flat felled seam. Its the thread that holds it together and sewing these seams is no simple task.

Some of these machines take three to four years to learn properly. Thats like denim college. This felled seam machine joins the two sides of your jeans with the cabillo stitch.

Belt loops are attached with a single needle edge seam. The thicker seam is called a safety stitch. It allows areas to stretch without ripping easily, like your hips.

The final piece holds it all up. The waist band. Up until the early 1970s, all jeans were made of raw cotton which is stiff, course, and doesnt allow for much movement.

These days, theres a wash, stretch, and shape for every style you can imagine. Washing the denim tightens the yarn, softens it, and makes sure the indigo doesnt bleed onto your skin or shoes. But before any washing is actually done, nowadays the jeans go through a process called hand sanding.

Here the indigo yarns are sanded away by hand to reveal the non-dyed ones.

Whats left behind are called whiskers, those cool line designs that end up on your knees and thighs. After the whiskering, the jeans go through at least two washes to bring down the color. One of these washes is a stone wash.

Thousands of stones are layered on top of the jeans. Only two to three gallons of water per pound of jeans is utilized. What started as inexpensive work wear, has become well, fancy.

These days, premium denim is often deconstructed thread by thread, shot with shotgun pellets, sanded with a warp brush, distressed with a dremel tool. Theyre then sprayed with potassium acid which expedites the removal of the indigo dye. The denim turns pink when it comes into contact with the chemical.

After the potassium spray, theres one final neutralizing wash. One last dry and now they just need the finishing touch. Youve got your favorite jeans ready to go.

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