You Probably Didn’t Know All These Denim Definitions
Here we will discuss some denim definitions that you will see in this industry and on our Pacific Blue Denims website. We will list the most important ones and if you have any to add please feel free to email us and we will get that uploaded. This blog is for everyone, so please feel free to share.


*3×1 – Referring to the number of weft threads per warp thread, in which three threads cross every one (hence, 3×1 weave). Typically for denims 10.5oz or heavier

*2×1 – Referring to the number to weft threads per warp thread, in which 2 threads cross over 1 thread. Typically for denims or twill 10.5oz or lighter

*1st Quality or A Grade – Fabric that comes from the mill with a 5% or less defect rate.

*2nd Quality or B Grade – Fabric that comes from the mill with a 5% to 20% defect rate


*Antique Indigo – An indigo denim that has a vintage looking tint to the indigo warp and/or weft.


*Bedford Cord – A fabric weave with ribs down the length of the fabric. The ribs can be any width. Looks like a corduroy, but without the brushed feel

*Broken-Weave – Compared to Left-Hand and Right-Hand, Broken-Weave is when the diagonal weave of the twill is intentionally reversed at every two warp ends to form an even design. As a result, the natural torque characteristic of regular twill weaves is reduced, eliminating the leg twist effect. When looked at closely you will see a zip-zag pattern.


*Chambray – Produced from cotton or synthetic fibers, chambray is a plain woven fabric with a 1×1 weave. It comes in a variety of colors and styles and mainly used for shirting.

*Chino – The classic chino is a 2×1 twill from 8oz to 10oz in khaki color. Now there are a variety of colors, but what is important is that the warp and weft are the same color.

*Corduroy – A fabric with ribs running down its length. The ribs can be any length and measured are in “wales” (ribs per inch). The ribs or wales are brushed to give it a velveteen type feel.

*Cotton – The most important ingredient denim. It refers to the plant grown and harvested for the production of most fabrics.

*Crosshatch – A denim weave that the uneven slub yarn is included in warp and weft of the fabric giving the fabric a very unique crisscrossed pattern that becomes more apparent as washed.


*Denim – Originally a 3×1 or 2×1 woven fabric with a indigo warp and natural weft.

*Denim Head – If your reading this whole page then probably you.

*Dobby – This refers to any type of fabric created with a dobby weave, a method in which the warp threads are raised and lowered throughout the weaving process to form various patterns.

*Dry or Raw Denim – This is how most denim comes from the mill. Once denim is sewn into a pair of jeans and washed it is not considered dry anymore.

*Duck – Also known as duck canvas is in fact a canvas fabric but typically 11oz or heavier.

*Dyeing – This refers to adding color to a PFD or natural color fabric or yarn.

*Dye House – A factory with machines to dye fabrics. Most dye houses also have machines to wash fabrics.


*Ecru – The natural color of denim when neither the warp or weft are dyed.


*Fabric – Is made by weaving, knitting, or felting fibers together. It comes in a wide variety of forms such as smooth, textured, fine, coarse, thick, and thin.

*Fiber – A type of hair-like filaments or threads that make up the composition of fabrics and are divided into two categories: natural and man-made.

*Flannel – A woven fabric that is brushed. Typically in a light weight 2×1 twill weave.


*Greige – Refers to fabric that is loomstate. Meaning they have just been woven and have not yet been finished or undergone sanforization. These fabrics will tend to shrink over 10%.


*Hemp – This is one of the strongest plant fibers, and creates a durable fabric similar in texture to linen. Asides from being used in garments this fiber has many other applications.

*Herringbone – A weave in which twill warp stripes are created by running twills in different directions.


*Indigo – A type of dye used to color denim to give it’s blue color. Traditionally, indigo dye was taken naturally from plants, but presently the dye is produced synthetically. Each year, several thousand tons of indigo are created for denim production with each pair of denim using 3 to 12 grams of indigo each.


*Jacquard – A type of weaving loom that produces jacquard denims. These are very high tech machines that produce very complicated weaves. Examples of this would be striped denims and camouflage denims that have not been printed, but the pattern has actually been woven into the fabric.

*Jeans – Traditionally a 3×1 or 2×1 twill weave with indigo dye warp yarn and natural weft yarn, sewn into a 5-pocket riveted pair of pants. Now there are thousands of variations, but this is the classic definition.


*Left-Hand Weave – A style of weaving where the lines of grain run from the top-left hand-corner of the fabric towards the bottom-right hand-corner. Denim jeans that use the left-hand twill generally have a soft feeling, especially after washing them.

*Lycra – Dupont’s trademark for spandex fiber.

*Loom – A machine used to weave fabrics.

*Lyocell – The fiber used to make tencel fabrics. In the same family as rayon and linen gives fabrics a soft and smooth feel.


*Man-made Fibers – Refers to fibers that are not found in nature such as polyester and nylon that get added to fabrics either to add strength or compliment another aspect of the fabric. Polyester is often used to intensify the stretch in a cotton, polyester and stretch blended denim.

*Mercerization – An industrial process used on yarn or fabrics to increase its luster and dye affinity. For fabrics used in the denim industry, mercerization can be used for keeping dye on the surface of the yarns or fabrics and to prevent dyes from fully penetrating the fibers.


*Natural Fibers – Any raw material with a hair-like composition that is sourced from a vegetable, animal, or mineral sources and can be spun into yarn; and eventually, woven cloth.

*Nylon – A synthetic fiber that is naturally water repellent, easy to dye, and very strong. It has replaced cotton in many industrial uses like bags and flags and is very popular for use in the outerwear apparel industry.


*Open End Denim – The most common type of denim used today. Made on modern looms it has become a industry standard. It is a more efficient type of weaving and more cost effective. The alternative is ring spun denim made on older shuttle looms.

*Optical White – The brightest white you can get. Normally bleach is used to get the fabric this white.

*Organic Cotton/Denim – Refers to cotton which has been grown organically without the use of pesticides or other chemicals.

*Overdye – A process where the fabric is dyed after it has already been woven.

The base color can differ from the dye color which was applied on top.

*Oxford – This cloth has a basket-weave pattern and is most commonly used for dress shirts.

*Oxidation – Part of the indigo yarns dye process. As they yard is getting its classic indigo dye it is constantly dipped into a tub of indigo dye and removed. When it is removed it is oxidizing. This process allows the dye to bond to the yarn and turns it from a greenish-yellow color to the classic indigo.


*Pacific Blue Mills – A handful of select private/exclusive mills from around the globe that produce/develop styles for us and our customers. Only the highest quality goods, ethically sourced, and at the lowest possible prices are Mills that we’ll proudly lend our name and reputation to.

*Pigment Dye/Print – A type of dye used mostly for printing on top of fabrics.

*Pima Cotton – A premium type of cotton grown mainly in the southwest USA.

*Plain Weave – Uses a uniform yarn throughout the fabric to achieve a basic smooth weave. Normally done as a 3×1 or 2×1. Slub or crosshatch yarns are not used.

*Ply (fabric) – Refers to the number of layers a fabric has. Almost all fabrics is single ply but some shirting fabrics and other fabrics can do double ply. As in one standard layer and then a striped layer placed on top of that to create a double sided fabric.

*Ply (yarn) – The ply refers to the number of strands (called singles) twisted together in a yarn. For example, 2 ply yarn is formed of two strands, while 3 ply yarn is made of three strands. One can easily determine the ply of a yarn by untwisting the end a bit. Most denim is woven from 2 ply or 3 ply yarn.

*Polyester – A type synthetic yarn used in fabrics. Being a stronger yarn than cotton it can add stretch when blended with cotton to make denims.

*Poplin – Name of a light weight, tightly woven, plain weave fabric where a coarser yarn is used in the filling than the warp, leaving a slight rib effect across the width of the goods. Good for shirting.

*Pre-shrunk – Another name for sanforization. In the process the greige fabrics is treated to get the shrinkage to 3% or less.


*Quality Control – A check done on fabrics by the mill to insure the defect rate of the fabric is under 5% to be called first quality. Normally some kind of marking is placed at the width of the fabric where the defects are found.


*Raw Denim – Denim that has not had any type of wash treatment done once it has become a jean. Many manufactures distress jeans in one way or another to give them a aged look, but raw jeans do not have any of that.

*Right-Hand Weave – A style of weaving where the lines of grain run from the top-right hand-corner of the fabric towards the bottom-left hand-corner. The right-hand is the most common weave used in denim.

*Ring-Ring Denim – Uses ring-spun yarn for both the warp and weft. Also know as crosshatch denim.

*Ring Spun Denim – Also known as slub denim. Adds vertical texture to the warp of the denim giving and a uneven look and adding character. The standard for most denim.


*Sanforization – A dry process done to fabric to minimize the shrinkage and torque once it is washed as a garment.

*Selvedge Denim – Originated from the term “self-edge”, is a narrow denim that has as sealed edge on both ends of the fabric and is woven on shuttle looms.

*Shuttle Loom – Vintage looms used to made selvedge fabric.

*Shrink-to-Fit – Denim that is not sanforized and designed to shrink around 10% once turned into a garment. Desired by many as once it is washed and shrinks it is known to form well around the body.

*Slub – Also known as ring spun. Adds vertical texture to the warp of the denim giving and a uneven look and adding character. The standard for most denim.

*Spandex – A man made fiber that is known for its ability to stretch.

*Spinning – The process of pulling and twisting fibers into yarn.

*Sulphur Dye – A type of dye used that is designed to withstand washing and fading better than reactive dyes such as indigo. Used mainly for black, green, red and other colors where fade is not desired.


*Tencel – A fiber manufactured using wood pulp cellulose collected from environmentally sustainable plants. A “green” fiber. Has a very soft and smooth feel to it.

*Twill – A weave of fabric where a weft thread is passed under 2 warp threads to create a specific diagonal pattern.


*Wales – The amount of ribs per inch of corduroy fabric.

*Warp Thread – Thread that is on the face of the fabric.

*Weft Thread – Thread that is on the back of the fabric.

Weight – Typically referring to how many ounces per square yard a fabric is.

Width – How wide fabric is from end to end. Sometimes will have 2 widths, referring to the actual with and then the cut-able width.

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