My friend and esteemed colleague -but not my competitor- Valerie Cooper called me to ask if I knew that Cone Mills and other denim producers deliberately introduced skew into the denim they weave during the finishing process. As many of us know, skew (sometimes called torquing) is something to be avoided. This was news to me! Oh say it isn’t so! Just goes to show how much we knew. They do and it’s a good thing.
Here’s the back story which some of you know already (and more). Denim is a twill weave. The nature of twill weaving shifts grain under required pressure dictated by the weave itself. If you look at vintage denim, the legs skew badly. Today, not so much because -and this is what we didn’t know- Cone Mills and other producers started to introduce skew deliberately in the finishing process to compensate for the shift that is inherent to twill weaves which reduces the overall skew. You know, a course correction (talk about defying the laws of physics and not thinking through things to their logical conclusion). I knew they did something to get it back into shape, but hadn’t really thought about it much.
The other thing I’ve always known but didn’t know why (in order to control it) was how laying out pattern pieces on the goods can introduce skew in twill weaves. That’s useful information with any kind of twill weave (to include gaberdine etc). It turns out that to make the most of the twill engineering, manufacturers need to design markers to place pieces that sew together directionally and in different zones across the width of goods (see sample marker at right). I slapped my forehead because this is but another expression of the same problem I thought Claudine’s blouse had at the center back seam; that it seemed she’d cut it from opposite sides of the goods along the selvedge (I don’t include all of the Refine My Line analysis on the blog but it’s in the forum). Of course, old schoolers who specialize in denim production know how to plan these kinds of markers, yet another reason I suggest using a specialist. Anyway, I thought this all so very fascinating.
In today’s journey across the web doing research, I came across other sites that talk about denim weaving more specifically but designed for laymen so I think you’d find it interesting but not have your eyes glaze over with engineering details. This glossary was interesting and well done. I’d seen all the pages on this site previously but lacked an excuse to link to them. There is also a tour of Cone Mills and an interview with a spokesperson who confirms and denies given rumors. Probably the most popular one being that the Japanese bought all the Cone Mills selvedge denim looms. The source said they didn’t. It is amazing how many sites out there are dedicated to jeans production. Some sites are downright loopy. They find what is rightfully a defect but not knowing such, elevate it into a desirable feature. And I’m not even talking about things like ropey hems. I’ve given up on that one and concede that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
OT: Yes I saw the New York Times article on designing your own clothes via the web from Stephanie Rosenbloom who has recently become a veritable expert on all things apparel. First she became a sizing expert (I was not amused) and now she’s become a jeans designer -which hasn’t restored my jovial good humor either. Suffice to say, if you measure as she instructs in the accompanying video, you’re likewise doomed to be less than amused with the results. Now everybody’s unhappy. Except for Stephanie and the NYT who got a story out of it. If you want to know what went awry, I created some screen shots. The post I wrote about garment measuring is probably a better choice for designers.