How Do We Make Selvedge Denim By Hand?
Denim fabric is characterized by it’s dense construction, with very high number of ends, and picks, per inch. It is not an easy task to weave denim on manually operated looms. The weavers require special training for making denim fabric on wooden frame handlooms.
The entire process of making selvedge denim fabric on handlooms is hand-based and is carried out without using electricity, or burning any other fuel. Yes, we do not deploy any electrically operated or automated machinery in the process of weaving denim on handlooms.
In the case of fabric made from mill-spun yarn, the first step is to convert the yarn on cones to hanks, on a hand-operated machine.
Cone To Hanks
In the case of fabric made from mill-made yarn, the first step is to convert the coned yarn into hanks, on a hand-operated machine. Check out the video here.
Hanks of Yarn
The yarn in hank form is dyed and sized to use it as warp. This stage onward, the process is same for hand-spun and mill-made yarn.
Dyeing, Sizing & Drying
After dyeing with the requisite color and sizing with home-made sizing material, the hanks of yarn are dried in the sun.
Reeling, By Hand
The yarn in hank is manually reeled on to smaller packages using a make-shift machine, which does not require any electricity. These reels will be used for warping…
Warping, By Hand
Reels of yarn prepared in the previous process are mounted on a creel to prepare the warp beam. The warping machine is also completely hand operated. No electricity.
Four Heald-wire Frames
The warp yarn is then drawn through the reed and healds. The four frames, as seen above, divide the warp yarns into 4 sets – for the three-up one-down twill construction.
The handlooms for weaving denim have four foot pedals and four frames. To reduce the effort by weavers to lift frames up during weaving the fabric is woven upside down
Mending Broken Warp
Often during the weaving process the yarns in the warp break and the weaver has to stop the weaving process and manually mend the break in the yarn.
Hand-woven Selvedge Denim
The handlooms used for weaving the denim use a “shuttle” to carry the weft yarn from one edge to the other, and hence all of the handloom / khadi denim fabric woven on the handlooms is selvedge, or selvage, denim