Jeans are trousers traditionally made from denim, but may also be made from a variety of fabrics particularly including corduroy. Originally intended for work, they became popular among teenagers starting in the 1950's. Historic brands include Levi's, Jordache, and Wrangler. Today jeans are a very popular form of casual dress around the world and come in many styles and colors, with the "blue jeans" particularly identified with the American culture, especially the American Old West.
The earliest known precursor to jeans is the Indian export of a thick cotton cloth, in the 16th century, known as dungaree. Dyed in indigo, it was sold near the Dongarii Fort near Bombay. Sailors cut it to suit them.
Jeans fabric was made in Chieri, a town near Turin (Italy), already in 1600's. It was sold through the harbour of Genoa, that was the capital of an independent republic, and a naval power. The first were made for the Genoese Navy because it required all-purpose pants for its sailors that could be worn wet or dry, and whose legs could easily be rolled up to wear while swabbing the deck. These jeans would be laundered by dragging them in large mesh nets behind the ship, and the sea water would bleach them white. According to many people the jeans name comes from blue de Genes, i.e. blue of Genoa. The raw material was coming from the city of Nîmes (France) de Nîmes i.e. denim.
Denim Making Procedure
1. Opening and Blending: Bales of carefully selected cotton arrive at the denim mill. The cotton is 'opened' which involves loosening and separating the cotton into tufts, Different varieties of cotton can also be blended together at this stage.
2. Carding The cotton is then turned into a web of fibres known as a 'lap' which then goes through a process known as 'carding'. This removes short fibres plus any seeds, sticks and leaves that remain in the cotton by passing it between sets of opposing wire teeth. Carding also arranges the fibre strands in parallel. The cotton lap is then fed through a trumpet shaped device to create a loose cotton rope known as a 'silver'
3. Spinning Six silvers are then blended together and drawn out to form a denser single silver a 'roving'. A spinning machine then turns the roving into 'ring spun' yarn by further drawing and twisting of the yarn. Warp yarn is pun and twisted more tightly than weft yarn. Making it stronger.
4. Warp and Weft Yarn Warp yarns run along the length of fabric whereas weft yarns run across the narrower width of the fabric. Warp yarn provides the strength of the denim. Weft yarn is weaker and is made from varieties of cotton with shorter fibres and acts as a filling between the warp yarns.
5. Dyeing Individual yarns are combined into thicker ropes which are wound onto large cylinders ready for dyeing. The rope is passed through sulphur and indigo dyes, washes, then finally over drying cans before being coiled into tubs. Indigo dyes the rope green, but exposing the wet rope to air turns the color to blue (oxidization). The rope is dipped into the indigo between 12 and 16 times. The more dips, the stronger the color becomes.
6. Beaming This process separates the dyed rope back into individual 'warp beam'. The yarns on the warp beam are then coated in a starch solution, strengthening, stiffening, and smoothing them and enabling them to withstand the obrasion and tension they will be exposed to during weaving.
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7. Weaving The warp beam is mounted into the loom and the yarns are fed through the loom. The undyed natural weft yarn is weaved back and forth across the loom between the warp yarns.
8. Finishing The woven cloth is brushed and singed with a flame to burn off stray fibres. The cloth is pulled to the proper width and 'skewed' to prevent the denim from twisting during wear. The cloth is then moistened with water and compressed between a plate and a roller which shrinks the warp yarn and prevents garments from shrinking when washed. The finished cloth is then rolled ready for garment manufacture.
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