Welcome to part two in our denim series! This is the second in a three part mini-series, each divided into thirds, where we will explore some trivia, common fit issues, and things to watch out for when working with denim.
One of the most beautiful things, to me, about denim, is when the dye comes off on wear points- especially with raw denim. If you wear it for years, it will create its own fade and distress lines as it is worn. I love seeing denim that is faded around wallet and phone outlines, or fading on the legs from wear and tear. This usually happens on denim that’s 100% cotton, or with a really low stretch percentage. The higher the stretch/polyester content, the more likely the fabric will simply give out and rip / tear, as a typical wash process is not kind to man-made fibers.
Did you know that those wear patterns on raw denim have a name? “Atari” is a Japanese term that encompasses all natural denim wear (referring to actually wearing the denim over time to create), such as whiskering, roping, fading, and destruction. Check out these images for examples:
Denim in ready-to-wear is manufactured these days to feature those things by creating them artificially: using stones, sanding, potassium permanganate sprays, lasers, and general washing with water and chemicals for different amounts of time, among other things. A treatment I particularly like is called Destroy/Repair- a hole or “almost-hole” is created, and then rows of machine stitching are applied on the top to mimic the look of a repair, often times in a darker thread to showcase it.
Common fit problem:
This is a compilation of several things that can affect the way your behind looks in denim- there may be a few things you want to affect when working on denim to get your desired visual! Denim is quite tricky, and requires a lot of messing around with to get everything *juuuuuust* right.
For pocket placements, I like to print out the pocket shape on paper, and place it on the wearer — while they have the jean on, of course! Then you can play around with sizing, placement, and shape itself and make sure you’re absolutely happy with it.
In reference to the back rise “invisible dart”- below is a diagram of what I mean. The rise shape has been cut out at center back, to the hip, to clean up the back waist (no gapping), and allow for fullness across the butt. If you ever see a front rise that is very angled like this, chances are extremely good you’ll see a ton of pooling and excess at the front crotch. Front rises that are relatively straight to the hook + Back rises that are angled into the hook = A happy and clean fitting jean! It’s all about the shaping, blue jeans babies.
And lastly, what do you think? Do you think that “perky” falls under the “flattering” category? Again, denim is tricky for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest tropes is this idea that good denim should make the backside look great. So, what do we think? Is flattering in this sense a construct, or is it just achieving a proper fit? I’d love to know what you think about this.
Something to watch out for:
Crocking! Have you ever noticed dye transfer from denim onto your hands, legs, or chairs? Gross, right? This is called crocking, and it occurs with indigo dyed denim. The dye itself sits on top of the fibers, and as it rubs on surfaces, transfers off of the fiber and onto the surface. You can avoid this by pre-washing your fabric, or your garments before wearing. Some people recommend rinsing it in a bath of cold water, with a cup each of white vinegar and sea salt. If the indigo is a very deep true blue color, you may need to wash or rinse it several times- and sometimes, it never really stops coming off. I have denim that still crocks after years.
Have questions? @ me in the comments!
Gabby is a technical fashion designer, fit specialist, and prolific googler. She lives in Denver, raises tiny littles, reads, embroiders, makes, experiments, fails, learns, tries again. See her on instagram @ladygrift.