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#1
Old 01-31-2015, 11:54 AM
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original color of denim?

We're used to see denim jeans dyed blue - but what would the color be if they weren't dyed at all?
#2
Old 01-31-2015, 12:05 PM
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If the fabric didn't have indigo in its weave it would not be denim.

You would probably just be using some weight of cotton duck.
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Last edited by DrFidelius; 01-31-2015 at 12:08 PM.
#3
Old 01-31-2015, 12:13 PM
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Wait - so white and black jeans aren't denim?
#5
Old 01-31-2015, 12:18 PM
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So if I understand this correctly, if the warp threads were not dyed, they would also be plain white. Thanks!
#6
Old 01-31-2015, 02:47 PM
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Well, denim is cotton and cotton is usually white if undyed.

Last edited by jayjay; 01-31-2015 at 02:49 PM.
#7
Old 01-31-2015, 06:00 PM
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Trivia time!
"Jeans" is short for Genovese
"Dungarees" is a stretch of an Eastern Indian name
I forget the third.

All referred to sailors, who typically wore pants made of sail material - so the answer is "White", as a rule.

Last edited by usedtobe; 01-31-2015 at 06:01 PM.
#8
Old 02-01-2015, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curwin View Post
So if I understand this correctly, if the warp threads were not dyed, they would also be plain white. Thanks!
Only if bleached. If neither dyed nor bleached, cotton is a kind of cafe-au-lait colour.
#9
Old 02-01-2015, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usedtobe View Post
Trivia time!
"Jeans" is short for Genovese
"Dungarees" is a stretch of an Eastern Indian name
I forget the third.

All referred to sailors, who typically wore pants made of sail material - so the answer is "White", as a rule.
Are you perhaps thinking of denim being a contraction of De Nimes, the town in which the fabric was developed?

I don't think sail material is the same as denim. Aren't sails made of canvas or duck? In any case, it is a nontwilled fabric, so definitely not denim.

And I agree width UDS about the color of natural cotton being more of an ecru rather than a true white.
#10
Old 02-01-2015, 11:29 PM
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No, I have no idea where the word "denim" originated.

I was referring to the forerunners of of the modern jean - the canvas pants worn by sailors - noted for lasting forever.
#11
Old 02-02-2015, 06:22 AM
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"Denim" comes from the French phrase "serge de Nīmes", or fabric from Nimes, after the city where the weave was popularized and probably developed. It is similar to, but not the same as, cotton duck, which is a traditional fabric for sails. If you look at denim, you can see a diagonal pattern to the weave which you won't see with duck.

Cotton duck is the stuff that cloth sneakers are usually made of.

If either denim or duck was made of undyed, unbleached fibers, the result would be somewhere on the beige to tan scale, depending on exactly what kind of cotton it was made from. Denim is traditionally made from bleached fibers where the warp threads (the ones that go up and down) are dyed with indigo to make them dark blue, while the weft threads (the ones that run side to side and are woven in) are left white. Because of the style of the weave, the resulting fabric looks blue. But if you've ever torn or cut your jeans, you'll have seen the white fibers working loose.

Denim refers to the style of weaving, however, and not the color. It's just as much denim if it's dyed gray or black or hot pink.
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#12
Old 02-02-2015, 09:55 AM
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I believe "jeans" are indigo because that's the color of dye that was durable and easy to get in the early Gold Rush era. The initial miner's pants made by Levi's (not Levi Strauss - there's a tailor of another name in there, Jakob something?) were modeled after sailor's pants and made from a huge load of undyed ship's cloth. The color and rivets were added to make them more durable and look better without adequate washing - and so the style was set.

I don't believe the indigo color has any other source, although I've heard the indigo==denim trope as a folk etymology.
#13
Old 02-02-2015, 04:36 PM
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Quite a lot of modern 'jeans' are not denim at all. If you look closely at them, you will see they are plain weave (warp and weft crossing evenly 1 over 1), not a denim twill weave (warp crossing weft 2 over 1).
Meaning, no tiny diagonal lines on the surface of the cloth.
This is especially true of jeans with lycra. The lycra would cause the cloth to twist if it were woven in a 2/1 twill weave.
#14
Old 02-02-2015, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
I believe "jeans" are indigo because that's the color of dye that was durable and easy to get in the early Gold Rush era. The initial miner's pants made by Levi's (not Levi Strauss - there's a tailor of another name in there, Jakob something?) were modeled after sailor's pants and made from a huge load of undyed ship's cloth. The color and rivets were added to make them more durable and look better without adequate washing - and so the style was set.

I don't believe the indigo color has any other source, although I've heard the indigo==denim trope as a folk etymology.
The story I read goes that Levi had a supply of sturdy fabric and tried to sell tents to the prospectors during the 49 gold rush. Of course, this being California, tents were not that necessary - but pants were, even in California. Local prospectors complained their clothing fell apart from heavy use. He found that the sturdy denim tent material made more durable pants than plain cotton. The rivets were to reinforce the sewing so the pants wouldn't fall apart as easily.

Rumor has it that the decision to remove the copper rivet in the middle of the crotch was an executive decision taken after one of the members of the Strauss family sitting in front of a campfire for a while, then adjusted his fit.

Last edited by md2000; 02-02-2015 at 05:08 PM.
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