The yarns are then seperated from the ropes and set
out along a warp bobbin so that all different yarns from different batches
are mixed together. This explains streaky aspects of the fabric, with streaks
ranging from deep indigo purple through indigo blue to indigo green. This
depth of color cannot be achieved with chemical indigo.
The shuttle loom
Then the denim is woven on the Vintage shuttle looms.
These old machines can only make cloth about 29" wide,
whereas modern projectile looms can make fabric 70"
or even wider. Wider is cheaper but not necessarily
stronger or better.
Denim produced on these old rickety shuttle looms has
selvage edges. It comes from the phrase "self-edge"
which refers to the edge being finished by the loom
instead of sewn together after weaving. Selvage is the
term commonly used to refer to denim that has been
produced on a shuttle loom. Since the amount of
fabric produced from a shuttle loom is significantly
narrower than a
projectile (wide) loom, the cotton
consumption is higher and the time required is greater.
Shuttle loom in action
This one is owned by the Okamoto Textile
Company down in Ibaraichi in Okayama prefecture - typical
of the smaller textile companies (total number
of employees: 10!). They do their own rope-dying
and have 9 or 10 shuttle looms.
Over the years these Selvage Natural Indigo jeans will change color and develop
their own character as the uneven ring spun yarns are brought to life. Natural
Indigo plant color slowly fades
over the time. As you'd expect all this makes for a true authentic jean, but also pretty expensive one too.