What Fibers Make Up Denim?

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Denim is most often used to make jean pants, shorts, skirts, overalls and vests. Denim can be a variety of colors, but is most often dyed blue or black. The fabric can be washed in a variety of ways that produce different effects, such as acid washed. Denim is made with cotton and constructed with a twill weave. Levi Strauss is credited for making the first blue jeans in 1873 for California gold miners.

Cotton Denim

Standard denim jeans are 100 percent cotton. The cotton is woven together with a twill stitch. This sturdy weave produces a diagonal looking surface. Cotton can be dyed any color, but the standard blue dominates the options sold in stores. Cotton shrinks during wash and loses color the more times it is laundered. The cotton fibers stay intact and healthy for a long period of time. Depending how often you wear your jeans, the fibers slowly break. Once all the fibers in a high traffic area break, such as the knees or pockets, a hole forms.

Stretch Denim

Lycra and Spandex are woven with cotton to create a fabric that stretches. Stretch denim provides the style of a standard blue jean and the comfort of stretch pants. Elastic clothing is often more comfortable, conforms to the body and moves easier. The elastic wears out over time and loses the stretch it had when the garment was purchased.


Due to the strong twill weave, jeans can be worn in high impact jobs, such as construction, maintenance or farming. Jeans can also be high fashion and worn out on the town. Jeans are often described as a staple casual garment. Darker washes tend to look dressier than lighter washes due to dark slacks being a standard in business casual attire. Denim does not function well in harsh outside conditions. When cotton becomes wet, it takes a long time to dry. It takes the heat from your body to dry itself, making your body colder.


Jeans fade and shrink after being washed many times. To give your jeans more life, wash them with similar colors. The dye leaks into the water and dyes similar colored items in the wash, making them fade less. Always check the care instructions on your jeans. Jeans also tend to fray on the bottom from being dragged along the ground. Roll up the jeans or get the bottoms hemmed to give the jeans a longer life.