Abrasion is the process that makes jeans look and feel aged. Usually, this is done by rubbing or scraping the fabric’s surface with sandpaper, pumice or other gritty substances. Abrasion creates a worn and sometimes vintage look.
Bar tacks (or bar tacking) is a sewing technique that reinforces stress points. Bar tacks are a series of stitches placed closely together, and you usually see them around pockets, belt loops, zippers and hips. Fun fact: Quality bar tack stitches can help denim withstand up to 400 pounds of pressure.
Belt loops are thin strips of denim on jeans that provide a place to anchor a belt. These strips are typically about 2 inches long and extend down from the waistband.
A button fly is a fly fastened by buttons rather than a zipper. The earliest jeans only had button flys; zippers weren’t invented until 20 years after the first jeans came out, and even then, they weren’t widely used until almost the 1920s. Lee was the first company to put a zipper fly in jeans.
Cell phone pockets are usually sewn into a cargo pocket on the side of a leg. This prevents you from having to carry your phone in your back pocket, where it can fall out or crack when you sit down.
A chain stitch is a centuries-old sewing technique done mostly for decorative purposes. The stitches in a chain stitch look like a linked chain.
A coin pocket or watch pocket is usually the fifth pocket on five-pocket jeans. It’s usually tucked into the placket behind the right hip pocket, and it’s only large enough to store some change. A watch pocket is the same thing, but it comes from a much earlier era; it allowed miners, cowboys and other jeans-wearers to safely stash away a pocket watch.
A donut button features a “donut hole” opening in its center. Inside the hole, you can see the clasps or the notch holding the button in place. Manufacturers started using donut buttons during World War II as a way to use less metal, which was needed for the war effort.
Dry or Raw Denim
Dry denim, which is also called raw denim, is a material that hasn’t been through the pre-wash process, which is what gives jeans a “broken-in” feel. You’ll need to wear dry denim jeans for a few weeks to break them in yourself, but the natural look and sturdy feel is worth it for many denim connoisseurs.
Embroidery is a form of decorative stitching. Sometimes embroidery incorporates other materials, like beads or pearls, but any decorative stitching counts.
Textile finishes are processes such as bleaching, abrading, bio-polishing or desizing that improve the look, feel or performance of denim.
Fit is the way denim manufacturers describe the design, cut and shape of a pair of jeans, including the waist, seat and leg opening. You might see jeans described as skinny, loose, boot-cut or straight-leg, along with other fits like “mom jean,” “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.”
Ginning is the process that removes debris (including seeds) from cotton so it can be used in fabric. It’s named for Eli Whitney’s original cotton gin, invented in 1794, which mechanically separated cotton from its seeds.
A gusset is a triangular or rhomboidal piece of fabric that adds breadth or reduces stress on tight-fitting clothing. Gussets can improve fit or reinforce stressed areas to prevent tearing and give wearers maximum range of movement. At Lee, we most frequently include gussets in the crotch area for better comfort and mobility.
Hand is a term that refers to how a fabric feels. If someone asks you about the hand of a certain denim, for example, you could describe it as loose, heavy, stretchy — or with any number of other adjectives.
An inseam is the seam in a pair of pants that starts at the crotch and goes to the bottom of the leg. Some jeans are sized based on inseam, and when they are, the inseam is the second number in the measurement. For example, men's size 32 X 36 refer to jeans with a 32-inch waist and a 36-inch inseam.
Leather labels (commonly called leather patches or just patches) are attached to the outside of a pair of jeans, usually on the back of the waistband’s right side, to show which manufacturer made the jeans. Leather denim logos are usually stamped or laser engraved, and then stiched on. Lee’s leather patch has evolved since the early days when it was branded on real cowhide, but the classic leather logo remains a staple of many of our denim designs.
The leg opening of a pair of jeans is the width of its cuff (where your foot comes out). While every manufacturer’s measurements vary a little, a leg opening on skinny jeans is usually between 10 and 14 inches wide; a leg opening on boot-cut jeans is in the neighborhood of 20 inches wide. Wide-leg and flared jeans can get much wider than that, while straight-cut jeans are the same width all the way down.
An outseam is the seam that runs from the waistband of a pair of pants all the way down the outside of the leg. It’s opposite the inseam.
Pocket lining is the material you feel when you put your hand in the hip pocket of your jeans. Most jeans only have pocket lining in the hip pockets and use denim for the coin pocket and back pockets.
Pocket stitching is the decorative stitching or embroidery you see on the pockets of a pair of jeans. Usually, pocket stitching is limited to back pockets. The classic S-curve on Lee’s pocket stitching is known as the “compound curve.”
Rise in pants is the distance from the middle of the crotch seam to the top of the waistband. High-rise pants have more fabric between the top of the waistband and the middle of the crotch seam than low-rise pants do, while mid-rise jeans generally hit at or near the natural waist. Usually, rise is somewhere between 7 inches and 12 inches, with low-rise jeans at the lower end of the spectrum, and high-rise jeans near the top.
Rivets are small, round and metal rings used at points most likely to be pulled apart by strain, such as the corners of pockets. Rivets help fasten two pieces of fabric together (on top of stitching) so they don’t fall apart from normal wear-and-tear.
The S-curve or, as we like to call it, the “compound curve” is the widely recognizable embroidery on the back pockets of jeans made by Lee. The S-curve lets you know that the pair of jeans you’re looking at are made from the highest quality denim and built to last.
The seat of a pair of jeans is the area that covers your buttocks from one outseam to the other. The widest part is usually about 8 inches below the waistline, but that measurement can vary based on the rise of the jeans.
Snaps are a type of closure used on some jeans above the zippered fly. Snaps are buttons that snap shut.
Topstitching is a row of continuous stitches along the top or the right side of a pair of jeans. You’ll see topstitching along the waistband or on outer seams of your pants.
A waistband is a strip of cloth on clothing that encircles the waist. It’s where you’ll find belt loops and the top closure button on a pair of jeans.
A zip fly is a type of closure on a pair of jeans. Zip flys include zippers that make securing your jeans simple. Some jeans use only a zip fly, but the most common styles also include a button at the top to keep the zipper closed. Zip flys are an alternative to the more traditional button fly, which uses only buttons, as the name implies. Lee was the very first company to add zipper flys to their jeans, way back in the 1920s!