Denim

Denim-related post. Learn things, see things.

Close-up of denim train tracks on jeans outseam
Close-up of denim train tracks on a pair of jeans at the outseam, around the knee.

What are Train Tracks on jeans explained

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Often with denim and fading terminology, things are called what they look like. As is the fading effect known as “train tracks.” To achieve this type of fading, the jeans must have either a selvedge inside construction or two overlocked seams (busted seams) pressed open at the outseams.

During wear, friction can cause fading along the high points of the pressed open seams or selvedge. See the image below for an example of the train track fading at the outseam.

Blue denim jeans with train tracks at the outseam to show what are train tracks on jeans.
The hem of tailored jeans next to parts of the original leg size shows an example of what it means to have "tapered jeans alterations."
This photo is an example of "tapered jeans alterations." It shows the hem of a pair of selvedge jeans that have been tapered from the inseam to narrow the leg opening. Next to the resized legs of the jeans is the original, wider portion of the jeans leg and discarded denim fabric, which has been cut away from the garment to decrease the leg size.

What are tapered jeans and pants?

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There are two meanings when it comes to “tapered” as related to jeans, pants, and other garments designed to wear over the legs.

  1. Related to alterations or tailoring: The term “tapered jeans” and “tapered pants” refer to garment bottoms worn over the legs that have been altered to narrow the shape of the legs.
  2. Related to the design or style of a garment: It’s a jean or pant with a leg that narrows dramatically from the knee to the leg opening. Tapered clothing should not be confused with slim-fit or other jeans and pants with legs that gradually decrease in size from the knee to the leg opening.

Example of use (related to alterations): I had my jeans tapered because the legs were too baggy.

Raw denim selvedge jeans that have been tapered using the tapering alterations process to narrow the leg shape. The excess denim from the jeans can be seen in front of the jeans.
Selvedge jeans that have been tapered using the tapering alterations process to narrow the leg shape while shortening the inseam length. The excess denim from the jeans can be seen in the front of the jeans.

Example of use (related to design or style): I bought tapered jeans because I wanted the leg opening to be small enough that the hem wouldn’t cover my shoes.

Lightwash tapered American-made jeans for women by Williamsburg Garment Company
Women’s boyfriend tapered fit jeans
Hope Street men's tapered American-made jeans
Men’s Hope Street tapered jeans
Cover image for TikTok video demonstrating how we expertly taper and take in the waist of jeans for the perfect fit.

Getting your fit right: Learn how we taper the leg while taking in the waist on jeans

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Do you want to know what sets us apart from the competition when it comes to denim alterations? In our latest TikTok video, you can see how we professionally taper the legs of a pair of jeans while also taking in the waist to make them fit just right.

@williamsburggar Denim heaven. The art of taking in the waist with tapering alterations on jeans. We perfect your fit. #denimyourway #denimhead #denimtailor #taperingjeans #jeanswaist #jeanswaistgap #selvedgedenim ♬ MAMBO OVER THE MOUNTAIN – Rick Hirsch

Make sure to follow us on TikTok to see more informative and entertaining videos. @williamsburggar

Side view of stretch marks on jeans

Knee stretch marks on jeans explained

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Knee stretch marks are more common on skinny and slim jeans because of the way the fabric stretches when worn and the stress that comes from bending your knees. When it comes to jeans with a looser fit around the knees, the effect will be minimal to nonexistent.

Side view of naturally formed denim stretch marks on the knees of raw denim jeans.
Naturally formed knee stretch marks on denim.

The effects of stretching start from the center back of the knees as honeycombs that extend over the seams to the front. Just beyond the seams, the stretch marks quickly lose their height, depth, and color as they fade into the knees.

On the left, artificially manufactured denim honeycombs are compared to naturally formed denim honeycombs on the right.
On the left, artificially manufactured denim honeycombs are compared to naturally formed denim honeycombs on the right.

What are denim honeycombs on jeans?

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Looking at the images above, it’s easy to see why you don’t need to be a denim guru to see why some individuals prefer to let their jeans fade naturally over time from the raw denim state rather than buying jeans that have been artificially aged through manufactured washing processes. The details and three-dimensional texture that come from time and natural wear are too complicated for the fast industrial washing process to recreate.

Summary

Denim honeycombs are made from compression and decompression at the back of the knees. When denim begins stiff, such as raw denim, the initial breaking points in the bends become the points of least resistance, resulting in repeated bends and well-defined folds.

Denim honeycombs are so named due to their striking resemblance to honeycombs. They are formed as a result of compression and decompression at the back of the knees. When denim begins stiff, such as raw denim, the initial breaking points in the bends become the points of least resistance, resulting in repeated bends and well-defined folds.

The highest points, like whiskers, undergo the most abrasion and hence lighten the most in color. The lower points remain darker, resulting in transitional fades between them.

Image and graphics shows how the height of the folds in naturally occurring denim honeycomb influences how much indigo color is removed by abrasions.
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