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Process : How do we make Handloom Denim?

Denim fabric is characterized by it’s dense construction, with very high number of ends and picks per inch. It is not an easy task to weave denim on manually operated looms. The weavers require special training for making denim fabric on wooden frame handlooms.

The entire process of making hand-woven khadi denim fabric is hand-based and is carried out without using electricity, or burning any other fuel. In the case of fabric made from mill-spun yarn, the first step is to convert the yarn on cones to hanks, on a hand-operated machine.

Cone to Hanks

In the case of fabric made from mill-made yarn, the first step is to convert the coned yarn into hanks, on a hand-operated machine.

No electricity.

The yarn in hank form is dyed and sized to use it as warp. This stage onward, the process is same for hand-spun and mill-made yarn.

Hanks of Cotton Yarn
Sized yarn drying in the sun

After dyeing with the requisite color and sizing with home-made sizing material, the hanks of yarn are dried in the sun.

The yarn in hank is manually reeled on to smaller packages using a make-shift machine, which does not require any electricity. These reels will be used for warping…


Reels of yarn prepared in the previous process are mounted on a creel to prepare the warp beam. The warping machine is also completely hand operated. No electricity.

The warp yarn is then drawn through the reed and healds. The four frames, as seen above, divide the warp yarns into 4 sets – for the three-up one-down twill construction.

Warp Sheet
Weaving Fabric

The handlooms for weaving denim have four foot pedals and four frames. To reduce the effort by weavers to lift frames up during weaving the fabric is woven upside down

Often during the weaving process the yarns in the weft can break and the weaver has to stop the weaving process and manually mend the break in the yarn.

Mending Broken Yarn
Woven fabric wiith selvedge

The handlooms used for weaving the denim use a “shuttle” to carry the weft yarn from one edge to the other, and hence all of the handloom / khadi denim fabric woven on the handlooms is selvedge, or selvage, denim