From Baggy to Skinny Fit: The Evolution of Denim Production with Automation

Blue jeans or denim are an inseparable part of our wardrobe. With all the rivets, buttons, pockets, and zippers, denim production transitioned from manual to fully automated. Jeans were already been worn in the 1700s, but it was Levi who made them a part of every wardrobe on the planet.

May 20, 1873, was the day when Levi Strauss received the patent from the US for his blue jeans. We consider this day to be the birthday of denim, as we know it today. Originally, the jeans were called ‘waist overalls’ and were inspired by the miners who complained that their pants didn’t last long. Soon, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis set their business.

They designed the red tab attached above the left pocket in 1936. Two horses pulling the jeans apart was indeed a widely successful marketing strategy. Even riveting the stressful points in jeans was Davis’s brainchild.

Since Levi’s set up in the 19th century, jeans have undergone tremendous changes. Especially, the speed of production has been boosted significantly with automation.

How Are Denims Made?

Today, we see jeans with acid wash, ripped, knee-slashed, and various waist sizes in every imaginable colour. But have you ever wondered – how are denim even made? From baggy to bell-bottoms to low waist and high waist, the jeans manufacturing process is worth a read.

• Pocket Hammer (Chain Stitch)

We will start with the pockets. You would be surprised to know that a lot of work goes into sewing pockets. It all starts with the pocket setters that attach the pockets with a chain stitch.


• Pocket Hammer (Lock Stitch)

The double-needle lock stitch is used to set the back pockets. For this task, we use a special needle in the machine. The double-needle lock stitch machine works by sewing multiple times to get the desired product. With this technology, we can make large products that are durable and can last for a long time now.

• Pocket Design Sewing Machine

Ever noticed those thread designs on pockets? They are made with pocket design sewing machines. Depending upon the type of fabric and design, these machines can sew patterns that can be customized also.

• Pocket Setter (Single Needle)

The pocket setter can sew pockets on any kind of pants like jeans, army pants, formal pants, and more. The shapes of the pockets can be customized as per requirement. With programmable patterns, the pocket setter can sew round, square, and even asymmetric pockets.


• Pocket Setter (Double Needle)

This pocket setter machine has dual needles that can put together several types of pockets. A fully automatic pocket setter is suitable for light and heavy materials.

• Pocket Facing Sewing Machine

For attaching pocket facings (side and back pockets), the pocket-facing sewing machine is used. The automatic folding and attaching happen with consistent quality across diverse types of fabric. The stitching parameters can be easily altered with user-friendly touch controls.

• Programmable Double Needle

These needles can be programmed as per requirements

• J stitch Sewing Machine

The automated unit for J stitch involves a programmed stitch pattern that can be easily customized for several types of jeans and trousers. The process includes feeding, sewing, and stacking which are all done automatically.

• Feed Off the Arm (Brother head)

Also known as FOA, the machine sews chain stitches and it works with designs that need sew and stitch. Instead of a bobbin, the machine sports a looper. The FOA stitch works well with heavy fabrics and therefore it is used in producing jeans.


• Feed Off the Arm (Seiko type)

This is a double-needled FOA machine that is well-suited for sewing light as well as heavy materials (it can sew tubular products too). Apart from sewing denim, it is also used to sew shirts, skirts, trousers, and much more.

• Waistband Setter and Loop Setter

The waistband setter machine places and attaches the waistband of the denim. Meanwhile, the loop setter creates loops for the belt. They are later pieced together. The machines have several heads that are used to attach the belts and the pockets. As to the number of heads, it depends on the type of product we are making. The material goes through a specific set of operations, so all we need is to adjust how many operations we will execute.

• C-bottom Hemming (Chain Stitch)

The C-bottom hemming machine can sew up to three layers of hem. Therefore, it is ideal for putting together the bottom hems of jeans and denim.

• Automatic Bottom Hemming (Lock Stitch)

The automated bottom hemming machine is ideal for hemming the bottoms of jeans and other types of trousers. As it is automated, it can eliminate most of the inconsistencies. It potentially boosts productivity and lessens tasks.

• Waistband Sewing Machine

The already-set waistband and sewn up with this machine.

• Side Seamer

Side seaming can be a complicated operation. But the side seaming machines can make it a lot easier. With automated seamers, the operators just must feed the machine. This takes down human intervention and minimizes inconsistencies.

• Placket Surging Unit

The machine comes loaded with features like accurate thread trimming which makes production faster and easier. This boosts efficiency and takes off some work pressure.

There are other machines used for more narrow or even intricate aspects of denim production, but if we start listing those, we will be here all day. We can use these machines today because we have improved on them in terms of speed, durability, and quality, although they were initially created to sew garments only.


Today, a pair of jeans is worn everywhere, right from the streets to the runway. Denim has become a personalized fashion statement and the DIYs just take it to another level. Denim jackets, joggers, and even denim sneakers have made jeans an inseparable part of our wardrobe.