The term “leg twist” may inspire images of Chuck Berry and some short-lived 50s dance craze, but it’s actually the term for when the inseams and out seams on your jeans twist up to 90 degrees from the hips to the to the hem.
It can be the bane of some raw denim fans and an accepted occurrence for others. For either group of the afflicted, there is still a large knowledge gap. Why does leg twist happen? Is there anything the wearer can do to stop it from happening? Are my $375 made-in-Japan unsanforized 32 Oz. Kevlar-reinforced super skinny raws ruined?
We at Heddels can answer the first two questions, but as for that third question–we (almost) hope those jeans don’t exist.
Basics first–the reason a pair of jeans twists has all to do with the weave. After you wash a pair of unsanforized jeans, the drying fabric will twist dependent on the direction of the weave used. We’ve discussed right hand twill and left hand twill on this site before in various depths, but perhaps not specifically for leg twist. When right hand twill is washed and dries, the fabric twists to the back of the leg, and with left hand twill it twists towards the front of the leg. This logic remains universally true, unless you decide to wear your jeans backwards like some sartorial pioneers.
Why mention unsanforized denim? To put it simply, they shrink more after every wash, causing the twist to be more obvious. If you’re truly stressed about leg twist, buy sanforized denim. Another surefire way to avoid leg twist is to invest in denim with a broken twill weave. Broken twill weave differs from other weaves in that the diagonal weave is reversed at every two warp ends. This not only gives the denim a unique look and feel, but also a whole lot less leg twist. When it’s washed, it simply shrinks instead of shrinking and twisting. The Wrangler WMZ is a popular model with broken twill.
In commercial mass-produced denim, leg twist is less prevalent. This is the case because these companies skew their denim in the opposite direction of the weave when its woven. Basically, the machine operator can pull the fabric the other way while sewing up the right leg and down the left.
Whichever way you fall, leg twist on a pair of raw denim is either a great way to show off the distinct nature of selvedge or the bane of the wearer’s existence. The hope here is that now with some explanation, there is less confusion.