While chambray (below) and denim (above) are often confused for one another, they’re not exactly the same fabric. A chambray is a plain weave fabric woven with a colored yarn in the warp and a white yarn in the weft. Like chambray, denim is made with a colored yarn in the warp and white in the weft, but is woven in a twill construction. The chambray’s warp and weft threads will alternate one over the other, while denim’s warp thread will go over two threads in the weft before going under one. Typically, you will notice a lighter color to the underside of a denim fabric, whereas the underside of chambray will appear much more similar to its face side. Check out more Proper Cloth chambray and denim fabrics here.
Obviously, the denim that we are all most familiar with is the kind used to make jeans or 90’s style denim jackets. This denim is generally very heavy, and in most cases would not make for a comfortable shirt.
Chambray and denim can be found in both heavy and light weight styles. The heavier versions will seem more casual and be more durable and rugged. Higher thread count versions of denim will be thinner and light weight and seem more “dressed up” than lower thread count versions. Lighter weight chambray can have either a dressy or casual appeal. Some will be woven with a tighter weave and have a nice shine and dress up nicely, while others will have a very noticeable fabric slub and a looser, gauzier weave that is better suited for casual shirting.
Washed Denim and Chambray Shirts
In some cases, a shirt will be sewn from an indigo dyed denim or chambray fabric that has not been finished. This “raw” fabric will not yet be completely colorfast. After the shirt is completely sewn together it is washed using a special garment washing process that causes slight fading at the seams and makes the color colorfast. This process has never before been feasible for custom made dress shirts, however Proper Cloth has recently produced the first ever custom fit washed denim shirt.