Sunday, 21 July 2013

Burn test for fabrics

I enjoy sewing and sometimes I am good at it. Hidden in various places in my home are many pieces of fabric. Many. Some can be easily identified as silk or polyester or cotton or something else. Sometimes that matters and sometimes not. I came across some terrific information for testing the content of fabrics. The same test can be used for knitting yarns.

When you alter garments
the fabric choice is very important.
On that page you will find a short video of how to do the basic test, a downloadable chart of how to interpret the results, and some excellent comments from people who have used the test.

One knitter wrote:  I've used burn tests many times. It is invaluable. I've used it a lot to test knitting yarns where I've lost/misplaced the label. It's really helpful to know whether the yarn is wool or not!

An experiences stitcher wrote: Using a shot glass with a tablespoon of bleach is also a good way to test if a fabric is a purely proteinous fibre -- silk or wool (as opposed to a plant fibre such as cotton or linen). 

I do not sew this well.
Chlorine bleach will dissolve protein so if you put a little piece of silk in a tablespoon of bleach (I use a shot glass) and look hours later, the fabric will be gone! (Which is why you never use chlorine bleach to clean a silk garment.) Not so with a piece of polyester, which will still be in the shot glass no matter how long you leave it.

The trouble comes when fibres are blends. It's much more difficult to tell blends with a burn test, at least that has been my experience.

I thought this comment was also informative if you sew for charities: I belong to a quilt group and I am the Tester. We get donated fabric and we also make items to be donated. Some places only will take things made out of 100% cotton, for instance Ronald McDonald House. We have made pillowcases for them several times, and I test the fabric for them so as to make sure it is 100% cotton.

The photos I have used here all come from the Threads Magazine pages and were submitted by various readers of that magasine. That website is a valuable resource if you sew.

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