Thursday, March 11, 2010

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Julia, Christine, Sarah C, Annie, Gwen, Summerset, Alison, Meredith, Karima, Mary, Julie, CarlaF, Cindy and Elaina for talking back to my confession last Friday! I confessed that I've never tried a burn test to identify the fiber content of a mystery fabric...

I was surprised to see that about 2/3rds of the people who responded have tried a burn test at least once, and more than 1/2 report using this type of test periodically. Looks like I'm going to have to take my matches outside (lesson learned from Alison!) and give it a try! ;)

Apparently the burn test is best for distinguishing natural fibers (they burn) from man-made fibers (they melt), and it is not as easy to distinguish blends. Sarah C was taught other tests for identifying specific fibers within each category in a course on textiles she took in college. She didn't go into details, but I'm imagining test tubes filled with colorful liquids and bubbling beakers and white lab coats. :)

Summerset gave a good explanation for why to do it - you can't always tell the fiber content by feel and you need to know the fiber content in order to know how to care for your garment.

Among those people who rarely (or never) use the burn test, there were several different methods of dealing with the fiber content question. Some peope feel that, between feeling the fabric and pre-washing it, they can get a good enough idea of what they are working with. Others, like Julie, are very careful to keep detailed records of the fiber content of each fabric purchase. And some, like CarlaF, only use mystery fabric for muslins, when knowing the fiber content isn't that important.

You guys have got me curious and I think I'm going to have to give this a try on some of my remnants. I'll post pictures - although it might be a couple of weeks...

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to share your experiences and thoughts! I learn so much from all of you and love to read your stories! :)