Sunday 13 April 2008

Playing with Fire



He he...that was fun. When I thrift fabric, my rule is if there's no label, I don't buy it unless I really like it and can use it for something that's not going to go next to anyone's skin. Which is fine, except when you go to fabric swaps and places like the "by-the-pound" Goodwill, where bags of donations are just dumped into bins and you have to fight the other vultures for what may or may not be cotton....

Now, everything thrifted goes into hot water wash and dry, because, well.....ick. Nothing personal, but I don't know what kind of environment any of those pieces have come from. However, I had got some fabric from a fabric swap at The Workroom (where there is a decidedly un-ick atmosphere ;-) and from the Goodwill that I wasn't sure about, fibre-content-wise. So, using info I found, I did my first real burn test this morning:

Here are my guesses, left to right, top to bottom (I wrote them down first) and the results:

blue and white gingham: mostly polyester :: mostly cotton
green: linen :: linen
lt. blue/pink flower print: mostly polyester :: mostly polyester
cream: cotton :: cotton
red/orange/pink flower print: cotton :: cotton
cream and red baroque print: no idea, probably man-made :: man-made
orange/white print: mostly cotton :: mostly polyester
stripes: mostly polyester :: mostly cotton
baby pink flowered stripes: mostly cotton :: mostly polyester
pink flannel: cotton :: mostly cotton
blue and white: cotton/linen :: some polyester
yellow/red/blue flowers: cotton :: cotton
nubby cream: i hope it's linen/silk :: linen (some polyester? - have to retest)
purple/red print: cotton :: cotton

Some other things I learned:
  • blow out your match before becoming mesmerised by how the fabric is burning
  • when they say well-ventilated area, they mean it - ack!
  • whoah - cotton burns fast!
  • make sure your last piece is extinguished before starting the next one - interesting fireballs may result if this advice is not heeded
  • have a glass of water handy.....
Also, this confirmed my gut feeling about polyester. Why, oh why, would anyone want to wear something whose true (un)nature is revealed like this:

Do you see that melted edge? That's plastic. Gross.
There was a pleasant surprise, though. We have a huge curtain over the closet in our bedroom that I picked up at a thrift store probably a decade ago. It's a large bedspread, I think, and on each corner is woven this:

I was hoping it would be silk, and from the burn test, it looks like it is! It's beautiful regardless, but somehow it's just nice to know :-) I wish I could find out more info on it...

That, and see that sun? The last two days it's been raining, so I'm really doing a happy dance today!


Florence Knapp (Flossie Teacakes) said...

I loved reading this post - so interesting...and amusing, as the pyromaniac in you obviously enjoyed the whole thing! Gosh, yes, the polyester thing is also seems to retain 'odours', and so is always best avoided when thrifting...eugh!

Anonymous said...

So cool that you shared your burn test here - I've never heard of doing this before! I may very well have to try it, because I have a bunch of fabric whose origins I'm unsure of. And you're totally right-on - yucky poly!

cloth.paper.string said...

brilliant, marnie! i was just wondering how i'd ever discern the content of the thrifted fabrics that i've been amassing.

Things Hand Made said...

I am very impressed that you go to so much trouble to identify your fabrics.

Jennifer said...

ah...wonderful idea! love it. and of course, any excuse to set things on fire!