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Message Board > Fabrics and more... > Burn test for cotton/poly vs 100% cotton ( Moderated by CynthiaSue)

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Burn test for cotton/poly vs 100% cotton
How to tell the difference?
JDpenelope
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JDpenelope  Friend of PR
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Date: 8/12/05 12:31 PM

My son and wife have requested that I make 6 sets of 100% cotton pajamas for my two dgds. The parents don't want ANY polyester, lycra, or other content.

Unfortunately, not all of my stash fabrics are identified as to content, and I'm not astute enough to determine content by studying the fabric.

I've never done a burn test on fabric before, but in Sew any Fabric, Claire Shaeffer describes the cotton test as burning "Rapidly; yellow flame; continues burning, afterglow. Odor: Paper. Residue: Brown-tinged end; light-colored, feathery ash." P 143.

Her description of polyester: "Shrinks from flame; melts, fuses; black smoke, self-extinguishing. Odor: Sweet smell. Residue: Hard black or brown round bead." P 143.

My question: Would I look for anything special when burn testing a cotton/poly blend?

Also, I wonder if the weave--knit vs woven--would have any effect on the results of the test.

My plan is to test known fabrics -- 100% cotton woven and 100% polyester--to get a feel for what I'm looking for. Then move to the unknown knits I'm wanting to identify.

I guess any results different from the 100% cotton test would suggest a blend....? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
-- Edited on 8/12/05 1:32 PM --

------
aka Joanne. (Penelope was our cat. RIP.)
"What mother nature gives, father time takes away."
Yahoo group: Sewing-with-Industrial-Machines

Debbie Cook
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Debbie Cook
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Date: 8/12/05 12:35 PM

Penelope,

You'll know immediately if your fabric has any synthetic content because it will melt and bubble while burning and then leave a hard bead when it's done. Wovens same as knits.

If you have a blend, you'll still see the bubbling and the beads.

------
--
"I base my fashion sense on what doesn't itch." — Gilda Radner
http://stitchesandseams.blogspot.com

JDpenelope
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JDpenelope  Friend of PR
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Date: 8/12/05 12:37 PM

Debbie - Thanks for that quick reply! The kids are gone right now and I'll get started right away! I was hoping it would be this easy.

------
aka Joanne. (Penelope was our cat. RIP.)
"What mother nature gives, father time takes away."
Yahoo group: Sewing-with-Industrial-Machines

Karla Kizer
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Karla Kizer  Friend of PR
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Date: 8/12/05 12:41 PM

The poly/cotton blend will produce a combination of cotton-y ash and a hard bead. 100% cotton produces just soft ash that crumbles into dust- no hard edges.

You can probably make a pretty good guess about the content by crushing a corner of the fabric in your hot, sweaty palm for a minute. Creases = cotton. A hint of creases = a blend. Then get out the flamethrower and burn a bit of it to confirm your suspicions.

Hancock's just loves to see me outside on the sidewalk, torching bits of fabric...

------
“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” -Robert Heinlein and Ann's father. Thanks for the reminder, Ann.

Where are we going, and what am I doing in this handbasket?

Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'



Stitchology

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Date: 8/12/05 12:45 PM

Gee, Karla, why don't you set up a table on the sidewalk and make a little extra cash.

------
Buy the best and you only cry once.

JDpenelope
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JDpenelope  Friend of PR
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In reply to Karla Kizer


Date: 8/12/05 12:47 PM

Thanks, Karla. More good info. Wish I had one of those flamethrowers!

------
aka Joanne. (Penelope was our cat. RIP.)
"What mother nature gives, father time takes away."
Yahoo group: Sewing-with-Industrial-Machines

MaryLynn in Long Beach
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MaryLynn in Long Beach
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Date: 8/12/05 7:17 PM

Not long ago, I was at Michael Levines in the LA Garment District buying some bargain table silk. The woman doing the cutting said she was not sure it was silk, might be poly. She cut a snip and did a burn test right there. I was amused and it was silk. I like the folks at my Joann's, but had a lot of trouble imagining any of them doing a burn test for a customer.

I found a handy-dandy chart online that I reference a lot for the burn test. burn test chart

------
Mary Lynn (Who's finally sitting up and taking nourishment)

Design Degree??? I prefer my artistic license

"A woman who works with her hands is a laborer; a woman who works with her hands and her mind is a craftsman; but a woman who works with her hands and her brain and her heart is an artist." (St. Thomas Aquinas, modified)

Mary Reed

Mary Reed
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AZ USA
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Date: 8/12/05 10:06 PM

Okay ladies - I have been buying the $1 fabrics from Wally World. I swear this knit is a Rayon lycra blend. Does anyone know what 3% lycra would do to Rayon burn test?

By feel, it is a Rayon knit, heavy and drapy. It has 4 way stretch with fabulous recovery.....

diane s
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diane s  Friend of PR
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Date: 8/12/05 11:39 PM

A Knit blend is the trickiest, because the fabric will have both characteristics. A rayon blend will be similar to the cotton blend, there will be some softness and a hard bead. Where as poly/lycra will be a large bead. There are also quite a few poly/rayon/ lycra blends. If there's no poly there should be some shrinkage, you can measure before and after washing.
Woven rayons are stronger when wet, that is why they are stiff in the washer, does anyone know if that is true for rayon knits?

------
My grandmother taught me to sew when I was 10, and I've been sewing ever since.

JDpenelope
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JDpenelope  Friend of PR
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KS USA
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Date: 8/13/05 4:57 AM

Well, I was a veritable pyromaniac yesterday! I have a lot of 100% cotton knit in my stash, some of it really nice stuff from Wazoodle.

But there were a few surprises: For example, some ribbing marked as polyester/lycra at the JoAnn's 80% off moving sale last year, has NO polyester and tested pretty much like 100% cotton.

It was very easy, as Debbie and Karla suggested, to determine any polyester content--that fabric sizzled or bubbled, and always formed a hard bead.

But I was confused by some results--while there was no evidence of polyester, some fabric burned with a yellow flame, but did not dissolve into grey dust; rather it remained intact in a smaller, black form (with no beading).

Claire Shaeffer mentioned that the ash of linen, ramie, and hemp (also vegetable fibers) "maintains shape of swatch." So, I wonder if there was ramie or other vegetable content in these swatches, linen or hemp being more unlikely, probably.

Sometimes, there was a sort of "afterburn" that looked like lighted worms crawling through the fabric. This could have been due to lycra content--as some fabric known to contain lycra burned this way--but I'm almost sure that some of the tested fabric with "glow worms" had NO lycra content.

Regarding rayon/lycra knit, I have some nice stuff from emmaonesock and will try to burn test it soon. Still, I'd like to hear from the experts on this topic. Claire Shaeffer says spandex (=lycra) leaves a "soft sticky gum", something I didn't notice, but I wasn't testing 100% spandex fabric. She doesn't mention anything about lycra added to other fabric in small amounts, and Mary Lynn's burn test chart doesn't list lycra or spandex.


-- Edited on 8/13/05 6:01 AM --

------
aka Joanne. (Penelope was our cat. RIP.)
"What mother nature gives, father time takes away."
Yahoo group: Sewing-with-Industrial-Machines

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