Then I remembered the burn tests we did on fabrics in my 'A' Level (equivalent to High School) Fashion and Textiles classes. Basically, a burn test consisted of setting a small swatch of fabric alight, then observing how it burnt and analysing the residue or ash left behind to determine the composition of the fabric. Yup - we were allowed to set stuff on fire in the name of education!
After consulting a few websites, such as Fabric University and Fiber Images, I felt confident enough to open up Laboratoire Needles and burn stuff!
These are the basic tools you need:
|Tin foil, tweezers, a jar for catching residue/extinguishing flame, and fabric swatches|
|This is what we wear at Laboratoire Needles...|
|...freshly set hair, red lipstick, lots of jewellery, and no safety gear whatsoever!|
The scratchy red fabric
|The swatch at the top, and the results of the burn test below - hard black beads|
The cheap polka dot
This one was a bit puzzling; I thought it was probably rayon or viscose, but it melted a bit like the polyester, and was a bit ashy when it cooled. Maybe a cotton polyester mix?
The jersey fabric
This one hardly burned at all, just smouldered with no ash, and it left a sort of greasy smear on the foil. According to the Fabric University, this is probably rayon.
The printed fabric
This was the only one that turned out as predicted. I assumed it was cotton; it burned like paper, and left a grey ash. So, pretty sure that's cotton!
It was getting a bit too crazy and experimental in the Lab at this point, so I closed it for the evening and went back to watching telly and drinking tea - I mean, researching future tests. But I hope that my cutting edge scientific research was of some help. The next time you buy a fabric of unknown origin and you want to know what it is, SET IT ON FIRE!