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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is that Fabric 100% Cotton or a Cotton Blend? Scrunch It!




Today in the wild world of vintage fabric, let's be mad scientists.

Here's a simple experiment to see if a fabric is 100% cotton, or if it is a cotton blend:

Take a single layer of fabric in your hand and scrunch it. Hold that scrunch for a few seconds and then let go. Do you see wrinkles, or a few slight creases? The more wrinkles you have, the more likely the fabric is 100% cotton. Cotton-polyester blends were originally manufactured to give fabric less wrinkles.

If you want to take this experiment further, and really show the world how much of a mad scientist you are, strap on a pair of goggles and whip out a lighter:

Take a strand of fiber thread from the fabric; from the end of the fabric is easiest. Burn the thread with the flame of the lighter (safely please, with a glass of water handy). The ashes of 100% cotton will burn clean. The ashes of polyester or a polyester cotton blend will be more tacky or form into a small hard ball.

The top photo is a circa 1990's cotton-polyester blend floral fabric. As you can see, after I administered the scrunch test, the fabric had very little wrinkles.

The bottom photo is a 1940s blue and white floral 100% cotton. For maximum results I applied a heavy tightly held scrunch, and as you can see, the fabric has wrinkles. With less scrunch applied, there would be less wrinkles.

Do you have any vintage fabric mad scientist experiments of your own? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear about it and try it out.

2 comments:

fripperie said...

Oh, my mother taught me to "scrunch" a handful of fabric when i was a kid. To make the difference even more apparent, you can exhale into the fistful of cloth, which will really set the wrinkles in a cotton or linen. Best, of course, to reserve that for testing fabric in the stash, not stuff you're contemplating purchasing...

Nan Jaeger said...

Thanks for that tip -- I'm going to try it!