Friday, February 14, 2014

Well, that didn't work: applying the Burn Test to determine fabric content.

Monday was a "dye all the things" day for me.  I did up the pink cotton sheeting for my court panniers, then dyed this wicked cool gold rayon faille that I got for super cheap from a discount fabric store online.  The idea was to try to find a way to keep the cost of my 18th Century Court Gown project from getting too out of hand.  Well, you certainly get what you pay for, and that cheap rayon fabric ended up being just that - cheap.  It came out of the dye bath with only the weft threads having picked up the dye.

Dyed fabric on the left, vs a swatch of the un-dyed fabric on the right.

Well.  Opps.  However, the mystery provided me with an excellent opportunity to practice the burn test method of determining fabric content.  You can find helpful flow charts all over the internet, but I use the following one, sourced from a Burda Style article:

from Burda Style

Since my warp and weft fibers were obviously different, the first thing I needed to do was to separate them.  I used a stick pink to pull out a finger full of the thicker weft threads, leaving about an inch or so of the very fine gold weft threads anchored in a fabric base.  The gold threads were so very fine, I felt like I had to leave them anchored to something or else risk a flutter of burning threads going every which way.

Picking out the threads with a stick pin.

First up was the red warp threads.  I rolled the threads into a small bundle and held them with a pair of tweezers over an old aluminum mint tin that I keep around for just this purpose.  I was already confident that they were some sort of natural fiber, since they did take up the dye.  What I discovered that the fabric readily burned, and did not self-extinguish (had to blow/tap it out or it would burn until it was gone).  The fibers charred (as opposed to melting) and they smelled like burning paper.  After tapping out the flame and letting it cool, rubbing the burnt end between my fingers showed the grey ash to be soft and crumbly.  Burn test says it must be cotton, ramie or rayon.  Since the website where I bought the fabric claimed it was 100% rayon, I'll guess that's what it is.

Next up are the gold weft fibers.  The fibers burned and were not self-extinguishing.  They kinda melted, though, and really did smell a bit like vinegar (I was never convinced that part of the flow chart was going to be legit, but yeah, vinegar).  Once it had cooled, the black ash turned out to be hard and kinda lumpy.  Burn chart says: acetate or triacetate.

A rayon acetate blend is mostly likely what I ended up with.  Acetate fibers would not have taken the dye.  And it makes the ludicrisly cheap price make more sense now.  Acetate IS dirt cheap.  Lesson learned.  Will have to be emailing that website back, because, yeah.  False advertising there.  But oddly enough, I'm not terribly upset.  Just thoughful.  I kinda LIKE the way it turned out.  It's a pretty color, albeit a bit fleshy looking.  I could go ahead and make the court gown as I was planning, only in this slightly different color.  Or I could make a different style of court gown out of this fabric, as I don't think the fur would look as nice up against this new, blended color.  Nah, I'll probably just have to toss this failed experiment into the stash and make another attempt at buying the fabric in the red I needed in the first place.

Perhaps I'll instead use it for that open front gown I was wanting to try.  It's an interesting enough color on it's own.  Some self-fabric embellishments would look fine on it.  A pinked rouching, or perhaps some poufs.  OMG, now that I'm picturing it, an open front, flesh-colored gown with ruched robings totally looks like a labia and I'm laughing my arse off, thinking of pairing that with a dark brown hedgehog wig and a terribly innappropriate stomacher.  And what would my DATE wear?  A dick suit?  Sounds like the perfect opportunity to break out the stupid high wig for a Macaroni style court suit.  

Ahem.  Anywho.  Maybe I should think on it.

Ten yards of fleshy-pink rayon-acetate faille, as well as five yards of the un-dyed gold.

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