I love good, heavy, vintage cotton fabrics. They’re a joy to stitch, wear and touch. But the old texitles I collect for my Rewind Designs rarely come with fabric content labels.
Here’s how I tell if I’m buying 100% cotton or considering a polyester blend:
1) Feel fabrics–I’ve fabric shopped by touch all my life and I like to think I’m pretty good at it. Still, sometimes just handling a fabric isn’t enough, especially if it’s never been washed. In that case, I rub it agaisnt my cheek. Cotton is softer, but more textural. Poly blends are slicker and smoother.
2) The burn test. I learned this from an old quilter. Clip a few threads and put them in a jar lid or pie pan. Then burn the fabric with a match. Cotton will burn away or leave a powdery ash. Cotton/poly will leave a resin or goo.
These techniques will also help you date fabrics. Everyone associates polyester with the 70s, but that’s really the era of polyester DOUBLE KNIT.
The first polyester textiles were actually invented in the early 1940s. And while the 70s gave them a bad name, polyester texiles are not all bad. Look at the wonderful Sunbrealla fabrics developed near my hometown in the North Carolina Piedmont. We used to drive by rows of test swatches on our way to the grocery store.
If you’re blending fabrics for quilting or applique and collage, I find it helps to pull from the same content family.
And number one on my list–good old cotton. Love that stuff.
To see more of my Rewind Design in my favorite fabric, check out my website http://www.kikisrewinddesigns.com/