Burn Test To Identify Fabric Content

How To Use A Burn Test To Identify Fabric Type

Here is a guide to conduct a burn test to identify fabric content.

How To Identify Fabric Content With A Burn Test

I recently cut a kimono out of (what I thought was) nice brushed silk. One side is smooth, the other has a soft brushed feeling. The drape is fluid and soft, with a single warp and weft weave.

How to Identify Fabric Content With A Burn Test

Once I saw the fabric bathed in natural light, my textile snobbery went into full force. There is occasional nub (which isn’t uncommon in natural fibers) but quality silk fibers tend to be made as smooth as possible during the carding and combing process. Also, this fabric is pinnable. Pins usually leave a mark or hole in silk. However, it is prone to snags and pulls, which is consistent (but not exclusive to) silk.

It looks like I’m dealing with mystery stash! I decided to perform a burn test to identify fabric content. I’d hate to spend my time making something that won’t last.

Use A Burn Test To Identify Fabric

A burn test is used to help to determine types of fiber in fabric. In general, natural fibers burn and synthetic fibers melt. The color and smell of ashes, burn speed, and behavior while burning can narrow it down further.

Many factors can effect how a fabric burns, like chemical treatments, weave density, or the dye. Blended fabrics can be difficult to identify, and synthetics are especially hard to pinpoint. Click to print or download this handy burn test chart from Threads Magizine, then we’ll gather the rest of our supplies.

How To Conduct A Burn Test To Identify Fabric Content

You also will need: squared fabric swatches, tweezers, plate or dish, seamripper, lighter

Have a spray bottle or some sort of water available as a fire precaution, and work in a well ventilated area with no breeze or wind to disrupt your results.

How To Identify Fabric Content With A Burn Test

Sometimes fabric blends use a different fiber for warp and weft, rather than twisting them together as one yarn. Here’s a preliminary test to check for a fiber blended weave.

Use your seamripper to pull out a few pieces from each side. Hold the fabric with tweezers and light each side separately. I lit it and quickly blew it out, like a candle. If both yarns behave the same continue to the next step.

How To Use A Burn Test To Identify Fabric Content

Hold your swatch with tweezers, and set it on fire. Set it on the plate to observe. How does it smell? What color is the flame/ash? Does it catch fire quickly, or fizzle out? Does the fabric curl away from the fire? You may need to burn several swatches in order to note all the variables. You can use your chart to make notes.

How To Use A Burn Test To Identify Fabric Content

My fabric burned slowly like silk and smelled like burning hair. When  But the beads weren’t round or shiny, and there was a liquid residue on the plate. I suspect a synthetic blend, and possibly some sort of chemical treatment.

How To Conduct a Burn Test To Identify Fabric

In design school  we were told that there is always an exception to every “rule” in fabric identification. A burn test result won’t always be conclusive, because the textile industry has constant technological advances. It’s definitely a process of elimination though!

I’m disappointed that I don’t have silk. Synthetics have come a long way and are nicer than ever before, but I’m really concerned about wear on this kimono. It’s probably going to end up as a muslin because  the more I work with this fabric the less I like it:(

Until next time!


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Fake A Coverstitch With A Sewing Machine

I had a great holiday, guys! I can’t believe I was away from my blog for over a week. We were utterly lazy and spent Thanksgiving break watching movies. We did manage to drag out the Christmas ornaments though! And I finally have an excuse to write: I figured out how to fake a coverstitch with a sewing machine.

How To Fake A Coverstitch- With A Sewing Machine!

I experimented with some stitches while hemming a pair of my daughters running capris that got a hole in the knee. I wanted to make the stitches look as close to the coverstitching as possible.

How To Fake a Coverstitch With A Sewing Machine

There are decorative stitches on my machine but they didn’t work very well on this Lycra. Wanna know how I got a similar look?

How To Fake a Coverstitch With A Sewing Machine

I used twin needles on a zig zag stitch setting. I kept the standard stitch length and width, but you can experiment with your stitch size to achieve the look you want. I wish I had a brighter pink thread in stock! Try to match your thread color too:)

How To Fake a Coverstitch With A Sewing Machine

Anyhow, I may not need to fake a coverstitch with a sewing machine much longer. I have it on good authority that Santa is bringing me a machine!! I’ve wanted a coverstitcher for several years and I finally feel like my sewing merits owning one. Plus I was a really good girl and bought fabric only once this year, a tiny cut for cuffs I needed. I’ve even been destashing!

In other news, my sewing room is packed up so we can paint it. My house is a hot mess right now, but we should be done by Sunday.

My goal is to get everything set back up by the end of next week. And…to eat better because my jeans are feeling kinda tight! Do you have any holiday goals? And are your Christmas trees up yet?!!

How To Fake a Coverstitch With A Sewing Machine

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How To Stiffen Hair Bows

Want to see how to stiffen hairbows? I use one product.

(This is really a gratuitous post, where I show you a few hair bows I’ve been making for my little cousin’s baby. Mackenzie is still in the oven, but when she enters this world we are prepared to decorate her head.)

Check miss Mack’s bows, then scroll down to see how to stiffen hair bows with one awesome product.

Southwest Style Hair Bow in Coral and Teal with Gold Accents + How To Stiffen Hair Bows | SewsNBows

Christmas trees hair bow in lime and red | SewsNBows

Blush Pink Bow with Gold Chevron Accents, Shabby Floral Center and Pearl Strands + How To Stiffen Hair Bows | SewsNBows

How To Stiffen Hair Bows

How To Stiffen Hair Bows With One Awesome Product | SewsNBows

Can I tell you how much I hate floppy bows? Wimpy bows are a travesty, they really are. Meet my new best friend, clear acrylic spray.

(This is another one of those duh moments, like when I finally figured out how to flatten bottle caps.)

Use This To Stiffen Wimpy Hair Bows! Tips For Using Clear Acrylic Spray for Hair Bows

I used Krylon clear acrylic spray. There is an entire family of acrylic spray finishes. Gloss, matte, satin finish, uv protectant…I’d like to experiment with some of those but for now I can tell you that this is my secret weapon against sad bows.

Converse Hair Bow With Glitter Dot Center + How To Stiffen Hair Bows

I advise spraying the whole bow once your ribbons are put together, but before you add bottle caps or feathers. It really helps keep tulle stiff. Plus, it seals in glittery ribbon and glitter dots, like the bow center above. Hurray for no more sparkles falling off your hair bows!

OMG Designer Hair Bow + How To Stiffen Hair Bows | SewsNBows

If you need some of this in your life, I’d love it if you shopped my Amazon affiliate link. You won’t pay any extra. Anything you buy will send a few pennies my way, and I’d be much obliged :) That link will take you to a page of acrylic sprays to choose from.

(Rustoleum and Mod Podge have similar sprays and I haven’t tried them yet. I’m pretty sold on Krylon.)

How To Stiffen Hair Bows To Avoid Floppy Loopers | SewsNBows

Above is a hair bow pre-acrylic. Do you see how the striped loopers are flopping around? My bows are gonna behave, now.

Cowgirls Rule OTT Hair Bow | SewsNBows

I saved my favorite bow for last, this one says Cowgirls Rule. Never a truer statement, y’all.

Mackensie’s mom is my cousins daughter, and I think that would make me a technically third cousin which doesn’t sound very official to me. So I’m calling myself her aunt. Don’t you think?

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How To Flatten Bottle Caps : Life Changing Trick

How to Flatten Bottle Caps

How To Flatten Bottle Caps

It seems like I’m always the last to know the secrets of hair bow makers. There are styles and trends just like any fashion, and it’s hard to keep up. These days, flat bottle caps are in. I couldn’t think of an easy way to flatten my boring regular bottle caps, then fellow bow maker told me the trick.

How To Flatten Bottle Caps

How To Flatten Bottle Caps

A tortilla press. Boom.

How To Flatten Bottle Caps

I started with my small tortilla press. I have a little helper here to demonstrate just how easy it is.

Just like that! And by the way, flattening 50 bottle caps was a ton of fun for my nephew. Who knew it would free me up long enough to write this post?

How To Flatten Bottle Caps

Later, I got out my larger tortilla press with a handle. The extra leverage made it easier. I tried flattening several caps at once, but the pressure wasn’t enough. I reccomend one at a time.

How To Flatten Bottle Caps

If you don’t have a tortilla press at home, look for an old fashioned metal one. If you don’t have a little tienda or Hispanic market close by, you can order from my Amazon link. If you click it, it will take you straight to a page full of tortilla presses.

How to flatten bottle caps isn’t a big secret, I just didn’t know how. I hope somebody finds this post one day and does a forehead slap though- I sure wish I knew sooner! On another note…

Hair bow making is a very saturated market. As a result, a lot of techniques are jealously guarded secrets. Most of the time I’m just guessing how to make things look a certain way, so I was thrilled to death to learn this trick. I like sharing what I learn, but there’s a bit of debate about it. Many believe that giving away trade secrets increases competition and is bad for business.

A good ribbon wholesaler gives you a huge edge for competitive pricing, so I understand wanting to protect your sources. As far as skills…There are people who are going to buy hair bows, and people who are going to make them. There are certain things I don’t ever aspire to make. Dinner, for example. Frozen burritos will forever have a customer in me. Sometimes it seems like there’s a lot of fuss when there needn’t be. I’ll share tips with people who want to make bows, and make bows for people who want to buy them.

Is the competitive dynamic the same in sewing? I’ve never sold my sewing projects so I’ve not experienced it. Maybe it’s the same way with every craft & trade. Thoughts?

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Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes

Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes

If you want to make a store bought costume more original, or just need to save some money this year; this post is for you. I’ve made some elaborate costumes over the years, but I think the easy DIYs and budget friendly costumes are the best. Here are some of my favorites from the past; and some tips for DIY Halloween costumes.

Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes

Add A Cape

Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes | Girls Comfy Batman Costume

This Batman costume was fully handmade, but you can add a superhero applique or fabric paint to any store bought tee for a super comfy costume. Or, get off the hook completely and just buy a superhero shirt. Alternatives are wizards, vampires, Zorro, Elsa, etc.

You need a cape though! I love this no sew cape tutorial and template from Jolly Mom.


Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes | Easy Flapper Costume

Shop your own closet or thrift a suitable dress to make this adorable flapper costume. Add pearls and lace (or the entire contents of your craft room) for a sweet, 1920’s look. Variations: Wild west/saloon girl, mob boss, witch, fairy, etc.


Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes & Tons Of DIY Ideas | Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn

Chop off pants or overalls for a Mark Twain themed costume. Every little boy has a pair of highwater pants and a dingy old t-shirt, right? Here’s my Tom & Huck Photoshoot with my gremlins nephews.

Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes | Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn

Carry a whitewash paintbrush for Tom, or maybe a rope belt for Huck. Don’t forget a straw hat! A similar idea for girls would be long dresses, bonnets, and aprons for a Little House On The Prairie look.

Just Be A Pirate

Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes | Easy No Sew Pirate

Pirate costumes are easy because nothing needs to be hemmed. Leave your edges raw and let them fray. Don’t bother cutting nicely. It doesn’t need to fit properly, and nothing has to match. Shop your closet.

Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes | Easy No Sew Pirate Costume

Make a sash with a long rectangle of any fabric; an old sheet will do. Chop off pants and add a drawstring pouch for trick or treating. Cut the sleeves and hems off a shirt to make a vest. Cheap plastic swords and eyepatches are a fun addition. Use these same tips to make a hobo or rodeo clown. See my family pirate costumes for more ideas!

Glam It Up

Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes | Girly Tin Man Costume

This DIY Tin Man costume was made with inexpensive metallic fabric. In fact, the whole outfit cost less than $20 to make! You can add a tutu and bow to a store bought costume for a cute no- sew DIY. You certainly don’t have to sew to make a glam costume. Start with sweatpants and a sweatshirt if you like. You can girlify any costume by adding ruffles and lace. Which brings me to the next tip:

Glue It

Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes | Wicked Witch

Seriously, glue it. Tape it. Heck, staple it! This awesome Wicked Witch Costume was based on the Disney movie, Oz The Great And Powerful. I love the costumes in that film, omg.) When I couldn’t figure out how to make the winged shoulders work with a sewing machine, I got out the hot glue gun. Done in an hour!!

Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes | Wicked Witch


Tips & Ideas For DIY Halloween Costumes

Top off any costume with a fun halloween fascinator. Or wear it to work/school and pretend to be festive if you aren’t in a costume mood. My fascinator tutorial will show you dozens of ideas to complete your look. (Or pretend to give a darn.)

Dollar store jewelry is your friend on Halloween. Dig in your kids toy box for props. Glue some yarn to a baseball cap to make a wig. Make spats or boot overs. (Maybe I’ll make a tutorial soon? It’s basically a leg warmer!)


Makeup or face paint is a given, but think outside the box. Don’t forget about temporary tattoos if it goes with your costume. Colorful hair extensions are fun. Glitter is everything.

Not for children or the feint of heart: I superglued rhinestones onto my face once. You can superglue gold gems to your teeth too. (Yes, I swear. And while I’ll be super impressed with your hardcore Halloween attitude, I assume no liability if you superglue anything to your body. Use discretion, obviously.)

Oh, zombie makeup and fake blood makes anything a costume, bonus points for an 80’s prom zombie. Iconic outfit zombies are awesome…Marilyn’s white dress, anyone?

I hope I’ve got some ideas churning in your head. I bet you can fashion a costume right now with things you already have. What’s your favorite costume you’ve made or worn?

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