Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Burning things: fun but not that helpful

Hello all,

For some reason I hadn’t really thought about my suit material until reader Laurie asked me what it was.

As I got it in the “assorted fabrics” area, I’d never known what it was – just that I liked the colour, weight and feel of it.

My More Fabric Savvy book by Sandra Betzina suggests burning a small snippet of fabric and observing the fabric, flame, smell and ash to determine fabric content.

Sounds simple – and fun on a chilly winter’s day – but was it? Let’s just say I won’t be giving up my day job to become a fabric identifier (if anyone was ever paid to do that for work).

The results…


The first attempt, the fabric didn’t really burn – it just kind of melted away from the flame and smelt a bit like burning paper… but that didn’t really fit any of the categories listed in the book, so I lit another match.


This was a much more successful burning, with a yellow, slightly spitting flame, but then the fabric kind of melted onto the tweezers and I was so engrossed in the flame that I forgot about the burning match in my other hand… doh.

As you can see, it definitely melts, it’s brittle – there’s no real ash to speak of, no smell, burnt with a slow, yellow, slightly spitting flame.

The book lists acetate, acrylic, cotton, nylon, polyester and wool as having some of these properties but I don’t know which fabric’s properties cancels another’s when combined.

For example, if you combine cotton with nylon does that mean you’d get cotton’s burning paper smell or nylon’s “celery smell”.

So, I’m left guessing… and I’ve decided to go with a cotton acrylic… that is, of course, a total guess. :0)

Acrylic – melts (but keeps burning after the flame is removed which mine didn’t), leaves a brittle, black bead and has no smell.

Cotton – burns quickly with a yellow flame (mine was slow with yellow), keeps burning after flame is removed (mine didn’t), leaves soft, grey ash (mine didn’t), smells like burning paper (did the first time but didn’t seem to the second time – maybe I was smelling the match…?)

See… confusing.

Maybe Spotlight was right in naming it “assorted fabric”… it’s assorted alright!

Anyone else got any ideas? Better informed than me would be good (and pretty easy as you can see I’m just guessing).

I tell you what I do take away from this experiment though… I’ll make sure to stay away from any open flames… having a fabric melt onto your skin is a particularly uninviting proposition! Mind you though, the slowness of the flame makes me think this is probably one of the safer of my outfits… I’ve never had a flaming accident before so its not something I’ve personally ever considered… and flammability has never been on a list of reasons to buy or not buy an outfit or fabric before… and if I’m honest, it won’t be in the future either. :0) but at least I’m aware of it now…

Monday, August 30, 2010

Evidence of Simplicity 4911 being finished!

Hooray! It’s been months – nay, years! – since I first started sewing this suit and although I officially finished it a couple of weeks ago, it is only now that I’ve taken photos that I feel it is truly finished!

And so… without further delay… Simplicity 4911

To recap, it started as this…

CIMG1932 It now looks like this!


I apologise for the non-smilingness of this photo – really, I’m ecstatic that this has turned out so well – but my camera was playing silly buggers and had just NOT taken three lots of self-timer shots, so I wasn’t really sure this one was going to turn out either (and the self-conscious ‘this is weird’ posing had started to kick in)… :0)

Contrary to the photo evidence, the back of the skirt hem isn’t longer than the front, the camera is just perched quite low. Besides the collar weirdness that I mentioned in a previous post (CIMG1937 ) I also decided to lengthen the sleeves about an inch. Some of my dancing partners have made mention of my ‘freakishly long arms’ but I seriously think they were just making excuses for not getting themselves out of the way in time to avoid a whack. Remember follows, it’s always the lead’s fault. :0)

I also had a bit of trouble with the waistband and after struggling with it for about an hour I just ditched it and made my own. I think the likelihood is I may not have cut it correctly because I just could not make it work… hmmm… that’s the same story as the collar situation. I see a pattern here. :0)

Once I got the camera working correctly, I went to town on the shots, so here’s some more.

CIMG2029 I call this one ‘Nevermind About The Top Of My Head, Check Out My Remix Shoes!’ I think my dance teacher would be happy with the shape of that hanging hand too… pity I can’t remember to do it when I’m actually dancing. This photo also shows the nipped in waist… that curve also gave me a bit of gyp. One of the peplum sides does kick out a little funny, but I think I’m probably just being too critical… I’ve decided I won’t worry about it until someone points at it and screams in an overly dramatic fashion. Then I’ll think about worrying about it…


Not a terribly illuminating shot of the suit, but… I liked it, so here it is. Oh, and if you are wondering, the white ruffle is not connected to the suit at all. It is a gorgeous ruffle-fronted blouse I picked up at one of the Way We Wear fairs a couple of years ago in Williamstown here in Melbourne.

And here’s a picture of the blouse… but don’t look at my weirdly large hand.


What’s wrong with you?! I said not to look at it! Honestly…

Just jokes, just jokes. One final picture… in this I was trying to show the lovely vee at the bottom of the jacket… but I think the packet illustration still show it better.


I hope you have enjoyed the pictures… I’d love to say I had a ball making this suit, but I didn’t. Some bits of it were a little tricky and maybe if I sewed more regularly than I do then I wouldn’t have had any trouble at all… doubtful though… I mean, this IS sewing, right? However I’m more than happy with the end result.

In hindsight, if I was going to make this again, I’d look at lining it to give it a little more weight. Without lining and in the light material I used, it is definitely not for chilly weather. Mind you, the way this Melbourne winter has been making me feel for the last three months, nothing but an electric blanket and flannelette sheets makes me feel warm. Still… only two days to go until SPRING!! Finally… :0)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Success!! A finished project!

Finally – I now know what I have to do to finish something!

Unfortunately it involves getting sick and sniffly, but at least I know!

The upside is that Simplicity 4911 is now in the fully finished pile!

The downside is that I’m so sick that I can’t bare to put the suit on to take a photograph!

I’m away for about a week – my Dad is having triple bypass surgery on Tuesday so I’m making the trip north tomorrow and then travel to Canberra for a dance weekend – but once I get back I promise to do my hair, throw the suit on and take a picture or two… and then post them of course.

Hooray for finished projects!

And this is exactly how much thread I had left over at the end of this project! Lucky eh? Usually I am minus a foot – although how would a photograph of that differ to this one? Anyway… it all worked out!