Fabric - Get what you pay for!

Posted: May 01 2011

Click the link below for an updated article


How to Do a Fabric Burn Test

Thailand tailors, and in particular Bangkok tailors, are an excellent choice for affordable tailoring, when looking for a quality custom shirt or suit. Bangkok tailors are excellent craftsmen and often it’s not the quality of the workmanship that separates an amazingly good purchase from an okay one in Thailand, but it’s the quality of the fabric. (talking about tailors...check out our in-house tailors)

The question is how do you know what you are buying? 

This is where a trustworthy and reliable tailor comes in. Your tailor should know all about the fabrics he is selling and he should tell the truth. It doesn’t hurt however to test it out. A good Bangkok tailor should know this and not be offended at all. 

Without personally knowing the origins of a fabric it is quite difficult to categorically know what you are getting. Short of getting lab analysis done on the fabric, a burn test is probably the most effective way of determining whether a fabric is 100% cotton or wool and so on. You don’t need to be a scientist to perform a burn test, just a lighter and a little common sense! Please note, this is not a fool proof way of ensuring you are getting the real thing. Please click here for more ways to check

Performing the Burn Test  
We recommend you do the burn test outside, (obviously not beside a bunch of potentially flammable polyester fabrics!)

What you need:

    1. A lighter or matches
    2. Something to burn the fabric on that is not flammable (e.g., ashtray, concrete, etc.)
    3. The fabric that you want to test


      How to perform the test:

        1. Cut a small amount of the fabric that you want to test (you do not need a lot)
        2. Place it on the flat clean surface
        3. Light it on fire!


          Interpreting the results:

            1. 100% Cotton will:
              - smell a lot like burning paper,
              - leave a fine ash that turns to dust when touched,
              - leave no remaining hard bits in the ash

            2. Polyester or blended cotton (not 100% cotton) will:
              - give of a darkish smoke,
              - smell like plastic,
              - leave hard bits in the ash (these hard bits are the melted synthetic fibres

            3. 100% Wool will:
              - smell like burning hair,
              - leave black, brittle pieces in the ash that can be crushed easily by your fingers

            4. 100 % Silk will:
              - smell like hair when it burns,
              - leave no remaining hard bits in the ash

              If you are still unsure there is one more test you can do:

              Unravel some individual threads from the fabric that you want to test. Hold the threads in the air and slowly move a small flame towards them.

              • Cotton and wool will ignite as the flame draws near (or touches them), whereas synthetic fibers curl away from the heat and melt.
              • Linen is very similar to cotton but tends to burn more slowly. Linen is an expensive fabric and many people think they are buying linen but end up with a blend. Test it as you would cotton.
              • Rayon will burn after the flame is pulled away; it also does not have an afterglow like cotton does.

              There is a caveat: The custom made market has become more knowledgeable in the last 5 or so years and has become more educated. To counter this the market has shifted towards higher wool/polyester blends. 70% wool/ 30% polyester blends and better (80/20) burn very much like pure wool. They smell like burning hair, very little residue remains and no black smoke so this is not a fool proof method of testing. Use it in conjunction with these points and you should be ok. Click here to know what else to look for

              It is important to remember that each fabric has its place. Cotton/polyester blended fabrics tend to wrinkle less and are a lot cheaper. Blended woolen fabrics can last longer and so on. The point is, know what you are buying and take control of your purchase. Be an educated consumer! Stick to Tailor on Ten for the best fabrics!

              This May Also Interest You:

              Recent Posts

              This May Also Interest You: