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Different types of textiles/fiber have different characteristics which make them appropriate for varied functions. Understanding the differences between different fibers offers an individual a comprehension of their factual information and hence the advantages and disadvantages of using a particular fiber. In this observational study, different types of fabrics were observed including cotton, wool, silk, linen, rayon, polyester, acrylic, a blend of cotton and rayon, and other unknown fiber. The aim of the study was to examine the fibers which existed in the various fabrics. The main methods used to attain that goal are three key tests namely, the burn test, the absorbency test, and the resiliency/wrinkle test. After observing the reactions of the fabrics through each of the tests, the observations made were recorded.
The fabric board below provides the 12 fabrics observed. The fabric board represents the fabrics before any tests was conducted on them. Before the tests, various observations were made about each of the fabrics. Cotton was seen to be light and strong in relation to the lengthwise grain but also weaker in the crosswise grain and bias. Linen was really light and similar to cotton. However, the wool fabric was not only thick but also strong. On the fabric of silk, it was observed to be lightweight, strong, but not as strong as cotton as represented in the figure below. Rayon, on the other hand, was heavyweight and strong. Polyester looked light, weak, and loose. An observation of linen before any test was done on it revealed that it was light, loose, and weak just as the polyester. However, the acrylic fabric was seen to be both thick and sturdy. Before a test was done on the blend of wool, silica, and lycra, it was obsessed that the fabric was generally stretchy. The cotton-rayon fabric was strong on all its sides. Corduroy was thinner while raffia was light but stretchy.
The burn test was the first to be conducted on the 12 fabrics. In specific, the fabric was burnt from a direct flame for a short time. The following observations were established after burning the fabrics.
The findings of the burn tests were that cotton burns and does not shrive/harden. Additionally, it does not shrink and its smell is that of a burning paper. The residue observed were feather-like ashes which are not only soft but also fine. Linen, on the other hand, burns just like cotton and does not shrink. The same smell of a burning paper was observed while the residues were similar to those of cotton. Wool was a little bit different as it burned and shrunk while producing a strong smell of burnt food. The residues were those of irregular hard beads that are difficult to crash. Silk, acrylic, and nylon all burnt and shrank. However, nylon did not seem to shrivel but rather hardened only. During burning, silk had a really light smell akin to that of a burnt meat while acrylic smelled like a grilled burnt fish. However, nylon smelled like vegetable or as the book states, celery. On the residues, the silk left circular beads which were easier to crush while acrylic formed irregular beads which could not be crushed. Nylon, on the other hand, left colored beads which were hard go crush. Some of the beds turned black.
Polyester, rayon, and the blend of wool, silk, and lycra all burned. However, polyester seemed to melt and shrivel. Although polyester and the blend of wool, silk, and lycra shrank, rayon did not. On the residues, polyester left residues which resembled crispy black beads. Rayon, on the other hand, left feathery dark grey residues which could be easily crushed to form ash. However, the blend left irregular beads which were easily crushable to form a gritty powder. Cotton-rayon, corduroy, and raffia burned and whereas corduroy and rayon shrank, raffia did not. the smell arising from the burning included the smell of a burning paper for the cotton rayon, a light burnt smell for the raffia, and no strong odor for the corduroy. Both corduroy and cotton rayon had the residue of feathery black ash while raffia fabric had irregular beads that were hard to but crushable to ashes.
The wrinkle test was done by grabbing and squeezing the different swatches in my hands as tightly as I could and releasing them. The following images are the results of the wrinkle/resiliency tests.
Cotton was found not to be resilient as it easily wrinkled; however, wool was very resilient as it did not form any wrinkles but rather easily got back into its original shape. Linen was the worst in terms of resiliency as it formed wrinkles easily and could not return back to its original shape unless it was ironed. Silk formed wrinkles and did not return back to its originals shape. Additionally, its wrinkles did not lessen even after I had released the fabric. Rayon, on the other hand, was found to be less resilient than raffia and acrylic although it did not fully return to its original shape. Polyester formed a few wrinkles which showed its level of resiliency. Such an observation contradicts that of the book which views polyester as having an excellent resiliency. Nylon was quite resilient as it had a little wrinkle. However, it was not as resilient as wool. Acrylic was more resilient than nylon as it only had few wrinkles. Cotton-rayon was not resilient at all as it formed many wrinkles which did not disappear. A blend of wool, silk, and lycra was very resilient as it immediately returned back to its original shape.
The aim of this test was to establish whether the different fabrics were either absorbent or non-absorbent, the procedure for the absorbencies was to take the dry swatch and feel how heavy it was and then determine its strength by pulling it in different ways. Next was to put the fabric in water for several minutes and determine how quickly or slowly it absorbed the water. The observations (see Appendix 1 in the Appendices section) were that cotton and linen absorbed water quickly and remained damp and heavier after getting it out of the water. However, wool took a long time to absorb and was heavy afterward. Silk absorbed water quickly while rayon took about 5-10 minutes. Polyester absorbed water quickly and dried quickly. Nylon did not absorb water at all while acrylic absorbed water within two seconds. Cotton-rayon absorbed water in 10 minutes while corduroy had the same observations.
The findings of the three tests are largely similar to those in the book; however, slight differences could be observed in terms of the resilience of the fabrics and the residues. The differences can be attributed to the differences in the finishing as well as the fiber length and shapes.
Appendix 1: Observations Made Before, After, And During the Absorbency Test
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