Saturday, March 31, 2007

Acrylic or Cashmere? The test.

Have you ever been in a thrift store or discount shop of some kind, found a really soft sweater with no tag, and wondered what fabric is is? I've been there many times and have found a simple test that will tell you whether or not it is acrylic.

Acrylic is a really good impersonator of cashmere- it is soft, fuzzy, and tends to look like cashmere at first glance. If there is no tag on an acrylic sweater, to the beginner, it can be hard to tell if it is or not.

What you do:
  • Take your thumb on the outside of the sweater and your pointer finger on the inside of the sweater, press your fingers together with the sweater in between and wiggle your fingers back and forth.
  • If the sweater "squiggles" around or feels slippery, it is ACRYLIC!!
  • Cashmere does NOT squiggle or move around when you do this. It keeps its shape.

Other points:

  • This test will only tell you if the sweater is Acrylic or Not Acrylic. Cashmere blends pass this test, as do some other wools.
  • Once you get used to identifying cashmere, you will be able to tell just by touching something and looking at how it catches the light.
  • Point of this is that you look at a sweater that LOOKS like cashmere and want to know if it is an impostor.
  • You should be able to tell angora and mohair from a mile away- it is WAY too fuzzy and out of control.

Practice makes perfect! Test yourself the next time you are in a store. Feel a sweater before looking at the tag and decide if it is Acrylic or not. This will help you feel confident in identifying something without a tag.

Have fun!!


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Anonymous said...

I want to make a remnant cashmere vest. I want to sew the pieces together with the seams exposed to the outside. Do I cut the pieces and then wash them to keep the edges from fraying or do I shrink the sweater first and then cut the pieces from it?

Cashmere Connoisseur said...

I am so sorry this comment wasn't posted sooner. It just showed up in my comment box to be approved! :O Anyway, for what it's worth, if you are going to felt your cashmere, do so before cutting the pieces. However, cashmere isn't nearly as easy to felt as wool is; cashmere is a "slicker" fiber and doesn't cling to itself like wool does when it's in hot water. For my cashmere creations (teddy bears and whatnot) I don't ever seal the edges. They don't unravel or fray like you might imagine. The pieces keep their shape and handle very well to sewing! Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi CC. Recently bought a new overcoat from a second hand store. The owner had cleared some bankrupt stock and I happened to be there when it arrived. I tried on a Thierry Mugler overcoat and loved it. There were no labels explaining the fabric mix content. It really is a gorgeous soft fabric that has a buttery sheen to it (dark blue in colour). Anyway I can test/check whether it is cashmere?

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I have become quite the collector, myself. I was always into cashmere when I lived in Santa Barbara, but then I moved to Arkansas where we have winters. I've become a cashmere-a-holic. Anyway, I just bought an impostor. This isn't even unrefined, it's not even a wool. I searched for sure fire ways to tell - because what if this is just differently treated cash? But no, I don't think so. I tried your test against all my other, even the silk and basic wool and the blends. This is acrylic, definitely. Anyway, thanks. I posted this to my facebook. My other friends will like it. Thanks and I'll check out your stuff. I would love a few pairs of 100% cash socks. I haven't been able to find any for under $100, except for some German designer brands but they were sooo ugly. Lol. Well, anyway, happy holidays.

Anonymous said...

Tip: When in thrift stores, check the linen or bedding section. Sometimes
Restoration Hardware goodies lurk there. Found an RH cashmere throw blanket
there just the other day. At garage and estate sales don't forget to check
the bedding section.

I've used the finger rubbing test many times. Best description a friend
gave is that synthetic fibers give a 'rug burn' feeling, wool does not.

As always, blends can fool us.

Burn testing is one way to see if a fabric is a blend or the real deal.

Only problem is we must have a safe place to do the test. (Use a sink and do not
breathe any of the smoke.)

Synthetics give a chemical smell and form small beads. Wool of any kind smells like hair and chars.