Un-multi-tasking

The Great Fabric Test

I have been working with Annette Wink for about 6 years- she dyes all my fabrics since I am not really into the dying part- and she does a wonderful job. I send her swatches and color chips with descriptions, and about 3 month later I get beautiful fabric. And for years it has been perfect until the supplier of her fabric changed stock- and the quality changed. I have been spoiled by an almost silky texture- that looks almost like leather at times- but the last few times, Annette has been unhappy with the quality of the fabric and we jointly decided to change.
So Annette tested 7 fabrics all using the same conditions, and my job was to select which fabric I want her to use going forth. While I mourn for my old fabric- it has been an interesting experience.
Annette sent me seven fabrics with her descriptions of how they were to dye:
Hoffman 1377
RJR Sateen
Kona Bay solid white
P&B CSNE
Kaufman Kona Premium 118"
Pro Chem s/100
Pro Chem s/200

I did not want to be influenced by Annette's read on this- so I labeled the 7 fabrics a-g and did some tests- using a straight stitch and since I so many curves, a curved seam as well. I put all of the larger pieces of fabric with the labels away so I would not be influenced by the "label".
After lining them all up I started the elimination.

7th place. The first to be taken out of the mix was the Pro-Chem s/200 broad cloth. While I liked the weight- it was the one piece that did not take the dye as evenly as the others. It did sew up nicely but it was the lightest of the batch.
6th place. The third to bite the dust was Pro Chem mercerized cotton. Again- it did not take the dye very well and was blotchy. It was also stiffer than the Pro Chem 200. Annette commented that she was pretty disappointed in the fabrics coming from a dying company as compared to some of the others.
5th place. The third to be taken out of the batch was the Kaufmann 118". Again- it was a streakier dye and not anywhere as rich as the other two. Annette had used this fabric for me before- and I could tell something was amiss since the normally rich colors were much more faded and subdued. Annette thinks it has a quantity of sizing in it- and even after scouring it was not as rich as the others. It did have a nice hand and sewed curves nicely- but it also had wrinkles that were almost impossible to press out- a characteristic I have noticed with other pieces I have gotten.

Eliminating the first three was pretty easy. It was much harder to choose among the last 4 as their were more pros and cons to each swatch. Here I carefully avoided looking at the tags and hung each fat quarter underneath its sample set.
Still too hard to select so I then put each test stitching in a group.

Straight stitching: I put each swatch in order from best seam to worst- although they were all pretty even. The results:  F A D C
Curved stitch:  I probably could have done a more controlled test here- using the exact same curve but some of the fabric clearly liked curves better. Interestingly the lighter fabrics were harder to control. The results: F C D A
Hand/weight: Two of the fabrics had much more drape and "give" which is not always good if you need control of your fabric. I need a fabric that is not too light- but also not too bulky. I found that D and A had too much drape for me. C was a bit stiffer than I would have liked- but a possibility. And F seemed to be a good in between- not too stiff but much less drape than D and A
Texture: Two of the fabrics had much more pronounced weaves with D and C being the most textured. The order I chose them was A F C D
Color Ok- this is a bit harder since I did not have the swatch that Annette was trying to dye to match. No problem. In this case the color of the C was the most intense. D and F were  a close second, and I started to rule out A as being too light.
So here are my "tabulations"

stitching          FADC
curves             FCDA
Weight            FCDA
Texture           AFCD
Color               CFDA


Now what to do? I weighted each place- first place was 4, second was 3 and so on. And then I divided by 5.

F  got 18 and a score of 3.6
C got 13 and a score of 2.6
A got 10 and a score of 2
D got 9 and a score of 1.8.
And now for the results:

F is Kona Bay Solid White
C is P&B
A is Hoffman 1377
D is RJR Sateen.

Then I looked at Annette's recommendations as a dyer to see what her opinion was.
Her order of preference is A D F C.
She did not like the Kona premium or either of the ProChem choices.

So- am I any closer to making a choice. I think that I love the color on the Hoffman 1377 but think the weight is too flimsy. I am going to ask Annette if it comes in a heavier weight. I also want to see the Kaufman Pimatex since I know that is a fabric I have used before and like.
I am ruling out the Sateen since it is harder to sew with. So I think the choice for me is between the Kona Bay and the P&B. The Hoffman 1377 takes the dye the best- but I am worried that in the end it will be too light, and the P&B also has beautiful color but it is much coarser than the Kona Bay. I am going to sew up a few more samples with the two- and I will let you know where I end up.  Any experiences or information with any of these fabrics is appreciated!