I work in a lab without a gas line, which is pretty much essential when you're working with microorganisms. You need to keep a flame going on your workbench to sterilize the area and your instruments, otherwise you end up with so much bacterial / fungal contamination and your experiments are ruined.
Since I don't have a gas line, I've been making due with an old alcohol burner. The problem is, wicks are incredibly hard to come by these days. I mean, who uses kerosene lamps anymore? Who uses alcohol burners? I've had the lab manager scouring the supply companies for weeks, while my poor old burner was coughing on its last wisps of wick.
Then I was at Fabricville the other night, looking at twill tape, and the light went on. Twill tape is 100% cotton. It's strong and cheap. It will fit in a burner.
There ya go. Sewing saved my science. And at $1/metre, it's about the cheapest scientific supply you can buy.
ps: please don't forget to get involved in the Map the Sewintists project! Click here for more info and here for the map.