Share this:

Identifying fibre content of fabric


The Fabric Selector by Dana Willard

Do you ever stumble accross the odd fabric in your stash and find you aren't too sure what it is?  Or pick up vintage fabric and find you can't indentify it?   Below you will find a guide to the burn test, which helps to indentify fabric based upon the way it reacts when burnt.

This guide comes from The Fabric Selector, written by Dana Willard and published by Search Press.  It is a great guide to fabric, tools, trims and sewing accessories, every sewist should have this in their book collection.

 

IDENTIFYING FIBRE CONTENT

Have you ever inherited a box of old fabrics and not known what they are? The detailed information in this book will help you to identify them, but for further investigation, a burn test will reveal a fabric’s fibre content. To conduct a test, cut a small sample of fabric, hold it with a pair of tweezers and place it over a small flame. Take all necessary precautions and keep a bowl of water nearby to extinguish the flame when the test is complete. Observe the sample for the results listed here to determine the fibre content.


NATURAL FIBRES

COTTON: Burns quickly and steadily with a yellow flame. Continues to burn if flame is
removed. Smells like burning leaves or paper. Leaves soft, grey ash.

SILK: Burns slowly and will self-extinguish if flame is removed. Smells like burning hair.
Leaves crushable black beads of ash.

WOOL: Burns slowly and will self-extinguish if flame is removed. Smells like burning hair or
feathers. Leaves brittle, black ash.

LINEN: Burns quickly and steadily with a yellow flame, but takes longer to ignite than cotton.
Continues to burn if flame is removed. Smells like burning paper or rope. Leaves soft, grey ash.

How to indentify fabrics - Fabric burn test


MANUFACTURED FIBRES

ACETATE: Burns slowly and melts. Continues to burn if flame is removed. Smells like vinegar.
Leaves hard, black beads.

ACRYLIC: Burns, melts and sputters. Continues to burn if flame is removed. Smells acidic.
Leaves hard, black crust.

NYLON: Burns slowly and melts. Will self-extinguish if flame is removed. Smells like
celery. Leaves hard, grey beads.

POLYESTER: Burns slowly and melts, with black smoke. Will self-extinguish if flame is removed.
Smells sweet or fruity. Leaves hard black and brown beads.

RAYON: Burns quickly and steadily with a yellow flame. Continues to burn if flame is
removed. Smells like burning wood. Leaves very little, fluffy ash.

Thank you to Search Press for providing this article.

 If you enjoyed this why not read....

 How to sew with difficult fabrics like silk, leather, pvc, oilcloth, suede, lace etc