Help identifying fabric please!

I just inherited a few boxes of fabric from a friend - and I need help
identifying it. Some I can tell, like some of the silks, but there is
lots of slinky silky fabrics and I'd like to find some way of telling
if its a poly, silk, cotton, rayon.
Am I dreaming that there is a miracle way to do this? I heard
somewhere that you can burn it but i don't know what to do after I
light the flame? ;-) besides cry... i mean burn the fabric - that's
anyway thank you for indulging my questions.
Reply to
It left out a couple of points -- you ignite the fabric with a lit candle, so as not to burn your fingers with a match. Using tweezers or tongs, hold a very small sample near the flame for a while before igniting it; fabrics often behave in informative ways when hot.
Set the candle on the kitchen stove; working down inside a bucket is more likely to cause problems than to prevent them. Be prepared to turn the exhaust fan on "high" if the fabric turns out to be synthetic. If you don't have access to a kitchen, work outdoors, well away from buildings, dry plant matter, etc.
Another chemical test: pour a little 2.75% sodium hypochlorite AKA household bleach into a shot glass. Drop in a small sample of fiber. Any fiber that is still there in the morning is not an animal fiber. Fine animal fibers such as wool are usually gone in an hour. I think a sample of human hair took two hours, but it has been a long time since I did it.
Joy Beeson
Reply to
Joy Beeson
I do burn testing in my garage with the cars pulled out and the doors closed. Why? OK. Big space with a concrete floor. If anything I'm burning gets out of control, I can drop it on the concrete floor and stomp the flames out. (this is one time I DO wear shoes) The big advantage to burn testing in the garage? I can smell the sample as it is burning. What it smells like is a real clue to a lot of the fabrics. Plus, burning outside in the wind??? Hello. Try keeping something lit in that. Did it self extinguish or did it blow out? ;)
My personal favorite guide for burn testing is in Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide. If you don't have a copy in your personal library, try the public library. But treat yourself and buy one when you can. ;) It really is a marvelous book.
And I know, it's hard to light that first flame. But you don't need a big piece. Cut off maybe a 1" corner. That will give you enough to cut smaller and burn test 2 or 3 times on that one fabric. Sometimes they burn fast and you aren't sure of the result the first time. That's OK. Good luck!!
Reply to
Merciful Heavens, you all make it sound complicated! I keep a cigarette lighter and a VERY LARGE ashtray in the studio. To test, I cut a sliver about two or three inches long, roughly a quarter-inch wide at the selvedge edge tapering to nothing. Hold the lighter to the fabric sliver OVER the ashtray, light it up, sniff, then blow it out and smell the smoke. After it cools a second or two later, check whether it has left ash or a bead.
Olwyn Mary in New Orleans.
Reply to
Olwyn Mary

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