Fabric · Tips, Tricks, Techniques

What Kind of Fabric is That?

We all do it. We buy a gorgeous fabric, or we’re given one, or we fall in love with a Thrift Store find, take it home, put it on the shelf and don’t touch it again for a while. And, by a while, I mean sometimes years – at least in my case!

Match Flame

In a perfect Sewful Life, we would label each fabric that comes in the house so we’d know whether it’s cotton, rayon, polyester or whatever. Do you always do that? Yeah, me either! So what’s a sewist to do when they need to know the fiber content of a fabric? The Burn Test!

Burn Test Explanation
A portion of The Burn Test from Pacific Fabrics

Many years ago when I worked for Pacific Fabrics, I compiled info and wrote up a Burn Test sheet that’s still available on their web site. I’ll put the link below and you can click, download and print. It’s a PDF, so you can save it in a file on your computer, too.

Apartment Therapy image
Image from Apartment Therapy

I was thrilled when Apartment Therapy shared the link in their blog several years back as a guide for those who love vintage or thrifted fabrics. Definitely an excellent use for The Burn Test! They included some great info in their post that you should check out on this link.

Warnings
Excerpt from The Burn Test from Pacific Fabrics

Before I give you the link, though, raise your hand and solemnly swear: “I promise to ONLY do The Burn Test under safe conditions. I promise to keep my kids and/or grands away from these instructions and to ONLY burn test over a non-flammable surface with water for extinguishing nearby. I also promise that if I decide not to do this safely, I will not blame A Sewful Life for my silly decision.” Got it? Okay, since I know you’re all smart sewists then – click here, print and file!

Burn Test from sew4home
Image from Sew 4 Home

And just to finish up, since I’m a big believer in pre-shrinking fabric, I thought this post on Sew4Home was really good, too. There’s a little Burn Test info included, so now you’ll be sew well educated!

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