Fabric Identification Testing

Project Description

What are you most proud of? I discovered the two fabrics I had been grumping about are almost certainly both 100% wool or very close to it. Yay! I also learned two alternative tests for wool fabrics: 1. Food colouring - since food colouring only adheres to protein, the only fabrics that will remain coloured after having food dye poured on them and being washed are: wool, silk, and for some reason nylon. If you can't tell wool, silk and nylon apart by feel, there's something odd going on! 2. Washing - the slight wet-animal smell from washed wool is quite distinctive and definitely nothing like cotton, hemp or synthetics. What advice would you give someone starting this project? This is one of the better Burn Test Charts I've come across: But it needs pictures! There is such a HUGE range within "non-self-extinguishing" and "self-extinguishing" that I would actually say it is a continuum, not 2 separate categories. Cotton burns the longest - until it is completely turned to a ghost of the fabric - and needs water or sand to put it out. Silk only burned when it had flame directly on it. Everything else was somewhere in between. And you need to FEEL as well as SEE the burned area - the wool had a black edge that looked much the same as the polar fleece, but the wool ash crumbled like squashing rice bubbles, while the polar fleece had a solid uncrushable lump of melted plastic. Also, the smell of manmade fibres is very distinctively different - but you have to experience it yourself to recognise it!

What you will need

  • Fabrics strips ~2cm x 8cm of fabric - some known composition
  • a few doubtful. Metal skewer. Long matches
  • candle or firelighter that gives flame. Respirator & safety glasses if you're really cautious. An old metal baking tray full of sand is helpful for resting burning fabric and extinguishing flames.

Q&A with A.A.

No completed Q&As yet.