How to Identify Scraps of Fabrics or Unlabeled Fabrics

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Are you someone who found bags full of scraps of fabric at a yard sale or tag sale. Perhaps you were lucky enough to inherit bags or boxes full of fabric. It's always great to have spare fabric on hand but some patterns require specific kinds of fabric which can sometimes be hard to tell apart. The problem is that not everyone is good at identifying unlabeled fabric. If you're one of these people don't worry it's not a hard skill to learn. You'll find solutions and ways to become a fabric detective here.

Finding Fabric

Sewing can be an expensive hobby if you rely solely on the craft store for your fabric. We love to find economical solutions to meet my fabric addiction needs. Yard sales and tag sales are just two of many sources to collect scraps of fabric for quilting and small sewing projects. Flea markets are another great place to find cost-effective fabric. If you have friends that sew you could plan fabric swaps to clean out any fabric you don't think you'll use and maybe find something you will. The only problem with finding fabric this way is that you usually have no way to tell what you're getting. Scrap fabrics usually don't come with labels. But there are ways you can train yourself to identify fabrics.

Create a Fabric Identification Notebook

Making your own fabric identification notebook is a fun craft to help you learn. Every time you buy a piece of fabric, make a note of the information found on the end of the bolt. Use your cell phones to take pictures of the end of the bolt. You can even start an online photo album of all your fabrics and their bolt information. If you are a real scrapoholic, consider making a visit to the fabric store just to purchase minimum amounts of fabric for your identification notebook. Remnants bins are an economical source for small pieces of fabric.

Once you are home, grab a notebook and use a two inch or larger square of the fabric to make your own notebook page. On this page, you can include, the name of the fabric, the fiber content, and any other information obtained from the end of the bolt, including what you made (or plan on making) with the fabric. You may even want to add a picture of the item once it is done. This will also be a great way to keep a record of all the wonderful things you create. 

Fabric Burn Test

Another method to identify fabric contents is a fabric burn test. This will tell you what type of fibers make up the fabric in question. This helps match laundering and pressing needs but does not give you the name of the fabric. This test does require the use of a lighter and should only be performed by adults.