Feathers Flights // Sewing Blog: How To Find Out The Fiber of Unmarked Fabric


How To Find Out The Fiber of Unmarked Fabric

If any of you are like me, the fabric you have might not be from a fabric store. It might be thrifted, yardsaled, gifted, etc. and is rarely marked with what kind of fabric it is. Now it's impossible to figure out exactly what kind of fiber the fabric is made from, but you can find out if it's a synthetic, natural, or blended.
You'll need matches, tiny cuts from the fabric, and either a tin or go outside. Yes, you're going to light the piece on fire! When the fabric burns, watch how it burns.

  • How is it burning?
  • How does it smell?
  • What color of smoke does it give off?
  • What does it look like afterwards?

If the fabric is burning, it is a natural fiber. If it smells like a regular fire and gives off white to gray smoke, it is a natural fiber. This yellow printed fabric burned, and the burned bits were ashy.
If the fabric melts when it burns, it is a synthetic fiber. If it gives of a unnatural smell, like burning plastic or rubber, and gives off dark smoke it is a synthetic fiber.  This coral fabric melted, and the burned bits were hard.
If the fabric does a little bit of both, it is a blend. This terrycloth fabric did both. (It is a really bad after picture because it was smoking so bad I had to stick it in water, so its soaked.)
It is easier to tell when you compare the pieces after they're burned. Now this isn't a foolproof method, but I have seen this used at a drycleaners when an item was brought in and it wasn't clear what kind of fiber the fabric was made from.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!


  1. This is very helpful. I get fabric given to me for all sorts of charity projects. I can usually tell by the feel, what it is, but this is great. I posted this to my Pinterest-Fabric board.

  2. Ok, this is an awesome post. I have some mystery fabric's and I have been wondering how to go about figuring out what they are made from. Pinning this for sure.

  3. Oh, oh, oh - thanks, perfect timing! I was just going through my fabrics, wondering about a few of them.


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