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Tips & Techniques > Test fabric for wool content with bleach soak

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Posted by: redsquid
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Posted on: 4/27/06 7:33 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 1 people   Very Helpful by 27 people   
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There are various ways to test for wool content. If you burn it, you can smell burning hair and it looks like burning hair, for example, but I like to know how much wool there is.

If you buy mystery flatfold fabric like I do, and you want to confirm amount of wool content, cut off a swatch and cover it in bleach in a small container. Thinner fabrics take a couple of hours, allow more time for a coating.

You'll see wool "dissovling" in a chemical reaction. The fiber remaining in the bleach is not wool.

You may want to avoid selvedge as it can be woven with non-wool stabilzer fibers and so it won't give you accurate feedback on content.

This has saved me from dissappointment a few times when I wanted a tailored garment and wanted to work with wool, and I found while my fabric looked wooly and felt wooly to the touch, it had minimal wool content and wasn't suitable for my pattern.

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12 Comments
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MaryBeth said...
I can vouch, this is a great tip and can save lots of time and puzzlements. What I hadn't counted for in my wool puzzlements was a possible "coating" of something on the fabric. Hmmmmmm, explains a few things!
4/27/06 12:03 PM
AndreaP said...
Great tip! I have a few mystery fabrics that I will test this way.
4/28/06 0:11 AM
Rhoda K said...
Thanks for the great tip. I, too, have some mystery stuff in my stash. One day I MAY learn to label things when I buy them.
4/28/06 1:18 PM
Karla Kizer said...
What an interesting tip. Thank you! And now, the question....do I really want to know, or am I happier laboring under the illusion that it's wool? BTW - any idea how lycra reacts to bleach? I have some Lycra/wool/mystery fabric stuff.....
4/29/06 8:58 AM
MaryLynn in Long Beach said...
The burn test is most usefule for single content fabrics. I am most grateful to get this option for blends. Thank you very much. I buy a lot of fabric in the Garment District and on eBay and frquently there is no fiber statement available. This will really help.
4/29/06 12:16 PM
MarilynB said...
I have never heard of this tip, only the burn test. What a great idea. Thanks.
4/29/06 6:39 PM
priscilla said...
What a great tip. Now I can go off and test my fabric stash, I may need a gallon of bleach :O)
4/30/06 7:59 AM
Danielle said...
Never heard of this! Will definitely use the tip!! Thanks!!
5/28/06 5:50 PM
RIKA325 said...
informative. what I was looking for.
10/4/06 10:35 PM
MelissaB in WA said...
Very helpful tip - thanks for posting this!
12/20/07 1:00 PM
Athene said...
This is very helpful to me. Thank you for the tip.
12/26/07 3:12 PM
adventice said...
redsquid, thank you very much for a great tip how to test whether the wool is wool! Now I know that I have bought winter shoes for my little daughter with the REAL wool lining. I am content.
11/15/09 10:57 AM
 
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