Pilling – small bobbles that appear on your knitted garments are the reason why many garments are returned to the stores. Is pilling a sign of poor quality? Should I return a new garment that has attracted pilling? How do I get rid of them without destroying the garment? Frej Lewenhaupt, textile engineer and co-founder of Steamery, will enlighten you about pilling.
Do some textiles attract more pilling and lint than others?
"Pilling, or pills, are excess fibers that travel to the surface of the garment. How much pilling a garment will attract depends on the quality and the features of the fabric: short textile fibers will generally pill more than long fibers, and straight fibers will pill more than curly fibers. And new garments will pill more than old garments since new clothes have more excess fibers. Knitted fabrics will pill more than woven fabrics, since woven fabrics encapsulate the textile fibers and make it harder for them to travel. Pilling is typically found where there is more abrasion – wear and tear – like for instance on cuffs or on the sides."
What do I need to consider when buying knits?
"Start by reading the care label. There is a difference between synthetic pills and pills on natural fabrics. Synthetic pills are almost impossible to remove, while pills on natural fabrics are easily removed. Synthetic pilling often erupts in loose threads when you try to remove them, and that’s a problem you won’t have with garments made of natural fabrics."
"All knitted garments containing acrylic will attract a lot of pilling, since acrylic is made of very short and very straight fibers. Acrylic may look nice on the store hanger, but it’s a fabric that doesn’t really age with dignity. Cashmere is among those natural fabrics that will pill quite a lot, but it’s not a sign of bad quality."