Pilling on Surface of Fabric

Fashion Terminology   Quality Assurance  Depilling   Piece Goods Inspection

Fabric pilling is a common problem with many fabrics, particularly those made of natural fibers such as cotton, wool, and linen.  It occurs when small fibers, or “pills,” form on the surface of the fabric. These pills, which look like tiny balls, can make the fabric appear worn and unattractive. A certain amount of pilling is typically acceptable.  However, it can also be a quality defect if too much exists (depending on the type of fabric).

Fabric pilling is caused by abrasion or friction of the fibers. This can happen when clothes are washed in a washing machine, when they are worn and rubbed against other fabrics, or when they are stored in a pile or in a cramped space. Pilling can also occur when clothing is made of a low-quality, loosely-woven fabric.

Fortunately, there are several steps that can be taken to prevent pilling. The best way to reduce the risk is to buy quality fabrics in the first place. Look for fabrics that are tightly woven, with a high thread count. Additionally, it is important to wash clothes properly. Use the correct settings on the washing machine and avoid washing items with heavy fabrics; use the gentle cycle instead.

When dealing with existing pilling, there are a few options. The fabric can be shaved with a fabric shaver or a razor blade, as long as the fabric is not too delicate. Alternatively, the pills can be removed with a lint brush or a piece of tape.  Learn about refurbishing clothing.

To prevent pilling from happening in the future, it is important to follow the care instructions on the label. Some fabrics, such as wool, should be hand washed and dried flat. Additionally, it is important to store clothes properly and avoid piling them up in a drawer or closet.

Consumers should always take the time to check fabric quality before buying. Doing so will help to ensure that your clothing looks good for longer.  Fashion designers and other buyers of textiles & clothing also keep an eye out for fabric quality when making purchases.

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