Pilling (sometimes referred to as bobbling) is the formation of fuzzy balls on the surface of wool clothing, and often results in an unsightly or worn out appearance.
Pilling is caused by rubbing during wear and, although it can occur in any parts of the sweater, the most common areas are around the elbows, armpits, sleeves, belly and the sides of the sweater where, during wear, the arms of the garment are constantly coming into contact with the body of the sweater.
Life's too short for unwanted balls and pilling is a very complex phenomenon. Pilling depends on many factors including the action of the wearer - there is a greater chance of pilling generally if the wearer is more active, or whether the garment during wear constantly comes into contact with other surfaces that tend to cause abrasion, such as sitting for long periods at a desk.
Because pilling is so complex, nobody can guarantee that it won’t occur, but there are a number of ways to prevent pilling. There are also methods to remove pills if they have been formed.
How to prevent pilling when wearing wool
- Turn your wool clothes inside-out before washing
- Avoid using a fabric softener
- Try to minimise abrasion when wearing wool clothing
How to avoid pilling when designing with wool
- Use longer fibres
- Use the highest twist factor you can handle
- Use fabrics with a higher cover factor
How to remove pilling in 3 easy ways
- If not too many pills have been formed then they can easily be removed by hand. This should be done routinely after drying, or just prior to ironing.
- A comb can be used to remove pills, but this should be done very gently and carefully.
- Small battery operated pill and lint removal devices known as either “de-pillers” or “fabric shavers” are low cost and very effective at removing pills, giving your clothing an as-new appearance again.