FASHION & TEXTILES

HOW TO DEAL WITH PILLING

WHAT IS PILLING?

Have you ever been disappointed because your new (or pre-loved) knitted garment started pilling after only a few wears? I know I have! Pilling is something that occurs for all knitted garments sooner or later, no matter the quality of the maker. It is caused by loose fibres that twist together and form pills, and it happens for both natural and synthetic materials. 

HOW TO REMOVE PILLING

I know there are lots of machines and stuff you can purchase to remove pills, but the absolute best method in my opinion is to use a regular razor! It’s cheap, effective, and doesn’t add to the clutter of your home in the same way a pilling machine does. I keep a simple razor inside my sewing kit, so it doesn’t really take up any extra space!

What you will need:

  • Razor
  • Lint roller

All you need to get started is a cheap razor and a lint roller, to remove the ”shaved” off fabric fibres from the clothes. Stretch the fabric with one hand and carefully shave the fabric in small movements. I find it easiest to place the garment on a hard surface, like a table top. If you have a large garment with a lot of pilling this will take some time, so be patient. Also, be careful so you don’t accidentally cut off any threads or rip the fabric. And of course be careful not to cut yourself as well. Before you know it your clothes will be good as new!

This is how much loose fibres I removed from just a small part of this cardigan!

HOW TO PREVENT PILLING:

  • Wash inside out | Always turn your garments inside out before washing. This does not only prevent pilling, but also makes the colour last longer, and protects buttons, zips, embroideries and other details from unnecessary wear and tear.
  • Use a washing bag | Similar to turning garments inside out, a washing bag prevents friction that will cause pilling during the wash cycle. Extra sensitive garments should always go inside a washing bag.
  • Hand wash | Use the delicate hand wash cycle on your washing machine, since the slower spin cycle means less friction and therefore less pilling.
  • Hang dry | I know it’s easy to chuck everything in the tumble dryer, but I promise you your clothes will last so much longer if you hang dry them instead. Tumble drying is very harsh on the surface of the fabrics and will cause pilling before you know it. Anyone who’s ever emptied the filter inside a tumble dryer knows how much textile fibers that collect there over time!
  • Avoid fiber blends | All knitted garments will start pilling eventually, but fiber blends with a mixture of both natural and synthetic fibers have a tendency to pill faster and more. Remember to check the care label before you buy something new. My own rule of thumb is to avoid any garments with more than two different fibers in the composition.
  • Wear with care | Most of the pilling occurs during wear, but there are things you can do to prevent it. First of all, avoid wearing backpacks and shoulder bags directly on the garment. Friction from the straps and the bag itself will cause pilling. Second, make sure to let your garments rest between wears to avoid stretching the fabric and causing loose fibers to pile up. Last but not least, take good care of your garments both when wearing, washing and storing them.

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