Pilling Fabric

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Understanding fabric pilling - Pilling is not a fabric defect or fault.

A ‘pill’ or more commonly known as a bobble, fuzz ball, or lint ball is a small ball of fibres that form on the face of a piece of fabric.  It is caused by abrasion on the surface and is considered unsightly as it makes fabrics look worn.

Loose fibres have a natural tendency to move to the surface of a piece of fabric, where they are subject to friction, this causes the fibres to twist together into small balls.  Fibres that are still secured to the fabric are also twisted into the ball, which causes the pill to be secured to the surface of the fabric.

Friction is caused in the normal course of people using the furniture, rubbing against the surface of the fabric.  Laundering also causes friction – washing machines agitate fabric, causing the surfaces to rub together.

The fabric is high quality, so why is it pilling?
It is important to note that pilling is not a fabric defect or fault.  Pilling is a normal occurrence caused by every day wear and tear, and does not affect the durability or functionality of the fabric.  

A simple comparison is that of new carpet.  Once installed, the new fibres come to the surface during the first few weeks, This is normal and will reduce over time.

Will pilling fabric be replaced?
Consumers are often concerned that pilling means the fabric is wearing away, or that is not of good quality, this is not the case.  As pilling is not a fabric defect or fault it is not covered under warranty.

Solutions to remedy pilling:
When you know why textiles pill, you can take the right steps to remedy the problem. A quick and cost effective option is a pill shaver, available in most sewing stores.  There are also pill combs that performs the same task manually.

Pilling is most likely to occur on loosely knitted fabrics where the fibres have a lot of room to interact, and this has nothing to do with fibre quality – even high-quality fibres can pill.

If pilling reoccurs, it can simply be shaved off again.  This may occur several times, but the pilling will diminish and eventually cease once the excess fibres are removed.

Words by James Dunlop Textiles.

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