Understanding Pilling: How To Remove Bobbles Off Jumpers
Looked after well, quality knitwear is designed to last.
All fabrics pill to some extent, but the primary causes are due to the physical characteristics of the textile, the manufacturing process, the personal habits of the wearer and how the garment is maintained. It’s important to wash and care for your knitwear to reduce the risk.
WHAT IS PILLING?
A pill, or as it’s more commonly referred to, bobble or fuzzball, is a small ball of fibres that forms on knitted fabric when groups of short or broken fibres become tangled together in a tiny knot or ball. They form as a result of rubbing or abrasion.
The textile industry divides pilling into four stages:
WHY DO JUMPERS PILL?
Longer fibres in fabric will pill less than short fibres, partly because there are fewer loose ends to the fibres and, to some extent, being longer, it will take more time for the fibres to work themselves out of the knitted structure. Another factor to consider is twist – how tightly the fibres are held together. The higher the twist, the denser and firmer the yarn will be.
Pilling normally happens on parts of clothing that see the most wear and tear on a daily basis. So, for example, under the arms or elbows or where your knitwear rubs against another layer of fabric such as the rough inside of a jacket or shoulder strap of a bag. It can also happen if the garment is constantly in contact with another surface, such as an office desk, which can cause abrasion.
At Alan Paine we do everything to minimise pilling - we use high quality yarns, perfect tension in production, special attention in washing and reduced chemicals. For this reason, an Alan Paine sweater will pill less than normal naturally, however it might lightly pill if it rubs against something.
HOW DO YOU AVOID PILLING?
There are a number of ways to minimise pilling:
1. If the wash care label says that you can machine wash your jumper, turn your jumper inside out, or use a laundry bag, to reduce friction. Only use a mild or specific wool detergent on a gentle cycle and don’t mix your delicates with more robust garments. Also remember to fasten any buttons or zips.
2. Avoid using fabric softener as this will soften the fibres, making them more susceptible to pilling.
3. A gentler option would be to hand wash your knitwear, ensuring it’s washed inside out using a mild detergent.
4. Avoid the tumble dryer and dry your jumpers on a flat surface or a drying rack.
5. Avoid over-washing your knitwear. The great thing about wool jumpers is that you don’t have to wash them as often as knitwear made from synthetic fibres. Rest your jumpers between wears.
6. Store your knitwear with care, ideally folded in a drawer, garment bag or carefully placed on a wardrobe shelf.
7. Consider what type of jacket or coat you wear over delicate knits. An unlined coat or rough denim jacket will be very abrasive against the soft yarn.
HOW TO REMOVE BOBBLES OFF JUMPERS
If pilling does happen, you can purchase a knitwear de-pilling comb or electric fabric shaver which you gently drag across the surface to remove the bobbles off jumpers. They usually have a setting or attachment specifically for delicate yarns and fabrics but avoid over-use because too much shaving will ruin the garment over time.