Fabrics - Fighting Pills

Learn To Choose Sweater Fabrics That Last Longer

Sweater PillsFace it, pills happen – especially at this time of year when sweaters are so commonly worn. Pills are those unsightly little balls of fibers that form on a favorite sweater and can render it unwearable. However, pilling can be significantly reduced by choosing the right fabrics.

Natural fibers, for example, are less likely to pill than synthetics. Weave also matters. Because pilling most frequently occurs in fabrics with loose, short fibers, you can significantly limit the problem by selecting garments of smooth, closely woven fabrics. A cotton denim, for example, would be a good bet.

Experts at Tower Dry Cleaners and Laundry, a professional member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute, provide some insightful tips to remember when selecting a garment. Tower’s blog post “A Pill That’s the Problem and Not the Remedy,” warns that pilling usually develops on softer fabrics with a low twist. Fuzzy fabrics with a nap such as flannel or fleece will pill more rapidly than a smooth finish. Furthermore, “Knit fabrics pill quicker than woven fabrics since more of the fiber is exposed in the knit loops and are usually constructed with low twist yarns for a soft texture and feel.”

This may leave you wondering if all soft-knitted sweaters are doomed to pilling. Thankfully, performance technology in the apparel industry has a solution. Today you’ll find many garments described as having anti-pilling properties. In the promotional apparel marketplace, fleece particularly stands out as embracing the technology.

“For a garment to be anti-pill, you have to make sure the factory buys the better quality of fabric and after the fabric is knitted and dyed, there is a coating process that is applied to make sure that there isn’t any pill after wear,” says Angela Wong, merchandise manager for Dunbrooke Apparel Corp (asi/50930). The new Dunbrooke Hayden (shown, at right) is a good example. Its 100% polyester, 5.5-oz. polar fleece has been treated to ensure that the jacket remains polished, not pilled, over time.

With that in mind, add pilling to your list of fabric features to review before recommending a garment to a client. After all, the key selling point with promotional apparel is that users will want to wear it multiple times over a long time frame.