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What causes sweater pilling?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have a handful of J Crew merino sweaters and have noticed pilling on all of them. The weird thing is that they all have it in exactly the same place; lower right front and lower left back. Is this caused by something rubbing? If so, what kinds of things would do this? Something in the lining of one of my coats? Has to be more than coincidence...
post #2 of 11

Pilling is usually the result of friction yes, though how much it occurs - and whether it settles down quickly after a few wearings - depends on the material and construction. You won't avoid it because you will naturally move around during the day. Pick it off carefully by hand or with one of those defuzzer things if it's serious. If, more out of curiosity than practical remedy, you really want to pin what causes it, think about what you tend to do during the day. For example, if you're in a LHD drive car, would a seatbelt match the areas of pilling?

post #3 of 11

Seatbelt? Not sure about the back though????


sorry late post, I was thinking seatbelt also.

post #4 of 11

I am done with J. Crew sweaters for the same reason however. I personally feel you should not experience pilling of any significance in the first season of wear, even with heavy use. It is on this test that my first, and last, J. Crew sweater has failed. I get vastly better wear from RL.

post #5 of 11

Pilling is caused by the short and badly-integrated fibres of your garment becoming extracted and balling up on the outside of the fabric surface. Though usual wear will inevitably result in at least some pilling (as far as I've observed on my sweaters), it is exacerbated by sub-par fabric, friction, contact with abrasive surfaces and mistreatment when being cleaned.


You can pick a few off, but if they're noticeably numerous, it's often best to have a defuzzer at hand (as per Holdfast's advice). It should look somewhat like this.

post #6 of 11
FWIW I have some older J Crew wool blend sweaters that have no pilling. I also have a $250 Brooks Brother sweater that started pilling on day one.
post #7 of 11
From a manufacturing standpoint it's actually quite difficult to avoid eventual pilling. Some knits pill more than others of course, but eventually with enough wear all knits will pill to a certain degree (unless they're 100% synthetic). Essentially pilling happens when the loose fibers from the knit yarn get caught together. If you want to avoid pilling buy sweaters with longer yarn filaments because they have less loose ends than shorter ones. Avoid soft fluffy sweaters and go with the fine wools with smooth hand and a touch of luster.
post #8 of 11

In retrospect, blanket statements like I made are probably less than useful.

post #9 of 11
Pilling it's pretty normal also in sweaters from the best quality yarn, It's caused by the shorter fibers of the yarn.
It would be reduced after some hand washing.

To remove pilling I use this that works pretty well:

post #10 of 11
^ yeah those work great.
post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by Cant kill da Rooster View Post

^ yeah those work great.
It works great, but you have to be very careful. You have to remove all loose threads first.
I ripped a hole in one of my favorite sweaters by being careless.
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