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Understanding Fabric Pilling

Understanding Fabric Pilling

Understanding Fabric Pilling

Article Directory
  •        The concept of pilling 

  •        The pilling is divided into four stages

  •        Solutions to remedy pilling

  •        How does test the Fabric Pilling?


The concept of pilling

Textile fabrics are prone to develop balls of fibre on the surface, which are known as pills. The pills are formed during wear and washing, when fibres on the fabric surface “tease out” and become entangled. Under the influence of the rubbing action these loose fibres develop into small spherical bundles anchored to the fabric by a few unbroken fibres.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.Laundering also causes friction – washing machines agitate fabric, causing the surfaces to rub together.


The pilling is divided into four stages


Fuzz formation



Solutions to remedy pilling:

When you know why textiles pill, you can take some 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.

So, how does test the Fabric Pilling?

The degree of fabric pilling is evaluated by comparing the tested specimens with visual standards, which may be actual fabrics or photographs of fabrics, showing a range of pilling resistance.


ICI Pilling and Snagging Tester, used to determine the surface pilling and snagging properties of both woven and knitted materials.


Martindale Tester to determine the abrasion and pilling resistance of all kinds of textile structures. Samples are rubbed against known abradents at low pressures and in continuously changing directions and the amount of abrasion or pilling is compared against standard parameters. 

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