Why fabric pills
Pills on fabric are pieces of fiber or fluff that form small, unsightly balls or clumps on the surface of a garment, usually at points of friction. While pilling has numerous causes, the primary reason is the presence of short fibers in the yarn. This means that pills are more common in yarns made of fibers with a short staple length, such as cashmere, or in fiber blends, where the friction between the different fibers is likely to cause breakage in the more delicate components.
Option 1: Use Scissors
If pilling is isolated – or as part of regular sweater maintenance – you can use scissors to snip away pills from the fabric. Be sure the blades are sharp to ensure a clean cut, and avoid pulling on the pills as this may cause further damage to the fibers
Option 2: Use a Sweater Shaver
If pilling has been allowed to build up and become a substantial problem, Shibui Knits recommends using a “sweater shaver” to remove pills over large areas. Be careful when using these, as they may cause additional fabric wear. We recommend dabbing or tapping the affected areas, rather than dragging the shaver over the surface of the garment, as this will reduce the chance of increased pilling later.
There are many other methods of removing pills, but be sure whichever method you choose does not compound the problem. Simply pulling off pills will cause fibers in the yarn to break, leading to more short fibers and more pilling. A sweater stone, while sometimes suitable for very durable fibers, applies additional friction to the fabric, which can lead to more pilling.
As with so many things, consistent, regular maintenance is the key to keeping your projects looking as good as the day you finished them.