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Pilling

Pilling is a phenomenon that has become more prevalent in recent years due to the more widespread adoption of flat woven fabrics. It was previously almost unknown within the Furniture Trade, whereas it had always been common in the Clothing Sector, particularly for example with Lambs wool products.

It can occur on natural as well as synthetic fabrics and is more likely to be found on those woven from yarns that have been spun from a mixture of fibres. It is an inherent characteristic of certain fabrics during initial use and is not a fault with those fabrics.

Certain fibres are inherently "hairy". When they are spun into yarn, which is then used in flat woven fabrics, they create a fabric that displays a hairy surface.

It is this naturally hairy surface which creates the pilling. These loose surface fibres are not locked into the fabric or yarn structures and are therefore free to move. Therefore when the fabric is sat upon and used in the normal manner, the fibres are rubbed together which in time causes them to matt and create the little 'pilling balls'. The clothing equivalent would be the formation of pilling balls on a lambs wool sweater once normal abrasive forces had taken their toll through nothing more than normal use.

Both situations can however be recovered by 'De-Pilling' the surface. This process is also called 'De-fuzzing' or 'Shaving' depending on whom you talk to. Naturally the thought of shaving a very new item of furniture or clothing would cause most customers some concern, but in reality the loose surface fibres are not a necessary or integral part of the fabrics main structure and not essential to retain strength or wear ability. They are surplus to requirements and as such can confidently be removed without compromising the performance of the fabric.

To damage a fabric that displays loose surface fibre, you would have to forcibly pull the fibre out of the surface with such force that more of the yarn would follow behind. This would then reduce the structural integrity of the fabric, creating the possibility of future premature failure. Shaving the loose fibres off with the appropriate machine however, cuts only the surplus fibres and does so cleanly such that the fabric underneath remains structurally intact. It is therefore quite safe to remove the Pilling Balls once they have formed and the removal of the surplus fibre should then stop the recurrence of the problem. Generally speaking, fabrics that display a Pilling problem can be shaved once to resolve the situation. Occasionally it takes two goes, but this usually because it was done too quickly in the first instance leaving some of the loose fibre behind which allows recurrence.

It is unfortunate that Pilling occurs on new fabrics. It is however the very fact that they are new and therefore have an abundance of surplus fibre which causes this. Another parallel would be the loss of fibre from a new carpet. This is once again the loss of surplus pile, which once removed allows the carpet to settle down and does not affect its future performance.

Pilling is therefore something that manifests itself on new items of furniture, but is one that can be resolved confidently without detriment to the future performance of the product. It is a characteristic found on certain types of fabric and one that cannot be treated before the fabric is cut. The Pilling Balls must first be allowed to form before they can be removed, so we cannot proactively solve the problem before the customer receives the finished item.

If you have any further queries in relation to this please contact Customer Services on 01844 271800.

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