Yes, we all know about pills, especially us OCD people. I cannot think of an acronym that would symbolize the look on our faces when we first notice pills on our new sweater or wrap after wearing it once. That expensive cashmere wrap that cost a month's salary, yeah.
The horrible truth, all fabrics pill; knit, acrylic, wool, cashmere, cotton, polyester, they all pill from wear.
The soft feel of woolen or knit is why it pills more than the stiffer, smoother fabric of a polished cotton dress shirt. The fibers used to spin stretchy threads are shorter than the longer fibers used to spin yarns for a tight weave like broadcloth or worsted wool. Hence, you have more little tiny fibers sticking up above the actual surface of the fabric. Those tiny small fibers get lonely; they grab ahold of each other, hug, don't let go, and a pill is born waiting for the guillotine. The only way to keep a garment from pilling is not to use it.
Let's start at the source, how to prevent as much pilling as possible, the care. Wash the garment precisely as the Care Label states. If the Care Label says Dry Clean Only, take it to the dry cleaners. Instead of dry cleaning, I will hand wash or use the washing machine set on Delicate or Gentle (some have Hand Wash). Please remember, I work with fabric every day, I know how certain fabrics react to water. So please, hand wash instead of dry clean at your own discretion. Real leather and metallic threads need to be dry cleaned in either case.
Any natural fabric will last longer if washed in cool water, not cold, cool to the touch. Before washing, turn the garment inside out. Use a dye-free detergent. A gentle shampoo is effective with wool and silk. I let my garments soak more than wash against each other. I have even used conditioner in the final rinse of wool. I fill and refill in whatever container or sink I am using with running water until the rinse water is clear.
Gently squeeze out as much water as possible and lay the clothing on a flat towel. Roll up the towel and sweater from the nearest edge like a jelly roll. Go along the roll and squeeze out any additional water. Unroll and lay the garment flat over a dry towel. Shape the body and sleeves of the sweater.
After drying, I use an iron with a press cloth or on certain fabrics, the iron stays above the fabric, using the steam, not pressure, to remove any wrinkles. Diapers or old linen napkins make excellent press cloths. For everyday sewing, I use a piece of silk chiffon. A steamer works wonderfully; hang the garment while steaming from a padded hanger. I do not hang garments to dry. The weight of the water moving down will stretch the fabric.
On a side not, not relating in any way to pilling, here is a niffty Martha Stewart trick to remove wrinkles from tableclothes, any fabric. Put the tablecloth on the table and put weights with clothspins on corners and each side. Mist the tablecloth with water, it will dry flat and the wrinkles will disappear.
So you did all of this, and the pills are still being pills. I have tested every method that I have discovered. My favorite is the battery-operated sweater shaver shown as the blog post photo. While researching this blog, I came across a shaver that I have never tried, photo below, Amazon. Pull the fabric taunt while using any method for best results. I have found shaving garments to be meditative. Many people do it while watching tv; it is possible to do both.
Sweater combs and pumice type blocks are readily available in craft or stores such as Target and Walmart. A disposal razor or straight razor also works. However, when using combs and stones, be careful; I have experienced fibers being pulled out strong enough to create holes caused by a break in the weave, more so with these.
Remember this when using any method to remove pills, you are pulling out threads, in knits that thread may be the one holding it together. Repeated shaving and wearing will give you holes eventually and force you to learn to darn.
Acrylic mohair wraps, ooh, they create horrible looking pills that look like wet afros. I use a rubble glove to brush them one way, pick off the big ones, and then use an iron to press them down. The results are enough to make me happy. Cashmere, wool, take the time and use a shaver. Whatever method you use, be gentle. You are pulling out hair.
The shaver I have not used, I like that it has coils so I am going to try it out. We shall see. New note: I got it, not impressed at all. I will have to think of another use for it.
As Bugs Bunny was famous for saying, that's all folks! Many blessings to you all.