What is Pilling Formation on Fabric? | Pilling Resistance Test | Working Procedure of Pilling Resistance Test

Pilling on Fabric:
Pilling is a condition that arises in wear due to the formation of little 'pills' of entangled fibre clinging to the fabric surface giving it an unsightly appearance. Pills are formed by a rubbing action on loose fibres which are present on the fabric surface. Pilling was originally a fault found mainly in knitted woollen goods made from soft twisted yarns. The introduction of man-made fibres into clothing has aggravated its seriousness. The explanation for this is that these fibres are stronger than wool so that the pills remain attached to the fabric surface rather than breaking away as would be the case with wool. Below Figure shows a pill on a cotton/polyester fabric.
Pilling on fabric
Fig: Pilling on fabric
The initial effect of abrasion on the surface of a fabric is the formation of fuzz as the result of two processes, the brushing up of free fibre ends not enclosed within the yarn structure and the conversion of fibre loops into free fibre ends by the pulling out of one of the two ends of the loop. Gintis and Mead consider that the fuzz formation must reach a critical height, which is dependent on fibre characteristics, before pill formation can occur.

Causes and Way to Remove Fabric Pilling:
Fabric pilling is actually a process of entanglement of fabric fibers. It’s often caused by friction, either from rough washing cycles or abrasive detergents. Fabric pilling, which will affect the appearance of fabrics and reduce the use performance of fabrics. But it doesn’t affect the durability or functionality of the fabric. Fibers such as wool, cotton, polyester, nylon and acrylic have a tendency to pill the most, but wool pilling diminishes over time. Whereas pilling of synthetic textiles is a more serious problem, because the stronger fibers hold on to the pills preventing them from falling off.

There are several ways to remove pilling from your fabric and but the most effective and quickest way to remove pilling in fabrics and textiles is the use of battery-powered pill shaver or remover. To avoid pilling generally singeing process is done the loose fibers protruding on the surface of textile, and spinning the yarn with a high number of twists per inch. Some fabrics are chemically treated during the manufacturing process in order to reduce their propensity to pill. Polymeric coatings are sometimes applied to bind fibers into the fabric surface and prevent initial fuzz from forming.

Pilling Resistance Test:

Purpose and Scope:
This method is intended for the determination of the resistance of textiles of all kinds in all forms to the action of an applied resistive force. This causes pilling in the tested fabrics


  • Pilling tester
  • Metal plates 4 inch diameter and 1 inch thick
  • Standard for assessing the pilling grade
Working Procedure:
A piece of fabric measuring 10×10 inch is sewn to a firm fit when placed round a rubber tube. The out end of the fabrics is covered by cellophane tape and metal plates are placed on the tester .Run the tester for 300 cycles. Remove the sample and compare the sample with standard scale.

Pilling Standard: 3-4 gray scale matching
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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant, entrepreneur, blogger and researcher on online business promotion. He is working as a consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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