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Message Board > Fabrics and more... > not quite pilling ( Moderated by CynthiaSue)

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not quite pilling
cotton knits aging badly
ensete2002
ensete2002  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/20/12 12:25 PM

i am having a problem with cotton knits, jersey and interlock, getting rough to the touch after just a few washings. its not quite pilling, and its not all the way to scratchy, but it is unpleasant.
most cotton knits, like rtw t-shirts, stay smooth and pleasing to the touch even if they are actually disintegrating from use, even if you wash them in hot water and harsh detergents.
most discussions of pilling are about fleece and synthetics.
based on a previous thread [http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/sewingclasses/printableboard.pl?t=7880&op=0 ] i tried to order from wazoodle. they had a tiny selection, were out of most of what i ordered, and didnt really want to send a partial order [i then checked the website review section and saw lots of complaints about wazoodle].
i buy fabric by mail order. i have just started sewing.
i was shocked that a new dress i bought did the same thing, first time that has happened from that custom clothing company.
i just tried to find a source for mercerized cotton fabric [another suggestion from the aforementioned thread] but it seems to only be sold in factory quantities.
is anyone else having this problem? any suggestions? i am on the verge of swearing off cotton knits for bamboo rayon [although i havent really worn/washed that enough to be sure it wont do the same thing!.]
nina

------
nina

"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." GK Chesterton
Kenmore 385 12216.
http://fabricfetishist.blogspot.com/

a7yrstitch
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a7yrstitch  Friend of PR
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In reply to ensete2002 <<
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Date: 5/20/12 1:42 PM

It's not just you! I've posted before that after splurging on a much reduced Eileen Fisher sporty knit top that I was upset that it pilled on the first wearing. Shoot, it didn't even wait for a full day of wearing!

Additionally, my go to for sharp long lasting t's, Jones New York, has gone the way of most everyone else. Shorter, skimpier, some twisted - all on the rack, brand new. Oh, and should I add stupid! They used to be quite reliable about stocking seasonal solid colors. The last time I looked and walked out of their outlet store empty handed most of their availability in the plus size section had large one sided prints that would just look bad on a plus size bust.

If I want to wear something that starts and stays decent, I'm sewing it. And, like you, I'm buying my fabric online now. I don't really have any other options.

Since I'm buying online, I'm testing my fabric choices a lot more thoroughly. Multiple washes, one drying in the dryer. (I air dry everything after the first preshrinking.) I can't/won't be bothered with sewing something that looks like garbage in short order. And, I got behind in keeping up with the new fabric blends. So, I'm testing fabric blends and sources.
...................................
I'm a Texas girl who spent a few wonderful years in beautiful Pennsylvania. Once we moved here I noticed that all of my nice light weight sweaters that wore beautifully in Pennsylvania were slubbing and pilling quickly here. It took me a while to put two and two together. I nearly always had a vest, jacket, or coat over my sweaters in Pennsylvania. Here, I rarely wear those outer garments. For that matter, I rarely wear a sweater. I think that our seat belts are to blame for some of the problems with more delicate fabrics. One of these days, I'll either make a cover for the seat belt, or a driving cover for me to cut down on seat belt abrasion.

------
I have no idea what Apple thought I was saying so be a Peach and credit anything bizarre to auto correct.

beauturbo
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In reply to ensete2002 <<
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Date: 5/20/12 2:35 PM

There are lots of different qualities of cotton knit. And when some fabric is just on a bolt, and especially if you can't even tough it, it's kind of hard to tell how it's going to hold up to to washing later. So I don't think it's just you and in anyway how you are washing or drying it, it's your fabric instead. Also why a lot of people wash and dry their fabric before even bothering to cut out and sew on it. And like to see it in person and even always feel it between their fingers on a bolt before they even decide if they want to buy some or not. But, in order for that to even do any good, you got to have something to more compare it to, also.

Same thing with cotton knits already made up into things in the stores too though! I think the best thing to try to be able to tell, might be to go to a large Mall, and go check out all the cotton knit items there. Go look at and actually try on and feel with your fingers a bunch of different cotton knit maybe T-shirts there. Just all over in some Mall like that. Then go over to maybe the Liz Claiborne designer sections or maybe Ralph Laureen designer sections in some store, and feel those a bit more expensive cotton knit T-shirts and dresses there instead, (not the only good examples but two most times good ones I can think of just at the moment) as I think at least those two are most times good examples of quality cotton knit that is going to wash and dry well without pilling or stretching out way to much.

If you do that, then I think when you find cotton knit just on a bolt someplace, then even your fingers might be able to more know the difference, even before you have washed some fabric. You could always try that, it might help some.

SheBear0320
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Date: 5/20/12 3:00 PM

I have purchased several T-shirts and tanks from Mark's Work Wearhouse and they have lasted really well through multiple wearings and washings. Some are from last year and I bought a few more this year. No pilling and they are still really soft to the touch. I wash in the machine and hang to dry.

The fabric content on these is 95% Pima Cotton and 5% Spandex -- I haven't looked for this fabric on-line or locally yet but it will be something I look for when I want to make another purchase (I'm trying to sew from my stash at least until November). Also need to research what makes it a more stable cotton -- does anyone know?

------
Sheila
"sewing very slowly to fill an empty closet"

2014 Stash Busting Sew-Along:
23.375 yards sewn (as of 04/13/14)
20.125 yards purchased (as of 04/13/14)

clothingengineer
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In reply to SheBear0320 <<


Date: 5/21/12 12:51 PM

I think pima is made from longer fibers than other cottons, and that's what makes it so smooth. I notice the blouses I've sewn from pima cotton have held up much better than the regular broadcloth fabric ones. With knits I'm guessing the longer fibers are what helps minimize pilling.

------
-- Anne

SheBear0320
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Date: 5/21/12 1:01 PM

Thanks for the info -- I seriously need to do some research on this fabric and its availability.

I'm just totally impressed with how well these shirts hold up and I wear them a lot. The price is also really good -- the tanks this year were on for 2 for $22 and come in prints and solids with either a scoop or V-neck and ribbed or plain fabric. Some even have a silk-screen pattern on one side.

Unfortunately the XL will soon be too big in the upper body and there is no way a L is going to give me enough room for the chest -- the XL just fits across the chest but is perfect in the armholes and was perfect in the shoulders and centre front.

------
Sheila
"sewing very slowly to fill an empty closet"

2014 Stash Busting Sew-Along:
23.375 yards sewn (as of 04/13/14)
20.125 yards purchased (as of 04/13/14)

clothingengineer
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In reply to ensete2002 <<


Date: 5/21/12 1:03 PM

Have you tried organic cotton? It seems to be better quality than the regular cotton fabrics.

Rayon can be tricky. I've had some wonderful modal rayon knits that washed and wore beautifully (but still ended up with pilling at some point) but others had bad pilling from the second wear. I've read this can be due to over-processing but also because rayon is weak when it gets wet, which can cause the fibers to break and pilling to result. I see a lot of fabric places recommend handwash, air dry or machine wash gentle for their rayon and bamboo fabrics and I think this is why.

------
-- Anne

ensete2002
ensete2002  Friend of PR
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In reply to clothingengineer <<


Date: 5/21/12 2:19 PM

unfortunately, organic interlock 100% cotton was the very first fabric i experienced this roughening in. organic is not the answer for avoiding pilling, despite its other advantages.
i have just started sewing. my current plan is to sew up a sort of patchwork of 6" squares of the twenty or so fabrics i have in my beginning stash, and throw it in every load of laundry until differences become apparent.
i have cotton t-shirts and a few dresses that have literally been worn to gossamer thinness, despite being washed with towels and overdried etc, yet they are as smooth and soft to the touch as new. there is clearly something about the fabric itself, as opposed to care.
i still am trying to find a more accurate term than pilling; it isnt tiny balls you can pick or shave off. it is the hand of the fabric being rough and almost scratchy, like the looped surface of berber or indoor/outdoor carpet in miniature.
i have read that fleece is infamous for pilling, and that there are premium non-pilling brands. i have read that pilling is caused by extra-strong fibers refusing to break off of the surface, which is why polyester is prone to it. it would seem by that theory mercerized cotton and long staple fibers would be worse, not better.
i have started sewing because i can buy much nicer fabric than i can get rtw clothing in. like many others here, i really love fabric.

------
nina

"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." GK Chesterton
Kenmore 385 12216.
http://fabricfetishist.blogspot.com/

creative1
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Date: 5/21/12 2:53 PM

I am not sure about cotton (but I think the same rule applies to it being a natural fibre), but with wool, a longer fibre gives less pilling. Wool with longest fibre is called 'new wool' or 'virgin wool' and it's the best to wear!

SheBear0320
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In reply to ensete2002 <<


Date: 5/21/12 3:40 PM

Do any of these fabrics have spandex/lycra/elastine content in the blend?

If so, then putting them in the dryer will do this -- it is the spandex/lycra/elastine breaking down due to exposure to heat and it will get stiff and almost crunchy over time.

If not, I'm at a loss.

------
Sheila
"sewing very slowly to fill an empty closet"

2014 Stash Busting Sew-Along:
23.375 yards sewn (as of 04/13/14)
20.125 yards purchased (as of 04/13/14)

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