Beads of fabric balls create fashion problem

ARLINGTON, Va., (WUSA9) -- They fit in all the right places, and have taken me from snowstorms to charitable events and beyond. But, I'm seeing a good deal of my investment going down the drain, in part, because of a certain combination.

"Seven percent polyester, 18 percent rayon, and four percent spandex," says Jan Ellinwood.

Together those materials form what's called ponte knit. It's something in many of the dresses designers are creating these days.

"In terms of comfort, they adjust to figure movement and to figure size and body type," fashion expert Ellinwood says.

Ponte knit is forgiving. But it can also form tiny fabric balls known as pills.

"We see it, essentially, over the entire dress," says WUSA 9 anchor and consumer correspondent Lesli Foster.

Jan Ellinwood is the department head for Fashion Design and Merchandising at Marymount University. She gave many of my dresses the once over to help explain what is causing the problem.

She says, "Pilling often occurs when the fabric abraises against itself. So, that would be under the arms or in a pair of pants between the legs."

That happens in the normal course of wearing it. Your arms or legs rub together to create the friction that causes a "pill" to form. It can also be attributed to the quality of the material.

"Perhaps the fabric that was chosen wasn't quite the best for the end use," the fashion department chair.

Ellinwood says designers like Eileen Fisher, that produce their own fabrics, often get a better result.

"It's thinner than the double knit ponte. It also has a lot of elasticity to it," she says.

To protect your wardrobe, there are some tools out there that can help. We used a sweater block, something called a gleener and even a fine tooth comb to try and pull away the pills. But by far, a motorized fabric defuzzer worked the best.

"I think you're restoring my dress," says Lesli Foster.

"Aren't you happy," says Jan Ellinwood.

"Yes," says Foster.

"Now, you can go back to using this all the time," Ellinwood says.

And, once you remove the pills, take a close look at your closet.

Ellingwood says make sure you store dresses with enough space between them. If they are packed too tightly, that too, can cause the fuzzies to come back.

WUSA 9 reached out to a all the designers of the dresses. Only three of them got back to us.

Amy Matto New York offered to send a replacement dress. They said the designer uses knit from France and that none of their customers have complained about the issue.

The president of Kay Unger, Ron Fineberg, told Lesli Foster that they test all of their materials, and that with knit there is going to be some pilling. He says you should avoid using strong chemicals on them to keep them clean.

Tahari says their ponte undergoes pilling test before it goes into production. And, that this is the first time that this issue has been brought to their attention. Tahari also offered a replacement dress.

I should point out that the piling on the all those dresses occurred before they were laundered.

Fashion expert Jan Ellinwood says if you wear jackets or sweaters over your dresses to stay warm, which I do, sometimes that can cause pilling.

So, be careful how you take care of the dresses or consider another fabric that isn't prone to pilling.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
More Stories