$econdhand First Class

A thrift store fanatic shares her shopping secrets

Archive for the tag “pilling”

Wild, Wonderful, Wooly Sweaters

Brrr! Almost October and for many parts of the country, that means sweater time! Nothing beats the cozy warmth of a slipping into a sweater on a chilly morning. Use these tips to harvest the best sweaters from your local thrift store.

Check fabric content. Sweaters are made from everything from rayon to wool to silk. The warmest sweaters are made from plant fibers such as cotton or animal fibers such as wool or cashmere. There are drawbacks. Sweaters made from cotton or animal fiber can shrink and spring holes. Cotton and silk sweaters often lose color more quickly than sweaters from animal fibers such as wool. Rayon and silk sweaters tend to lose their shape.

Here’s a not very scientific but every experienced chart on the itchy and aah factors for different types of wool.

Check for pilling. Pilling is a result of the short fibers pulling loose from the strand. Sweaters made from natural fibers and synthetics can pill. There is no cure for pilling. The pill shaver doesn’t work very well. Even if you could shave off the pills, if a sweater is prone to pill, then like spring dandelions, there will always be more. Good quality sweaters don’t pill. Poor quality sweaters often do.

Check for holes. Hold up the sweater to the light and gently stretch the knit. The light makes it easy to see any holes in the knit. To check the arms, slip your hand into the arm and spread your fingers. Pull your hand down through the arm, checking for holes as your hand moves. Can you fix a hole in a sweater? Lots of ifs. If the sweater is a good quality knit, such as cashmere or alpaca, the sweater is a dark color, and the hole is small, and you possess good sewing skills, then you might be able to fix the hole.

Check the elasticity in the ribbing. Gently spread the ribbing to see how long before it returns to shape, if at all. Make sure the ribbing in the neck, wrist, and waist still have some spring. Nothing says old sweater like flabby ribbing.

Happy thrifting!


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