Odd bedding question - help a guy replace his blankie...
July 26, 2014 9:08 PM   Subscribe

I've had this comforter since I was a kid (I think it's probably around 35yrs old now). I'm not sure what material it is, or how it has held up over the years, but it's my favorite -- my wife (understandably) looks at it strangely, but puts up with it. It's a early-eighties brownish orange, and has pilled up considerably, probably my favorite feature -- I know it's weird, I just like the feeling.

Look, I admit it's my "blankie" of sorts -- problem is that it really is coming apart, not just at the seams, but also across its face as it thins out. So here's the question: How the heck do I find another similar comforter, one that isn't too heavy, with material that will pill (and how could I hasten that)?

Is there any kind of fabric that pills easier? I was thinking of taking a new comforter and roughing it up by throwing it in a dryer with some tennis balls/shoes or something... (yes, this is a serious question, and I'm hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to admit that as a grown man, I have a blankie that I'm afraid of losing).
posted by theplatypus to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Polyester, or a cotton-poly blend.
posted by Madamina at 9:30 PM on July 26, 2014

If you're in the US, go take a look at KMart. We needed a cheap comforter quickly a while back and the one we got is already (after ~6 months) pilley and sounds like the style you're describing. It's a cotton-poly blend.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:34 PM on July 26, 2014

According to Wiki, polyester is one of the big fabric-pilling offenders. So yeah, cotton-polly or polyester.

I think you'd need to rough it up. Pilling comes from use and washes. Our sheets pill the worst where my husbands rough feet rub at night. Maybe even use some fine-grain sand paper? Also wash it with some towels, they contribute to pilling because of the fluff.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:35 PM on July 26, 2014

My poly-blend shirts pill fastest where they rub against my shoulderbags.

Maybe when idly sitting, put the part of the new comforter that you'd like to pill most underneath your feet, wear rough socks, and kick your feet on the comforter?
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:50 PM on July 26, 2014

You need to simulate the wear Blankie No. 1 has gotten through the years. Drag Blankie 2 across a sheet of plywood repeatedly. Toss it in the dryer with something rough and scratchy--sheets of sandpaper? Take it to the beach for a week. Play keep away with the dog.

This is probably the only legitimate reason for abuse equaling love.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:58 PM on July 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Try using a pumice stone to rough it up. Get one in the plumbing section, not the bath section, they are rougher. Or maybe drag it down the sidewalk. Better yet have a small child walk down the sidewalk pretending to be king/queen and dragging it behind.
I don't supposed you have one of those little personal sized cement mixers, that would be perfect. I think you can rent them. Dumping it in there with some sand and a few rocks should do the trick. Those porous, volcanic rocks would be good and snaggy.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:19 PM on July 26, 2014

Comforters are usually kind of on the heavy side; you might have better luck searching for a blanket, which are generally light to medium weight, depending on what they're made of. You can probably get the feel you're looking for by buying something made from 100% polyester (a.k.a. "fleece") like this orange fleece blanket from Target or a polyester blend. The more polyester it's made of, the more it'll pile.

To speed up the process, wash and dry the blanket with other fabrics and things that will abrade it and cling to the nap, like terrycloth towels and velcro. Years ago, I bought some Berkshire fleece blankets from Bed, Bath & Beyond and those suckers pile up if you just look at them funny. Try those. Or any other brand with a low customer review; since most people don't like piling, low scores will be a good hint that you're on the right track.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 11:47 PM on July 26, 2014

I am skeptical that pilling could be reproduced just by abrading the surface of a new comforter or blanket, at least if abrading it with anything harder than another piece of cloth. I would have thought you'd need to do something like the process of creating felt, which to my understanding involves repeatedly compressing and releasing fibers, with slight lateral movement at most. (And which requires quite a length of time even when done by machines.)

On the general subject of altering the properties of fabric, this AskMe about hotel towels might be of interest.

"Fleece", as LuckySeven~ suggests, might be the best alternative if you find it has a satisfying feel. I bought a 100% polyester fleece Pinzon (Amazon brand) blanket a few years ago and I've been impressed by how light and pleasant to touch it is, while still appearing to have the synthetic-fiber durability of polyester.
posted by XMLicious at 3:37 AM on July 27, 2014

Have you considered going to a thrift store and seeing if they have any comforters that are slightly pilled but not falling apart? Another alternative would be to look at comforters for sale on Amazon and Overstock, purposefully sorting them by lowest customer rating and looking through the customer reviews for comments like "it pilled the first time I washed it."
posted by drlith at 4:53 AM on July 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

I had the exact same blanket and would steal that one of of you in a heartbeat. I miss that thing to pieces. My current blanket is a very old quilt. It was made in the 1930s by my great grandmother and it super soft. I don't care that our should be preserved and family heirloom it's amazing.

For comforters I find that down helps recreate that supersoft light feeling. Those I can stand without much use.

I can't believe you and I had the same blanket. That thing was ugly duckling blanket but it was the best. Feel bad for all the people who never experienced it's wierd orange and tan maricle sleep.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:39 AM on July 27, 2014

Once you've replaced your blanket you can turn your old one into a pillow. I did this to my childhood comforter a few years ago. I only got it out when I was sick, but it was pretty much unusable as a blanket because the stitching holding the fabric and fill together had failed over the years and the fill kind of pooled around the bottom of the comforter. I realized what was most comforting about my blanket was the feel of it on my face, so I folded up and sewed around the perimeter so it's still all my blanket, it's just contained in a small space. Now I store it in the linen closet most of the time and I pull it out to sleep with when I feel unwell.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:44 AM on July 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know your wife is going to hate me for this but, you could keep your comforter by putting it into a duvet cover. You could then reach into the duvet cover to pet your blankie.

Most inexpensive comforters pill after a little use. The bed in a bag ones at discount stores are the best a pilling.
posted by myselfasme at 8:40 AM on July 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Cheap/inexpensive fabrics are the way to go here.

Think about bed sheets: the gold standard is a high threadcount, right? 500 or 600 threads per inch is more desireable than 200 or 250 --- and that's because not only will the higher threadcount feel smoother, its also (as I discovered as a young dummy first buying my own sheets) a high threadcount will not pill like the low threadcount will.
posted by easily confused at 9:10 AM on July 27, 2014

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