Trouble with Puckering

Hi To All:

When I embroider a design I have a lot of trouble with puckering, especially after the item is washed it draws up. I have loosened the tension but sometimes that doesn’t help. I am using Sulky self-adhesive tear-away stabilizer. Any suggestions?

Thanks, Peggy

Hi Peggy,

Puckering around designs is aggravating! Thankfully it’s preventable. There are three main reasons why it happens. Here they are, along with a few suggestions on how to fix them.

Do not tug, pull or stretch the fabric when hooping it. While there are exceptions to this rule, for general purpose embroidery it is never a good idea to pull on the fabric after it is in the hoop. Forget anything you may ever have heard about “drum tight” fabric. That will just get you in major puckering trouble.

You mentioned in your letter that you are using self-adhesive tear-away stabilizer…that’s great! If you are applying the stabilizer to the fabric before you hoop it and the stabilizer
covers an area larger than the hoop it will prevent any possibility of tugging on the hooped fabric. Machine embroidery requires a flat, un-baggy, un-wrinkled and smooth as possible surface…but if the fabric is stretched it will revert to “un-stretched” when it is removed from the hoop…except for the area that was embroidered of course. So how does one provide a nice, flat, smooth surface without pulling the fabric tight in the hoop? Simple… adhere the stabilizer to the fabric before hooping it. (My favorite type of stabilizer is iron-on tear-away and when I feel I need more stabilizer for a project I just slide an additional piece of non-iron-on tear-away under the hoop after it is in the machine.)

A fabric that has not been pre-shrunk before embroidery can be a recipe for disaster. The higher the content of natural fiber, the greater the chance of a distorted and wrinkled look to your embroidery after it’s first wash. Nearly all fabric will have some degree of shrinkage when washed…just think about that poor piece of fabric under your embroidery, it’s trying to shrink too…resulting in a lumpy look that is ruffled around the edges! Just to be safe, I recommend pre-washing all washable fabrics before embroidery.

And finally, one important thing that is most overlooked by embroidery enthusiasts…the compatibility of the embroidery design with the chosen fabric. Simply put, some designs will not work on some fabrics no matter how much you want them to. (Which is why it is important to stitch test samples!) Commercial digitizers, those who digitize designs for company logos etc., create their work according to the product it will be stitched on. Certain types of fabrics require certain types of digitizing techniques for best results. Well, in the world of home embroidery things are different! (I usually have no idea what I’m going to put a design on when I buy it…I’m just adding to my “stash”!!!) However, I have learned that as a general rule the denser (more stitch intensive) the design, the heavier the Lose Weight Exercise of fabric will need to be. I just proved my own point to myself today, actually. I was stitching my Playful Kittens on the bodice of a baby boy romper. The fabric was 100% cotton, 200 thread count, very suitable for most embroidery designs…but I had my doubts that it would work for my stitch intensive kitties…and I was right. Yep, that one landed in the scrap basket and the next go-round using a heavier denim Lose Weight Exercise fabric worked perfectly. 🙂

I hope this helps you! Good luck!

Author: Kim

Kim is reponsible for our newsletters and daily advertising and marketing programs. She co-ordinates all sales and specials between our designers and the Website Display department.

4 thoughts on “Trouble with Puckering”

  1. …”when I feel I need more stabilizer for a project I just slide an additional piece of non-iron-on tear-away under the hoop after it is in the machine.)”

    Does this mean to just slide it in and not adhere it to anything?

  2. Unless the under hoop stabilizer is quite stiff, wouldn’t it be best to spray it first with some temporary spray adhesive? Seems like you would have to maybe try to pin or hold it in place until the design was substanstial enough to hold the extra stabilizer on its own otherwise. I have done this using the baste function on my machine, which was very helpful.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your failure. I’ve been embroidering for 10 years off and on and have a number of failures. I thought I was alone, but your candor has helped me to realize I’m not and encouraged me to keep trying!

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