Thursday, July 26, 2012

What to do about Puckered Seams

Have you noticed that puckering happens more with some kinds of fabric than others? There's a reason for that. All fabrics, on all grain-lines, stretch to one degree or another. All threads stretch too. The stretch of the thread depends on what the thread is made of, the length of the fibre contents, the way the thread is spun, and the type of stitch that is used to sew the thread. The trick is to line up all of these factors - which sounds daunting. In general, the more stretch in the fabric and grain, the more stretch that is needed in the thread and stitch. Puckering happens when the fabric stretches more than the stitches. 

Here are a few tricks:

  • Pre-wash fabrics, interfacing, zippers, etc. Shrinkage puckering can be caused when one of the components sewn into a seam shrinks at a different rate than the other components. Typical components include the shell fabric, interlining, zipper tapes, stay tapes and the thread. All these components should have minimum shrinkage to produce the flattest pucker-free seam.
  • Use a stretchier thread. Instead of 100% polyester thread, try cotton-wrapped polyester, it has more stretch. Try a thinner thread (2-ply over 3-ply); thinner threads are weaker and have a bit more give.
  • Stretch the fabric firmly but not forcibly in front of and behind the needle. Think of your hands as a frame, and move them forward in unison as you press the fabric against the machine bed as it feeds under the needle. This is especially important on cross-grain seams or bias seams.
  • Let the bias seams hang overnight before you stitch them permanently Pin-bast or hand baste the seams of all A-line or flared skirts and hang them on a coat hanger overnight. 
  • Press the seam flat before you press it open. The heat of the iron can discourage puckering.
  • Underline the garment - this reduces stretching.
  • Use a stretch stitch or serge the seam. 
  • Stay the seam. Stretch the fabric gently as you sew but stabilize the seam with stay tape, a strip of fabric or even a strip of (lightweight) interfacing. 
  • Wind bobbins slowly, this avoids stretching the thread.
  • Sew slowly on fabrics that tend to pucker. 
  • And if all else fails, reduce the tension slightly but be sure that the stitches produced are still good quality. 


  1. Hi, I'm your new follower, Positive Fountain, that's me following. Noticed your blog on fuelmyblog. Hope you can follow me back :-)

  2. Ugh! I hate puckering...Thanks for the tips.

  3. what if it happens on a purchased item?



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