Tips & Tricks For Puckering Prevention In Machine Embroidery

I don’t know about you, but when I’m embroidering I’ll just give my right arm away to avoid tampering with my project. OK, that’s a bit dramatic, but just that puckering sounds awful, and I do anything to avoid it. When I first started embroidering, puckering was a huge problem for me. But, after half a lifetime of mistakes, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to prevent my fabric from tearing when sewing designs.

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What Is Embroidery Puckering?

Embroidery puckering refers to the gathering or bunching of fabric near the embroidery stitches and is caused by the fabric moving around during embroidery. Puckering prevents the fabric from laying flat, giving it a ruffled appearance. Every new embroiderer experiences puckering of their designs at some point. Puckering looks awful, is unprofessional, and is something you should try to eliminate in your embroidery designs.

Why Does Embroidery Puckering Occur?

The first step to preventing puckering is to understand why it happens in the first place. Puckering occurs when your fabric moves during the embroidery process.

think about it. As your machine is sewing, if the fabric is not lying flat permanently, and instead, moves slightly when the needle comes down, the fabric will roll up. Therefore, the secret to avoiding puckering is to hold your fabric in place while you are stitching the embroidery design. But for some clothes, it’s easier said than done.

Which clothes are most likely to pucker?

Puckering can occur on different types of fabrics for a variety of reasons. Slippery fabrics such as nylon and satin are prone to slipping because they can slip on the stabilizer. The Monogrammed Windbreaker is a great example of a slippery fabric that is difficult to embroider without pilling.

Knitted clothes like t-shirts and polos can also be difficult because they stretch. If they stretch during embroidery or are pulled too much on the hoop, once they are removed from the hoop, they will have puckering.

And finally, another difficult type of fabric that can easily rip is a very lightweight textile like broadcloth or linen. Since they are very weak and thin, they tend to bunch up while embroidering, resulting in puckering.

Tips For Puckering Prevention In Machine Embroidery

Embroidery puckering refers to the gathering or bunching of fabric near the embroidery stitches and is caused by the fabric moving around during embroidery. Puckering prevents the fabric from laying flat, giving it a ruffled appearance. Every new embroiderer experiences puckering of their designs at some point. Puckering looks awful, is unprofessional, and is something you should try to eliminate in your embroidery designs.

Causes of Puckering

There are several factors that can cause puckering alone or in combination.

Under stabilized fabric:

The most common cause of puckering is insufficient stabilization, usually not enough or the right type of stabilizer. The more elastic your fabric and the larger and denser your embroidery design is – the more stability is required. Cut-away backings are generally more stable and should be used with knits and other stretchy fabrics.

Not properly hopping:

To get the best stability for your fabric, you should hang your garment with a small hoop and make sure you are hemming your garment correctly. You want to create a taught tambour-like surface without pulling on your garment. If you pull on your fabric while hooping, you will freeze the fabric in a stretched position under the stitches. When this is done, your embroidery will look fine whenever the hoop is in place, but when removed from the hoop, all the fabric that is not tucked under the stitches will relax and cause puckering.

Tightening the thread tension:

Excessively tight thread and bobbin tension can create too much tension on the stitches, causing distortion and tearing. On lightweight and delicate fabrics, sometimes using rayon yarn will produce a better-looking pucker-free design, due to its stretch and less required tension.

Poor digitizing:

Great digitizing is a skill in itself that is separate from mastering embroidery. A professional digitizer will create the design in a way that takes into account the fabric you are embroidering on and digitize it to minimize puckering. Poorly digitized designs and designs using the Auto Digitizer can sometimes cause poor stitching no matter what you do.

Tips and Tricks for Puckering Prevention 

Correct stabilizer:

Make sure you match the type and weight of your stabilizer to the job at hand. You will need a stabilizer that will stretch or shrink or lose integrity during sewing.

Spray the adhesive:

You can use a light temporary fabric adhesive, especially with slippery fabrics like satin, to provide extra stability to prevent the material from shifting during embroidery. Use a light embroidery adhesive to prevent gumming the needles or leaving residue on your substrate.

Bend properly:

Always wrap your fabric correctly with the smallest hoop. The closer the sides of the hoop are to your design, the more stability your hoop will provide. Keep the hoop ring tight enough to stay tight without stretching the material.

Reduce the density:

For lightweight and stretchy fabrics, low-density designs usually sew best. Opt for a design with wide coverage and no fully filled areas. You can reduce the density of the design while maintaining a full coverage look by reducing the contrast between stitching and ground colors.

Digitize properly:

If you are new to digitizing, consider seeking advice and guidance from a professional. Tell them what kind of fabric you are embroidering on. Using the right underlay can help stabilize the fabric during digitizing.

Use the correct thread tension:

Use thread tension gauges to make sure you’ve set your machine’s thread tension correctly, based on the type of thread you’re using. When making tension adjustments, make sure you are careful and only make minor adjustments at a time.

Slow down:

An easy way to help avoid puckering is to slow down when working. Puckering can be prevented by reducing the run speed.


Puckering can be a frustrating occurrence when embroidering, but as you develop your skills, you should reduce the amount of puckering on your fabric. Provided you choose a design suitable for your chosen fabric, reduce stress on the material by using a stable backing, accurate hooping, light stitching, and a careful path, ensuring that the design moves at a low speed, you will be able to make your own design. Can reduce puckering in the finished product.

The machine has lint or loose threads. – Remove the bobbin and bobbin case and clean up any lint or lose threads by brushing instead of blowing them into the machine. – Check the bobbin case for any scratches or bunches. – If there are any scratches or bunch, the bobbin case will need to be replaced.

The most common cause of puckering is insufficient stabilization, usually not enough or the right type of stabilizer. The more elastic your fabric and the larger and denser your embroidery design is – the more stability is required.

Using an unsplit thread with a soft twist for the top layer of the satin stitch will give you the best results when you want to achieve a smooth surface. Some threads are indivisible by their structure, such as floche or cotton brode. These two threads are worked into a beautiful satin stitch.

So we’ll only talk about upper thread tension because that’s where you usually make adjustments. The dial settings run from 0 to 9, so 4.5 is usually the ‘default’ position for normal straight stitch sewing. It should be suitable for most fabrics.

Set Seams – Set seams are a method used to smooth out creases or wrinkles created during sewing. In many projects, especially patchwork and quilting, it’s a good idea to set your seams before opening them. To set the seam, place the fabric under the iron in the same position as it came from the sewing machine.

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2 thoughts on “Tips & Tricks For Puckering Prevention In Machine Embroidery”

  1. Pucker-free stitching magic! Discover valuable tips and tricks for preventing puckering in machine embroidery, ensuring smooth and flawless designs every time. Say goodbye to puckering and hello to stitching perfection!

  2. Puckering problems? Not anymore These tips are an absolute lifesaver for achieving that smooth, professional finish. From stabilizers to tension tweaks, you’ve covered it all. Time to say goodbye to frustrating puckering and hello to flawless embroidery! Thanks for sharing these invaluable tricks!


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