Dealing with Puckering with Machine Embroidery

Dealing with Puckering with Machine Embroidery

Machine embroidery is the art of decorating fabric or other materials by using a stitching machine to create intricate, beautiful designs. However, when it comes to creating precision and professional-looking designs, the process of embroidery can be quite challenging. One of the most frustrating aspects of embroidery that can occur is puckering. Puckering is a common issue that many embroiderers experience and can occur for various reasons. In this article, we will discuss what causes puckering during machine embroidery, how to prevent it, and some techniques to fix it.

What is Puckering in Machine Embroidery?

Puckering in machine embroidery occurs when the fabric beneath the design becomes gathered, which creates an unsightly wavy appearance. This phenomenon often occurs with cotton, linen, silk, or any other lightweight and delicate fabric. Puckering can be caused by a range of factors, such as the density of the design, the type of stabilizer used, and the tension setting of the machine.


Preventive Measures to Avoid Puckering

Preventing puckering from occurring while embroidering can save you time and frustration. Adopting the following measures can help avoid puckering:

Choice of Fabric

The fabric selection plays a vital role in preventing puckering. To avoid puckering, select high-quality fabric such as cotton, denim, twill, or other sturdy materials that provide adequate support to the design. Light fabrics like silk tend to shift, stretch and shrink more, which causes puckering.

Proper Tools and Equipment

It's crucial to have proper equipment when embroidering, such as high-quality needles, machine embroidery thread, a sharp pair of scissors, and an appropriate stabilizer. Having the right tools and equipment is essential for successful embroidery because it helps in reducing the tension of the fabric.

Density of the Design

The density of the design is essential, and it determines the amount of space occupied by stitches. The higher the stitch density, the sturdier your design would be, but if the stitching is too dense, it will make the fabric puckered and pulled. Using designs with lighter density and allowing more spaces between stitches can help prevent puckering.

Stabilizer Selection

The stabilizer provides support for the fabric during the embroidery process; therefore, it is important to select the right type of stabilizer for the fabric being used. Using the wrong type of stabilizer, or no stabilizer at all, can cause excessive stretching, which can lead to puckering.

Machine Settings and Tension

One of the significant factors that cause puckering is the tension of the machine. Uneven tension can cause the needle to pull the fabric resulting in puckering. Therefore, it is crucial to check the tension settings of the machine before starting the embroidery process.

Techniques to Fix Puckering

Despite taking preventive measures, you may still experience puckering in your embroidery designs. Fortunately, several techniques can be applied to fix puckering:


Rehooping the fabric can often help in fixing puckering, especially if it is caused by the fabric being too loose in the hoop during embroidering. To rehoop, carefully remove the hoop and the stabilizer, gently stretch the fabric flat, and reposition it into the hoop, making sure to tighten it securely before resuming embroidery.

Using Heat

Using heat can help remove puckering from embroidery designs. Take a piece of fusible interfacing and place it on the backside of your puckered embroidery. Cover it with a damp cloth and apply heat over it for a few seconds using an iron, making sure that the iron does not touch the embroidery. The heat will melt the interfacing, which will stick to the design and cause it to become stable.

Washing and Ironing

Washing and ironing are effective ways to remove puckering from embroidery designs. After finishing your embroidery, wash the fabric in cold water, press it flat, and then lay it flat to dry. Once the fabric is dry, place it on an ironing board face down and iron it from the backside. This technique will help to further stabilize and flatten the fabric.

Stretching the Fabric

Stretching the fabric can effectively remove puckering from your embroidery design. The technique involves placing the embroidery face down on a flat surface like a table, dampening it with a spray bottle, and then gently stretching it until it is flat. Use something heavy like a book or pressing weight to hold the fabric flat until it dries.


Puckering is an annoying issue many embroiderers face, but it is possible to avoid, prevent it, or even fix it with the right tools, techniques, and choices. Attention to detail, proper selection of tools and fabrics, correct use of stabilizers, and attending the tension settings of your machine are essential pointers to combating puckering. In case puckering happens, rehooping, using heat, washing and ironing, stretching the fabric are some of the techniques you could apply to fix it. With this article, we hope to have provided helpful insights on how to deal with puckering in your machine embroidery projects.

1 comment

Diana York
Diana York

Thank you so much for this information, I often have this! Keep the tips coming!

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