If your machine is causing seam puckering on your precious fabric you are going to be very unimpressed. Sewing with stretch and soft silky fabrics needs a bit of extra time, patience and the co-operation of your trusty machine. It is a good idea to go through the checklist below before you blame your machine completely for the seam puckering.
- HOW TO STOP SEAM PUCKERING WHEN SEWING
- Seam Puckering - In Conclusion
- MORE TROUBLESHOOTING ARTICLES
HOW TO STOP SEAM PUCKERING WHEN SEWING
Sew...What can you do?
TIP #1: Seam Puckering When Pulling
Seam puckering can be caused by excessive pulling as you sew.
Make sure you are letting the fabric glide through the machine and are not pushing or pulling. It can be particularly tempting to pull when you are sewing stretch fabrics or thicker fabrics that don't feed through as well.
TIP #2: Seam Puckering Due to Incorrect Threading
Seam puckering can be caused by having your sewing machine incorrectly threaded either on the top or bobbin.
Re-thread your machine and make sure the thread clicks in the tension wheels. If you are new to this, read my article on how to thread a sewing machine. Even if the machine looks like it is threaded correctly, this is often the first troubleshooting thing that I do.
TIP #3: Seam Puckering Due to Bobbin
Re-thread your bobbin even if it looks like it is in properly. Make sure the thread is through the tension slit.
Also, take a look to see if the bobbin is wound evenly and tightly. Ideally, the bobbin should be the same thread as used in the top spool.
Further Reading: How to wind a bobbin
TIP #4: Seam Needing Clipping
If you are sewing a curved seam, then it might not be the stitching that is causing the seam puckering. Curved seams need tiny little clips put into the seam allowance for them to sit flat. Seams with corners also need clips to release the fabric and produce a nice square.
Take a look at these 2 pieces of fabric. The one on the left has been clipped and the one on the right has not.
Further Reading: How to Clip Seams
TIP #5: Check the Tension
Check your sewing machine tension dials and adjust slowly as you try to get the tension right. The upper and lower threads should be evenly stitched with no loops.
Take a look at the diagram below and adjust accordingly. Your sewing machine manual will also have advice on the correct tension settings.
- Upper thread and bobbin thread are balanced – no adjustment needed
- Upper thread too loose or bobbin too tight – increase tension (higher number)
- Upper thread too tight or bobbin too loose – decrease tension (lower number)
TIP #6: Check the Needle
Is the needle type right for this fabric? Different types of needles suit different types and weights of fabric. Wrinkles caused in knit fabrics can be solved by using a stretch needle. Heavy fabrics need heavier needles that can handle thicker threads.
Further Reading: Guide to needle sizes and types
|FABRIC TYPE||MACHINE NEEDLE TYPE|
|Knits/Stretch||Stretch or Jersey Needle|
|Denim||Denim or Jeans Needle|
Is the needle the right size for the fabric? Ensure your fabric and the needle size match. Practice getting the right one for your fabric before you ruin a seam and have to unpick. Unpicking causes holes in delicate fabrics.
|FABRIC WEIGHT||SEWING NEEDLE SIZE|
|Very Fine||8/60, 9/65, 10/70|
TIP #7: Try Basting
Use hand basting stitches to secure the seam and stop the seam puckering. The basting thread will help hold the material as you sew and prevent it from slipping and causing wrinkles.
Further Reading: How to baste before sewing
TIP #8: Try a Zig Zag
Difficult fabrics such as stretch or tulle may need an adjustment in your type of stitch in order to prevent seam puckering. Try using a very small zigzag stitch to get away from straight stitches that tend to pull and wrinkle. This works especially well for stretch fabrics and tulle.
Try a zig-zag with a width of 1 and a length of 2.5 and see if that makes a difference.
Tip #9: Check the Throat Plate
Check the throat plate of your machine. Small nicks can affect the tension and cause fabrics to wrinkle. These nicks are usually caused by a broken needle or sewing over pins. If it has been a while since you have had your machine serviced or checked this is quite common. Often you can gently sandpaper the nicks to extend the life of your throat plate. If yours does need replacing, these are usually quite inexpensive.
Further Reading: Should you sew over pins?
TIP #10: New Fabric
Choose a different fabric for your project. While this does seem a little extreme, I have come across the occasional fabric that is my machine's worst enemy.
Luckily it doesn't happen very often! If your machine sews other fabrics without wrinkling and this one still wrinkles no matter what you do, then consider it a sprinkle of bad luck and choose another fabric. Some fabrics are just not worth the frustration.
Seam Puckering - In Conclusion
Most of all ‘Keep calm and carry on sewing’ while you check the list of possible problems to your seam puckering. Where there’s a wrinkle there’s a way especially if you take it easy and persevere.