Puckering is something you definitely want to avoid in machine embroidery – and it’s very easy to do when you know how! So how do you prevent puckering on machine embroidery?
I got to thinking about this after reading the following question posted in a Machine Embroidery group on Facebook:
“Help! Why did this pucker so badly? ITH bag. Polymesh stabilizer. Light weight batting”
- She’s making an in-the-hoop bag.
- She has polymesh stabilizer in the hoop.
- She has a layer of light weight batting under the fabric.
- She has a TON of puckering going on.
Some of the comments include:
- Was it hooped tight enough?
- Probably need heavy starch or Terial Magic.
- Did you pre-shrink the polymesh?
- Try it again with a heavier stabilizer – maybe a medium weight tearaway.
Making sure that your stabilizer is taut – but not stretched – in the hoop will help.
Using “heavy starch” or Terial Magic is a bit of overkill for this kind of project, although a gentle spritz of Best Press would help, especially if the fabric is very light weight.
As for pre-shrinking the polymesh – I don’t use a lot of polymesh, but a quick Google search reveals that it can shrink if you press it with a hot iron. That said, putting it in the hoop and stitching on it shouldn’t make it shrink!
Using a heavier stabilizer in the hoop will help – but for the amount of stitching in this design, with the polymesh and batting, she has plenty of stabilizer.
A simple trick to prevent puckering on machine embroidery
There is a simple trick to prevent puckering on machine embroidery: make sure the background fabric is basted to the stabilizer in the hoop – especially if you are floating the background fabric.
If you’re familiar with my designs (whether Sarah Vedeler Designs or Meaning of Life Designs), you’ll know that I only hoop stabilizer, and I “float” the background fabric on the stabilizer. I also include a basting line to firmly attach the background fabric to the stabilizer, so there should be no chance for those ugly puckers to appear.
But what if the design you’re stitching doesn’t include a basting line?
How to create a basting line design so that you can prevent puckers on machine embroidery
If you own embroidery digitizing software
- Create a new design.
- Create an outline square, 4″ x 4″ or 100mm x 100mm.
- Set the stitch length to 5mm.
- Save the design in the format used by your embroidery machine.
If you don’t own embroidery digitizing software
I have you covered!
Enter your name and email address below and I’ll send you a design that you can use. My gift to you so that you can always stitch out beautiful machine embroidery designs.
Request the Basting Line Design
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How to use the basting line design
Any time you want to stitch an embroidery design that doesn’t have a built in basting line:
- Load the basting line design into your machine. You want it to stitch AFTER you have put your background fabric in place, so you may need to skip over it when you start to stitch a design and go back to it when you’re ready.
- Load the embroidery design you want to stitch.
- Resize the basting line design so that it is slightly bigger than the embroidery design you want to stitch.
- Load some stabilizer into your hoop so that it is taut – but not stretched.
- When the design requires it, place the background fabric onto the stabilizer. You can hold it in place with some pins or some Scotch® Magic™ Tape – but this isn’t enough to hold it securely when you’re stitching.
- Stitch the basting line. This IS enough to hold your background fabric securely in place and will prevent all those nasty puckers that can appear when doing machine embroidery.
The basting line in action
To show you how powerful a basting line is to prevent puckering on machine embroidery, the photo below has “with basting line” on the right and “without basting line” on the left.
The photo on the left shows the first time I stitched the design – and I had forgotten to include a basting line in the design. I had used Scotch® Magic™ Tape to hold the background fabric onto the stabilizer in the hoop. Candlewicking is especially prone to puckering. Not only did the background fabric get all puckered, the candlewicking stitches were distorted too.
The photo on the right shows the exact same design stitched again – this time using a basting line around the design. As you can see, not a single pucker in sight and the candlewicking stitches are perfectly formed.
So… if you don’t have any embroidery software to create a basting line, enter your name and email address above and I’ll send you a “basting box” design.