Fixing Puckers in Machine Embroidery

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to avoid them, puckers still show up in machine embroidery. Here’s how you can save your project!

There are several things that you can do to prevent puckers. We have discussed pre-shrinking fabric, stabilizer, and interfacing as well as using the proper stabilizer for the design and fabric. There is also the issue of pulling the fabric or stabilizer while hooping, which adds tension and creates puckers.

Try as we might, we’ve all had projects that looked fine until we took them out of the hoop. Then, the ugly pucker monster reared its head. Now what? Can your project be saved?

How to Save a Puckered Embroidery Project

There are a few things that you can try to eliminate or at least reduce the appearance of puckering after machine embroidery.

Trim Jump Stitches

First, trim all the excess stabilizer away close to the embroidery. Then trim your jump stitches on the front and the back. Jump stitches on the back of embroidery can sometimes pull enough to cause puckering. Get rid of stray threads that hang around after trimming with this useful tool.

Press Well and Use Starch

Pressing makes a tremendous difference in your final embroidered product. Always place your embroidery right side down on top of a towel and press from the back side. This allows your stitches to sink without flattening them while you press the fabric. (Note from Bonnie: Pressing is an up and down motion and ironing is side-to-side.  I press first to smooth out puckers and then gently iron once the starch has dried out. Always press and/or iron from the back.)

Bonnie recommends pressing with starch on the back of your project. Spray starch can help ease puckers by smoothing them out of fabric.

I have had some success when pressing embroidery onto fusible batting. I was able to smooth out a small pucker in a name I embroidered on a Christmas stocking cuff that way. You may be able to do the same thing pressing embroidered fabrics onto a fusible interfacing.

How do you fix puckers that pop up after embroidery?

Debbie Henry
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

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  • Linda flaherty - July 14, 2024

    I’ve been sewing for over 60 years and this blog made me laugh at myself today. Your clarification of pressing verses ironing is interesting. I never consciously thought about them being two different procedures until now.

  • Bonnie Welsh - June 20, 2024

    Nancy—Great point! I’ll add that in. =)

  • Nancy Alexander - June 20, 2024

    Bonnie: Thanks for the useful tips, but I think you might explain that “pressing” is not the same as “ironing.” I work part time in a fabric store, and I often tell customers who will be using fusible interfacing, that they need to press, that is “press and lift” the iron, don’t slide it. Also don’t use a steam iron, just a warm/hot dry iron. Just trying to be helpful.

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